Love books? Love music? You might love this, too!

If there is any interest of mine which comes close to rivalling my passion for books, it’s music. I absolutely love it, and collect it even more obsessively than I do literature, which is saying a lot. Although I do have a number of books about music (which I will blog about in the future), the book I want to write about is in fact as much to do with our brains as with music, and is called This Is Your Brain On Music by Daniel Levitin.

I’ve talked about neurology based books before, such as my post on The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge, and even more specifically my post on a music based neurology book by Oliver Sacks called MusicophiliaDaniel Levitin was a record producer who later became a neuroscientist, and so really is a man in the perfect position to write a book about music and the brain, in an attempt to try and understand this incredible, almost transcendental, human obsession.

The book breaks down the relationship between music and the brain in a number of ways, looking at what actually makes music, to how we categorise music, how music plays on our anticipation, our expectations, and our emotions, before looking at why we like the music we like, when other people might not, and eventually onto the concept of the music instinct.

What I love with this book is that no other book I have read breaks down music in such a scientific way, and yet, although I feared this might ruin the magic of the art form, it really doesn’t. This book explains that we are naturally hard-wired for music, that we all can appreciate it and possibly even play it better than most of us think we can, and that good music can really help us overcome the greatest depths of grief and despair, as well as lift us to new heights of joy, all because it affects the same parts of our brain in ways we are only just beginning to understand. Levitin also manages to explain all of this with language that is easy to understand no matter how much or little knowledge you have of both music and the brain, making this a great book for all readers with an interest in either of these subjects.

I can’t really say much more about this book without just retelling the contents, but to cut a long story short, if you love music, I highly recommend you buy this book. It is enlightening and fascinating, and for me has only added to the awe with which I find myself drawn to music in general, highlighting just how incredible, and ultimately how necessary, music really is in our lives.

21 thoughts on “Love books? Love music? You might love this, too!

  1. You’ve peaked my interest. I do love books. In fact, someone dear and near to me, says that I have OBBD(Obsessive Book-Buying Disorder) and I love music. Think I’ll locate and possibly BUY this book. Imagine that!

  2. My musical interest is what helped me make it through high school. The choir was a great way to socialize as were the musicals we performed. Whenever I wasn’t in school, I was listening to the radio. If I hear an ‘Oldie’ I recognize, I can pretty much tell you where I first heard it or what incident in my past it reminds me of. A book about how music affects the brain would be fascinating. I like that the writer used to be a music producer and then became a neurosurgeon. How cool is that? 🙂

    • It is amazing how much music means to us, and how much emotional attachment we can have to it when it comes to memory and things, isn’t it? I like that it clearly has had such a strong resonance in your life as well! 🙂
      And I agree, I think it’s amazing that he made that transition between those two jobs – I would love to work in either of those jobs, to be honest. I do wonder sometimes, especially about the latter job….

  3. I’ve been curious about this book for a while — I’m so glad you reviewed it! I always seem to come across it at Barnes & Noble and have nearly purchased it many times, but I’ve always been a bit nervous that the book would be too science-y, too technical for me to enjoy. I’m happy to see you found it easy to understand! I might pick it up one day after all 🙂

    • Ah awesome! The book is definitely not too science-y or technical – I think not only does Levitin really hold the focus on music, but he explains everything in a lot of detail, so that it’s easy to understand but also easy to understand in depth. I would definitely recommend buying and reading it if you’ve been curious about it, I really quite enjoyed it! 🙂

    • Hahaha, thanks, I guess that’s a good thing? 😛 So this was already on your list! It’s definitely a good read, I perhaps prefer Musicophilia when it comes to music/neurology books, but this one is pretty amazing too! 🙂

      • Yep, it just went up a few notches. 🙂 This looking-at-other-blogs thing is amazing – and frustrating, at the same time. I’ve found brilliant books that 1) I’ve never heard of and 2) I’d never think to read, but WHAT a MESS my to-read list is now. So many new books added, ones that have been sitting there for years got shifted around, and now the only way to cope with it is to cut down on sleep, and read three books at a time. I’m thoroughly enjoying myself. 😀

        • Hahaha, I agree, because my experiences of reading other people’s blogs has led me to a very similar predicament to the one in which you find yourself. But it is great, and it’s nice to know I won’t run out of books to read any time soon. I think I need to follow your idea and try and squeeze more time in for reading, because I am about 4 or 5 books behind schedule if I want to hit 50 for the year 😛 Plus I love reading, of course.
          But yeah, my “to be read immediately” list is probably 20 to 30 books long (out of the 100 or so on my shelves yet to be read…) 😛

  4. Music! My favorite music: rock, blues, jazz, and classical. It’s what I like more after reading and writing and I admit that my knowledge of it, that is the scientific one, it’s very small, so I’ll check this book out.

    • Awesome! If you love music I think you’ll love this book. I know for me it wasn’t my love of books but how passionate I am about music that really helped this book come alive for me! 🙂

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