From the Vault: Great Books That Will Strike a Note for Music Lovers

Striking a Note: Great Books for Music Lovers

One of our specialties at PQL is to publish books that demonstrate the convergence of art forms. For the most part, we’ve been successful at marrying visual art and storytelling, but a subset of our books take a more musical route. Read on for a few reading recommendations sure to please the musically inclined.

My Life on Earth and Elsewhere
by R. Murray Schafer

My Life on Earth and Elsewhere

Where else could we begin except this memoir of one of Canada’s most acclaimed composers? R. Murray Schafer’s memoir My Life on Earth and Elsewhere provides an in-depth account of the artist’s musical education, his influences, his globetrotting adventures, his time as a music instructor and more. Of particular interest is his work on the World Soundscape Project, which continues to crop up in news articles periodically, which says something about its longevity and importance.

Concord of Sweet Sounds
By Gerard Brender à Brandis and David Hoeniger 

Concord of Sweet Sounds

Concord of Sweet Sounds combines three different art forms to make one charming, slim little volume. A true convergence of storytelling, visual art and music, the book contains over two dozen engravings of musical instruments mentioned in Shakespeare by Gerard Brender à Brandis, accompanied by quotations and interpretations provided by David Hoeniger. This book would make a beautiful gift to the music lover in your life—or to yourself!

Casting into Mystery
by Robert Reid and Wesley W. Bates

Casting into Mystery

Music in a book about fly fishing? Let me explain! The essays in Robert Reid’s Casting into Mystery take fly fishing as a starting point, but range off into considerations of the sport as it appears in poetry, fiction and non-fiction, not to mention movies, music and visual art. If you never knew that fly fishing music was a genre, well, consider yourself schooled. (Schooled. See what I did there? Fish jokes!)

by Daniel Bryant


This short story collection might seem like it comes from out in left field, and that’s because it does. But one of my personal favourite stories in the collection is “Ghost Note,” which follows a hilariously terrible band on tour in Northern Ontario. The lyrics will absolutely crack you up. The story is a great example of the kind of darkly comic tales you’ll find in Rerouted, and you can’t help but be entertained all throughout the absurd ride.

Jan in 35 Pieces
By Ian Hampton

Jan in 35 Pieces

And what list of books for PQL music lovers would be complete without Ian Hampton’s charismatic and lyrical memoir, Jan in 35 Pieces. Structured like a concert around thirty-five pieces of influential music, the book also contains fascinating portraits of famous musicians and composers, as well charming interludes with Ian’s musician friends. While this Taylor Prize-shortlisted book is, alas, out of print, we do still have digital editions available in our eStore for your reading pleasure.


Well, this collection of musical literature should have you fairly singing with joy! I can just envision you all sitting down to read with a nice beverage and some soft music playing in the background. The epitome of peaceful almost-summer entertainment!



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One Response to From the Vault: Great Books That Will Strike a Note for Music Lovers

  1. SO sorry that Ian Hampton’s book is out-of-print! I got the e-book, but it is just not the same.

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The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.