Today is World Book Day, when we all come together, across industries and life, to celebrate our love of the written word in all its forms. The world of music is no stranger to literature. Artists are continuously inspired by what they find in literature, whether that be the Arctic Monkeys using John Cooper Clark's poem, I Wanna Be Yours, In its entirety for their song of the same name; Kate Bush using the ethereal setting of Emily Brontes Withering Heights, for a song of the same name; or even David Bowie using the dystopian themes within George Orwells classic, 1984, for inspiration on his song of the same name on his album 'Diamond Dogs.' The relationship between the two is evident and eminent.
Yet, whilst musicians are so often inspired by literature, the same can be said for the reverse, particularly those writing fiction. The feelings and emotion music conjures, the raucous nature of Rock and Roll, and the trials and tribulations of touring artists; all of these topics have found their way into works of fiction, and they can result in endlessly relatable and incredibly poignant stories for both fans and creators of music.
With this in mind, and with it being World Book Day, we wanted to let you in on all of Skiddle's favourite fictional works that are based on and around the musical world, with hopes that you might leave with a few more books on your 'To Be Read' pile.
Daisy Jones & The Six
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
A novel highly reminiscent of and loosely based on the rise of Fleetwood Mac, and the period in which Stevie Nicks joined the Band, Daisy Jones and the Six is a gripping tale that encapsulates the tumultuous, whirlwind nature of Rock and Roll in the 70s, based around the fictional band and the mysteries surrounding its creation and eventual break-up.
Following Daisy Jones, a beautiful and talented vocalist, who is caught up in the sex, drugs, and rock and roll of the era (although her heart lies with the latter), and Billy Dunne, the frontman of The Six, who goes wild on tour following a surprise pregnancy and the thought of losing his youth; The book recounts when the two cross paths and a producer realises the key to both their success is to put them together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.
Author: Nick Hornby
Whilst we are sure many of you have seen the cult classic movie, starring Jack Black and John Cusak, we are certain that the majority of you will never have set eyes on the printed version that came before. High Fidelity follows The story details Rob Fleming, a failing record shop owner who prefers to make ranked lists of all his Musical opinions, and who just wants to be free to listen to music following a break up with his ex Laura.
Yet, Rob struggles to cope with the breakup, with his record shop going further down the drain. So he decides to use his love of lists to make one of his top five relationships and goes on a mission to discover where he has gone wrong.
A story of love, relationships, and the human condition, set constantly to the backdrop of nostalgic record shops and a love of music, that is heedlessly funny and relatable. A must-read for any music fans, especially those struggling with relationships.
Author: Robin Benway
What would you do if your musician Ex boyfriend made a song about you following your break-up, and said song went on to be an international hit, shooting you into global fame? Well, instead of actually thinking about what you would do, you should feast your eyes on this incredible book by Robin Brenway instead.
The book follows Audrey Cuttler, a music lover who just wants to go about her life, attending concerts, hanging around with her mates in peace, and maybe even securing a date with the cute boy she works with. Yet, a song about her 'Audrey, Wait!' which her musician ex-boyfriend releases to global acclaim, launches her into the spotlight. The paparazzi won't leave her alone, the tabloids are trying to make her into some kind of rock goddess, and the Internet is documenting her every move.
Hilarious, relatable, and incredibly written, a must-read for anyone who has tried to use music to get over an Ex.
Author: David Mitchell
From the mind of the bestselling, prize-winning author of Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks, Utopia Avenue is a novel that follows the career of the strangest British band you've never heard of. It follows the band (of the same name as the book) as they emerge in late sixties London's psychedelic rock scene and their whirlwind journey. From the back rooms of seedy clubs to the Top of the Pops and the cusp of chart success.
The novel is not only about the Psychedelic scene in the late 60s, but also the world in which it existed. The riots in the streets and political revolutions in the public mind; of drugs, love, sex, death, and art; of the families we choose and the ones we don’t; of the wobbly ladder of fame and the pact many who strive to achieve it undertake. A truly insightful and fascinating novel.
