Books by Theme: Books about music, identity, and the spirit of Bowie and Prince

books by theme                music

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Today, or today as I'm writing this, we've lost another music icon, Prince Nelson.  Also known as Prince.  Also known as that symbol.  Did the universe not satisfy itself with David Bowie?  Both Bowie and Prince were known not only for their visionary, genre-bending music, but for their staunch rejection of traditional gender and personal identity.  I was going to do a review today, but instead I want to share a bit of a strange list, a list of books that celebrate the musicians, the weirdos, the visionaries, and the dreamers.  Rest in peace and party on, Prince.   

the musicians 


Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

Music is the tie that holds this series together.  It draws Ana to Sam before she even knows who he is.  It is Sam's greatest talent, his passion across lifetimes.  It shows how music can save the soul, tame the savage beast, and transcend all darkness.


Heartbreakers by Ali Novak

This one is about a boy band.  It's fun music, quirky pop rock.  It's about music bringing people together and driving them apart, about the business and the passion.  About a girl who meets a boy whose music she's forever hated--and finds that there's more to the boy than she realized.  

Okay, I haven't actually read this, but I've seen the movie so I get the general gist.  Nick and Norah share a wild, crazy night searching for a secret show by their favorite band, listening to music, and getting into all sorts of trouble.  It's about what music makes people feel, how important it can be.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Music is Charlie's escape--from his loneliness, from his anger, from his memories.  From himself.  It's his greatest gift to his friend Patrick (including not one, but TWO copies of "Sleep" by The Smiths) and it's the soundtrack to his greatest moment of friendship and transcendence, the song of infinity.

the weirdos, visionaries, and dreamers


When We Collided by Emery Lord

Vivi and Jonah are misfits.  Vivi is wild, colorful, an artist whose canvas is the world.  Jonah is somber and shy with a hidden darkness.  Together they learn how to dream and dare, how to embrace what makes them unusual.


You Were Here by Cori McCarthy

McCarthy's cast is a whole group of weirdos.  There's the ghost hunting daredevil, the silent boy who speaks in looks, the neurotic college-bound princess, the Peter Pan full of rage and fear, the scorned lover with art in his soul.  Their crazy adventure of dares and ghosts and graffiti is the ultimate celebration of the beauty in the bizarre.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Finch is the god of dreamers and renegades.  He's in pieces himself, but he manages to show Violet, a lost girl in a narrow world, how to live
 hugely in the small spaces, how to live for more.  Finch's world is part reality and part a brilliant childlike fantasy that's built on darkness, but has the power to save.

I Crawl Through It by A.S. King

This book was made for the weird and the strange.  It's about a boy making an invisible helicopter.  A girl who hides her lies in floor-length hair.  A girl who's swallowed herself.  A girl who dissects frogs and trades kisses for letters.  It's a surreal acid-trip that Prince and Bowie would have been proud of.

The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle

Here's another for the dreamers, the visionaries.  It's a story of a family in turmoil, haunted by dark secrets and forbidden love, living in the spaces between the real world and fantasy where there are ghost houses and magical costumes, dead girls who write secrets and an ill-fated month.  It's a book about rawness and being okay with the weirdness that is one's own self.

What books would you add? What books give you the courage to be different?