2024 Pulitzer Prize Winners

The winners of the 2024 Pulitzer Prizes have been announced! You can watch the announcement video on the Pulitzer Prize website or read the media release. To celebrate the winners, we decided to highlight some of the winners and finalists. Below you will find the fiction winner and finalists, the biography winners, and the general nonfiction winner and finalists.

Reminder: what is written about below is not the complete list of 2024 Pulitzer Prize winners. For more information about the other 2024 Pulitzer Prize winners as well as past years’ winners, please check out their website.

Descriptions are provided by the publishers.

Fiction

Winner

Night Watch by Jayne Anne Phillips

In 1874, in the wake of the War, erasure, trauma, and namelessness haunt civilians and veterans, renegades and wanderers, freedmen and runaways. Twelve-year-old ConaLee, the adult in her family for as long as she can remember, finds herself on a buckboard journey with her mother, Eliza, who hasn’t spoken in more than a year. They arrive at the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in West Virginia, delivered to the hospital’s entrance by a war veteran who has forced himself into their world. There, far from family, a beloved neighbor, and the mountain home they knew, they try to reclaim their lives.

The omnipresent vagaries of war and race rise to the surface as we learn their story: their flight to the highest mountain ridges of western Virginia; the disappearance of ConaLee’s father, who left for the War and never returned. Meanwhile, in the asylum, they begin to find a new path. ConaLee pretends to be her mother’s maid; Eliza responds slowly to treatment. They get swept up in the life of the facility—the mysterious man they call the Night Watch; the orphan child called Weed; the fearsome woman who runs the kitchen; the remarkable doctor at the head of the institution. – Knopf

This title is also available in large print.

Finalists:

Same Bed Different Dreams by Ed Park

In 1919, far-flung patriots establish the Korean Provisional Government to protest the Japanese occupation of their country. This government-in-exile proves mostly symbolic, though, and after Japan’s defeat in World War II, the KPG dissolves and civil war erupts, resulting in the tragic North-South split that remains today.

But what if the KPG still existed—now working toward a unified Korea, secretly pulling levers to further its aims? Same Bed Different Dreams weaves together three distinct narrative voices with an archive of mysterious images, and twists reality like a kaleidoscope. Korean history, American pop culture, and our tech-fraught lives come together in this extraordinary and unforgettable novel.

Soon Sheen, a former writer now employed by the tech behemoth GLOAT, comes into possession of an unfinished book seemingly authored by the KPG. The manuscript is a riveting revisionist history, connecting famous names and obscure bit players to the KPG’s grand project—everyone from Syngman Rhee and architect-poet Yi Sang to Jack London and Marilyn Monroe. M*A*S*H is in here, too, as are the Moonies and a history of violence extending from the assassination of President McKinley to the Reagan-era downing of a passenger plane that puts the world on the brink of war. – Random House

Wednesday’s Child by Yiyun Li

A grieving mother makes a spreadsheet of everyone she’s lost. Elsewhere, a professor develops a troubled intimacy with her hairdresser. And every year, a restless woman receives an email from a strange man twice her age and several states away. In the stories of Wednesday’s Child, people strive for an ordinary existence until doing so becomes unsustainable, until the surface cracks and the grand mysterious forces—death, violence, estrangement—come to light. Even before such moments, everyday life is laden with meaning, studded with indelible details: a filched jar of honey, a mound of wounded ants, a photograph kept hidden for many years, until it must be seen.

