I’m really excited to start a new book journey with your orchestra class! Mr. Lytle had a fun idea to pair book ideas with the themes and moods of your orchestra performance pieces. Our current plan is that I’ll visit your class to give you short book talks (book previews) of a couple of books that I think pair nicely with your musical choices. But since I always have more book ideas than time, I thought I’d start a list for you here so you can always reference it later when you’re looking for a new read! And, as always, I love to hear your reading journeys as well— so please share your additional suggestions of books that you think match your music!
“Arirang”- Korean Folk Song– English translation is “My Beloved One”
Mr. Lytle told me that this song has been passed down through generations of Korean families, much like a lullaby. And though it expresses sadness at two romantic partners who are separated, it is also used as a message of hope for reunification. This is especially significant in Korea, a country whose people suffered under the Japanese invasion of their country for the first part of the twentieth century, and since 1945 when Korea was divided into North and South Korea. Many families still long for loved ones in the other Korea, and this song embodies their dreams of uniting again.
Book Selection One: If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Mia’s a classical cellist getting ready to apply to Juilliard School of Music, and acceptance would mean moving far from her family, friends, and rock band boyfriend– so this seems a bit like the separation of the romantic partners in the song. But, when unexpected tragedy strikes, Mia finds herself facing an uncertain future that is filled with loss, but that also offers hope for recovery with support from all those who still care deeply about her– and that hope, even during sadness, reminded me of how Koreans still use “Arirang” to dream about a future with their reunited families.
Book Selection Two: XOXO by Axie Oh
Jenny, another classically trained cellist, is struggling to incorporate emotions into her technically proficient performances. When her grandmother’s illness unexpectedly causes Jenny to transfer to a private music academy in South Korea she finds herself drawn into a romance with another musician whose management team thinks a relationship will only destroy his career. The theme of separated lovers is still here, as are the feelings of personal loss Jenny has experienced, but there is also finding new friendships, developing a relationship with her grandmother, and learning to re-connect with her emotions as she plays her cello. PS There’s also some BTS inspired K-Pop!
“Rumble in the City”
Mr. Lytle thought this piece had a very retro James Bond-ish, private eye detective story feel. Picture dark nights, disguises, sneaking through the city on a quest to discover the truth– all while being stylish and employing great sarcastic banter to show off your witty side! I’ve got two fun books that I think incorporate some of those ideas!
Heist Society (#1 in a series) by Ally Carter
Katarina’s just been kicked out of her boarding school for performing a very elaborate prank on the school principal, which was unfortunately caught on video. But she knows she’s been framed, and when a fancy black car shows up at the school to take her back home, she also knows that the handsome (but mysterious) Hale, sent to accompany her home, is somehow involved. It turns out Katarina’s family may not always follow the rules, and they want her back in their clutches to pull off one last “job” at a famous London museum. This one is super fun with lots of good plot twists, disguises, near escapes, questions about if doing a bad thing for the right reason makes it ok, witty banter, and tension between Kat and the mysterious Hale. I can picture “Rumble in the City” on the soundtrack if Heist Society was ever turned into a movie.
Bad Kitty by Michelle Jaffe
Jasmine has a plan of becoming a detective one day, in fact her Barbies used to have to play “crime scene detective” when she was little. But the family trip to Vegas is supposed to be a break from her using eye shadow to dust for fingerprints, but when Jasmine’s in a city nicknamed “Sin City” it’s not going to be long before she and her friends are searching for a kidnapped eight-year-old, evading a murderer, and debating if the cute guy “helping” them is someone they can trust, or someone who is out to double-cross them. Jas has a really funny voice for telling the story, and her friends are a handful. And even though the book involves a murder and a kidnapping, it’s also going to make you laugh out loud. This is “Rumble in the City” with a serious infusion of snarky commentary.