Reading, writing, and discussing music books are an underrated part of music fandom
There's something about the written word, no matter how much of a visual and digital civilization we've become, that just can't be replicated.
Perhaps it's the nostalgia of how most of us first began to learn, awakening some deep-seated childhood memories from our subconscious recalling the first baby books we'd ever held. Maybe it's the association of hearing our parent's voices while holding and looking at these colorful objects they always seemed so happy to show us.
Whatever it is, we all have an attachment to books that too many of us allow to fall by the wayside as we get older. I've been talking to a lot of writers over the past few months and it's inspired me to write a bit about this group of people who are delivering on a promise we probably never knew we even made.
Since this is a music blog, I'm focusing on music writers. I read all types of books and always have, but books about music are my favorite and I've always noticed a parallel between serious music fans and people who love to read.
Before I get into that, I wanted to point out some glaring statistics that struck me as sad but not surprising. According to the Pew Research Center, almost a quarter of American adults haven't read a book, in any form, over the past year.
"Roughly a quarter of American adults (23%) say they haven’t read a book in whole or in part in the past year, whether in print, electronic or audio form, according to a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults conducted Jan. 25-Feb. 8, 2021. Who are these non-book readers?
Several demographic traits are linked with not reading books, according to the survey. For instance, adults with a high school diploma or less are far more likely than those with a bachelor’s or advanced degree to report not reading books in any format in the past year (39% vs. 11%)." - Pew Research/2021
As I said, I'm not all that surprised but I do find it sad. Too many people believe they've learned all they need to, their world views are established, opinions on everything are fully cemented, and they don't seem interested in learning anything else.
Let's get back to the reader/music fan parallel before this goes in a different direction. So it's always seemed to me that music fans, especially those who grew up before the digital revolution, have a love of physical music. Namely, vinyl. We got to look at the artwork, read lyrics and liner notes, and literally hold music in our hands. Books are a very similar physical and artistic experience.
Holding a book allows you to have a better connection to the words, characters, stories, and authors than scrolling on a screen or listening to audiobooks. I understand the convenience and need to save time in today's busy world as much as anyone, but we should build in time to hold and read a book once in a while. It can only make us better,
Here's a little exercise if you're into music books but haven't made the time to actually read any lately. List your favorite artists, bands, or music-related topics and google books about them. No matter the genre, new or old music, etc., there will be at least one book, long essay, or blog about them. Start there and then find the ones you want the most and buy the book. If you're really feeling ambitious and don't see a book you like about your favorite music, write one!
Another thing you can do is read reviews of hundreds of music books at AllMusicBooks which is a great site for reviews of all things music book-related. You can even read a review I wrote which was featured on the site's home page for a while.
That's one of the reasons that Generation Riff even exists. The idea first began as a book (which I'm still writing and will finish) and it's morphed into a lot more...with more still to come. Trust me, if I can do it, anyone can.
So sit back, research your favorite music, buy and read a few books about it all, and lose yourself in what you love for a change. You'll be glad that you did.
Happy reading everyone!