Music themed books, TV shows, & movies

Music is the one thing that connects us all. No matter how different one may seem from you on the surface, the likeliness of them enjoying the same music as you is extremely likely. In these books, movies, and TV shows, music connects the characters in ways significant to the plot and character growth. Side note: I spent awhile trying to find pictures to go with each of these but each time I previewed the post, the images wouldn’t load. So please bear with me or even help if you have any idea how! Thank you!

Eleanor And Park by Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor is a new girl with fiery red hair, clothes that make her stand out, and is a little on the chubby side. She sits next to Park on the bus who feels like an outcast being the only Asian kid but is really on the popular side. The innocence of this book is endearing and realistic. Park shares his comics and mixed tapes with Eleanor. The music is an important aspect of this book-it takes place in the 80’s so there’s The Beatles, Joy Division, and The Smiths. That alone is a good enough reason to read the book, it’ll take you on a trip down memory lane.

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
After an event that happened over the summer, senior Annabel suddenly finds herself without a friend in the world. She comes across Owen, a boy she doesn’t know personally but she’s heard of serious fights he’s been in. Owen constantly has a pair of headphones in. One day, Annabel catches a ride home with him and sees stacks and stacks of CD’s in his car. Owen plays Annabel music and she automatically judges it and Owen tells her, “Don’t think or judge, just listen.” Through her friendship with Owen, Annabel gains a vast knowledge of different genres of music.

Audrey, Wait!
After Audrey dumped her boyfriend, he turned around and wrote a song for her. All of a sudden, the song is everywhere and once everyone finds out Audrey was the inspiration, her life changes forever.

This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
Remy’s dad left her family when she was just a baby. He ended up in a motel and wrote a song about his young daughter. All of a sudden, the song is everywhere and becomes a classic one hit wonder even after her dad’s death. Remy hates the song and she also hates musicians. Dexter who is a lanky klutz runs into her and he’s exactly the opposite of her. He also is the lead singer of a band that’s known for it’s series of songs based off of the theme “The Potato Opus” This book is so classic because it takes music and weaves it together in such a way that it becomes a major reason for Remy changing who she is and what she believes.

Perks Of Being A Wallflower
In this popular coming of age novel, Charlie winds up with a mixtape his older sister’s boyfriend made her that she gave to Charlie. Charlie is then introduced to songs that gives him a new perspective to how he sees the world. He then shares this mixtape with his new friend Patrick during Secret Santa. Sharing music is something that exhilarates Charlie. He wants his friends to get the same indescribable feeling he gets when he listens to the tape. Music is used here as a key to Charlie figuring out his place in the world.

TV Shows
My Mad Fat Diary
This British Teen Drama focuses on Rae Earl, a teenager growing up in the middle to late 90’s. The show starts with Rae navigating her life months after her failed suicide attempt. She reconnects with an old friend who introduces her to a new group of friends, including Finn a guy who she bonds over music with. Finn and Rae’s connection with music is the number one reason why I am drawn to this show. They hangout and listen to The Smiths and Beastie Boys record. It’s hilarious to see Rae listen to Radiohead, Oasis, and Weezer considering I’m still listening to them 15 plus years later.

One Tree Hill
This show is FILLED with music themes. Two of the main characters wind up involved in the music business but I only want to focus on one of these characters. Peyton Sawyer is a popular cheerleader who desperately desires to be an angsty outcasts. Peyton and Lucas don’t entirely connect due to music. Lucas totally disses Peyton’s favorite band The Cure. The main connection here isn’t a romantic one, it’s Peyton and her mom’s. Ellie is Peyton’s birth mother who put her up for adoption. Years later, Ellie who is a music journalist, interviews Peyton and bonds over music with her before she reveals the truth. The shared connection here is so memorable because it brought two people who had been apart, reunited once more.

Friday Night Lights
I know that this is a show about High School Football team. However, it’s also about relationships and the mutual interests that bring everyone together. Julie Taylor might be the coach’s daughter but she’s not popular or a cheerleader, she’s a loner the first season. Matt Saracen starts out as a shy back-up quarterback who lives with his forgetful Grandma. Eventually, the relationship develops into more and part of this is due to both loving weird music. The pair goes to concerts together for bands that no one knows about around Texas.

