53 books like Lexicon of Musical Invective

By Nicolas Slonimsky,

Here are 53 books that Lexicon of Musical Invective fans have personally recommended if you like Lexicon of Musical Invective. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Geek Love

Meg Arroll Author Of Tiny Traumas: When You Don't Know What's Wrong, but Nothing Feels Quite Right

From my list on helping you understand why you feel the way you fee.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a psychologist, yet I am also a human being with real, complex, and, at times, disturbing thoughts and feelings. I would say I’ve learnt more from my own experiences and those shared by others than any training or qualifications. I never tire of listening to these real-life narratives, which are full of more color and depth than our rudimentary single-word emotion labels describe. I gather these stories up to feed my emotobiome (our microscopic inner world of feelings) along with the books and learnings from my list. I hope you’ll join me on this rollercoaster ride through human feelings–I wouldn’t miss it for the world. 

Meg's book list on helping you understand why you feel the way you fee

Meg Arroll Why did Meg love this book?

A dear friend gave me this book many moons ago, and it is still one of my favorite titles for understanding feelings. Unlike the other books on my list, this is a fiction novel, but the themes of knowing and accepting oneself are so courageously interweaved in this story that I would be amiss not to include it here.

I find the darker undertones of this book more aligned with my understanding of human nature and emotions. We tend to overly focus on joyful feelings when there is so much more to be learned from exploring the full range of human experience–real or imagined. 

By Katherine Dunn,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Geek Love as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A National Book Award Finalist: This 'wonderfully descriptive' novel from an author with a 'tremendous imagination' tells the unforgettable story of the Binewskis, a carny family whose mater- and paterfamilias have bred their own exhibit of human oddities. (The New York Times Book Review)

The Binewskis arex a circus-geek family whose matriarch and patriarch have bred their own exhibit of human oddities (with the help of amphetamine, arsenic, and radioisotopes). Their offspring include Arturo the Aquaboy, who has flippers for limbs and a megalomaniac ambition worthy of Genghis Khan, Iphy and Elly, the lissome Siamese twins, albino hunchback Oly, and…


Book cover of Harmonies of Heaven and Earth: Mysticism in Music from Antiquity to the Avant-Garde

J. Anthony Allen Author Of Music Theory for Electronic Music Producers: The producer's guide to harmony, chord progressions, and song structure in the MIDI grid.

From my list on falling in love with music all over again.

Why am I passionate about this?

When you get a PhD in music, you end up with a lot of music books. Like, hundreds of them. At the end of every semester I could never bring myself to sell my textbooks because I just love books. Over the years I’ve continued to collect books about music, and books about everything. I’m happy that now a few have my name on the spine. 

J.'s book list on falling in love with music all over again

J. Anthony Allen Why did J. love this book?

I remember reading this book over the summer when I was on the road with a recording company. It is filled with anecdotes about the metaphysical, transcendental, spiritual, and mystic properties of music. The thing I find so fascinating about these stories is not if they are true or not, but the belief systems of these ancient people, and the power and faith they put into music.

By Joscelyn Godwin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Harmonies of Heaven and Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Joscelyn Godwin explores music's effects on matter, living things, and human behavior. Turning to metaphysical accounts of the higher worlds and theories of celestial harmony, the author follows the path of musical inspiration on its descent to Earth, illuminating the archetypal currents that lie beneath Western musical history.


Book cover of Cry to Heaven

Rob Samborn Author Of The Prisoner of Paradise

From my list on historical fiction set in Venice, Italy.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an author of a dual-timeline thriller series set in Venice in the present-day and 16th century, I’ve spent countless hours researching the world’s most mesmerizing city. I’ve been there three times, including on a research trip. I’ve worked with historians and experts on various aspects and have explored the ancient streets and buildings first-hand. I’ve also read dozens of books set in Venice.

Rob's book list on historical fiction set in Venice, Italy

Rob Samborn Why did Rob love this book?

There’s a reason why so many books set in Venice revolve around death, heaven (aka Paradise), mystery, and love lost & found. There’s a story lying in wait around every alley corner, under every bridge, and at the bottom of every canal. It’s no surprise that Anne Rice, the queen of Vampire lit, set Cry to Heaven in Venice. Her novel is impeccably researched and written, bringing to life the castriti of the 18th century—men who were castrated to become sopranos for the opera houses and royal courts. Beneath the decadence of the surface of Anne Rice’s Venice lies a dark underbelly.