The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto
Author: Mitch Albom
This novel's fictional, titular character, Frankie Presto, is known as the greatest guitar player to ever live. Abandoned as an infant, raised by a music teacher in a Spanish town, and sent to America when war breaks out, the novel follows Frankie as he explores the American musical landscape of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, with his mesmeric guitar ability and singing talent affecting numerous stars of the day, from Duke Ellington to Elvis Presley.
The story focuses on the six lives that Frankies music changes, his eventual realisation of the power his music has over people, his disappearance that fables him into myth, and his eventual reappearance, to change one last life. There are few books that capture the transformative power of music like this one, and if anyone needs reminding of that sentiment, then you know what book to read.
Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Nobel Prize for Literature winning author for his brilliant story Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro also wrote this work of music-related genius back in 2009, Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall. The book fables five dazzlingly etched, interconnected stories in which music is a vivid and essential character.
From the once popular singer, desperate to recapture fame; to the man whose taste in music is the only thing his friends actually value in him; to an underappreciated Jazz musician who thinks plastic surgery is the answer to their career problems; the book is an arrestingly emotional view of love, our pasts, and the exploration of our self, with music being a force for every character that lead them to eventual reckoning, with very different results. An exceptional work by one of the best writers working today.
Needle In The Groove
Author: Jeff Noon
Probably the least well-known book on this list, but by far one of the most creative, Jeff Noons Needle In The Groove follows a Manchester-based bassist who after years in two-bit bands starts a journey into dance music. However, as their first release starts to climb the dance charts, one of the members goes missing. What proceeds is a trippy and emotional journey into the heart of rhythm and a musical drug that could change everything.
The stand-out feature of this novel is the way it's written. Difficult for the inexperienced (due to the lack of punctuation and peculiar form) but immensely enjoyable for the avid reader, the style of the language of this book emulates the complex rhythms of dance music, seeping into every word and phrase and giving the novel's words a notable beat. Such an interesting novel that celebrates and catalogues Manchesters musical journey as a city, whilst also delving into the reasons we love dance music so much.
I Was Born For This
Author: Alice Oseman
The story of two lives from opposite ends of the musical spectrum thrown together. Angel Rahimi, a huge fan girl of the international pop-rock trio, The Ark, to whom she bases her whole life, and Jimmy Kaga-Ricci, the lead singer of The Ark, who is struggling with the trio's newfound fame.
The book is ultimately about the fallibility of dreams, and how the life we can dream of is not often the one best suited to us. It analyses the notion of a celebrity, the good the bad, and all the stuff in the middle, with numerous through lines that hit home to our celebrity-filled world and the crazy expectations we place on them.
An incredible book that persistently maintains the humanity of all the characters in it, exploring their problems without premeditation, and just simply a wonderful read.
The Final Revival of Opal & Nev
Author: Dawnie Walton
A crazy ride of a novel that all but imitates its subject matter, The Final Revival of Opal and Nev is about the meteoric rise of an iconic interracial rock duo in the 1970s, their sensational breakup, and the dark secrets unearthed when they try to reunite decades later for one last tour.
Kaleidospcic and brave the book documents many problems the rock and roll lifestyle of the 70s inflicted on those at the top of it. From heroin addictions to the political landscape of music in the era to the idolization of musicians, the book has it all. Opal and Nev could be picked out and replaced with a number of famous artists from the era and there would be very few changes to be made.
A Visit from the Goon Squad
Author: Jennifer Egan
Jennifer Egan’s spellbinding interlocking narratives circle the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other’s pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Kenya.
It's a book about the relationship between time and music, about personal survival, about the transformations that fate can have in store, the basic human hunger for redemption; and the universal tendency to reach for both—and escape the merciless progress of time—in the transporting realms of art and music.
Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.