Yiyun Li is a truly original writer, an alchemist of opposites: tender and unsentimental, metaphysical and blunt, funny and horrifying, omniscient and unusually aware of just how much we cannot know. Beloved for her novels and her memoir, she returns here to her earliest form, gathering pieces that have appeared in The New Yorker, Zoetrope, and other publications. Taken together, these stories, written over the span of a decade, articulate the cost, both material and emotional, of living—exile, assimilation, loss, love—with Li’s trademark unnerving beauty and wisdom. – Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Biography

Winners

King: A Life by Jonathan Eig

Vividly written and exhaustively researched, Jonathan Eig’s King: A Life is the first major biography in decades of the civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.—and the first to include recently declassified FBI files. In this revelatory new portrait of the preacher and activist who shook the world, the bestselling biographer gives us an intimate view of the courageous and often emotionally troubled human being who demanded peaceful protest for his movement but was rarely at peace with himself. He casts fresh light on the King family’s origins as well as MLK’s complex relationships with his wife, father, and fellow activists. King reveals a minister wrestling with his own human frailties and dark moods, a citizen hunted by his own government, and a man determined to fight for justice even if it proved to be a fight to the death. As he follows MLK from the classroom to the pulpit to the streets of Birmingham, Selma, and Memphis, Eig dramatically re-creates the journey of a man who recast American race relations and became our only modern-day founding father—as well as the nation’s most mourned martyr.

In this landmark biography, Eig gives us an MLK for our times: a deep thinker, a brilliant strategist, and a committed radical who led one of history’s greatest movements, and whose demands for racial and economic justice remain as urgent today as they were in his lifetime. – Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Master Slave Husband Wife: An Epic Journey from Slavery to Freedom by Ilyon Woo

In 1848, a year of international democratic revolt, a young, enslaved couple, Ellen and William Craft, achieved one of the boldest feats of self-emancipation in American history. Posing as master and slave, while sustained by their love as husband and wife, they made their escape together across more than 1,000 miles, riding out in the open on steamboats, carriages, and trains that took them from bondage in Georgia to the free states of the North.

Along the way, they dodged slave traders, military officers, and even friends of their enslavers, who might have revealed their true identities. The tale of their adventure soon made them celebrities, and generated headlines around the country. Americans could not get enough of this charismatic young couple, who traveled another 1,000 miles criss-crossing New England, drawing thunderous applause as they spoke alongside some of the greatest abolitionist luminaries of the day—among them Frederick Douglass and William Wells Brown.

But even then, they were not out of danger. With the passage of an infamous new Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, all Americans became accountable for returning refugees like the Crafts to slavery. Then yet another adventure began, as slave hunters came up from Georgia, forcing the Crafts to flee once again—this time from the United States, their lives and thousands more on the line and the stakes never higher. – 37 Ink

General Nonfiction

Winner

A Day in the Life of Abed Salama: Anatomy of a Jerusalem Tragedy by Nathan Thrall

Five-year-old Milad Salama is excited for a school trip to a theme park on the outskirts of Jerusalem. On the way, his bus collides with a semitrailer. His father, Abed, gets word of the crash and rushes to the site. The scene is chaos—the children have been taken to different hospitals in Jerusalem and the West Bank; some are missing, others cannot be identified. Abed sets off on an odyssey to learn Milad’s fate. It is every parent’s worst nightmare, but for Abed it is compounded by the maze of physical, emotional, and bureaucratic obstacles he must navigate because he is Palestinian. He is on the wrong side of the separation wall, holds the wrong ID to pass the military checkpoints, and has the wrong papers to enter the city of Jerusalem. Abed’s quest to find Milad is interwoven with the stories of a cast of Jewish and Palestinian characters whose lives and histories unexpectedly converge.

In A Day in the Life of Abed Salama, Nathan Thrall—hailed for his “severe allergy to conventional wisdom” (Time)—offers an indelibly human portrait of the struggle over Israel/Palestine and a new understanding of the tragic history and reality of one of the most contested places on earth. – Metropolitan Books

Finalists

Cobalt Red: How the Blood of the Congo Powers Our Lives by Siddharth Kara

Cobalt Red is the searing, first-ever exposé of the immense toll taken on the people and environment of the Democratic Republic of the Congo by cobalt mining, as told through the testimonies of the Congolese people themselves. Activist and researcher Siddharth Kara has traveled deep into cobalt territory to document the testimonies of the people living, working, and dying for cobalt. To uncover the truth about brutal mining practices, Kara investigated militia-controlled mining areas, traced the supply chain of child-mined cobalt from toxic pit to consumer-facing tech giants, and gathered shocking testimonies of people who endure immense suffering and even die mining cobalt.

