Many authors and readers are creating Spotify playlists inspired by their beloved books these days, so we’ve rounded up some of our favorites too. Have fun diving into this eclectic mix of songs paired with some enchanting and atmospheric books. And here’s hoping you discover a brand-new artist or music genre you’ve never heard before. As an added tip, be sure to listen to these epic tunes while reading the book, for an enhanced experience!
In France in 1943, after her husband is killed for trying to hide a Jewish child, Lana joins the Resistance and aligns with a wealthy Swiss man, pretending to be his girlfriend while gathering intel on Nazi raids. While risking her life to achieve revenge for her late-husband’s death, Lana begins to fall back in love. In a wonderful playlist inspired by the book, you’ll find classical pieces from Chopin to Liszt that are as moving, heartbreaking, and fast-paced as this intriguing work of WWII fiction.
From the author of the “fast-paced, heartbreaking, and hopeful” (Kristin Harmel, author of The Room on Rue Amélie) The Light After the War, a riveting and heartfelt story of a young woman recruited to be a spy for the resistance on the French Riviera during World War II.
Paris 1943: Lana Antanova is on her way to see her husband with the thrilling news that she is pregnant. But when she arrives at the convent where he teaches music, she’s horrified to see Gestapo officers execute him for hiding a Jewish girl in the piano.
A few months later, grieving both her husband and her lost pregnancy, Lana is shocked when she’s approached to join the resistance on the French Riviera. As the daughter of a Russian countess, Lana has the perfect background to infiltrate the émigré community of Russian aristocrats who socialize with German officers, including the man who killed her husband.
Lana’s cover story makes her the mistress of Guy Pascal, a wealthy Swiss industrialist and fellow resistance member, in whose villa in Cap Ferrat she lives. Together, they gather information on upcoming raids and help members of the Jewish community escape. Consumed by her work, she doesn’t expect to become attached to a young Jewish girl or wonder about the secrets held by the man whose house she shares. And as the Nazis’ deadly efforts intensify, her intention to protect those around her may put them all at risk instead.
With Anita Abriel’s “heartfelt and memorable” (Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author) storytelling, Lana’s War is a sweeping and suspenseful tale of survival and second chances during some of the darkest days of history.
THE FINAL REVIVAL OF OPAL AND NEV is a fast-paced oral history narrative about a rock music duo’s rise to fame and success. Their story begins in the seventies when Nev, an older white singer-songwriter first notices Opal, a young black singer performing in a NYC bar, struggling to make it in the music scene. Their journey is full of ups and downs through scandal, music, fame, politics, and secrets, which music journalist S. Sunny Shelton attempts to uncover at their 2016 reunion. Fittingly, author Dawnie Walton put together a Spotify playlist of songs that inspired her book, featuring David Bowie, Janelle Monáe, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and so much more!
A kaleidoscopic fictional oral history of the beloved rock ’n’ roll duo who shot to fame in 1970s New York, and the dark, fraught secret that lies at the peak of their stardom.
Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, Afro-punk before that term existed. Coming of age in Detroit, she can’t imagine settling for a 9-to-5 job—despite her unusual looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her at a bar’s amateur night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together for the fledgling Rivington Records.
In early seventies New York City, just as she’s finding her niche as part of a flamboyant and funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert. Opal’s bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially black women, who dare to speak their truth.
Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duo’s most politicized chapter. But as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens to blow up everything.
Provocative and chilling, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev features a backup chorus of unforgettable voices, a heroine the likes of which we’ve not seen in storytelling, and a daring structure, and introduces a bold new voice in contemporary fiction.
INFINITE COUNTRY is an intimate portrayal of a Colombian family struggling to stay together, while their status as undocumented immigrants in America looms upon them, each in different ways. Patricia Engel is herself the daughter of Colombian immigrants, and the authenticity of her writing reverberates through the book, as well as through her Spotify playlist, which includes popular artists from Colombia performing traditional music styles.
“Remarkable...this is as much an all-American story as it is a global one.” —Booklist (starred review)
For readers of Valeria Luiselli and Edwidge Danticat, an urgent and lyrical novel about a Colombian family fractured by deportation, offering an intimate perspective on an experience that so many have endured—and are enduring right now.
Talia is being held at a correctional facility for adolescent girls in the forested mountains of Colombia after committing an impulsive act of violence that may or may not have been warranted. She urgently needs to get out and get back home to Bogotá, where her father and a plane ticket to the United States are waiting for her. If she misses her flight, she might also miss her chance to finally be reunited with her family in the north.