The OC
This is another landmark teen drama that incorporated music into the plot in a fitting way. The nerdy Seth Cohen has a vast knowledge for whiny music especially Death Cab For Cutie. The banter that Seth has with Summer is hilarious and also relatable. Not all teens are going to have the same musical taste and the show presents this accurately. Plus the music used during certain scenes never disappointed especially “Hide And Seek” By Imogen Heap.

This is a TV show that’s very similar to the movie Country Strong. Except the main difference is although Rayna is getting older, she’s far from washed out. The music is also written by upcoming Country artists such as Kacey Musgraves, The Civil Wars, and other musicians that are bound to make a name for themselves. Each of the actors and actresses on the show have beautiful voices and the songs selected are always a perfect fit.

I know it’s difficult but just try to picture what type of movie Juno would be without this soundtrack. The quirky sounds of Kimya Dawson, The Moldy Peaches, & Belle & Sebastian sets the mood of the film. Juno herself worships Patti Smith and loves to play the guitar. She bonds with the middle aged cool guy who is adopting her baby. Mark introduces her to Sonic Youth which is one of the highlights of the movie. The film ends with Juno and her boyfriend Paulie playing the guitar and singing The Moldy Peaches. The ending is a light and sensible one for this unique movie.

Garden State
This film sets the standard for indie movie soundtracks. The best part of it is that writer and leading man Zach Braff included in the script each song he wanted in the film and wrote all the artists stressing how important the song was for the movie. Natalie Portman’s character Sam meets Braff at the doctors office where she sits in the waiting room listening to The Shins. She tells him, “You’ve gotta listen to this one song, it’ll change your life.” Sam’s passion for music is a strong point of the movie.

Almost Famous
A beautiful coming of age film that follows a high schooler who is an aspiring rock journalist. William consults cynical Rolling Stone writer Lester Bangs about what it takes to make it. Ignoring Bangs’s comments on rock and roll being dead, William joins band Saltwater on tour to write a Rolling Stone cover story on the upcoming group. William gets to see the gritty realities of touring and learns that groupies aren’t bad people, they are genuine fans of music. Music is what connects these characters in an intriguing way.

Country Strong
This movie follows an aging country singer who just got out of rehab and is trying to avoid turning into a washed up artist. Her husband is her manager and he discovers upcoming artist Chiles Stanton. The subplot involves her being the prissy pop country one while Beau is the classic country artist. The best thing about it all is the music, all the songs were originally sang by famous country singers.

Do The Right Thing
Spike Lee’s classic film centers around a Brooklyn neighborhood and Sal’s pizzeria. Radio Raheem is one of the main characters (Mookie) friend and is generally well known in the neighborhood. He is always carrying around a boom box that ALWAYS plays Fight The Power by Public Enemy. This song may not seem like a good enough reason for music to be considered as a central theme. But on the other hand, it does set the entire movie up and sums up racism and police brutality perfectly. There honestly couldn’t be a more fitting and catchy song for this movie.

Favorite Children’s Books

As a kid, reading was literally all I did. Wait, who am I kidding? Books are still a major part of my life. I honestly can’t fathom why anyone would hate reading. For me, it’s an escape. It’s a way to understand and live through these intriguing lives that aren’t yours. I enjoy looking back on the books I read when I was younger because it’s definitely easy to forget about them. These are books that have stayed with me and no matter how many times I read them, the story and characters are still exciting to me.

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
This book follows orphan Jeffrey Magee or better known as Maniac Magee. Maniac runs hundreds of miles to a fictional black neighborhood in Pennsylvania. He is seemingly unaware or simply not bothered by the racial tension. This is a memorable book because it has so many crazy unrealistic yet very creative tales about this legendary boy who simply saw people as people. The protagonist is the best part and the characters along the way are unforgettable as well. This book takes such a heavy topic and makes it into something light that children and adults alike can learn something from.

