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Music in Words

August 22, 2014 | Alice | Comments (4) Facebook Twitter More...

Headphones_girl_from vidzshare dot netI'm a huge fan of music - if you were around for Word Out last year, I wrote about music all summer long, and loved it. I think most people would say they love music - it can speak to us in a way that feels really direct, like nothing else, and it's often tied really strongly to memories and feelings.

It can be hard to capture that in words, or explain the way it can make a feeling bubble up in you, or seem like every song coul be about your situation. But you know? I love reading books about music, and those moments when authors try to bottle that magic in words, it's a beautiful thing. I don't dog-ear books ever, except when it's passages like that, that I want to be able to find later, maybe write it down somewhere to save it for later. I love reading about how other people react to music - it's one of those times I find myself nodding along, feeling kindship with the character. No wonder I love books about music so much!

It means I'll read almost any book with a music theme to it, so I read a lot of them. This summer, there are four I've read that I really enjoyed, and thought you might, too. They aren't just about music, though, there is a lot in these about group dynamics, about friendship, and about finding your own strengths. All of which make for pretty compelling stories even without the great music talk and constant song references.

Road rashRoad Rash, by Mark Parsons

Getting bumped from his old band for pretty transparent reasons feels like complete crap - until it affords Zach the opportunity to join a better band, just in time for them to go on tour. There's excitement and really seedy hotel rooms, the highs of nights when all the peices come together and the audience loves you, and the lows of nights when the band just can't get along, which starts to seem more and more often... This book is written by a veteran music writer, and even though the story is not a new one in many ways, the descriptions of how the various instruments and lines of a song come together are truly great. For real music fans and anyone who wants to know more about how it works, this is an interesting read from someone you can tell has been there.

Also available as an ebook.

Scar boysThe Scar Boys, by Len Vlahos

Harry's whole life changed the day of the thunderstorm, when lightning struck the tree he was tied to by neighbourhood bullies and lit him on fire. Growing up with horrible scars, he had no friends and little to define him beyond solitude - but things changed again when he met Johnny, and Johnny decided they should start a band. Here was the thing that made Harry feel immersed in something else, like he could escape and not care about people looking. As his own confidence grows, though, he starts to see the nature of their friendship more clearly, and starts to stand up to Johnny. This book contains beautiful and horrible bits side by side, and captured me entirely as I read. I loved the writing - and was completely drawn in by Harry's story.

Also available as an ebook.

ExileExile, by Kevin Emerson

Summer is a huge music fan, and has both a good ear for picking out new talent and a spidey sense for promotion. So good, in fact, that her last band got poached by a local label, and she was fired as manager. UGH. She's still smarting when she meets Caleb, also a bit on the black-listed side since ditching his band over the summer, too. But his new project is catching Summer's ear, and now they both have to figure out how to make this work, how to navigate their new relationship, what to make of the intrusive new girl in the band, and how much they are willing to risk to chase this dream of a new band's success. Add to the mix that Caleb finds out he's the son of a dead rock legend who may or may not have left him some hidden last songs, and these teens have a LOT going on. It's a fun and light read, but not light on the music, which stays in centre stage all the way along.

This song will save your lifeThis Song Will Save Your Life, by Leila Sales

Elise has been a loser pretty much all her life. When not being outright bullied, she's ignored, the person no one wants to be seen with. She's got her own set of interests, hobbies, and talents that she's taught herself, but somehow, even turning her laser focus on the project of fitting in has totally failed to make her cool. She takes to going on solitary midnight walks through her town to help herself forget about life, and one night, she stumbles upon a nightclub, like something out of a daydream. She goes back, intrigued by the people and the music, and soon, she starts teaching herself to DJ, then gets more pointers from the DJ at the club, who takes her under his wing. Soon, her student-by-day-DJ-by-night double life is teaching her more about who she is, building her confidence, and forcing her to face some choices. This book is loaded with 80s and 90s bands, and gobs of wish fulfillment, and it hooked me right away. 

And speaking of that last book, here's a little song to go out on...