How this family came to occupy two different countries, two different worlds, comes into focus like twists of a kaleidoscope. We see Talia’s parents, Mauro and Elena, fall in love in a market stall as teenagers against a backdrop of civil war and social unrest. We see them leave Bogotá with their firstborn, Karina, in pursuit of safety and opportunity in the United States on a temporary visa, and we see the births of two more children, Nando and Talia, on American soil. We witness the decisions and indecisions that lead to Mauro’s deportation and the family’s splintering—the costs they’ve all been living with ever since.
Award-winning, internationally acclaimed author Patricia Engel, herself a dual citizen and the daughter of Colombian immigrants, gives voice to all five family members as they navigate the particulars of their respective circumstances. And all the while, the metronome ticks: Will Talia make it to Bogotá in time? And if she does, can she bring herself to trade the solid facts of her father and life in Colombia for the distant vision of her mother and siblings in America?
Rich with Bogotá urban life, steeped in Andean myth, and tense with the daily reality of the undocumented in America, Infinite Country is the story of two countries and one mixed-status family—for whom every triumph is stitched with regret, and every dream pursued bears the weight of a dream deferred.
LOVE PROOF is about a physics prodigy who uses her knowledge of alternate realities, and her profound grief, to prove that true love can be found in any time frame. Considering that premise, you can bet the author’s playlist is filled with emotional, sultry tunes about the epic rise and tragic fall of love. For the ultimate heartbreak playlist, listen to this one, which practically oozes with love, pain, and fate, in the smooth voices of Sam Smith, Wrabel, and more.
“Henry has done a masterful job…This book is academic and heartfelt and tender and loving. It is worth every minute spent reading it.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A brilliant physicist studying the nature of time embarks on a journey to prove that those we love are always connected to us, leading to surprising revelations in this fresh and unique love story.
Sophie Jones is a physics prodigy on track to unlock the secrets of the universe. But when she meets Jake Kristopher during their first week at Yale they instantly feel a deep connection, as if they’ve known each other before. Quickly, they become a couple. Slowly, their love lures Sophie away from school.
When a shocking development forces Sophie into a new reality, she returns to physics to make sense of her world. She grapples with life’s big questions, including how to cope with unexpected change and loss. Inspired by her connection with Jake, Sophie throws herself into her studies, determined to prove that true loves belong together in all realities.
Spanning decades, The Love Proof is an unusual love story about lasting connection, time, and intuition. It explores the course that perfect love can take between imperfect people, and urges us to listen to our hearts rather than our heads.
Back in 1984, when commercial fishing was the top trade in Long Island’s seaside town of Montauk, a sudden storm took the lives of four fishermen. Author Amanda M. Fairbanks tells their tragic tale, and explores the town’s dynamics over the years as the families and residents experience collective grief and as shifts in regional industries and economies take place. The author’s playlist of music that inspired this compelling nonfiction narrative features Billy Joel, Joni Mitchell, and more, whose whimsical, deeply felt songs encompass journeys across seas, searching for home, and the endurance of grief.
An immersive account of a tragedy at sea whose repercussions haunt its survivors to this day, lauded by New York Times bestselling author Ron Suskind as “an honest and touching book, and a hell of a story.”
In March of 1984, the commercial fishing boat Wind Blown left Montauk Harbor on what should have been a routine offshore voyage. Its captain, a married father of three young boys, was the boat’s owner and leader of the four-man crew, which included two locals and the blue-blooded son of a well-to-do summer family. After a week at sea, the weather suddenly turned, and the foursome collided with a nor’easter. They soon found themselves in the fight of their lives. Tragically, it was a fight they lost. Neither the boat nor the bodies of the men were ever recovered.
The fate of the Wind Blown—the second-worst nautical disaster suffered by a Montauk-based fishing vessel in over a hundred years—has become interwoven with the local folklore of the East End’s year-round population. Back then, on the easternmost tip of Long Island, before Wall Street and hedge fund money stormed into town, commercial fishing was the area’s economic lifeblood.
Amanda M. Fairbanks examines the profound shift of Montauk from a working-class village—“a drinking town with a fishing problem”—to a playground for the ultra-wealthy, seeking out the reasons that an event more than three decades old remains so startlingly vivid in people’s minds. She explores the ways in which deep, lasting grief can alter people’s memories. And she shines a light on the powerful and sometimes painful dynamics between fathers and sons, as well as the secrets that can haunt families from beyond the grave.
The story itself is a universal tale of family and brotherhood; it’s about what happens when the dreams and ambitions of affluent and working-class families collide. Captivating and powerful, The Lost Boys of Montauk explores one of the most important questions we face as humans: how do memories of the dead inform the lives of those left behind?
