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June 19, 2013 / The Promiscuous Reader

Mozart, Sigur Rós & Reading

Tell-The-Wolves-Im-Home1Typically, I’m a silent reader.  By that I mean, I like to read in silence (or at least as much silence as can be mustered in a house of four people and two dogs).  Occasionally, however, a book begs for music in the background.  Sometimes, it’s because the piece of music is mentioned in the book itself, but for other books it’s because the mood of the book, the writing, the setting demand it.  This past year, I’ve found myself reading two such books.

The first is the heartbreaking, excellent book by Carol Rifka Brunt, Tell the Wolves I’m Home.  I wish this book had been around twenty years ago, I could have used it. It tells the story of an artsy, outsider teenage girl, June Elbus, and the connections she makes as she works through her grief after her uncle dies.  The author captures so many things well, the awkwardness of being a teenager, the secrets a family holds close and how memories can feed us in our grief.  One such memory that June holds dear is listening to Mozart’s Requiem with her uncle.  So I did as well, choosing the EMI Classics recording conducted by Daniel Barenboim and listening to it on repeat as I read this stunning novel.  Bring tissue.

This past winter, I started expanding my journey into Scandinavian literature and included a couple selections from Iceland by Arnaldur Indridason.  I read the first two Reykjavik Thriller books, Jar City and Silence of the Grave.  Both were interesting by virtue of the fact that I knew next to nothing about Iceland, and it was interesting to learn a little more about the country.  Coincidentally, about the time I was reading these books I was also watching The Eagle, a Danish police series with an Icelandic protagonist.  I decided to make it a perfect trifecta and listen to some moody Icelandic music courtesy of Sigur Rós as I was reading.  Perfect winter combo.

Anyway, these two books got me thinking…what other book/music pairings would make sense?  Would I listen to Avi Avital’s Bach album while reading Corelli’s Mandolin?  What would pair well with Anna Karenina or The Tale of Edgar Sawtelle ?  Should I listen to something cheery the next time I read Lord of the Rings in a preemptive attempt to stave off the sense of dread that overtakes me?  What music do you listen to when reading?


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