Literary Pairings: Books & Music

Book & Music

I’m trying out a new (monthly? weekly?) feature here on FSR. Although I generally pair books with food mentioned within the text, I thought I’d pair favorite quotations with a thematically matching song. Am I the first to do this? Certainly not. I’m not sure there are any original ideas in the world anymore, but I am borrowing this fine one from Literary Jukebox.

Do I worry that no one will be interested in this but me? Of course, but generally a personal (book) blog is designed to reflect personal (book) interests. And that is what I’m doing. I’m just thankful that the book blogging community is a kind one and not one given to being snarky and mean (have you ever read GOMI, yikes).

This month’s literary pairings:

Book: “I thought of her painting her toenails, bent over between her own thighs in the way only women doing that particular piece of business can manage. I thought of her throwing a book at me because I laughed at some new haircut. I thought of her trying to learn how to play a breakdown on her banjo and of how she looked bra-less in a thin sweater. I thought of her crying and laughing and angry. I thought of her telling me it was crap, all that frustrated-artist crap. And I thought about the dreams, especially the culminating dream. I could do that easily, because it never faded as the more ordinary ones do.”

Bag of Bones by Stephen King

Music: “Sara” by Bob Dylan

Book: “To his surprise, she leaned over and kissed him on the forehead, a kiss so full of affection that it dispelled the awkwardness, even as it caused Miles’ heart to plummet, because all kisses are calibrated, and this one revealed the great chasm between affection and love.”

Empire Falls by Richard Russo

Music:  “And Then You Kissed Me” by The Cardigans

Book: “A child blind from birth doesn’t even know he’s blind until someone tells him. Even then he has only the most academic idea of what blindness is; only the formerly sighted have a real grip on the thing. Ben Hanscom had no sense of being lonely because he had never been anything but. If the condition had been new, or more localized, he might have understood, but loneliness both encompassed his life and overreached it.”

IT by Stephen King

Music: “Grey” by Ani DiFranco

Book: “It didn’t matter in the end how old they had been, or that they were girls, but only that we had loved them, and that they hadn’t heard us calling, still do not hear us, up here in the tree house with our thinning hair and soft bellies, calling them out of those rooms where they went to be alone for all time, alone in suicide, which is deeper than death, and where we will never find the pieces to put them back together. ”

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

Music: “Gloomy Sunday” by Billie Holiday

Book: Human beings are remarkable – at what we can learn to live with. If we couldn’t get strong from what we lose, and what we miss, and what we want and can’t have, then we couldn’t ever get strong enough, could we?

The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving

Music: “Something I Can Never Have” by Nine Inch Nails

Book: “‘I had no illusions about you,’ he said. ‘I knew you were silly and frivolous and empty-headed. But I loved you. I knew that your aims and ideals were vulgar and commonplace. But I loved you. I knew that you were second-rate. But I loved you. It’s comic when I think how hard I tried to be amused by the things that amused you and how anxious I was to hide from you that I wasn’t ignorant and vulgar and scandal-mongering and stupid. I knew how frightened you were of intelligence and I did everything I could to make you think me as big a fool as the rest of the men you knew. I knew that you’d only married me for convenience. I loved you so much, I didn’t care. Most people, as far as I can see, when they’re in love with someone and the love isn’t returned feel that they have a grievance. They grow angry and bitter. I wasn’t like that. I never expected you to love me, I didn’t see any reason that you should. I never thought myself very lovable. I was thankful to be allowed to love you and I was enraptured when now and then I thought you were pleased with me or when I noticed in your eyes a gleam of good-humored affection. I tried not to bore you with my love; I knew I couldn’t afford to do that and I was always on the lookout for the first sign that you were impatient with my affection. What most husbands expect as a right I was prepared to receive as a favor.”

The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham

Music: “As Is” by Ani DiFranco

Book: “To weigh and evaluate a vast grid of information, much of it meaningless, and to arrive at sensible, if erroneous, conclusions, is a skill not to be sneezed at.”

The Risk Pool by Richard Russo

Music: “I Don’t Know a Thing” by Lucy Schwartz

So…’Literary Pairings’. Keep the feature? Toss the feature? Totally ignore me until I stop talking about it (as if you needed another reminder of my affection for Bob Dylan anyway). 😉


22 thoughts on “Literary Pairings: Books & Music

  1. I cannot do anything for the rest of the weekend. You’ve sent me down the RABBIT HOLE of GOMI! Argh, lol.

    Dig the feature, totally dig.


    1. Thanks. GOMI is the black hole of internet incivility. The forums both appall and entertain me, the people are SO mean, yet I can’t deny it’s a little true. Lifestyle blogs…you don’t know how to live, they can help. Mommy blogs…yes we know, you’re the first parent ever…


  2. Keep it!

    Listening to the Billie Holiday song now. Virgin Suicides is one of my favourite books.

    Hotel New Hampshire and NIN? Oh my god. I love it. I haven’t listened to that song, or read that book, since the 90s I bet.


    1. That is the the direction I’m leaning.

      Admittedly, it’s quite possible that a good part of me is stuck in the ’90’s (despite my ’80’s love, as I really only have vague memories of the ’80’s).

      I am a HUGE fan of John Irving, he has the right mix of dark levity and dysfunction to keep me entertained, much like NIN. I also haven’t listened to them much since 2005ish and earlier, but I still have most of their songs memorized.


      1. Totally agree, and I haven’t listened to much new NIN or read much new Irving. I’m scared that it won’t be as good and want to preserve my memories. I’m definitely stuck in the 90s!


      2. From the 2000’s on (in case you haven’t read any):

        The Fourth Hand. His worst, mostly just weird stuff about hands.

        Until I Find You. Decent, nothing special.

        Last Night in Twisted River. Most excellent, mush read.

        In One Person. Didn’t work for me, pass.

        John Irving is one of the only authors that I reach ‘fangirl’ status over. However, except for Last Night in Twisted River, his earlier work is better.


      3. Oh, I did read The Fourth Hand, and nothing since, b/c I was like “WTF was that?” 🙂 Thanks for the recap! I’ve never ever heard of Last Night. Adding to the tbr list!


    1. Me too, even if it could be done (and it probably can somehow), I’d likely be too lazy to do it. Or, realistically, not have enough time.


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