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The Listener's Library

A haphazard pile of books lie open with their pages facing us.
credit: Gulfer Ergin
via Unsplash
Books, books, books!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a person in possession of good music must be in want of a book. Curl up under your softest blanket with a mug of something warm (and WCRB on the radio!) while you tuck into one of these great reads.

The four covers of Ali Smith's Seasonal Quartet, displayed from top left to bottom right: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter
Via Penguin Randomhouse
Ali Smith's Seasonal Quartet

If you like Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Concertos, then read Ali Smith’s Seasonal Quartet
Each of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons are short and snappy, but more than that, they spark the listener’s imagination. The same goes for Ali Smith’s Seasonal Quartet, which features a book named after each of the seasons. In almost dream-like prose, they cover love, loss, and family dynamics with Shakespearean themes running throughout. And the best part? They’re written in huge font, so you can fly through one in an afternoon.

If you like Claude Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, then read Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
The languid quality of Debussy’s work pairs perfectly with Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi, about a young man trapped in a labyrinth for as long as he can seem to remember. Through his thorough record keeping of the goings-on within his strange and magical home, a mystery begins to unfold. It’s reminiscent of C.S. Lewis, and has a near-coziness that’s hard to resist.

On the left, the cover of Susanna Clarke's Piranesi: In front of a blue starry sky, a faun dances atop a column while playing an aulos. On the right, the cover of Mary Oliver's Upstream: A rocky stream flows through a coniferous forest; yellow flowers grow out of the right bank.
Bloomsbury Publishing / Penguin Randomhouse
Susanna Clarke's Piranesi / Mary Oliver's Upstream

If you like The Trout Quintet by Franz Schubert, then read Upstream by Mary Oliver
Okay, so maybe Schubert’s Trout Quintet isn’t technically inspired by the natural world (It’s named for one of his earlier tunes that compares young women to fish!). But beloved poet and longtime Provincetown resident Mary Oliver loved Schubert’s music, and even paid tribute to him in her poems And Bob Dylan, Too and Schubert. Her collection of essays, Upstream, is full of wisdom from a lifetime of communing with nature. Fair warning, it might just change your life.

If you like Scheherazade by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, then read The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty
Rimsky-Korsakov’s retelling of the voyages of Sinbad from The Arabian Nights is a fantasy lover’s dream come true. And so is this latest swashbuckling novel from Shannon Chakraborty, which has been called “a feminist version of Sinbad.” In it, the titular Amina al-Sirafi is a retired pirate hiding from her complicated past, until she gets pulled back in for one last job. She’s here to kick butt and take names . . . if her bad knee doesn’t get in the way!

On the left, the cover of Shannon Chakraborty's The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi: In front of a blue and yellow background, a red-tentacled monster rises out of the ocean with a ship in its grasp. On the right, the cover of Marlowe Granados' Happy Hour: A pink flower, two peach halves, a magenta napkin, and a green bottle are displayed on a red tablecloth; a disembodied hand casually holds a cocktail.
Harper Collins Publishers / Verso Books
Shannon Chakraborty's The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi / Marlowe Granados' Happy Hour

If you like A Little Night Music by Mozart, then read Happy Hour by Marlowe Granados
Mozart was a man who knew how to let the good times roll, and A Little Night Music serves as his perfect party playlist. I think he would approve of Isa and Gala, the main characters of Marlowe Granados’ Happy Hour. The two broke twenty-somethings find out just how much trouble they can get into during one blistering summer in New York City. It’s witty and hilarious and just a little bit fluffy, like eating cake for breakfast.

Here's a playlist of the music I mentioned in this post:

Edyn-Mae is a producer and host at CRB.