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Listening in on Author Playlists

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Jesse Doogan

Staff Writer

Jesse Doogan writes about food, faith, books, and DIY projects, and sometimes even puts these things on her blog. She works in publishing and lives near Chicago with her cat. She tweets about all these things at @jadoogan.   Blog Twitter: @jadoogan

I’ve always loved details that can be pulled out of a book and brought into the the real world to bring some tangibility to a story (see also), which is why I was so excited when I was looking through the book club kit for Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. Ng included a few of these details in her guide, like a recipe for Galaxy Cookies which I plan to make ASAP, but also a soundtrack. The soundtrack added a whole unexpected layer to the book. If I were to put together a soundtrack for Never Told You, it would be quiet and blue, rippling like the lake that plays such a big part of the book. Ng’s picks are all ’70s rock, scratchy and dry like the Ohio summer setting of the story. I loved that she picked songs the characters would have listened to, and I immediately started searching for other author playlists.

My criteria for author playlists were as follows. 1) It had to be actually written by the author. Fan-created playlists are great, but I was looking insight into the author’s idea of the book, not a reader’s interpretation, and 2) it had to be an actual playlist of songs that inspired the book, or a soundtrack to go with the book, not just songs mentioned in the book. There are a lot of “Every Song in This Nick Hornby Novel” lists out there. That’s great. That’s not what I wanted. I’ve rounded up the best of the best and listed them here. Enjoy!

A couple of these soundtracks were already available in Spotify and even some on the author’s own page, but I don’t use Spotify, so I’ve created playlists in Rdio and embedded them here. I’ve also added the author’s comments as I could find them.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
(From here.)
“In putting together this playlist, I tried to stick to songs of the period of the book—songs that the characters themselves might have heard on their radios or their record players and that might have meant something to them.”

Divergent by Veronica Roth

(From here.)
“I’m a little sensitive about playlists, because when I find songs to write to, I don’t really consider what genre the music is or how respectable the band is or any of that. If it makes me think of Divergent characters or scenes, it’s on the playlist, no matter how I feel about the artist as a whole”

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
(From here.)
“So, when I start a new book, I start a new playlist, too, and I work on them concurrently. With Eleanor & Park, the playlists took the shape of mixed tapes for each character. (Because 1986.) (And because I like to overdo things.) So I ended up with four playlists — two mixed tapes with two sides each.”
(Check out the author’s spotify for more playlists from Eleanor & Park and other books.)

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

(From here.)
According to King’s Facebook page this “contains some of the songs he kept close to hand when he was writing his sequel to The Shining!”

Hawkeye #22 by David Aja
(From here.)
This one’s cheating a bit because Aja is the artist, he didn’t write the script, but this is my list, so my rules. “Thank you all for joining us during this ride. Mwah.”
(Check out the artist’s Spotify for more Hawkeye playlists.)