Cobalt is an essential component to every lithium-ion rechargeable battery made today, the batteries that power our smartphones, tablets, laptops, and electric vehicles. Roughly 75 percent of the world’s supply of cobalt is mined in the Congo, often by peasants and children in sub-human conditions. Billions of people in the world cannot conduct their daily lives without participating in a human rights and environmental catastrophe in the Congo. In this stark and crucial book, Kara argues that we must all care about what is happening in the Congo—because we are all implicated. – St. Martin’s Press

Fire Weather: A True Story from a Hotter World by John Vaillant

Charm City Rocks by Matthew Norman

Are you looking for a contemporary fiction book with a dash of romance? One that doesn’t have romance as the major theme? If so, I recommend Charm City Rocks by Matthew Norman. While there is romance, there are other themes and relationships focused throughout which, in my opinion, lean this title more about friendships and family and less about romance.

Billy Perkins is an independent music teacher working out of his apartment above Charm City Rocks, a record shop in Baltimore. He’s happy. He loves his job and loves being a single dad to his nerdy teenage son, Caleb.

Margot Hammer is the former drummer of the band Burnt Flowers. They used to be famous until Margot had an infamous meltdown on television. Now she is a recluse living alone in New York City. After a new music documentary is released highlighting Burnt Flowers, Margot finds herself somewhat unwillingly thrust back into the spotlight. When a new publicist assigned to her by her label shows up on her doorstep, Margot knows she’s in for quite the life change.

Billy and Caleb have been watching this new music documentary together. When Billy mentions to Caleb that he has always had a crush on Margot, Caleb gets an idea. You see, Caleb is having difficulty choosing what college to go to because he thinks that Billy is lonely. Late one night, Caleb works out a plan to get Margot to visit Charm City Rocks.

In the cold light of day, Caleb thinks his plan is a dream, but imagine his surprise when Margot and her publicist show up in Baltimore. Her label has decided that she needs the publicity, so when the opportunity to play with a young band in Baltimore pops up, they jump at the chance. When they arrive however, they are greeted by Caleb, Billy, and the very confused owner of Charm City Rocks. This messy introduction puts Billy and Margot on a collision course to figuring out what really makes them happy.

What set this book apart for me was its unique storytelling. Norman writes from the perspectives of multiple different characters: Billy, Caleb, Margot, and more. Supporting characters are so much more in this book – readers get a glimpse into their lives and how fully they impact and interact with each other. This was a quick, charming, quirky read, one that is humorous, relatable, and goofy. This book doesn’t focus only on romantic love, which was a relief. Norman writes about family, both found and ones you’re related to, as well as finding yourself and discovering what you really need. Pick up this feel-good contemporary romance for a palette cleanser.

Try Incorporating Music into Your Storytelling!

March is Music in Our Schools Month officially designated by the National Association for Music Education. To celebrate, I have compiled a list of books that are written in song or have musical components to share with young people.

Wild Symphony by Dan Brown and illustrated by Susan Batori
Travel through the trees and across the seas with Maestro Mouse and his musical friends! Young readers will meet a big blue whale and speedy cheetahs, tiny beetles and graceful swans. Each has a special secret to share. (provided by Goodreads)

If You’re Happy and You Know It! by Jane Cabrera
With the help of adorable animals, sing and dance your way through this beloved children’s song.

 

 

La La La by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Jaime Kim
This nearly wordless graphic story follows a little girl in search of a friend. (provided by Goodreads)

 

 

Clarinet & Trumpet by Melanie Ellsworth and illustrated by John Herzog
A charming and funny picture book featuring the harmonious friendship between Clarinet and Trumpet. (provided by Goodreads)

 


Accordionly 
by Michael Genhart and Illustrated by Priscilla Burris
Abuelo and Opa both play the accordion. This book explores how one instrument can bring people of different backgrounds together.

