100 books like Selling Sounds

By David Suisman,

Here are 100 books that Selling Sounds fans have personally recommended if you like Selling Sounds. 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 The Sensational Past: How the Enlightenment Changed the Way We Use Our Senses

Ai Hisano Author Of Visualizing Taste: How Business Changed the Look of What You Eat

From my list on a new understanding of your sensory experience.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian of the senses. When I first traveled to the United States, I was fascinated and overwhelmed by the smell and sound of the streets entirely different from my hometown in Japan. Since then, every time I go abroad, I enjoy various sensory experiences in each country. The first thing I always notice is the smell of the airport which is different from country to country. We all have the senses, but we sense things differently—and these differences are cultural. I wondered if they are also historical. That was the beginning of my inquiry into how our sensory experience has been constructed and changed over time.

Ai's book list on a new understanding of your sensory experience

Ai Hisano Why did Ai love this book?

The Enlightenment is often associated with intellectual changes. But the book sheds a new light on this “Age of Reason” by showing how emotions and feelings played a crucial role in this intellectually and sensorially dynamic period. Purnell tells this change by providing many interesting, and funny, episodes. My favorite, among others, is the seventeenth-century vogue for perfumes made of the excretions of the civet cat or the musk deer, and it was only in the mid-eighteenth century that floral scents became popular. This shift had to do with people’s ideas about health, cleanliness, and naturalness that changed over time. You will learn how and why people in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries thought about the senses, how they experience their sensory world, and how our sensory experience came about over the course of a few hundred years.

By Carolyn Purnell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Blindfolding children from birth. Playing a piano made of live cats. Using tobacco to cure drowning. Wearing "flea"-coloured clothes. These actions seem odd to us but in the eighteenth century they made sense.

As Carolyn Purnell persuasively shows, while our bodies may not change dramatically, the way we think about the senses and put them to use has been rather different over the ages. Journeying through the past three hundred years, Purnell explores how people used their senses in ways that might shock now. Using culinary history, fashion, medicine, music and many other aspects of Enlightenment life, she demonstrates that,…


Book cover of The Soundscape of Modernity: Architectural Acoustics and the Culture of Listening in America, 1900-1933

Ai Hisano Author Of Visualizing Taste: How Business Changed the Look of What You Eat

From my list on a new understanding of your sensory experience.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian of the senses. When I first traveled to the United States, I was fascinated and overwhelmed by the smell and sound of the streets entirely different from my hometown in Japan. Since then, every time I go abroad, I enjoy various sensory experiences in each country. The first thing I always notice is the smell of the airport which is different from country to country. We all have the senses, but we sense things differently—and these differences are cultural. I wondered if they are also historical. That was the beginning of my inquiry into how our sensory experience has been constructed and changed over time.

Ai's book list on a new understanding of your sensory experience

Ai Hisano Why did Ai love this book?

What is noise? Is it about loud music? Train sounds? Well, what makes certain sounds noise depends on the context. In the late-nineteenth-century United States, for example, the sound of the locomotive, which may sound like noise to many people, was heard as a symbol of modernity and technological advancement. Thompson’s book explores such change in the nature of sound and the culture of listening with the rise of new technology in the United States during the first few decades of the twentieth century, from the street and the Philadelphia Saving Fund Society Building to Radio City in New York.

By Emily Thompson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this history of aural culture in early-twentieth-century America, Emily Thompson charts dramatic transformations in what people heard and how they listened. What they heard was a new kind of sound that was the product of modern technology. They listened as newly critical consumers of aural commodities. By examining the technologies that produced this sound, as well as the culture that enthusiastically consumed it, Thompson recovers a lost dimension of the Machine Age and deepens our understanding of the experience of change that characterized the era.Reverberation equations, sound meters, microphones, and acoustical tiles were deployed in places as varied as…


Book cover of Smellosophy: What the Nose Tells the Mind

Ai Hisano Author Of Visualizing Taste: How Business Changed the Look of What You Eat

From my list on a new understanding of your sensory experience.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian of the senses. When I first traveled to the United States, I was fascinated and overwhelmed by the smell and sound of the streets entirely different from my hometown in Japan. Since then, every time I go abroad, I enjoy various sensory experiences in each country. The first thing I always notice is the smell of the airport which is different from country to country. We all have the senses, but we sense things differently—and these differences are cultural. I wondered if they are also historical. That was the beginning of my inquiry into how our sensory experience has been constructed and changed over time.