By Anne Rice,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Cry to Heaven as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a sweeping saga of music and vengeance, the acclaimed author of The Vampire Chronicles draws readers into eighteenth-century Italy, bringing to life the decadence beneath the shimmering surface of Venice, the wild frivolity of Naples, and the magnetic terror of its shadow, Vesuvius. This is the story of the castrati, the exquisite and otherworldly sopranos whose graceful bodies and glorious voices win the adulation of royal courts and grand opera houses throughout Europe. These men are revered as idols—and, at the same time, scorned for all they are not.
 
Praise for Anne Rice and Cry to Heaven
 
“Daring and…


Book cover of The Music of the Spheres; Music, Science, and the Natural Order of the Universe

J. Anthony Allen Author Of Music Theory for Electronic Music Producers: The producer's guide to harmony, chord progressions, and song structure in the MIDI grid.

From my list on falling in love with music all over again.

Why am I passionate about this?

When you get a PhD in music, you end up with a lot of music books. Like, hundreds of them. At the end of every semester I could never bring myself to sell my textbooks because I just love books. Over the years I’ve continued to collect books about music, and books about everything. I’m happy that now a few have my name on the spine. 

J.'s book list on falling in love with music all over again

J. Anthony Allen Why did J. love this book?

This book is a nonfiction history of the concept of Spherics – the idea that music and astronomy are intimately connected. It starts by talking about Pathagorous and works our way chronologically up to Einstein. There are a lot of books on the topic of Music of the Spheres (and a Coldplay album), but this is the best book I’ve found to fully understand the concept. 

By Jamie James,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Music of the Spheres; Music, Science, and the Natural Order of the Universe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For centuries, scientists and philosophers believed that the universe was a stately, ordered mechanism, both mathematical and musical. The perceived distances between objects in the sky mirrored (and were mirrored by) the spaces between notes forming chords and scales. The smooth operation of the cosmos created a divine harmony that composers sought to capture and express. Jamie James allows readers to see how this scientific philosophy emerged, how it was shattered by changing views of the universe and the rise of Romanticism, and to what extent it survives today - if at all. From Pythagoras to Newton, Bach to Beethoven,…


Book cover of Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Intellectual Life of Black Feminist Sound

Allyson McCabe Author Of Why Sinead O'Connor Matters

From my list on music that put women center stage.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a journalist whose work is often heard on NPR's national news magazines, and read in publications such as The New York Times, New York Magazine’s Vulture, BBC Culture, Wired, and Bandcamp. I'm most interested in stories about people, communities, and scenes that have been overlooked, forgotten, seen through a distorted lens, or perhaps never seen at all. I’m on a mission to get to a deeper understanding of what’s at stake in the way we see music and art- and the way we see ourselves.

Allyson's book list on music that put women center stage

Allyson McCabe Why did Allyson love this book?

Daphne A. Brooks’ book is a revolutionary work, centering more than a century of innovations by Black women in popular music who have been marginalized, overlooked, or erased.

Situating Zora Neale Hurston as a sound archivist and performer and Lorraine Hansberry as a cultural critic alongside blues pioneers such as Bessie Smith and Mamie Smith and contemporary artists like Janelle Monáe and Valerie June, Brooks doesn’t merely fill in blind spots.

She exposes how those blind spots reflect the partial, subjective view of white male critics and historians.

Showing us a different way of seeing and listening to culture, Brooks has informed and inspired my thinking, and some of the best work I’ve done as a journalist, including this piece about Elizabeth Cotten, whose music fueled the 1960s folk revival.

By Daphne A. Brooks,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Liner Notes for the Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles Award
Winner of the MAAH Stone Book Award
A Rolling Stone Best Music Book of the Year
A Pitchfork Best Music Book of the Year

"Brooks traces all kinds of lines, finding unexpected points of connection...inviting voices to talk to one another, seeing what different perspectives can offer, opening up new ways of looking and listening by tracing lineages and calling for more space."
-New York Times

An award-winning Black feminist music critic takes us on an epic journey through radical sound from Bessie Smith to Beyonce.

