Monday, November 24, 2008

Anathem: Soundtracks for books?!?!?

I've recently been reading Anathem by Neal Stephenson, an epic length 937 page book about a group of devout monks that study math and the heavens - in an alternate universe of course. I've spent so much time ruminating on the protaganist, Erasmas, and his quest to understand the universe, that I did a quick Google search about the book to enhance my understanding of the book. Its kind of a tough read. The book is divided into distinct sections so it feels like I have been reading wildly different books with the same characters. The first part has our monks in their monastary, studying and learning which includes some heady philosophical questions couched in quantum theory and cosmological study (not to say the book is not readable--just weighty at times--one reviewer called it "philosophy extreme sports"). The second part is this sort of bumbling humorous adventure; the third, an almost Jack London Arctic trek, the next a political tale about aliens... and well I'm not done with the book yet. And to my surprise Stephenson's website has a wealth of information, including a soundtrack to listen to as you read the book (downloadable here). I had never heard of a soundtrack to a book! The music is chanting, inspired by Eastern Buddhist and Western Monastical traditions.

I did some research and dug up other books that have soundtracks, that might help you get through that next book. I know I will probably need the soundtrack to finish this one. If you like this list, check out Amazon's "hear the soundtrack to your favorite book" list for more suggestions, or to find mixtape suggestions from authors check out the Book Notes Archive.

The Black Angel
John Connolly
The book itself includes a cd that has Kate Bush, Neko Case, and more.

The Book of Lies
Brad Meltzer
This soundtrack starts of with REM and Five for Fighting and ends with Mahler and Elgar. Very eclectic and can be found on Meltzer's website.

Omar Tyree (Urban Griot)
As you might expect, Omar Tyree's soundtrack is filled with with rap and r&b. It looks like the cd is no longer available, but you can check out the discography on

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