Ai's book list on a new understanding of your sensory experience

Ai Hisano Why did Ai love this book?

I like the smell of rain. But I can’t explain what it actually smells like. Afterall, olfactory sensation is the “mute sense”—the one without words. To describe a certain smell, you are most likely using a metaphor like rosy smell or vanilla-like smell. Not only does smell have few words to describe it, but it is also a sensation with still a lot unknown. Barwich’s Smellosophy is a fascinating combination of science, philosophy, and history to explore the importance of this mysterious sensation in our society. While digging into philosophical and historical questions to explore how people in the past thought about the perception of smell, Barwich also interviews neuroscientists, perfumers, and chemists to explore how the modern science, as well as industry, is trying to figure out what the nose tells the brain and how the brain understands it.

By A. S. Barwich,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An NRC Handelsblad Book of the Year

"Offers rich discussions of olfactory perception, the conscious and subconscious impacts of smell on behavior and emotion."
-Science

Decades of cognition research have shown that external stimuli "spark" neural patterns in particular regions of the brain. We think of the brain as a space we can map: here it responds to faces, there it perceives a sensation. But the sense of smell-only recently attracting broader attention in neuroscience-doesn't work this way. So what does the nose tell the brain, and how does the brain understand it?

A. S. Barwich turned to experts in…


Book cover of Smell Detectives: An Olfactory History of Nineteenth-Century Urban America

Ai Hisano Author Of Visualizing Taste: How Business Changed the Look of What You Eat

From my list on a new understanding of your sensory experience.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian of the senses. When I first traveled to the United States, I was fascinated and overwhelmed by the smell and sound of the streets entirely different from my hometown in Japan. Since then, every time I go abroad, I enjoy various sensory experiences in each country. The first thing I always notice is the smell of the airport which is different from country to country. We all have the senses, but we sense things differently—and these differences are cultural. I wondered if they are also historical. That was the beginning of my inquiry into how our sensory experience has been constructed and changed over time.

Ai's book list on a new understanding of your sensory experience

Ai Hisano Why did Ai love this book?

Kiechle’s Smell Detective shows how smell, the mute sense, has been in fact quite “talkative.” By going back to the nineteenth-century United States, the book discusses how cities back then smelled and how people living there reacted to it. Olfaction is actually a critical source of knowledge. Smell can tell you a lot about your surrounding environment and other people. It also gives historians clues to understand how people lived in the past. Moreover, smell, like other senses, is not a simply subjective, biological phenomenon. Sensations we experience change over time—imagine smell and sounds on the street today and hundred years ago. It is also cultural and political, too. How people understand certain sensations is a historical product—a certain “bad” small was racialized and associated with a lower class, for example. This book is an excellent way to “sniff” out the history of the senses.

By Melanie A. Kiechle,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What did nineteenth-century cities smell like? And how did odors matter in the formation of a modern environmental consciousness? Smell Detectives follows the nineteenth-century Americans who used their noses to make sense of the sanitary challenges caused by rapid urban and industrial growth. Melanie Kiechle examines nuisance complaints, medical writings, domestic advice, and myriad discussions of what constituted fresh air, and argues that nineteenth-century city dwellers, anxious about the air they breathed, attempted to create healthier cities by detecting and then mitigating the most menacing odors.

Medical theories in the nineteenth century assumed that foul odors caused disease and that…


Book cover of Fortune's Fool: Edgar Bronfman, Jr., Warner Music, and an Industry in Crisis

Harvey G. Cohen Author Of Duke Ellington's America

From my list on American popular music history.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an author and educator, my work centers on the history, business, and art of the music industry and film industry. I don’t think my fellow historians use musical evidence enough as a primary document that reveals much about the society and time period one is writing aboutjust as much as the usual primary and secondary documents historians use.  I try to ensure my books are entertaining as well as rigorously researched. I’m also a songwriter, with many years in the music biz, and have done much work in radio, especially crafting music shows. I’m always discovering amazing stuff from various eras, and it’s not much fun if you don’t share it, which is part of why I’m on Twitter.

