On this day, people are encouraged to unplug from technology and pick up a book, honoring this beloved skill that is an outlet of creativity for so many – both authors and their readers. Bibliophiles everywhere may take the day to visit their local library or catch up on their TBR (To Be Read) list. Although this holiday is technically unofficial and its origin is unknown, it is widely recognized, celebrating the joy literature can bring.
As an avid bookworm myself, books and music often go hand in hand, whether I am listening to a playlist while reading that matches the vibe, diving into an autobiography by one of my favorite artists or a biography about them, or reading fiction that is centered around music of some sort – and it’s also always fun when a musical reference pops up in a book that seems completely random.
I thought about how Alchemical could celebrate Book Lovers Day together and I decided to ask some of our writers about books involving music of any genre that have influenced them in some way, and how its musical aspect enhances the reading experience.
Emma P. – Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid:
Daisy Jones is one of my favorite books of all time. If you haven’t already heard of it, or at least its inspired hit series on Amazon Prime, the book follows a fictional Fleetwood Mac-type rock band’s journey to superstardom throughout the 1970s, ultimately leading to their tumultuous breakup. The story is told interview-style, which is especially interesting for a music journalist like me, but also adds an interesting layer to how the plot unfolds. I highly recommend listening to the audiobook to get the full experience – you really feel like you get to know the characters. I was sad when I finished because I forgot that they weren’t a real band, but thanks to the show I no longer have to imagine!
Naturally, music is a huge part of the book; multiple characters treat writing as a form of therapy or a method of communication with another person that is easier than finding the right words to say. One of my favorite parts is that the back of the book contains the full lyrics of The Six songs mentioned throughout it! It is one of the most unique books I have ever read with a hard-hitting, emotional story written for music-lovers.
Emma’s Song Pairing Recommendations:
“Look at Us Now (Honeycomb)” – Daisy Jones & The Six
“The Chain” – Fleetwood Mac
“Regret Me” – Daisy Jones & The Six
“The River” – Daisy Jones & The Six
“Rhiannon” – Fleetwood Mac
Maura – Rock Bottom at the Renaissance: An Emo Kid’s Journey Through Falling In and Out of Love In and With New York City by Mike Henneberger:
Maura suggested her favorite music-related non-fiction pick, Rock Bottom at the Renaissance, Emmy-winning producer Mike Henneberger’s “mixtape memoir” about his time feeling lost in New York City, “stumbling down a path paved by mental illness, and littered with pieces of a broken heart and a broken mind,” his website says.
The book “follows those pieces through a mental breakdown that spanned his first years as a small-town Texas transplant in NYC, brainwashed by the New York romance that films, TV, books, and music, sold him.
If you don’t know Maura, she is a self-proclaimed proud forever emo kid, and she says that this book came to her “at the right place at the right time,” she stated in an Instagram post made for Mental Health Awareness Month in May 2021:
“Rock Bottom at the Renaissance came to me because of Tyler Posey posting about narrating the audiobook (which he did an absolutely brilliant job). I saw the list of bands, the words “Emo Kid”, “Love”, and “NYC” and fell in love instantly. As I spent the month packing, moving, and getting settled into a new place, taking finals, getting ready for my first part of senior year, this audiobook was there for me. Now, I definitely don’t relate to all of it, but like Mike, I like to make songs relate to myself that may not seem relatable … As I was listening to the playlist and story, I would replay scenes from my life in my head … good times, bad times, times I wish were different and what I would do differently, and what could have been and thinking about all the people I’ve lost, especially those to addiction.
As I prepare for my next chapter in the music industry (an industry people told me not to pursue) this week at my first internship, this book got me so excited to start and as I not only find my place in this industry, this helped me continue my journey of still finding MY place in life in general. I don’t know where I will be after I graduate … or even when I will really, but I do know that I want to move to NYC. Like the author, I do not call myself a musician since I am such a music nerd … at least not yet anyway … The point is that I’m still struggling and to know that Mike (and Tyler) came out on the other side really makes me want to just continue on and be hopeful.”
This is an example of how books connecting music to life’s reality can truly shape and impact us.
Maura’s Pairing Recommendations:
“23” – Jimmy Eat World
“Hands Down” – Dashboard Confessional
“Your Heart is an Empty Room” – Death Cab for Cutie
“Never Feel Alone” – The Dangerous Summer (Maryland Band :))
“Don’t Push Love Away” – The Juliana Theory
Katherine – Reggie and Delilah’s Year Of Falling by Elise M. Bryant:
One of our newly added contributing writers to the team, Katherine, mentioned one of her favorite Young Adult books that she’s read so far this year called Reggie and Delilah’s Year Of Falling:
“It features a Black teen female punk rock band lead singer who struggles with migraines when she’s on and off stage,” Katherine explains. “Delilah and her band’s music at the beginning of the book only consisted of her white band members’ ideas. The author did this intentionally to show the difference between the treatment of women of color in the music industry and the treatment of males. At the climax, Delilah stands up for herself and threatens to leave the group. It was disheartening to read about it since this happens to people in real life, not just in books.”
She continues, “This issue is important to me because women of color especially struggle to succeed. I hope to see more women of color stand up for what they believe in in the music industry. Delilah is just a fictional character with a dream, but so many women of color have dreams of being in the music industry. I hope to see them succeed as Delilah does in the book.”
Books of different genres can affect people of all ages, and authors often purposefully use their work as a vehicle for impactful conversation – as Katherine made clear, this can certainly apply to the music world.
Kat’s Song Pairing Recommendations:
“Love Story” – Taylor Swift
“I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” – The Ramones
“I’m in the Band” – Bratmobile
“Remembering Sunday” – All Time Low
“Are You Gonna Listen Now?” – Double Identity B
Emma D. – Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo:
Last Night at the Telegraph Club is a story by Malinda Lo that is set in 1950s San Francisco and follows a teenage character named Lily, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, as she realizes her sexuality.
Emma D. suggested this because music plays a large part in it. In this book (which I recommend as well!), music is tethered to a feeling of community and belonging, especially through drag performances in underground queer spaces which are central to the plot, Emma says.
“I start a playlist every time I start a new book — but as it turns out, I didn’t need to with Last Night at the Telegraph Club, which has a playlist of era-specific songs mapped out in the chapter titles! The story is a great reminder of music’s role in creating opportunities for community and love in all its forms, especially at such a difficult time in queer history.”
“I Can Dream, Can’t I?” – The Carpenters
“Revolution Lover” – Left at London
“You Go To My Head” – Billie Holiday
“I Have the Moon” – Lush
“Follow My Girl” – The Japanese House
From us at Alchemical to you – Happy Book Lovers Day!
Emma Page, a recent Journalism graduate of The George Washington University, possesses a passion for music journalism and storytelling in all its forms. Originally from Baltimore, MD, when she is not writing, she can be found at a local concert or making music of her own.
Flow-bending artist aSanTIS discusses art, culture, and whether sound can solve the world’s problems in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.
My interview with Amy Santis aka aSanTIS began in the most unexpected way. The Maryland-based flow-bending artist and lyrical storyteller came prepared to engage in conversation around questions I had posed – and she also brought one or two of her own thoughtful prompts based on her curiosities around my view of learning.
This practice of taking in her surroundings deeply through observation and inquiry has come naturally to aSanTIS ever since she was a young child. In terms of her early starts in music, she notes that she began as a discerning listener. “Just listening to music from my mom, on the radio, just being a consumer in the world of sound. But I think mainly, my mom has always loved dancing and listening to music, so that was sort of like second nature. We play music at gatherings, we play music in the car, and these songs are sort of like diaries that take us into a specific place.”
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