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20 Great Album-Book Combos

Get double points on vinyl and pair it with the perfect read

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • April 20, 2023

Have you ever found yourself listening to the perfect tunes to complement your book? It can really elevate your experience, both of reading and listening. Here are twenty vinyl albums (worth double points 4/214/23) with a finely tuned reading recommendation for each.

Fleetwood Mac's Rumours + Daisy Jones and the Six

This is kind of a gimme, but Taylor Jenkins Reid is said to have been inspired by the relationship drama that fueled this album when writing her novel about a seventies band's implosion. 

NWA's Straight Outta Compton + Cane

Like NWA's notoriously bold hip-hop debut, Jean Toomer's subversive Harlem Renaissance masterpiece was ahead of its time—a revolutionary work.

Taylor Swift's Red + Conversations with Friends

Sally Rooney's novel about two young women working on adulting while navigating tricky interpersonal relationships vibes perfectly with this album's themes of heartbreak, resilience, and hard-won wisdom.

Takk. . . by Sigur Rós + Brave New World

Like the Icelandic band's ethereal, atmospheric strains, this enduring dystopian masterpiece by Aldous Huxley feels prescient, pioneering, and pensive. 

The Velvet Underground & Nico + Naked Lunch

This drifty, satirical novel is drawn from William S. Burroughs' experiences with addiction and pairs perfectly with the hazy, languid vibe of the collaborative, experimental album. 

Joni Mitchell's Blue and James Taylor's Greatest Hits + Songs in Ursa Major

Another obvious choice since Emma Brodie's transporting story is clearly drawing from Joni's early music and her love affair with James Taylor.

Beyoncé’s Lemonade + Pet

Exploring themes of identity and justice, Akwaeke Emezi's genre-defying YA novel centers on a character who is creative, powerful, and bold, just like the Queen Bee, herself.

Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea + The Diary of a Young Girl

This '90s indie album was inspired by Anne Frank's writings. Its experimental sounds are dreamy and devotional, with lyrics mulling over themes of death and rebirth. 

The Notorious B.I.G.'s Life After Death  + Let Me Hear a Rhyme

Three teens champion their friend's rap music after his murder, pretending he's still alive. Both the music and the life of the slain Biggie Smalls served as inspiration for this YA novel by Tiffany D. Jackson.

Lorde's Melodrama + All The Bright Places

This complicated love story by Jennifer Niven captures all the precipitous ups and downs of teenage love. Lorde's moody album offers a similar range of emotion. 

Electric Ladyland by the Jimi Hendrix Experience + The Man in the High Castle

The psychedelic funk sounds of the last studio album released before Hendrix's 1970 death blend well with Philip K. Dick's trippy alternate history, exploring a world in which Axis Powers won WWII.

Neil Young's On the Beach + Inherent Vice

Thomas Pynchon's noir-esque psychedelic romp is about the end of an era. It's a story about a man grappling with change and getting lost in nostalgia. Perfect for Young's melancholic meditation on disillusionment.

Lana Del Rey's Ultraviolence + L.A. Confidential

With themes of corruption, greed, and brutality, this album makes an ideal soundtrack for James Ellroy's epic neo-noir tale of organized crime and political corruption.

Kid A by Radiohead + 1984

Like George Orwell's dystopian vision, Radiohead's experimental fourth studio album broke new ground and challenged audiences. Pitchfork called it "ominous, surreal, and impossibly millennial."

We Insist! Max Roach's Freedom Now Suite + The Selfish Gene

First published in 1976, Richard Dawkins's mind-blowing exposition on evolution pairs neatly with the innovative debut of this famed, and often controversial, jazz drummer and composer. 

Arcade Fire's Suburbs + American Gods

Neil Gaiman's award-winning Americana fantasy is sharply complemented by Arcade Fire's renowned third album, described as "radiant with apocalyptic tension."

Lizzo's Cuz I Love You + Girl, Woman, Other

Fans of Lizzo's manifesto for self-love will appreciate Bernardine Evaristo’s Booker Prize-winning novel-in-verse exploring the lives of twelve interconnected Black women and nonbinary characters.

Maxïmo Park's Our Earthly Pleasures + Fight Club

With themes of existentialism and emasculation, Chuck Palahniuk's novel vibrates with masculine yearning. Maxïmo Park powers their '80s inspired garage rock with a similar mix of emotional intelligence and aggression.

Legend by Bob Marley & the Wailers + A Brief History of Seven Killings

Exploring the attempted 1976 assassination of Bob Marley, Marlon James's novel should absolutely be read while listening to The King of Reggae himself.

Bruce Springsteen's The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle + Summer Sisters

Densely poetic with themes of "urban dreams and adolescent restlessness," this album (with notes of salt and sand and sex) is an ideal soundtrack for Judy Blume's story of teenage besties and a fateful summer on Martha's Vineyard.

Let us know if you have any recommendations to add to this list. You can follow us on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram for daily book recommendations, literary tidbits, and more.

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