As February draws to a close, we are gearing up to add a few more novels to our reading lists—and beaches to our desired set of destinations—as we near spring break vacation season. While the old reliable library-like atmosphere will always be a favorite of book lovers, we have rounded up a few fresh book and music pairings to create the perfect ambiance for some of our most recent favorites.
- Chanel Cleeton’s Next Year in Havana will have you craving some time on Cuba’s sandy shores through her vibrant depictions of Cuba from the 1950s to today. The vintage island feel of Cleeton’s work, mixed with political tension, romance, and a mysterious family history, beg to be paired with songs like “Havana” by Camila Cabello, a modern piece with classic Latin flair that plays on the romantic scenes in the book and matches the modern side of the work. “Cereso Rosa” by Perez Prado pulls readers into Cuba’s 1950s atmosphere and helps crystallize the image of this beautiful island country during its golden years. “Lucky” by Jason Mraz, bridges the old and new sides of Cleeton’s enchanting piece with its nostalgic melody, island vibes, and romantic lyrics. Variety reigns supreme as we explore the evolution of Cuba and its people in Next Year in Havana.
- Looking for a laugh to break up those lingering winter blues? Look no furtherthan Bill Bryson’s smash hit A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail. Bryson’s true and hilarious account of his completion of the Appalachian Trail (AT) will both inspire and amuse through his truthful, elegant prose and unbelievably funny stories from his time on the AT. For this work, we suggest songs like “Brother” by Lord Huron, “The Wanderer” by Dion, and “Follow the Sun” by Xavier Rudd to enhance the feelings of awe and comedy produced by Bryson’s writing. Get ready to catch some wanderlust after experiencing this pairing!
- For a completely engrossing mystery thriller, be sure to pick up The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. As Aiden Bishop scrambles to solve the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle, he has more to contend with than a complex plot. Stuck in a time loop, Aiden must race the clock to inhabit the bodies of eight witnesses and figure out who killed Evelyn in precisely eight days, or be trapped in the loop. Intense, fast-paced, and wild to the finish, Turton’s debut novel has us on the edge of our seats as we wait for his next work. To enhance the mystery and intrigue of his current accomplishment, we suggest the classical titles “Dream Within a Dream” and “Rise” by Hans Zimmer and “In Control” by Anne Dudley.
- Run away and join the circus from the comfort of your own home with Sara Gruen’s beautiful Water for Elephants. Set during the Great Depression, Jacob Jankowski goes MIA from the Cornell Veterinary School after learning of his parent’s deaths in a devastating car accident, leaving him with nothing but crippling debt. As he spontaneously lands in the train car of a traveling circus in need of a vet, he struggles to make sense of his life and what he has left. Jacob’s adventures with the circus unfold in a compelling story of danger, forbidden love, and second chances that can be paired excellently with songs like Iron and Wine’s “The Trapeze Swinger,” Lana Del Ray’s “Young and Beautiful,” and Riley Pierce’s “Brave,” which all contribute to the engrossing and atmospheric qualities of Gruen’s piece.
- Last but certainly not least, we have Madhuri Vijay’s novel The Far Field, a compelling tale about a privileged young woman from Bangalore coming to terms over her mother’s death while adjusting to life in the politically charged region of Kashmir. To enhance the tones of adventure and intrigue found throughout Vijay’s piece, we suggest the songs “The Stranger” by Lord Huron, “Heirloom” by SIAS, and “Long Nights” by Eddie Vadder. Raw, intense, and full of melodies that inspire travel to faraway lands, these songs are sure to awaken the inner adventurer in every reader as they journey through the complexities of gender, culture, and Indian politics in Vijay’s beautifully complex work.