Have you ever read a book that changed your life or heard an album that shook you deeply? In honor of Record Store Day (today) and Independent Bookstore Day (next Saturday), The ticker celebrates these life-changing works of art by asking a collection of local musicians, booksellers, record store owners and librarians to share the books and albums they love the most.
Jeffrey Cobb, Director of Music Programs, Northwestern Michigan College
by Stevie Wonder Songs in the key of life. This double album shows Stevie at his best, with incredible songwriting, incredible performances and a powerful call for social justice. Includes “I Wish”, one of the greatest pop songs of all time, and other classics like “Isn’t She Lovely”, “Sir Duke” and “As”. Please check out “Black Man” if you haven’t heard it; just as relevant today as it was when the album came out.
Drew Hale, local musician, Drew Hale Band
My favorite album is Clarity by Jimmy Eat World, which found me in 1999 during my freshman year of high school. The clever arrangements, excellent songwriting and rich vocal harmonies spoke to me like no other record ever has. I literally learned to sing harmony by singing and finding inner harmony lines to add. It became “my music”, mostly because at that time nobody knew who they were. So it was just mine.
Alex Walton, Co-Owner, RPM Records
With all the great music around me, it’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite album, but one of my top picks is Boston’s debut album, simply titled Boston. Released in 1976, Boston starts out strong and upbeat and continues throughout. It’s a great device to slip on when working around the house or just sitting back and pumping up the volume.
Brian Chamberlain, Owner, Studio Anatomy and Eugene’s Record Co-op
Let them eat chaos by Kae Tempest is a concept album that follows the lives of seven people living on the same street who have never met but are finally connected when a storm knocks them out of their homes. Kae is a British novelist, poet, playwright and spoken word artist. The album’s lyrics and music work hand in hand to drive a very compelling story and deliver a whirlwind of emotions.
David Chown, local pianist and piano teacher, Lookout Music Productions
Songs in the key of life, Stevie Wonder. My favorite album if I need to be lifted. I believe this is Stevie’s masterpiece, the record where he hits all cylinders and put together a double album that you can easily listen to from start to finish and feel satisfied at heart and full of hope in life. I’ve been listening to this record since its release in 1976, and I can’t get enough of it.
Sav Buist, Katie Larson and Michael Dause, members of The Accidentals
Buiste: by Patrick Carroll glow in the dark. This record tells the truth. I know that’s what you expect from most albums, but not every record feels so real, brutally honest and beautifully thought out. Patrick was a musician from Michigan who died of cystic fibrosis when he was just 26 – the same age I am now. When this record came out, I was 18 and I totally took life and its beauty for granted. This album is a love letter to life and a rare testimony to all the stages of mourning that we experience as we approach the end of life. Patrick died a few weeks after the release of this album, leaving behind a legacy that glows like the embers of a bonfire, even when it seems to have died out.
Date: Bon Iver’s 22 one million. While some of my favorite records are lyrical and thematic, this album takes you on a sonic journey. When I first heard it, I found it off-putting and abrasive. Then, after reaching the end of the record, I knew I had to listen again. It’s not very often that an artist can make you feel intense emotion through sound alone, but Bon Iver constructs incredible, dense soundscapes that are intense and uncomfortable one moment, and soft and beautiful the next.
Larson: Lemon rose by The Books. As someone with a short attention span, this album calms and amazes me. My ears never tire of the collage of textures, sampled voices, banjo, synthesizers, cello, guitars. It feels like watching a movie like Koyaanisqatsi, observing a series of seemingly unrelated scenes, from subways to canyons, that leave you feeling introspective. I used to close my eyes and listen to this album over and over on my way to and from school. No matter what mood I was in, it relaxed me.
Michele Howard, Library Manager, Traverse Area District Library
My favorite book of all time has to be the alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It’s not a long story but it’s beautifully written to remind the reader to believe in themselves. We must keep hope alive and keep striving even when we fail, because there are important lessons to learn along the way. And sometimes those lessons end up being more important than the original goal. My favorite quote from the book is: “The secret of life, however, is to fall down seven times and get up again eight times.”
Amanda Ruud, Executive Director, National Writers Series
My favorite book is any book that touches me emotionally. Three come to mind: The Great Orange Spot by Daniel Pinkwater, a children’s book that celebrates authenticity and creative self-expression; Walk to Martha’s Vineyard by Franz Wright, a collection of poetry that haunted and amused me for almost two decades; and between the world and me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, an autobiographical commentary on racism that packs a critical punch in every sentence.
Larissa VanderZee, Librarian, Traverse City Central High School
by Robert Penn Warren All the king’s men captures what it means to be human living in an imperfect world, to be an idealist in a world where ideals are not reality, and to understand our own responsibility for every action we take. It’s a book about how each person’s story affects who they become and then how they have the ability to become someone new once they reevaluate that past in light of their current circumstances. . I love it because it reminds us that we can change, at any time, as long as we are willing to reflect on where we came from and consider where we intend to go.
Stefen Holtrey, Bookseller, Brilliant Books
Susanna Clarke’s flagship fantasy opus Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is a towering tome of Napoleonic alternate history that combines Nabokovian verve, Austen or Dickensian humor and the darker side of English fable to create something vast and beautiful. Filled with the melancholy of forgotten ages, the raw excitement of discovery, love and loss, camaraderie and rivalry, this book contains marvelous multitudes.
Kerrey Woughter, Director of Library Services, Northwestern Michigan College
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. I like the idea of a seed of truth – in this case, a historical nugget, planted in the imagination, nurtured with time and curiosity, and left to grow into something new. In the world of Hamnet, Shakespeare’s wife, Anne – about whom little is known from history – becomes Agnes, a fierce and magnetic character in her own right. O’Farrell’s words finally breathe life into an old story and allow the reader to imagine a world from which Shakespeare might emerge.
Laurie Vaughn, Jinhee Scholtus, Parliament of Brittany and Amy Reynolds, booksellers, Horizon Books
Vaughn: Pike sign the lost queen, a spellbinding story of a medieval queen in British history. Mystical forests, star-crossed lovers, political intrigue and family loyalty combine with fate and destiny to place the reader directly in the story.
Schollus: by Christopher McDougall Run with Sherman, a heartwarming true story of one man’s efforts to heal the mind, body and spirit of an abused animal. When McDougall was asked to take care of a neglected donkey, he had no idea what awaited him. Looking for a way to bond with his new family member, McDougall read about burro racing and began training for the race. The book is a triumphant testament to the power of movement and the unbreakable bond that humans and animals forge.
Parliament: At Leigh Bardugo’s A six of crows, a heist story with a multi-layered and interesting fantasy backdrop. While the action is engaging and the stakes are high, what really stands out about this story is the excellent characterization. The ragtag band of criminals are captivating, unique, and lovable — despite their flaws.
Reynolds: At Flynn Berry’s northern spy, a thriller about two sisters that asks the question, “How well do you know your own brother?” Would you believe him if the evidence told you he was a terrorist? How far would you go to protect them? This tale is espionage from a woman’s perspective – as daughter, sister, new mother and patriotic citizen.