Harvey's book list on American popular music history

Harvey G. Cohen Why did Harvey love this book?

The story of how Warner Bros Records, perhaps the best, most profitable yet artist-friendly record label in the 1970s and 1980s became heavily damaged when it was bought out in the 1990s and put under corporate auspices and expectations. Goodman communicates the financial details in a clear and accessible way, as well as the music executives’ singular personalities. Also offers a close-up view of how the corporate execs, especially with their short-term focus on quarterly results, failed to deal with the challenges of Napster and downloads at the turn of the century. An insightful view of the changing components of the music business in our time.

By Fred Goodman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fortune's Fool as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1999, when Napster made music available free online, the music industry found itself in a fight for its life. A decade later, the most important and misunderstood story-and the one with the greatest implications for both music lovers and media companies-is how the music industry has failed to remake itself. In Fortune's Fool, Fred Goodman, the author of The Mansion on the Hill, shows how this happened by presenting the singular history of Edgar M. Bronfman Jr., the controversial heir to Seagram's, who, after dismantling his family's empire and fortune, made a high-stakes gamble to remake both the music…


Book cover of Making Records: The Scenes Behind the Music

Marc Schuster Author Of Frankie Lumlit's Janky Drumkit

From my list on making noise.

Why am I passionate about this?

Music is a major passion of mine. I’m highly involved in making and promoting independent music both locally and internationally via social media. The primary focus of all my endeavors is promoting a do-it-yourself ethos. Whenever I work with musicians, I’m always fascinated by how their creativity allows them to do a lot with a little. Hence, I suppose, the story of Frankie Lumlit. It’s a story about falling in love with music and finding a way to make it even when the world says no.

Marc's book list on making noise

Marc Schuster Why did Marc love this book?

Phil Ramone has been involved in producing records for some of the biggest acts in music, including Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, and Paul Simon. Ostensibly, his book is about record production, but really it’s about people. Yes, Ramone worked with some big names over the course of his long career, but at the end of the day (as he emphasizes throughout the book), they’re all human beings, and while some degree of technical expertise is necessary when it comes to making music, what really matters is knowing how to talk to people. At the end of the day, making music is all about making human connections. 

By Phil Ramone,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sinatra. Streisand. Dylan. Pavarotti. McCartney. Sting. Madonna. What do these musicians have in common besides their super-stardom? They have all worked with legendary music producer Phil Ramone.

For almost five decades, Phil Ramone has been a force in the music industry. He has produced records and collaborated with almost every major talent in the business. There is a craft to making records, and Phil has spent his life mastering it. For the first time ever, he shares the secrets of his trade.

Making Records is a fascinating look "behind the glass" of a recording studio. From Phil's exhilarating early days…


Book cover of The Music Shop

Kate Mueser Author Of The Girl with Twenty Fingers

From my list on proving music is two-faced.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a used-to-be, going-to-be pianist, like Sarah, the protagonist in my book. Even though I didn’t take to the concert stage after studying music, I have integrated music throughout my career as a culture journalist and now as a novelist. I interviewed young bands as a radio host, presented German pop music as a TV host, spoke with A-level conductors as an online journalist, and have written two books about musicians who’ve had to rethink their life paths. Now as mom to three young children, including twins, I am known to sing either Schumann’s Dichterliebe or The Itsy Bitsy Spider too loudly during bathtime. 

Kate's book list on proving music is two-faced

Kate Mueser Why did Kate love this book?

Like Sarah in my book (and me at one point, too), the mysterious German woman in the pea-green coat who faints in front of an eclectic London music shop has a broken relationship with music. Ironically, she’s good at fixing things and begins an awkward friendship with the shop’s owner Frank, who has a magical ability to match music with people. With its wonderfully flawed characters, this book is a tender tale of healing—both from music and with music—and a celebration of all musical genres.

