I can’t read and listen to music at the same time because I lose focus and get overwhelmed. But I still like to incorporate music into my reading from time to time, whether that’s through listening to book playlists (official or fan-made) or reading books about music or musicians.
If you’re passionate about reading and music, then here are five books that feature music in various ways and formats—separated based on books that have actual playlists in them and books that discuss musical themes or have musical characters.
Books with musical themes or characters
1. This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
My Rating: 4 Stars | Goodreads (4.1 Stars)
This is the first book in a trilogy (I haven’t yet read the other books, but I am eager to do so). This is possibly the most interesting book on this list because the musical theme involves the main character, and others like him, using musical talents to control (and kill) people. Music + monsters = yes, please.
2. The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos
My Rating: 5 Stars | Goodreads (3.7 Stars)
The Scar Boys is a compelling coming-of-age novel about a young boy, Harry, who is nearly struck by lightning, a traumatic event that leaves him covered in scars. Harry quickly becomes friends with a charismatic boy named Johnny; together, they start a band to help Harry heal and become more confident.
3. We Are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen
My Rating: 4 Stars | Goodreads (3.9 Stars)
This is an adorable friends-to-lovers novel about two childhood friends who grow up and go their separate paths when Cath decides to go off to college and Scott stays in their hometown to pursue his dreams. Set in the ’80s with lots of song references and nostalgia.
4. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
My Rating: 5 Stars | Goodreads (4.0 Stars)
This is my favorite Sarah Dessen book ever (I haven’t read Once and For All yet, though). This book has some darker themes (sexual assault, eating disorders, and bullying), but it focuses on music as a coping mechanism for several of the characters. This book won’t give you any new artists or songs to look up, but it’ll take you on a moving journey as Annabel heals and moves on from her trauma. Annabel learns to speak up for herself, and to just listen when things get rough. There’s also an interesting romance!
5. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
My Rating: 3 Stars | Goodreads (3.7 Stars)
This book is pretty cute, angsty, and fast-paced. The two title characters explore New York while searching for their favorite band—and possibly finding love. I didn’t love this book, but it’s incorporation of music and pop culture is interesting.
Books with music playlists
6. Someday, Maybe by Colleen Hoover
My rating: 1 Star/DNF | Goodreads (4.3)
This book was not my cup of tea. I didn’t like the characters so I had trouble connecting to the plot. That said, plenty of other people LOVE this books and it has its own soundtrack (seriously, you can LISTEN to the music featured in this novel—like original music). Definitely worth checking out!
My rating: 5 Stars | Goodreads (4.0)
THIS BOOK OWNS MY SOUL. I adored this book so, so, so much! This book deals with loss and healing, but is centered on a road trip the two main characters take together, and it includes their epic road trip playlists. This book will have you laughing, crying, and shipping the two main characters the whole time.
My rating: 5 Stars | Goodreads (4.1)
Okay, so honestly, Morgan Matson owns my soul. I have adored each and every one of her books that I’ve read so far and I am so eager to read more of her work. This book is focused heavily on friendship, but music comes into play with the characters sharing their running/workout playlists. (There’s a cute romance, too!)
What are your favorite books that feature music? Leave your list in the comments!