 

Old MacDonald Had a Boat by Steve Goetz and Illustrated by Eda Kaban
A new take on the beloved children’s song, “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” and involves power tools and whole lot of noise!

 

The Seals on the Bus by Lenny Hort and illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Get ready to make animal sounds in this different rendition of “The Wheels on the Bus”! This is fun for all ages!

 

 

Music is in Everything by Ziggy Marley and illustrated by Ag Jatkowska
A picture book based on Ziggy Marley’s popular song celebrating music’s many forms, from the sounds of ocean waves to laughter in the family kitchen. It also includes a cute craft to do with your young person! (provided by Goodreads)

 

 

Music by Jill McDonald
In this board book, learn about the sounds that popular instruments make!

 

 

Sweet Child o’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses and illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin
This song means so much to me and my family. My mother listened to it on the way to the hospital to have me and then I listened to it on the way to have my daughter. When I found out about Zivion’s publication of this beautiful book, I was quick to preorder. The illustrations are so beautiful and it is a joy to bring back something so special to my family and have it on the bookshelf!

People Don’t Bite People by Lisa Wheeler and Illustrated by Molly Idle
This title is a family favorite in the Peacock house. Written in rhyme, Wheeler teaches children the dos and don’ts of using your teeth! Since this is written in rhyme, I have taken to singing it rather than reading it! Everything is better with song!

 

Play this Book by Jessica Young and illustrated by Daniel Wiseman
Congratulations, you are starting a band! Learn how popular instruments such as the guitar, make sound!

 

 

All of the above items are available through your favorite RiverShare Library! Is there a title missing that you enjoy to share with young people? I would love to hear about it in the comments!

Somebody that I Used to Know by Dana L. Davis

My latest read unexpectedly mentioned places in Iowa that I was already familiar with: Davenport, NorthPark Mall, and the Science Center of Iowa in Des Moines.  Since I already knew the author, I should have guessed she would have thrown mentions to this area in her book. Young adult romance author Dana L. Davis grew up in the Midwest and was born in Davenport. She put those unexpected mentions of Iowa in her latest book, Somebody That I Used to Know, the story of a young aspiring musician whose ex-best friend has popped back up in her life out of nowhere.

Dylan Woods has her life planned out completely. She has been obsessively practicing for her Juilliard audition. Juilliard is her destiny. As her audition gets closer, Dylan’s parents throw a wrench in her plans. Her ex-best friend Langston is coming for a short stay.

Dylan hasn’t seen Langston in years. He moved to Los Angeles years ago to make his dreams come true and become a musician. Now Langston is Legendary, the biggest teen R&B artist in the world. He’s going to crashing in Dylan’s basement for a couple weeks. Everyone is excited, except for Dylan. She has no desire to share space with Langston, especially since he’s now a ‘bad boy’. Plus – it’s weird. Why would Langston willingly choose to crash at her house in Iowa when he could literally go anywhere in the world?

When Langston shows up though, Dylan starts having doubts. Maybe he hasn’t changed much from her childhood friend. He still has the bucket list they made years ago. And he wants to start crossing things off the list with her! The more the two talk, the more Dylan sees that Langston isn’t as shallow as she thought. Her memories of their older times together come flooding back, reminding her of their shared love of music and how she has changed through the years. Langston may not be that bad. In fact, she might be catching feelings for him, her ex-best friend, the one who ghosted her so long ago.

Music Selector’s Choice: Dropkick Murphys

An long-standing punk band with outspoken pro-union political views, Dropkick Murphys has been an icon of the punk scene and a voice for the workers’ perspective since its founding in 1996. In all that time, however, only bassist Ken Casey has been a constant member; one of the original founders Mike McColgan left as early as 1998, reportedly because he wasn’t dedicated enough to the band’s punk movement and the causes they spoke for. In an example of the band’s continuity, the name came from an alcohol detoxification facility run by Dr. John “Dropkick” Murphy, and in 2017 their album 11 short stories of pain & glory was heavily influenced by the opiate epidemic.