If you’re longing for a bit of spookiness right now, pick up THE SANATORIUM and its playlist, created by Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine. This gripping thriller is about an eerie hotel called Le Sommet, isolated in the Swiss Alps. It used to be a sanatorium, and when guests begin to disappear, and those remaining panic, they look into Le Sommet’s history to find out why the strange events are happening. Enhance your icy reading experience with this playlist, featuring artists such as AURORA, Halsey, and Agnes Obel—perfect for when you need a little more chill than what an AC sends your way.
Depicting a turbulent, decades-long marriage between an adventurous Black American professor and an Italian businessman on a Madagascar beachfront, this evocative novel, which plays out over annual summers spent at their mansion retreat, is layered with cultural clashes, a luscious landscape, and nuanced explorations of tourism, colonialism, and privilege. Author Andrea Lee’s Spotify playlist is comprised of Malagasy music from artists including Wawa, Jaojoby, and Ninie Doniah, whose style falls under the genre of salegy, which originated in northern Madagascar. With this energetic music playing in the background, you’ll be transported right into the pages of RED ISLAND HOUSE.
From National Book Award–nominated writer Andrea Lee comes a gorgeously evocative epic about love, clashing cultures, and identity, set in the tropical African island nation of Madagascar.
“People do mysterious things when they think they’ve found paradise,” reflects Shay, the heroine of Red Island House. When Shay, a Black American professor who’s always had an adventurous streak, marries Senna, an Italian businessman, she doesn’t imagine that her life’s greatest adventure will carry her far beyond their home in Milan to an idyllic stretch of beach in Madagascar, where Senna builds a flamboyant vacation villa. Before she knows it, Shay has become the somewhat reluctant mistress of a sprawling household, caught between her privileged American upbringing and her connection to the continent of her ancestors.
At first, she’s content to be an observer of the passionate affairs and fierce rivalries around her, but over twenty tumultuous years of marriage, as she and Senna raise children and establish their own rituals at the house, Shay finds herself drawn ever deeper into a place where a blend of magic, sexual intrigue, and transgression forms a modern-day parable of colonial conquest. Soon the collision of cultures comes right to Shay’s door, forcing her to make a life-altering decision that will change her and Senna’s lives forever.
A captivating, powerful, and profoundly moving novel about marriage and loyalty, identity and freedom, Red Island House showcases an extraordinary literary voice and an extravagantly lush, enchanted world.
The first line of R.E.M.’s “Cuyahoga” fittingly describes the plot of this wildly clever debut novel: “Let’s put our heads together and start a new country up.” CUYAHOGA reimagines the concept of the origin myth in 1830s Ohio, starring Big Son, a legendary figure who practically built Ohio City all by himself. While his feats are celebrated by the townsfolk, they have failed to give Big Son and honest living. Seeking to make a steady wage, Big Son hits the streets, only to be caught in the heated rivalry between Ohio City and Cleveland as each seeks to make themselves the greatest metropolis in the Midwest. Heavy with indie rock and highlighting Cleveland and Ohio-based artists, Pete Beatty’s curated playlist for CUYAHOGA not only brings the spirit of the book to life, if you listen closely enough, you can follow the book’s plot.
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A spectacularly inventive debut novel that reinvents the tall tale for our times—“Cuyahoga defies all modest description…[it] is ten feet tall if it’s an inch, and it’s a ramshackle joy from start to finish” (Brian Phillips, author of Impossible Owls).
Big Son is a spirit of the times—the times being 1837. Behind his broad shoulders, shiny hair, and church-organ laugh, Big Son practically made Ohio City all by himself. The feats of this proto-superhero have earned him wonder and whiskey toasts but very little in the way of fortune. And without money, Big cannot become an honest husband to his beloved Cloe (who may or may not want to be his wife, honestly).
In pursuit of a steady wage, our hero hits the (dirt) streets of Ohio City and Cleveland, the twin towns racing to become the first great metropolis of the West. Their rivalry reaches a boil over the building of a bridge across the Cuyahoga River—and Big stumbles right into the kettle. The resulting misadventures involve elderly terrorists, infrastructure collapse, steamboat races, wild pigs, and multiple ruined weddings.
Narrating this “deliriously fun” (Brian Phillips) tale is Medium Son—known as Meed—apprentice coffin maker, almanac author, orphan, and the younger brother of Big. Meed finds himself swept up in the action, and he is forced to choose between brotherly love and his own ambitions. His uncanny voice—plain but profound, colloquial but surprisingly poetic—elevates a slapstick frontier tale into a screwball origin myth for the Rust Belt.
