The senses are amazing memory holders. There are smells from my childhood that instantly take me back to a specific moment in time. Music certainly does the same. Every time Pandora shuffles Robyn’s “Show Me Love,” I immediately return to my childhood bedroom, sitting on my beanbag chair with my mini boombox, singing and reading my Girls Life magazine. As an adult, I appreciate music and books as a joint escape.
As a writer, this adventure is even better when I can get into the head of the author of the book I’m currently reading. To understand the story better through lyrical or musical accompaniment. Sometimes, it’s just a reflection of a specific emotion or character trait that the music represents that just elevates the reading experience to that next level.
Let’s take a look at some books that I’ve read and the music I will always associate with them, thanks to the forethought of the authors sharing their playlists.
The Modern Gentleman by Meghan Quinn; Music by the Jonas Brothers
This rom-com was a stand-up comedy show in print. It was sweet, spicy, and made me laugh out loud, and cry… I mean, what more could I ask for? But at the climax, Quinn threw in a scene that needed the music being utilized to be playing while I read it. And it did not disappoint! When your romantic hero is making his grand gesture, singing “What a Man Gotta Do” dressed as Nick Jonas from the music video certainly makes a statement!
Terms and Conditions by Lauren Asher; Train
First, I think it’s important to note that the playlist Asher provided for this book…chef’s kiss! It’s sooo good! We’re talking about Ed Sheeran, Maren Morris, The Goo Goo Dolls, and so much more. “Iris” will always have a special place in my heart, but it’s “Marry Me” by Train that will trigger a memory of reading this romance. While I love the climax of romance, it’s the resolution that has me all gooey-eyed, and listening to this song after Declan got his head out of his and won Iris back? Yep, that’s the sweet spot!
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas; Music by Tupac
Angie Thomas is known for her musical and lyrical prowess as well as her award-winning novel, so it comes as no shock that the music she chose to feature is nothing short of perfection. I grew up in the 90s listening to some of the best rap artists to grace the studio, Tupac among them. His lyrics hit different; there was an underlying message of understanding the impact of the streets and the urban condition. His song “Keep Ya Head Up” just played through every tough moment and decision that Starr Carter went through. It was like he was speaking to her from 20 years in the past.
Solo by Kwame Alexander; Robert Johnson
When you hear the word eclectic, you expect a mix of everything. I am an eclectic reader and a mood reader at that. The playlist attached to Alexander’s novel spoke to my soul. From Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” to The Black Keys’ “When the Lights Go Out” to Tina Turner and Bryan Adam’s “It’s Only Love,” I was excited to read this book and insert the songs as the scenes unfolded. But “Cross Road Blues” by Robert Johnson made my heart bleed for this book. The synopsis on the back wouldn’t have pegged this song to fit so well, but from the emotional tone to the deeply impactful lyrics, the hero Blade came to life for me.
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer; Music by Muse
You didn’t think I was going to write a book playlist and leave this out, did you? This book has a lot of nostalgia, especially as it was one of the first novels I could discuss with other readers as an adult book enthusiast. “Supermassive Black Hole” by Muse really set this book in a better light for me as a reader. It’s like the movie Halloween before they added the piano music; it just wasn’t quite what I wanted. In comes Meyers playlist, and it just…clicked. Adding these to the movie? Genius move on their part!
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas; Eminem and Pink
Aelin is one of my favorite female badass characters. Yes, she’s immature to a point, but we watch her grow over the 8-book series. And she never, not once, gave up. Despite every obstacle, she got up and persevered. Broken, bleeding, and emotionally spent, she lifted her chin and told every adversary she, “Won’t Back Down,” just like Eminem and Pink’s song. Every line of this song screams badassery, fearlessness, and strength, just like Aelin.
Music joins most of my activities, even if just for background noise, and always has. Books have been a part of my life since I was in pre-school. So they’ve always been intertwined throughout my life. I hope more authors continue to include a playlist with their books. The experience of associating some emotional scene or character from a novel to a song that pops onto my radio is one I hope never to lose and only add to.
Want to know more about books and music? Click here.