Daphne A. Brooks explores more than a…


Book cover of The Music Book

Mary Rowen Author Of Leaving the Beach

From my list on people fixated on music.

Why am I passionate about this?

I wrote Leaving the Beach because I was once bulimic and music-obsessed. After seeking help and recovering, I realized I wanted to write a realistic book about a bulimic woman; it was critical that I didn’t unintentionally romanticize any aspects of this insidious, potentially fatal disease.

Mary's book list on people fixated on music

Mary Rowen Why did Mary love this book?

If you’ve ever wondered if humanity could survive without music, Dave O’Leary’s The Music Book is for you. Set in Seattle during the post-Nirvana/Pearl Jam period, the story follows earnest, likable Rob through nightclubs, strip bars, and a prison on an alcohol-enhanced quest for love and an answer to his question about what music actually means to the world. A truly unique and compelling story.

By Dave O'Leary,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Music Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What does music mean? Can it be more than the sum of its notes and melodies? Can it truly change you? Rob, a musician turned reluctant music critic, poses these questions as everything important in his life appears to be fading—memories of lost love, songs from his old bands, even his hearing. He delves into the music of others to find solace and purpose, and discovers that the chords and repeated phrases echo themes that have emerged in his own life. The music sustains him, but can it revive him?

The Music Book is a story of loss, of fear…


Book cover of Vinyl Junkies: Adventures in Record Collecting

Mary Rowen Author Of Leaving the Beach

From my list on people fixated on music.

Why am I passionate about this?

I wrote Leaving the Beach because I was once bulimic and music-obsessed. After seeking help and recovering, I realized I wanted to write a realistic book about a bulimic woman; it was critical that I didn’t unintentionally romanticize any aspects of this insidious, potentially fatal disease.

Mary's book list on people fixated on music

Mary Rowen Why did Mary love this book?

This is the only nonfiction selection on my list. If you live in the Boston area and love music, you’ve probably read Brett Milano’s music reviews in the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, or Phoenix. He’s also written numerous books—both fiction and nonfiction—about various types of music. Vinyl Junkies is a wonderful read, even if you’re not particularly interested in music, because although many people featured in it are well-known in the music and art worlds (Peter Buck, Robert Crumb), on a higher level, the book’s really about collecting and collectors in general. Why do people collect? What’s the difference between simply accumulating stuff and curating a collection? And where does one draw the line

By Brett Milano,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Vinyl Junkies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Not too far away from the flea markets, dusty attics, cluttered used record stores and Ebay is the world of the vinyl junkies. Brett Milano dives deep into the piles of old vinyl to uncover the subculture of record collecting. A vinyl junkie is not the person who has a few old 45s shoved in the cuboard from their days in high school. Vinyl Junkies are the people who will travel over 3,000 miles to hear a rare b-side by a German band that has only recorded two songs since 1962, vinyl junkies are the people who own every copy…


Book cover of A Heart at Fire's Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann

Jon Burlingame Author Of Music for Prime Time: A History of American Television Themes and Scoring

From my list on film and television composers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been a working journalist for 50 years, and as a child of TV, especially in the 1960s, I grew up with some of the most memorable TV themes ever written. I started writing about TV in the 1980s, and since moving to Los Angeles in 1986, have used every opportunity to meet and interview all of my favorite composers of movie and TV music. The result is this book, which looks at the history of TV themes and, in a larger sense, music written for TV generally. Every genre of TV, from crime to sitcoms, westerns to adventure, has had fun, often compelling, and truly memorable music, and I've tried to celebrate it here.

Jon's book list on film and television composers

Jon Burlingame Why did Jon love this book?

Bernard Herrmann is revered as one of the movies' greatest composers.

Imagine starting your Hollywood career with music for Citizen Kane!

He enjoyed a very productive 10-year relationship with director Alfred Hitchcock, which produced such masterpieces as Vertigo, Psycho, and North by Northwest; he also worked with Francois Truffaut on Fahrenheit 451, composed the original Twilight Zone theme, and capped his career with music for Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver.

Yet he could be cantankerous and difficult, antagonizing both friends and colleagues with his temperamental behavior and insistence upon the highest standards of music and drama.

I love the fact that Smith writes as well about the music as he does about the composer, and the reader walks away knowing lots about both.

