Book Sounds: A reflection on reading and music

A coffee table with a book, phone and cup of coffee

"That by listening to some music, by reading some books, by looking at paintings, and most important by hanging out with one another – by collaborating with one another and creating your own network ­– you can achieve something that is much better than what is out there." - David Amram

What is your reading routine? Do you like paperback covers or do you prefer listening to books? Do you curl up with a warm drink and dive into a new world? Whatever your routine or reason for reading, it can be an immersive, head-clearing experience.  

As my life becomes more complex, I’ve learned that it is necessary to my wellness that I take the time to recenter myself and decompress. It doesn’t always mean sequestering myself away from people and indulging my inner hobbit – I often rely on music and reading to recharge.  

For as long as I can remember, I've always been a reader. But I've also always been fascinated by the rhythm and flow of music. Both literature and music burst with culture, imagination and emotion.

My problem tends to be that I absorb stories and sounds, causing me to feel hollowed out after listening to my favorite album or reading a spectacular book. When I finish a story that I’ve loved so much, the aftertaste still lingers, as if the feelings evoked are still there, but the experience is over. Having become attached to various creative works, I'll find books and create playlists that allow me to hold onto similar meaning and feeling, giving me the same aftertaste.

Someone once said that music is like poetry for the soul and that books are a salve for all ailments. So, the combination of the two just feels natural. At Anythink Bennett, we curated a display with book-music pairings. The display led to an astounding amount of interest in our playlists along with some crowd favorites. 

Here are the top ten book-inspired playlists created by Anythink Bennett staff. Press play to stay connected to a great story or simply decompress. 

Check out these books and more with your Anythink account.

“The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller

Sounds like: the progression from feeling like a god, like everything was beneath you, like you could eat the world raw – to unbearable tragedy and the feeling of falling

Listen: Playlist

This book shattered me. But you have to read it! “TSoA” captivates readers with the perspective of a seemingly meaningless character in the original piece. Patroclus is just another young, exiled prince who becomes the sun and the moon to a young Achilles – as well as his reason for testing the Fates. Miller twists this classic Greek tale into a modernization capitalizing on the true Rage of Achilles in such an emotional and honest way keeps lovers of Greek mythology enraptured (and a little heartbroken) until the last page. 

“They Both Die at the End” by Adam Silvera 

Sounds like: the best day ever and a premature remorse for its inevitable end

Listen: Playlist

In this world, death is inevitable – so much so that there is a system to decipher 24 hours before someone dies. An organization called Deathcast informs people when they have started their last day. This story shares the perspectives of two very different teen boys, as they embark on their last day together. The book harps on themes of living your best every day and the significance of strong friendships.

“Mosquitoland” by David Arnold 

Sounds like: impossible coincidences, improbable friends, applying war paint in the back of a greyhound bus, eating the best fries in the U.S., and lots of David Bowie and Bruce Springsteen

Listen: Playlist

In one of my favorite books in existence, Arnold tells an untimely story about road trips and the lengths that people will go to protect family, earn redemption and succeed in escape.

“Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo  

Sounds like: a winding plot of intrigue and consequences, and the plotting of a band of determined thieves

Listen: Playlist

In a world of elemental magic, shadow monsters with the power to split the world apart, and dastardly assassination plots, there are still places like Ketterdam. These are places that even the slums can’t compare to, where not-so-good men are lied to, cheated and conned out of all they’re worth.

“When I Am Through with You” by Stephanie Kuehn 

Sounds like: secrets, gaslighting, passionate twists and turns, crazy cult leaders and the murder that saved someone

Listen: Playlist

An intense psychological read, this book focuses on teens with bad history and tension who decide to embark on a high-level mountain backpacking. Not all of them come back. 

“The Cruel Prince” by Holly Black 

Sounds like: Faerie corruption and wonder at its finest, and a girl trying to convince herself that she belongs in a magical world

Listen: Playlist

This is Faerie Land, a place where humans are tricked and tormented, and create bargains to live among the fray. Jude, a human girl, is forced to take residence. Unlike the other humans, who cower beneath Faerie rule, Jude sets out to fit in – to become faerie, or at least a knight. If she cannot reach her goal, she vows to become worse.

“It’s a Wonderful Death” by Sarah J. Schmitt 

Sounds like: resounding, deadly irony

Listen: Playlist

In this spoof on “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the world takes a big sigh of relief when the main protagonist of this book dies. No one actually feels remorse or believes her life merits redemption. However, she still manages to strike a deal with Death to go back and prove why her life was valuable, and in doing so, she truly does have a heart change. She proves herself by accomplishing more than just saving her own skin.  

“Call Me by Your Name” by André Aciman 

Sounds like: a summer of discovery, love and letting go

Listen: Playlist

A precocious 17-year-old Elio Perlman is spending the days with his family at their 17th century villa in Lombardy, Italy. He soon meets Oliver, a handsome doctoral student who works an intern for Elio's father. Their intimate adventure begins.

Follow Anythink Bennett staff on Spotify for exciting, book-related music at @Anythinkbestaff!