If you, like me, are intrigued by this angrily activist music group but haven’t gotten the chance to discover them yet, start here — your Rivershare libraries collect 5 of their 11 albums:

Going out in style 2011

Signed and sealed in blood 2013

11 short stories of pain & glory 2017

Turn up that dial 2021

This Machine Still Kills Fascists 2022

This newest album is unique in several respects, particularly its more acoustic, country music style; it’s structured around unused material from socialist and anti-fascist singer-songwriter icon Woody Guthrie.  Even the title is from a slogan Guthrie used to write on his guitars.

If only for my own (apparently lacking) education, leave your favorite band-with-a-cause in the comments – and come grab This Machine Still Kills Fascists today to catch up with the Dropkick Murphys.

I’m with the Band

To celebrate the release of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s book Daisy Jones & the Six as a television miniseries on Amazon Prime, we have gathered a list of some of our favorite music themed novels! Let us know your favorite music novels in the comments below!

Have you read Daisy Jones & The Six ? If not, check out the previous blog written by one of our librarians about this book.

The descriptions listed below were provided by the publishers.

Music Themed Novels!

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton

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.

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The Violin Conspiracy  by Brendan Slocumb

Growing up Black in rural North Carolina, Ray McMillian’s life is already mapped out. But Ray has a gift and a dream—he’s determined to become a world-class professional violinist, and nothing will stand in his way. Not his mother, who wants him to stop making such a racket; not the fact that he can’t afford a violin suitable to his talents; not even the racism inherent in the world of classical music.

When he discovers that his beat-up, family fiddle is actually a priceless Stradivarius, all his dreams suddenly seem within reach, and together, Ray and his violin take the world by storm. But on the eve of the renowned and cutthroat Tchaikovsky Competition—the Olympics of classical music—the violin is stolen, a ransom note for five million dollars left in its place. Without it, Ray feels like he’s lost a piece of himself. As the competition approaches, Ray must not only reclaim his precious violin, but prove to himself—and the world—that no matter the outcome, there has always been a truly great musician within him.

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Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell

Utopia Avenue is the strangest British band you’ve never heard of. Emerging from London’s psychedelic scene in 1967, and fronted by folk singer Elf Holloway, blues bassist Dean Moss and guitar virtuoso Jasper de Zoet, Utopia Avenue embarked on a meteoric journey from the seedy clubs of Soho, a TV debut on Top of the Pops, the cusp of chart success, glory in Amsterdam, prison in Rome, and a fateful American sojourn in the Chelsea Hotel, Laurel Canyon, and San Francisco during the autumn of ’68.

David Mitchell’s kaleidoscopic novel tells the unexpurgated story of Utopia Avenue’s turbulent life and times; of fame’s Faustian pact and stardom’s wobbly ladder; of the families we choose and the ones we don’t; of voices in the head, and the truths and lies they whisper; of music, madness, and idealism. Can we really change the world, or does the world change us?

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Songs in Ursa Major by Emma Brodie

A scintillating debut from a major new voice in fiction, Songs in Ursa Major is a love story set in 1969, alive with music, sex, and the trappings of fame.

Raised on an island off Massachusetts by a mother who wrote songs for famous musicians, Jane Quinn is singing in her own band before she’s old enough to even read music. When folk legend Jesse Reid hears about Jane’s performance at the island’s music festival, a star is born–and so is a passionate love affair: they become inseparable when her band joins his on tour. Wary of being cast as his girlfriend–and haunted by her mother’s shattered ambitions– Jane shields her relationship from the public eye, but Jesse’s star power pulls her into his orbit of fame. Caught up in the thrill of the road and the profound and lustful connection she has with Jesse, Jane is blind-sided by the discovery she makes about the dark secret beneath his music. Heartbroken and blackballed by the industry, Jane is now truly on her own: to make the music she loves, and to make peace with her family Shot through with the lyrics, the icons, the lore, the adrenaline of the early 70s music scene, Songs in Ursa Major pulses with romantic longing and asks the question so many female artists must face: What are we willing to sacrifice for our dreams?

