Top Ten Books I’d Give a Theme Song

“I’ll run like the river/I’ll follow the sun/I’ll fly like an eagle/To where I belong.”

Bryan Adams

  1. The Dark Tower series – Stephen King. It has to be “All For One” by Blackmore’s Night. “We fight together/And when we fight, we fight together/Not alone.” Although it’s not so much the (rather repetitive) lyrics as the searingly epic opening guitar solo that just sings to me of Roland and his lonely wanderings through the endless desert.
  2. The Last Hero – Terry Pratchett. Blind Guardian’s “The Bard’s Song“: “Tomorrow will take us away/Far from home/No-one will ever know our names;/But the bard’s songs will remain.” Compare if you will (from the Pratchett): “No one remembers the singer. The song remains.” Christ, I love this song.
  3. Wool – Hugh Howey. The Future, The Boot“by Unwoman. This is more of a mood thing than an exact lyrical match; that industrial bass track just reminds me so much of the sheer mechanicalness of the silo. “Suddenly everything depends upon us/We’ll determine whether/Our future is a big boot stomping on a human face forever”. And, yes, that is an Orwell reference.
  4. Special Topics in Calamity Physics – Marisha Pessl. Another mood association: “Midnight Show” by the Killers. “I took my baby’s breath beneath the chandelier/Of stars and atmosphere/And watched her disappear.” There’s this chilling, almost transcendent sense of madness to the song; it creates dissonant beauty out of murder, and that’s very much the mood of Special Topics to me.
  5. Unseen Academicals – Terry Pratchett. Never Forget” by Take That. I know Take That is terribly uncool, but this song makes me think of Glenda, her practicality and how that comes to be celebrated by the end of the book: “Never forget where you’re coming from/Never pretend that it’s all real/Someday this will all be someone else’s dream.”
  6. Good Omens – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin. You know it makes sense. “There’s a lady who’s sure/All that glitters is gold/And she’s buying the stairway to heaven…”
  7. Un Lun Dun – China Mieville. Admittedly I disliked the book, on reflection, but “The Underground” from Paul Shapera’s The New Albion Radio Hour: A Dieselpunk Opera is just perfect thematically: “The quiet, the lost/The halls forgot/The slouching engines growl/The long dark land/The lost enchant/In the under, in the underground.”
  8. House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski. Half Sick of Shadows” by The Parlour Trick just has to be perfect for this one, doesn’t it? Intensely creepy violin and piano, accompanied by creaks and groans and ambient noise – it speaks, as the book does, of invaded space and haunted shadows.
  9. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell. Elysian Fields” by The Mechanisms feels kind of perfect for this one: a song that both evokes and denies the possibility of transcendence. “Lying here/Upon the soil/As dawn fills my heart with light;/Beside my wife/And free from toil/Sunrise breaking through the night.”
  10. A Madness of Angels – Kate Griffin. I Will Always Return” by Bryan Adams, but the version from Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (which Teenaged Sister was completely obsessed with, once upon a time). It’s a love song; but a love song to home, to belonging, to knowing where you are in the world, and that is one of the things I loved about A Madness. “I’ve seen every sunset/And with all that I’ve learned/Oh, it’s to you I will always, always return”.

(The theme for this post was suggested by the Broke and the Bookish’s weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday.)

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