Top Ten Tuesday: Theme Songs for Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme brought to you by the folks over at The Broke and the Bookish (the pic also belongs to them).  This week’s theme is the Top Ten Books I’d Give A Theme Song To.

How fun is this week’s theme?  I must admit, though, that I have never ever thought about which songs go with which books, so this was pretty tough for me.  And my jet-lagged brain (it’s possible to get jet lag off a 2.5 hour flight across only one time zone, right?) couldn’t come up with more than five, so uh this is my Top Five Tuesday…

1. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger with “I am a Rock” by Simon and Garfunkel – Hello, teen angst.  I have no need for friendship/friendship causes pain/it’s laughter and it’s nothing I disdain.

2. Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness with “Imagine” by John Lennon –Imagine all the people sharing all the world.  I like to imagine that the New Worlders in Ness’s series could find a way to share the world.  And I also also imagine the idealism that brought the New Worlders to the New World sounded a whole lot like Lennon’s idealism in “Imagine.”  Again, I cannot stop talking about how awesome the Chaos Walking series was (or how awesome John Lennon is, but that is another story).

3. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green with “Have I Told You Lately” by Van Morrison – Colin is constantly wanting validation of Katherine’s love for him.  So I sort of imagine that this song would remind him he is loved.  Abundantly.  And with much cheese factor.

4. Looking for Alaska by John Green with “Blister in the Sun” by the Violent Femmes – I have armchair diagnosed Alaska with bipolar disorder.  “Blister in the Sun” is a manic song.  Alaska is often manic.  Therefore they go together.

5. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson with “Hotel California” by the Eagles – Both the song and the book are creepy and unsettling.  They also start with seemingly normal situations (checking into a hotel; a girl going shopping in the village) and end pretty terrifyingly (you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave; homicidal girl burns down her house to keep her sister home forever).

Monday Memories: We Have Always Lived in the Castle- Shirley Jackson

I am planning on doing a weekly post called “Monday Memories” in which I talk about my book and reading memories, post about re-reads, or otherwise reflect on the literary life (that phrase makes me feel like such a snob, but I can’t think of a better way to put it).  Books have been a major force in my life and I’d like to take a little time to acknowledge the various ways in which reading has shaped me.

Shirley Jackson has been a favorite author of mine since my teenage years… I discovered Shirley Jackson the way (I assume) most people do- as a middle schooler reading the short story, “The Lottery.”  Coincidentally, a movie version of Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House was released around the same time we read “The Lottery” in school.  I used to fancy myself a fan of ghost stories, so I was pretty excited to watch The Haunting… I don’t think I knew going in that it was based on a book by Shirley Jackson or that it was the same Shirley Jackson who’d written the short story I’d loved in school.  I think that there was a “based on the book” credit in the opening, so watching the movie (which I remember as being not great, although it helped explain why Owen Wilson’s nose is so flat) inspired me to check out Jackson’s Haunting and at some point I made the connection that she was the writer of “The Lottery.”  I later went on to read all of her published work.

At some point in high school I read We Have Always Lived in the Castle and I was tickled to come across a few blog reviews which reminded me of how awesome Jackson was and inspired me to get my re-read on.  I decided to borrow the audiobook from the library, so that I could stop listening to radio commercials while I drive.

This story is creepy.  The narrator, Merrikat Blackwood, lives in relative seclusion with her older sister, Constance, and her elderly Uncle Julian… the rest of the Blackwoods are dead.  The Blackwoods are taunted and hated by the villagers for reasons that slowly come out as the book progresses.  This book offers a look into the mind of someone who is, at the very least, out of touch with reality.  At the same time, though, Merrikat is so very tied to the everyday (Today we neaten the house. Tuesday and Fridays I go to the village…etc) that her craziness sneaks up on you and fools you and you sympathize with her.  This is what Jackson excels at- twisting the everyday, the ordinary, and the usual into the creepy and disturbing.  That is exactly the sort of creepy that is worth reading and re-reading.

I am now compelled to go re-read all the Shirley Jackson I can find.  (Sadly, I think my mom got rid of all the books I left at her house during college and that I may have to rebuild my collection.)  If you have not read Shirley Jackson, I highly recommend you do.  She is a fabulous writer and I only wish she were more prolific!