By Steven C. Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Heart at Fire's Center as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

No composer contributed more to film than Bernard Herrmann, who in over 40 scores enriched the work of such directors as Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Francois Truffaut, and Martin Scorsese. In this first major biography of the composer, Steven C. Smith explores the interrelationships between Herrmann's music and his turbulent personal life, using much previously unpublished information to illustrate Herrmann's often outrageous behavior, his working methods, and why his music has had such lasting impact. From his first film ("Citizen Kane") to his last ("Taxi Driver"), Herrmann was a master of evoking psychological nuance and dramatic tension through music, often…


Book cover of Esquivel! Space-Age Sound Artist

Lisa Rogers Author Of Beautiful Noise: The Music of John Cage

From my list on music innovators.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since childhood, I’ve wondered about people who led inventive, innovative lives. How did they get their inspiration? Where did their ideas come from? How did they take that inspiration and change the world? I found information, but not the answers I was looking for, at the library. When I became an elementary library teacher, new forms of biographies – beautiful picture book biographies about people of all kinds – became available. My students loved them and so did I, and I became inspired to write for children. I’m excited that my first two picture book biographies, which received starred reviews, are out in the world – with more coming your way!

Lisa's book list on music innovators

Lisa Rogers Why did Lisa love this book?

I love this book because it shows how a musical icon discovered and developed his own personal style.

Juan García Esquivel had a passion for music but no formal training. Without knowing the typical ways of arranging notes, Esquivel was free to experiment–and that made his work so unique that anyone hearing his music knew right away that he was the composer.

I think this book is great for showing the value of thinking differently. I also love the joyful illustrations inspired by ancient Mexican art.

By Susan Wood, Duncan Tontiuh (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Esquivel! Space-Age Sound Artist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

Juan Garcia Esquivel was born in Mexico and grew up to the sounds of mariachi bands. He loved music and became a musical explorer. Defying convention, he created music that made people laugh and planted images in their minds. Juan's space-age lounge music--popular in the fifties and sixties--has found a new generation of listeners. And Duncan Tonatiuh's fresh and quirky illustrations bring Esquivel's spirit to life.


Book cover of Secret Lives of Great Composers: What Your Teachers Never Told You about the World's Musical Masters

Lenny Cavallaro Author Of Paganini Agitato

From my list on historical fiction about classical musicians.

Why am I passionate about this?

My doctorate is in music, and although I am now more active as a composer, I was at one time a performer (pianist). Thus, I have both personal ties to the author (my mother) and professional insights into the subject matter. I have also interviewed a number of the world’s leading violinists (Bell, Chase, Markov, Zukerman, and others) and composed two works for the instrument (my Op. 4 and Op. 5, published by Broadbent & Dunn). Moreover, my series, The Passion of Elena Bianchi, also involves classical music and musicians, and echoes Paganini Agitato with concerts, poker, the great love of a child, and elements of the supernatural and/or demonic.

Lenny's book list on historical fiction about classical musicians

Lenny Cavallaro Why did Lenny love this book?

Paganini is not one of the composers the author discusses. However, I consider Secret Lives an important book, simply because it “spills the beans” about a number of these giants.

Gioachino Rossini is portrayed with some of his numerous shortcomings (though Paganini’s dalliances achieved far more notoriety). I shall mention a few significant historical facts: (1) he and Paganini were very close friends, (2) Paganini wrote a set of brilliant variations, I Palpiti, based on an aria from Rossini’s opera, Tancredi, and (3) Paganini did indeed conduct the debut of another Rossini opera, Matilde di Shobran.


Secret Lives was also a source I tapped for some of the information I presented about composers (including, most notably, Richard Wagner)  in one of my own novels.

By Elizabeth Lunday, Mario Zucca (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Secret Lives of Great Composers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the fine tradition of "Secret Lives of Great Authors" and "Secret Lives of Great Artists" comes the latest entry in Quirk's successful series: "Secret Lives of Great Composers". You've heard their scores in countless movies, from "Fantasia" to "Apocalypse Now" - now get the skinny on their tumultuous lives, loves, and lunacy. You'll learn that Frederic Chopin had his heart removed before burial, due to his grave fear of being buried alive. Sergei Rachmaninoff hated the sound of his own music and despised performing it. Gustav Mahler was rarely invited to dinner parties because he would eat nothing but…


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