In Cuyahoga, tragedy and farce jumble together in a riotously original voice. Evoking the Greek classics and the Bible alongside nods to Looney Tunes, Charles Portis, and Flannery O’Connor, Pete Beatty has written a rollicking revisionist (mid)Western with universal themes of family and fate—an old, weird America that feels brand new.
THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS is, as Stephen Graham Jones describes it, “his heart on the page."Part hunting novel, part basketball novel, and part slasher novel, THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS is about four childhood friends who go out on an elk hunt commit a deadly mistake and find themselves and their family and friends tracked by an entity hell bent on revenge. Stephen Graham Jones leaves no stone unturned in his book-inspired playlist. Including theme songs for characters and the song he’d imagine playing during the opening credits if THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS ever became a television show, this playlist perfectly reflects the book’s underlying unease and outright horror.
A USA TODAY BESTSELLER
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
In this latest novel from Stephen Graham Jones comes a “heartbreakingly beautiful story” (Library Journal, starred review) of revenge, cultural identity, and the cost of breaking from tradition.
Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians is “a masterpiece. Intimate, devastating, brutal, terrifying, warm, and heartbreaking in the best way” (Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts). This novel follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on revenge, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in violent, vengeful ways. Labeled “one of 2020’s buzziest horror novels” (Entertainment Weekly), this is a remarkable horror story “will give you nightmares—the good kind of course” (BuzzFeed).
Welcome to the 1980s! If you’re looking for excitement, adventure, and escape, ASTRID SEES ALL and its rockin’ playlist are just for you. Recent college grad Phoebe Hayes leaves her past life behind, transforming into Astrid the Star Girl, a fortune teller at Plutonium nightclub in the East Village. She just wants to party the pain away after the death of her father, but, caught in a whirlwind of addicts, artists, and similarly struggling souls, Astrid faces a descent into darkness. This gritty coming-of-age novel is sure to resonate with everyone’s inner twenty-year-old, especially paired with a nostalgic playlist of 1980s head-bangin’ rock artists like The Jam and Gang of Four.
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New York’s last bohemia—the glittering, decadent downtown club scene of the 1980s—is the setting for this brilliantly winning novel about a smart, vulnerable young woman taking a deep dive into her dark side, essential for fans of Sweetbitter, Fleabag, and books by Patti Smith.
New York, 1984: Twenty-two-year-old Phoebe Hayes is a young woman in search of excitement and adventure. But the recent death of her father has so devastated her that her mother wants her to remain home in Baltimore to recover. Phoebe wants to return to New York, not only to chase the glamorous life she so desperately craves but also to confront Ivan, the older man who painfully wronged her.
With her best friend Carmen, she escapes to the East Village, disappearing into an underworld haunted by artists, It Girls, and lost souls trying to party their pain away. Carmen juggles her junkie-poet boyfriend and a sexy painter while, as Astrid the Star Girl, Phoebe tells fortunes in a nightclub and plots her revenge on Ivan.
When the intoxicating brew of sex, drugs, and self-destruction leads Phoebe to betray her friend, Carmen disappears, and Phoebe begins an unstoppable descent into darkness. She may have a chance to save herself—and Carmen, if she can find her—but to do it she must face what’s hiding in the shadows she’s been running from—within her heart and in the dangerous midnight streets.
A love letter to gritty 1980s New York City, Astrid Sees All is an irresistible, original novel about female friendship, sex and romance, and what it’s like to be a young woman searching for an identity.
Tired of facing isolation and microaggressions at work, Nella Rogers is thrilled when her publishing company, Wagner Books, finally hires another Black woman in the editorial department. Sadly, Nella’s hopes for a new friend and better office life fade when their relationship becomes riddled with competition and manipulation. For Nella, though, there may be more at stake than her career. Zakiya Dalila Harris’s twist-filled thriller is wonderfully complimented by her playlist featuring Beyoncé, Solange, and more strong Black artists. Let the smooth, soulful sounds of R&B transport you into the charged world of THE OTHER BLACK GIRL.
“Riveting, fearless, and vividly original. This is an exciting debut.” —Emily St. John Mandel, New York Times bestselling author of The Glass Hotel
Get Out meets The Devil Wears Prada in this electric debut about the tension that unfurls when two young Black women meet against the starkly white backdrop of New York City book publishing.
Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she’s thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust.
Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.
It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there’s a lot more at stake than just her career.
A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary that is perfect for anyone who has ever felt manipulated, threatened, or overlooked in the workplace, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.
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