Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby is the story of three people and their love of music and each other.  Duncan and Annie are a couple from England who have been together for 15 years, for reasons neither are really sure of.  Duncan is obsessed with musician Tucker Crowe, who abruptly gave up his music career two decades ago following the release of Duncan’s favorite Crowe album, titled Juliet.  When the book begins, Duncan and Annie (a much less enthusiastic Crowe fan) are on a trek through America visiting famous spots where Tucker Crowe spent time.  After disagreeing about the merits of Crowe’s comeback album (an acoustic work entitled Juliet, Naked), Duncan commits the ultimate betrayal, and he and Annie part ways.  But while working to mend her broken heart, Annie is contacted by the person she least expects:  the musician himself, Tucker Crowe.  The two forge a relationship that is completely unexpected, yet fitting when you finally see it come together.

I was drawn to this book for two reasons: I thought the cover was cool (yes, even librarians sometimes judge books by their covers), and the fact that it’s written by Nick Hornby.  This is the second book by Nick Hornby that I have read.  One of his earlier books, About A Boy, is another enjoyable read if you liked this book.  If you like books about musicians and their fans, Hornby’s books are for you; he is clearly very interested in music, with this book being focused on the fictitious Tucker Crowe and About A Boy carrying a large focus on one character’s fascination with Kurt Cobain.  It was interesting to see a sort of “behind the scenes” look at the life of the musician (even if he wasn’t real), and because of this, Tucker Crowe himself ended up being my favorite character.  The ending, while slightly open-ended, provided enough closure that I had high hopes for Annie and her new life.  Overall, I found this to be an interesting and enjoyable read.

Beatles LondonIf you’re lucky enough to be going to London sometime and you’re a Beatles fan, be sure and pick up The Beatles’ London: A Guide to 467 Beatles Sites in and Around London. Here you’ll find a detailed and meticulous listing of every significant (and some not-so-significant) site associated with the Fab Four. Heavily illustrated and carefully mapped (including listing nearby Tube stations), you’ll soon be able to immerse yourself in Beatlemania. The book is divided geographically so that you can make the most of your time, and includes a special “Fast Fab Excursion”, an outlined walking tour that encompasses the most essential Beatle sites (allow about five hours), and a section on the filming of “A Hard Day’s Night”, “Help” and “Magical Mystery Tour”. While a lot has changed about London since the Beatles were in town, it won’t be hard to find yourself following in the footsteps of Paul, John, Ringo and George. And even if your travel plans don’t include London, any Beatles fan will be in trivia heaven with this book.

soloist1This is an unusual true story of a Los Angeles Times columnist who one day takes notice of a violin playing homeless man. Unusual is the music this homeless person manages to produce from a beat up violin with two strings missing. Even the columnist, who has little music knowledge, can tell that this raggedy seemingly eccentric individual must have had some classical training and education. Shortly after approaching Nathaniel, Lopez discovers that he is a former Juilliard student, living on the streets suffering from untreated schizophrenia. The homeless musician stirs something unshakable in the columnist. As Lopez begins to try and improve Nathaniel’s life -by getting him off the streets and back on medication – he finds that Nathaniel has irrevocably changed his.

I was listening to Yo-Yo Ma who was a guest on Garrison Keillor’s radio show last week. I stopped to really listen to this world renowned cellist and was able to imagine Nathaniel Ayers playing in the same orchestra with him over 30 years ago. The Soloist had the potential to be a very depressing read. Instead, it was a hugely wonderful story.