The Playground

The Simply Music blog

Holiday Reading List

Found in: Miscellany & Merriment, Reviews

Whether you’re looking for a new book to read or a present for someone this holiday season, we’ve compiled a list of books for you! Some we have read and some are on our own ‘to read’ lists!

If you’ve got any recommendations please leave a comment below!

This is Your Brain on Music – Daniel J Levitin

What the reviewers say “Taking on prominent thinkers who argue that music is nothing more than an evolutionary accident, Levitin poses that music is fundamental to our species, perhaps even more so than language. Drawing on the latest research and on musical examples ranging from Mozart to Duke Ellington to Van Halen, he reveals:
• How composers produce some of the most pleasurable effects of listening to music by exploiting the way our brains make sense of the world
• Why we are so emotionally attached to the music we listened to as teenagers, whether it was Fleetwood Mac, U2, or Dr. Dre
• That practice, rather than talent, is the driving force behind musical expertise
• How those insidious little jingles (called earworms) get stuck in our head”


How to Make It in the New Music Business – Ari Herstand

This book is great for any DIY beginning & low level artists out there or anyone who wants to know more about what it takes to be a musician in todays landscape. I read the first addition book a few years ago and gained a lot of practical and useful tips for my own career.

The synopsis of the second edition of this book includes updates on the latest online trends and developments and offers inspiring success stories across media such as Spotify and Instagram.

The one negative-ish thing i can say about this book is that it is USA/Canada specific so there are some things that aren’t relevant to the rest of the world for example there’s a whole section about applying for and playing the college circuit. But apart from that its a great read!


The History of Jazz – Ted Gioia

Many many… many years ago I won the music prize in my final year of high school and this was the book I chose as my award! And I’m so glad I did, it was such an interesting read about, well, the history of jazz! It starts with a brief pre history of the genre, then moves on to tell the story & of Jazz and the and the world in which it evolved.

I highly recommend this book for those that enjoy history books and doesn’t know much about the genre.


The History Of The Blues: The Roots, The Music, The People – Francis Davis

Where there’s Jazz there’s Blues …or vice versa!

This book has made it to my holiday reading list! It examines how race relations have altered perceptions of the music. Tracing its origins from the Mississippi Delta to its amplification in Chicago right after World War II, Davis argues for an examination of the blues in its own right, not just as a precursor to jazz and rock ‘n’ roll.

I believe there is a second version of this book that was written to accompany a 3 part PBS series with the same title but I have been unable to find it. If anyone does know where that is please add the link below.


Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age – Steve Knopper

They said vinyl would ruin music, cassette tapes would ruin music, CD’s & digital music would ruin the music idustry and that video killed the radio star!!

Another book that’s on my holiday reading list, Appetite for Self-Destruction recounts the story of the rise and fall of the recording industry over the past three decades.

From the birth of the compact disc, through the explosion of CD sales in the ’80s and ’90s, the emergence of Napster, and the secret talks that led to iTunes, to the current collapse of the industry as CD sales plummet, Knopper takes us inside the boardrooms, recording studios, private estates, garage computer labs, company jets, corporate infighting, and secret deals of the big names and behind-the-scenes players who made it all happen.