8 Songs That Perfectly Match Books

If the song fits, read with it. These eight book/song pairings are like a playlist for your eyes and ears.

1. “Chelsea Hotel No. 2” by Leonard Cohen (covered by Lana Del Rey) / Just Kids by Patti Smith

THE BOOK: In Just Kids, Patti Smith’s first book of prose, the legendary American artist offers a never-before-seen glimpse of her remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of New York City and the Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies.

THE SONG:

“Those were the reasons and that was New York,
we were running for the money and the flesh.
And that was called love for the workers in song
probably still is for those of them left.

I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel
you were famous, your heart was a legend.”

© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

2. “Postcards From Italy” by Beirut / Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

THE BOOK: From the moment it opens—on a rocky patch of Italian coastline, circa 1962, when a daydreaming young innkeeper looks out over the water and spies a mysterious woman approaching him on a boat—Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel. Hailed by critics and loved by readers of literary and historical fiction, Beautiful Ruins is the story of an almost-love affair that begins on the Italian coast in 1962…and is rekindled in Hollywood fifty years later.

THE SONG:

“The times we had
Oh, when the wind would blow with rain and snow
Were not all bad
We put our feet just where they had
Had to go, never to go

And I will love to see that day
That day is mine
When she will marry me outside
With the willow trees
And play the songs we made
They made me so
And I would love to see that day
Her day was mine”

© EMI Music Publishing

3. “Criminal” by Fiona Apple / Tampa by Alissa Nutting

THE BOOK: In Alissa Nutting’s novel Tampa, Celeste Price, a smoldering 26-year-old middle-school teacher in Florida, unrepentantly recounts her elaborate and sociopathically determined seduction of a 14-year-old student.

THE SONG:

“I’ve been a bad bad girl
I’ve been careless
With a delicate man
And it’s a sad sad world
When a girl will break a boy
Just because she can”

© Universal Music Publishing Group

4. “New Soul” by Yael Naïm / The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

THE BOOK: Helene Wecker’s dazzling debut novel The Golem and the Jinni tells the story of two supernatural creatures who appear mysteriously in 1899 New York. Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a strange man who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York Harbor. Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian Desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Struggling to make their way in this strange new place, the Golem and the Jinni try to fit in with their neighbors while masking their true natures.

THE SONG:

“I’m a new soul
I came to this strange world
Hoping I could learn a bit ‘bout how to give and take
But since I came here, felt the joy and the fear
Finding myself making every possible mistake

See I’m a young soul in this very strange world
Hoping I could learn a bit ‘bout what is true and fake
But why all this hate? try to communicate
Finding trust and love is not always easy to make”

© Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

5. “I Have Seen The Future” by The Bravery / Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

THE BOOK: The astonishing novel Brave New World, originally published in 1932, presents Aldous Huxley’s legendary vision of a world of tomorrow utterly transformed. In Huxley’s darkly satiric yet chillingly prescient imagining of a “utopian” future, humans are genetically designed and pharmaceutically anesthetized to passively serve a ruling order.

THE SONG:

“We are faster, faster than pain
We are a nerve ending without a brain
We have evolved, we have no feeling at all
It is a brave new world”

© CHRYSALIS MUSIC GROUP

6. “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor / The Way of the Fight by Georges St. Pierre

THE BOOK: UFC fighter, Georges “Rush” St. Pierre, shares the lessons he learned on his way to the top, in The Way of the Fight, revealing how he overcame bullying and injury to become an internationally celebrated athlete and champion. The reigning UFC welterweight champion, St. Pierre seemed untouchable until injury derailed him and jeopardized his title and his career. A compelling memoir that offers an intimate, gritty look at a fighter’s journey, told through inspiring vignettes, The Way of the Fight is a moving account of commitment and power, achievement and pain, dedication and conviction from one of the world’s greatest champions.

THE SONG:

“Risin’ up back on the street
Did my time, took my chances
Went the distance now I’m back on my feet
Just a man and his will to survive

Risin’ up straight to the top
Had the guts, got the glory
Went the distance, now I’m not gonna stop
Just a man and his will to survive

It’s the eye of the tiger
It’s the thrill of the fight
Rising up to the challenge of our rival”

© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

7. “Jessamine” by Darling Violetta / The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

THE BOOK: The Perfume Collector explores the complex and obsessive love between muse and artist, and the tremendous power of memory and scent. Newlywed Grace Monroe doesn’t fit anyone’s expectations of a successful 1950s London socialite, least of all her own. When she receives an unexpected inheritance from a complete stranger, Madame Eva d’Orsey, Grace is drawn to uncover the identity of her mysterious benefactor. Weaving through the decades, from 1920s New York to Monte Carlo, Paris, and London, the story Grace uncovers is that of an extraordinary women who inspired one of Paris’s greatest perfumers.

THE SONG:

“She’ll make you feel
Like you’ve seen the muse alive

She’s collecting memories
And putting them away
She’s counting stars
In her perfume jar”

© Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, EMI Music Publishing

8. “I Just Wanna Be Happy” by Gloria Estefan / The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

THE BOOK: Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. “The days are long, but the years are short,” she realized. “Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project. In The Happiness Project, Rubin chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier.

THE SONG:

“I’m a believer and I believe I’m free
I can be happy because I want to be

Made a decision to control my destiny
Don’t wanna sit back watchin’ life pass me by
I wanna get up, you know I gotta fly
Won’t ever give up until I’m happy, joyous and free”

© Universal Music Publishing Group, Foreign Imported Productions & Publishing

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