By Rachel Joyce,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Music Shop as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

BBC Radio 4 BOOK AT BEDTIME from 17-28 July. From the author of the world-wide bestseller, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, a new novel about learning how to listen and how to feel; and about second chances and choosing to be brave despite the odds. Because in the end, music can save us all ...
1988. Frank owns a music shop. It is jam-packed with records of every speed, size and genre. Classical, jazz, punk - as long as it's vinyl he sells it. Day after day Frank finds his customers the music they need.
Then into his life…


Book cover of Tony Visconti: The Autobiography: Bowie, Bolan and the Brooklyn Boy

Richard Niles Author Of The Invisible Artist: Arrangers In Popular Music (1950-2000)

From my list on to get inside popular music.

Why am I passionate about this?

Richard Niles was born in Hollywood but grew up in London where his 50-year professional career as a composer, arranger, record producer led to work with some of the most acclaimed artists of our time, including Paul McCartney, Ray Charles, James Brown, Tina Turner, Cher and jazz icon Pat Metheny. He has worked on 20 Gold and 28 Platinum records. He has published many books on music including The Pat Metheny Interviews, The Invisible Artist, From Dreaming to Gigging, Piano Grooves, Songwriting – The 11-Point Plan, Adventures in Arranging, Adventures in Jazz Composition, What is Melody?, and How to be an Employable Musician. Dr. Niles' PhD is from Brunel University and he has lectured internationally.

Richard's book list on to get inside popular music

Richard Niles Why did Richard love this book?

One of the most legendary producers in music history, Visconti enabled the talent and genius of ground-breaking artists such as David Bowie, Iggy Pop, T Rex, Thin Lizzy, Wings, and U2.

This is an insider’s view from a brilliant musician and arranger, an intimate view from a man whose talent earned the trust of the talented. The book is filled with fascinating personal tales of his work, and photos from his private collection.

By Tony Visconti,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A name synonymous with ground-breaking music, Tony Visconti has worked with the most dynamic and influential names in pop, from T.Rex and Iggy Pop to David Bowie and U2. This is the compelling life story of the man who helped shape music history, and gives a unique, first-hand insight into life in London during the late 1960s and '70s.

This memoir takes you on a roller-coaster journey through the glory days of pop music, when men wore sequins and pop could truly rock. Featuring behind-the-scenes stories of big names such as Bowie, Visconti's unique access to the hottest talent, both…


Book cover of Tearing Down the Wall of Sound: The Rise and Fall of Phil Spector

Marc Schuster Author Of Frankie Lumlit's Janky Drumkit

From my list on making noise.

Why am I passionate about this?

Music is a major passion of mine. I’m highly involved in making and promoting independent music both locally and internationally via social media. The primary focus of all my endeavors is promoting a do-it-yourself ethos. Whenever I work with musicians, I’m always fascinated by how their creativity allows them to do a lot with a little. Hence, I suppose, the story of Frankie Lumlit. It’s a story about falling in love with music and finding a way to make it even when the world says no.

Marc's book list on making noise

Marc Schuster Why did Marc love this book?

I knew that Phil Spector had a reputation for being mercurial (and that he was in prison for murder), but I never realized how off the rails he really was. I also never realized how many people he’d worked with—both as a producer and just as a guy who was trying to network his way into the business. I knew about his “girl groups,” about his work with the Beatles and some of their solo projects, and about his work with the Ramones, but I didn’t realize that he was very good friends with Ahmet Ertegun of Atlantic Records and that he saw Berry Gordy of Motown as one of his biggest competitors. Overall, a bizarre, tragic life, but an interesting read with a lot of information about some of the big names in rock history that Spector encountered. 

By Mick Brown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tearing Down the Wall of Sound as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A stunning biography of "pure self-interest and cruelty, tempered only slightly by the great musical achievements of Mr. Spector's golden age in the early 1960s" (The New York Times).

He had a number one hit at eighteen. He was a millionaire with his own record label at twenty-two. He was, according to Tom Wolfe, “the first tycoon of teen.” Phil Spector owned pop music. From the Crystals, the Ronettes (whose lead singer, Ronnie, would become his second wife), and the Righteous Brothers to the Beatles (together and singly) and finally the seventies punk icons The Ramones, Spector produced hit after…


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