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The Ensemble by Aja Gabel

Jana. Brit. Daniel. Henry. They would never have been friends if they hadn’t needed each other. They would never have found each other except for the art which drew them together. They would never have become family without their love for the music, for each other.

Brit is the second violinist, a beautiful and quiet orphan; on the viola is Henry, a prodigy who’s always had it easy; the cellist is Daniel, the oldest and an angry skeptic who sleeps around; and on first violin is Jana, their flinty, resilient leader. Together, they are the Van Ness Quartet. After the group’s youthful, rocky start, they experience devastating failure and wild success, heartbreak and marriage, triumph and loss, betrayal and enduring loyalty. They are always tied to each other – by career, by the intensity of their art, by the secrets they carry, by choosing each other over and over again.

Following these four unforgettable characters, Aja Gabel’s debut novel gives a riveting look into the high-stakes, cutthroat world of musicians, and of lives made in concert. The story of Brit and Henry and Daniel and Jana, The Ensemble is a heart-skipping portrait of ambition, friendship, and the tenderness of youth.

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Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau

In 1970s Baltimore, fourteen-year-old Mary Jane loves cooking with her mother, singing in her church choir, and enjoying her family’s subscription to the Broadway Showtunes of the Month record club. Shy, quiet, and bookish, she’s glad when she lands a summer job as a nanny for the daughter of a local doctor. A respectable job, Mary Jane’s mother says. In a respectable house.

The house may look respectable on the outside, but inside it’s a literal and figurative mess: clutter on every surface, Impeachment: Now More Than Ever bumper stickers on the doors, cereal and takeout for dinner. And even more troublesome (were Mary Jane’s mother to know, which she does not): the doctor is a psychiatrist who has cleared his summer for one important job—helping a famous rock star dry out. A week after Mary Jane starts, the rock star and his movie star wife move in.

Over the course of the summer, Mary Jane introduces her new household to crisply ironed clothes and a family dinner schedule, and has a front-row seat to a liberal world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll (not to mention group therapy). Caught between the lifestyle she’s always known and the future she’s only just realized is possible, Mary Jane will arrive at September with a new idea about what she wants out of life, and what kind of person she’s going to be.

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The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith

Right after the sudden death of her mother—her first and most devoted fan—and just before the launch of her high-stakes sophomore album, Greta James falls apart on stage. The footage quickly goes viral and she stops playing, her career suddenly in jeopardy—the kind of jeopardy her father, Conrad, has always predicted; the kind he warned her about when he urged her to make more practical choices with her life.

Months later, Greta—still heartbroken and very much adrift—reluctantly agrees to accompany Conrad on the Alaskan cruise her parents had booked to celebrate their fortieth anniversary. It could be their last chance to heal old wounds in the wake of shared loss. But the trip will also prove to be a voyage of discovery for them both, and for Ben Wilder, a charming historian, onboard to lecture about The Call of the Wild, who is struggling with a major upheaval in his own life. As Greta works to build back her confidence and Ben confronts an uncertain future, they find themselves drawn to and relying on each other.

It’s here in this unlikeliest of places—at sea, far from the packed city venues where she usually plays and surrounded by the stunning scenery of Alaska—Greta will finally confront the choices she’s made, the heartbreak she’s suffered, and the family hurts that run deep. In the end, she’ll have to decide what her path forward might look like—and how to find her voice again.

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The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

It is 1988. On a dead-end street in a run-down suburb there is a music shop that stands small and brightly lit, jam-packed with records of every kind. Like a beacon, the shop attracts the lonely, the sleepless, and the adrift; Frank, the shop’s owner, has a way of connecting his customers with just the piece of music they need. Then, one day, into his shop comes a beautiful young woman, Ilse Brauchmann, who asks Frank to teach her about music. Terrified of real closeness, Frank feels compelled to turn and run, yet he is drawn to this strangely still, mysterious woman with eyes as black as vinyl. But Ilse is not what she seems, and Frank has old wounds that threaten to reopen, as well as a past it seems he will never leave behind. Can a man who is so in tune with other people’s needs be so incapable of connecting with the one person who might save him? The journey that these two quirky, wonderful characters make in order to overcome their emotional baggage speaks to the healing power of music—and love—in this poignant, ultimately joyful work of fiction.

