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July 2015
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WFMT’s Favorite Beach Reads

beach reads

beach reads

There’s no better time than summer to grab a new book you’ve been aching to read, or to dust off an old book that’s been on your nightstand for ages. Looking for recommendations on what to page through as you feel the sand between your toes? We’ve selected some of our favorite beach reads about music, sound, and radio. Check our staff picks of beach reads, and tell us your favorites in the comments below.


Mozart’s Women by Jane Glover

Although technically a musicological book, it’s a real page-turner and offers an interesting portrait of the women in Mozart’s life, as well of the composer himself, in the process. It’s one of the most engrossing music books I’ve read recently!

-Peter Van de Graaff, Chief Announcer & Program Host


Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Excited for the world premiere of Bel canto by composer Jimmy López at Lyric Opera of Chicago this season? Gear up by reading Ann Patchett’s gripping novel about terrorists holding a group hostage in South America. Then, you can be one of the people who says, “Well, in the book…” once the opera premieres!

-Kerry Frumkin, Program Host


Lost Luggage by Jordi Puntí

This 2013 English translation of Puntí’s polyphonic novel is the engrossing story of four brothers– Christof, Christophe, Christopher, and Cristòfol — by four different mothers in four different European cities in search of their father, Gabriel Delacruz. The unseen protagonist has the radio on throughout his travels.

-Candice Agree, Program Host


The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt

Berendt spent several months in Venice following a suspicious fire which destroyed the historic La Fenice opera house in 1996. He explores the investigation into the cause of the fire, while painting a fascinating portrait of Venice and its colorful residents.

-Lisa Flynn, Program Host & Producer


Musical Memories by Camille Saint-Saëns

I was inspired to choose this particular book by an Exploring Music episode about Saint-Saëns. The composer offers a first-hand account of music and non-musical history spanning from just after Beethoven’s death to the 1920s. Camille Saint-Saëns lived long enough that he knew both Rossini and Stravinsky, experienced Napoleon and World War I, the heyday of Opera and the beginning of movie music!

-Suzanne Nance, Program Host


Jazz by Toni Morrison

The “music” of this book is constantly in the background as Violet and Joe navigate The City: young men blaring trumpets from the rooftops as the tragedy of the story unfolds. Morrison’s prose style can be a challenge, but the reward is a complex and heartbreaking narrative of love, death, and growing old.

-Anna Goldbeck, Continuity Coordinator


How Music Works by David Byrne

From Wagnerian opera to African music, David Byrne’s book covers a broad range of music. Best known for his work with the Talking Heads, Byrne has an authoritative but accessible voice, and explores a variety of topics from instrument construct to how acoustic spaces affect musical composition and performance.

-Dan Goldberg, Producer


Artists in Exile: How Refugees from Twentieth-Century War and Revolution Transformed the American Performing Arts by Joseph Horowitz

Horowitz shares the stories of some of the most prominent immigrant artists of early 20th century America – the ups and downs of finding their way in the New World, all of them ultimately making an important mark on the American cultural landscape. Included are key musical figures like Stokowski and Toscanini but also many from the worlds of dance, cinema, and theatre like Balanchine, Billy Wilder, and Marlene Dietrich.

-Heather McDougall, Radio Network Project Manager


A Power Stronger Than Itself: The A.A.C.M. and American Experimental Music by George Lewis

You can’t call yourself a Chicagoan or a jazz lover unless you’ve got this book on your shelf. George Lewis, composer and member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, gives a fascinating account of one of the most important musical collectives of our day. Since the AACM is now celebrating its 50th anniversary, there’s no better time to get to know the music and musicians of the AACM through Lewis’s book, which won the 2009 American Book Award.

-Stephen Raskauskas, Interactive Content Producer


The Science of Sonic Wonders of the World by Trevor Cox

Cox is a wildly curious professor of sound and acoustics and his latest book opens up all sorts strange and beguiling facts about all the sounds (man-made and natural) around us. It’s a perfect immersion in the world of sound. Maybe read it while lying on a beach listening to the rolling surf, shouting kids, people tapping away on their iPhones and a tormented, wintery Sibelius symphony for a little dramatic contrast.

-Tony Macaluso, Director, Marketing & Network Syndication

  • Spencer Cortwright

    I’ve led a good life, but during this concert I felt so incredibly human (that is, the connection between humans). It was an experience I will always treasure. These videos help relive that experience (even more videos please!). Still, the live experience was best!