April Book Recommendations & Musical Pairings

This month I’ll be reviewing a few of my favorite current reads and pairing them with albums that match the works’ mood and tone. Literature and music are such essential parts of my life and I’m ecstatic to be sharing these with any Digital Future readers out there. What better time than now to relax with a new book and discover some music while you’re at it? Escapism has never been so in style!

Role Models by John Waters

New York Dolls Self-Titled Album

Famed cult film-maker, John Waters, invites us to step into his hilariously twisted world and meet those who have impacted him through the years in a set of interviews and stories you have to read to believe. He chronicles his biggest role models and closest friends through his own recognizable wit and and candid literary voice, making the reader feel as if they too, are old pals. These key figures in Waters’ life range from infamous Manson girl, Leslie “Lulu” Van Houten, to the iconic masked lesbian burlesque star, Lady Zorro, from his own hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. I highly recommend this book for all absurdist cult film fans and anyone who wants an extra glimpse into the life of the Pope of Trash. 

As for the album chosen, I think the New York Dolls’ trailblazing punk sound and glam fashion looks are a perfect match for John Waters. Talk about two subversive stars that are equally dedicated to dressing to the nines and letting the world know they are not to be fucked with.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Revolution Girl Style Now by Bikini Kill

In this smart and enthralling book of essays, Roxane Gay argues that feminist is an ever-changing, complex and sometimes flawed label. She urges anyone who identifies as a feminist to strive for a movement that protects and includes women of color, queer women and transgender women, and allows each person to take on their own subjective version of feminism. Her pieces offer a lighthearted but scholarly prosed take on how gender, sexuality and race are portrayed in today’s media, entertainment and politics. She relates these concepts back to her own firsthand experiences and offers pieces of wisdom I often circle back to in times of needing a little extra strength.

I’m pairing this book with Bikini Kill’s Revolution Girl Style Now because of the album’s own nonconventional style of feminism. Kathleen Hanna, lead singer and easily the most recognizable figure in the riot grrrl movement, wasn’t afraid to embrace her sexuality and make the punk scene a safe place for women to raise their voices and speak their minds. I promise, this is a surefire way to feel invincible when dealing with misogynistic co-workers or taking down the patriarchy as a whole.

If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin

Metamorphosis by Philip Glass

This heartbreakingly beautiful novel by James Baldwin tells the story of Tish and Fonny, a young couple in 1970s Harlem, and the adversity they must overcome. 19-year-old Tish is pregnant with Fonny’s child and determined to marry him, but is soon deterred by his false imprisonment. Tish works tirelessly with the support of her family to clear Fonny’s name, earn enough money to support the baby and combat the racial injustices ingrained in the world around them. Baldwin’s writing is real and showcases authentic characters as they experience true love and loss during an unforgiving time.

I chose Metamorphosis as the pairing for this book because of Philip Glass’s effortless way of telling a dynamic story through emotion. The collection of compositions is aptly named due to it’s ability to express turbulence with a glimmer of hope and tranquility, but without conclusion, much like Baldwin’s work.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Misery Is a Butterfly by Blonde Redhead

This psychological thriller follows Camille, a journalist sent back to her hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri to report a recent murder case involving two young girls. Forced to carry the weight of her demanding hypochondriac mother and estranged step sister, she begins to unravel the town’s secrets while trying to repress with her own nightmarish childhood memories. This fast paced novel will have you reeling and searching for answers up until the very last page.

Misery Is a Butterfly is a perfect pairing for this book, due to it’s own themes of alienation and vulnerability. Each song adds to the eerie feeling of something sinister lurking just below the surface of sheer beauty. I’ve had this album on repeat for months, and it’s sure to send chills down your spine too.

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