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If you have any favorite music books, let us know below! We can’t wait to see what you’ve read and what you plan to read!

Music Selector’s Choice: Lindsey Stirling

If you see a violin and think “classical music is boring”, then you need to discover more artists like Lindsey Stirling. While she may lose points for technique (according to some other musicians I know) she definitely gets top marks for showmanship, enthusiasm, genre-bending, and creativity. If nothing else, her social media presence showing behind-the-scenes looks at her stunts, rehearsals, concerts, and more is funny, fascinating, entertaining and informative.

Intrigued? All these Lindsey Stirling albums are available for checkout:

Lindsey Stirling: 2013

Shatter Me: 2014

Brave Enough: 2016

Warmer in the Winter: 2018

Artemis: 2019

Snow Waltz : 2022

Looking for more unconventional players of classical and string instruments? Try the four-cello rock group Apocalyptica, rock violinist David Garrett, or creative instrumentalists The Piano Guys (though if you haven’t yet checked out this powerhouse group, what are you waiting for??)

Music Selector’s Choice: Native American music

Experience Native American music with these albums recently added to the collection!

Northern Cree Singers’ Drums in the Pines

Joe Rainey’s Niineta

R. Carlos Nakai’s Nocturne: Music for Native American Flute

Pow Wow: Round Dances & Sacred Ceremonies by various artists

What kind of folk or world music do YOU enjoy? If you don’t know, stop in and check out the Global genre music CDs to discover something new!

Ballad for Sophie by Filipe Melo & Juan Cavia

Filipe Melo and Juan Cavia’s graphic novel Ballad for Sophie is, for lack of a better word, a masterpiece. A truly and completely stunning masterpiece. 

The story is set in two worlds, one in 1933 and one in 1997, and follows a young journalist on a quest to unearth the questionable history of retired world famous pianist Julien Dubois. Through a series of sit-down interviews with the reclusive musician, the journalist extracts an epic story of fame, rivalries, loss, and music. 

What I found to be so striking about Melo and Cavia’s book is the way the illustrations seemed to leap off the page and hug me. They’re warm, both in color and in what they depict. Melo is a masterful storyteller, his narrative sending readers back and forth in time and wonderfully building tension and suspense at all the right moments. Alongside the language, Cavia’s illustrations are pungent with emotion, texture, and pigment. Coursing through the story are splashes of gold that give the often depressing story an atmosphere saturated with warmth. 

As if this book was lacking in atmospheric elements, Filipe Melo wrote an original piece for Ballad for Sophie that beautifully accentuates the ending of the story. You can listen to it on Spotify.  

The visual experience of this graphic novel is refrshing; I often find that while a graphic novels’ images may be high quality, the story they depict is not. That is not the case with Ballad for Sophie. Also, it’s being adapted into a television series, so get your hands on it before they release the show!

 

Music Selector’s Choice: Snarky Puppy

I love the band name Snarky Puppy. Like all good band names it’s a great hook to get you to check out the music, and see if it measures up.

Snarky Puppy is an instrumental group (no vocals here) founded in Texas which has now won five Grammy awards for its blend of jazz, world, rock, and funk music styles. Around forty musicians have played in the group over the course of its existence but on any given album the number of musicians is between ten and twenty, drawn from a rotating roster that still includes founder Michael League.

If you want to trace this group’s development through its albums, you can find these through our Rivershare consortium:

Culcha Vulcha (2016)

We Like It Here (2018)

Immigrance (2019)

Empire Central (2022)

Other albums including their first, 2006’s The Only Constant, are available through Spotify and YouTube. What’s your favorite cool band name?