Literary Mix Tapes

Do you ever listen to music as you read?

I’m one of those people who can’t do that. I can’t listen to anything while I’m doing anything, which is why I decided to live in a little country town where I hear nothing at all most days but for the whirring of computer fans.

At school one teacher had us read Ring Rise, Ring Set by Monica Hughes. My BFF read this while listening to Enigma (what happened to them?), and now if she ever hears Enigma she says she’s taken right back to that moment as she lay on her bed reading the set English text.

Music can take you right back to a moment just like a woman’s perfume. Last week I was taken right back to Essex after catching a whiff of a friend’s fragrance when the wind came up at the park. I have no idea why Essex, or who in Essex was wearing that perfume, and I only lived there for a single month back in 2006, but there you go. The Power of Perfume.

About 2 years ago I was walking around a local river listening to a podcast on Yetis. Now, whenever I go back to that walking track I think of Yetis – specifically how one might jump out at me from the bushes at any moment.

So the idea of making a mix tape (or shall we be modern and say ‘Playlist’) for a favourite book, or for your current writing project, makes sense. If I were still teaching English I would suggest this as a post-reading activity to a text, because students don’t need to own music these days in order to have access to it. (YouTube.)

by Carrie Sloan

I’ve noticed authors putting together playlists for their own published books, then sharing them as part of their marketing plan and — let’s not be too cynical — because compiling playlists is fun to do.

I wonder what proportion of writers play music in the background. From discussions I’ve had, some need it, others can’t stand it, some for the planning stage only, some play only music without lyrics, and every variation on that.

Recently I saw a writer tweet something like:

OMG don’t you hate it when you’ve been working on a novel for 3 years and then you realise the entire thing has been done before… in a single song!

I forget who that was, but I did wonder if there was a music-loving author on earth who hasn’t had that experience. The consolation: There’s no such thing as a new story, or a new emotion — just original expressions of it.

Related Links: Booktrack Thinks E-Books Need Sound Effects and Soundtracks; Books You Can Dance To. See also the Flavorpill website, who put out regular mixtapes of classics, like Tigger and Sherlock Holmes; The Soundtrack Of Our Books from The Millions.