Music and YA books

Music and songs are often used as a way of conveying feelings. They also can give a sense of time, placing the book in a specific era, or give an insight into a character. As a result a number of YA books allude to music or have their own playlists (either as part of the book or created separately by the author). Being aware of and making potential readers aware of the music alluded to in books can be a good way of attracting interest to the books or can be the starting point for a discussion.

Music or songs in books can also make a good display or competition – ideas could include matching the song to the book or coming up with your own song for a books or a playlist that tells the story (see what Penguin books have done here for Half Bad by Sally Green).  

Here are some books where music plays a central role:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – “Asleep” by The Smiths, Nirvana and The Smashing Pumpkins

Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson has a playlist with plenty of songs and artists to chose from

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli  – Elliott Smith even inspires Simon’s email name

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell – Park gives Eleanor mix tapes with a range of songs and artists

Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan – The Beatles, Green Day, Aretha Franklin

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby – the book is almost all about music with the main character being a London record shop owner.

The Commitments by Roddy Doyle – Jimmy Rabitte knows all there is to know about music and he agrees to manage The Commitments

If I Stay/Where She Went by Gayle Forman  music is a large part of both books and there is a wide range of songs and artists referred to, including classical music

Quite a few authors have developed playlists for books on their blogs/websites. Check these out:

Gayle Forman for If I Stay and Where She Went

Stephenie Meyer for Twilight

Veronica Roth for Divergent

Magie Stiefvater for Raven Boys


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