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
I remember being so blown away by this book when I read it in the fourth grade. Then I read it again in middle school and got the same feeling all over again. It has a strong female protagonist named Salamanca which is like the coolest name ever. It’s one of those books that you have to read to fully grasp the greatness of it.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
The Giver is another equally popular by Lois Lowry. However, I read Number The Stars a few years before and loved it. It’s about a 10 year old girl living in Denmark during 1943 which is when Hitler ordered all of the Jews to be killed. Annemarie isn’t Jewish but her best friend Ellen is. Annemarie and the rest of her family risk their lives protecting the innocent. This is a beautiful work of historical fiction that takes a serious and important event and turns it into a relatable story that resonates with people of all ages.

Hatchet by Gary Paulson
You’d think this book would be extremely boring since interactions with other people are extremely rare but there’s never a dull moment. 13 year old Brian takes a 406 bush plane to visit his father for the summer in the oil fields of northern Canada. Things get CRAY when the pilot has a heart attack and dies. He tries to land the plane but instead crashes into a lake in the forest and the only form of survival Brian has is a hatchet. It’s crazy how this young boy learns how to survive. He’s extremely smart and learns how to hunt properly. He also crafts a bow, arrows, and a fishing spear to help him hunt. The plot may sound boring to some but just remember this, if an 8 year old girl can find this intriguing you probably will too.

Holes by Louis Sachar
This is one of my all time favorite books. It’s just SO creative and one book you can read over and over again. Stanley Yelnats is a boy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. A pair of shoes literally dropped out of the sky and he got in trouble for it since it was a rare pair that an athlete was donating to an orphanage. Stanley gets sent to Camp Green Lake which is a terrible camp ran by three highly unqualified people. The boys are pretty rough compared to Stanley but he befriends young Zero who he teaches how to read. We also get some perspective on the family curse that Stanley’s “dirty-no good-rotten-pig-stealing great great grandfather” It’s perfect how the story all comes together and all of the background you learn about every character involved, even the dead ones. One of my favorite subplots is about Kissing Kate Barlow who was a pretty innocent school teacher before a tragic event happened. The movie of this is actually pretty accurate although the movie never beats the book. I think it’s impossible not to love this book.

A Corner of the Universe by Ann M Martin
This book follows Hattie Owens, an 11 year old growing up in the 1960’s. Her typical summer gets flipped upside down when her 21 year old Uncle who is mentally disabled comes to live with them. Despite their differences, Hattie learns how to be a better person. She also learns not to judge others and how hurtful the word “retard” is. It’s an incredibly deep book and different from anything I’ve ever read.

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
I’ve NEVER met anyone who has read this book and didn’t love it. It’s one of those rare books that just connects with everyone. It begins with an adult Billy Coleman who rescues a Redbone Coonhound from a fight with neighborhood dogs and nurses it back to help. He then flashes back to the Coonhound’s he worked tirelessly for. The perseverance and intelligence the protagonist shows throughout the novel is heartwarming. Spoiler alert: This book WILL make you cry.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
THERE ARE NO WORDS FOR THIS BOOK. I’m sure most of you either had to read this in elementary school or at least saw the movie. The story is about fifth grader Jesse Aarons. Jesse befriends his tomboy new neighbor Leslie Burke after losing a footrace to her. The two form a new world using a bridge to separate them from the rest of the world. IM NOT GONNA SPOIL IT but this friendship
is filled with imagination, innocence, love, and HEARTBREAK. I’ve already said too much but I’m still not over it.

The Watsons Go To Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
This hilarious and heart warming tale follows a Michigan family who takes a road trip to visit their Grandma in Alabama. The short stories that highlight the three children and their parents growing up. It also takes a serious turn when the Watson children get their first glimpse at racism while in Alabama. Regardless of who you are or what year you’re growing up in, this is a timeless novel that applies to everyone.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Okay, this book is obviously more relevant around Christmas. However, this will always be one of my favorite children’s books because it’s not just about the holiday. The narrator Beth Bradley quickly reveals that the Herdmans “are the worst kids in the whole history of the world.” The six Herdman kids constantly bully Beth and her little brother. One day Charlie became fed up with the Herdman’s taking his lunch and blurt out that he gets all the snacks he wants at church. The next Sunday the whole Herdman crew shows up just in time to hear about the Christmas pageant. Imogene, the oldest girl Herdman decides she wants to play the part of Mary and the rest of her siblings quickly claim the other roles. The rest of the story is classic and hilarious. This is definitely an underrated book that will always stay with me.