Non-Fic Goodness: The Symphony for the City of the Dead by M.T. Anderson

  • symphonyTitle: Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad
  • Author:  M.T. Anderson
  • Published:  September 2015, Candlewick Press
  • Source: Library, Scribd
  • Format:  Print and audio (narrated by author)
  • Length: 456 pages (10:20 on audio)
  • Tropes: Music Nerdery, History Geekery, Russian Misery Porn
  • Quick blurb: Social, political and cultural history of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7
  • Quick review: All music and history lovers should read this book RIGHT NOW.
  • Grade: A

After reading The Bronze Horseman, I went on a Russian binge.  I wishlisted and bookmarked and downloaded anything and everything. I wound up glancing through most of it. Except this one.

I may or may not have GEEKED OUT when I saw it. I glommed the hardcover from the library, then immediately got the audio as well.

It’s a young adult title by the author of the Octavian Nothing series (which I didn’t realize until just now). It won boatloads of awards. It’s a magnificent mashup of social, cultural, military and political history, And biography. And musicology. And fantastically good story-telling.

I love it when people write books just for me.

Yes, it has all the Russian misery porn you’d expect from a history of Stalin’s terrors and the siege of Leningrad. But instead of a meandering melodrama, Anderson gives us context and empathy and humanity. The story builds through all the horrors and then we get the TOTAL DRAMA PERFORMANCE and we cry and feel all the weltschmerz lift away.

It’s art against evil. And art wins.

Dear god, this was sappy. Ignore all of that up there, Just read the damn book. No, wait — listen to Symphony No. 7 first, then read the book. Then read the book again while listening to the symphony.  Unless you’re a newbie to classical music, in which case you should read the book first. I am available via email or DMs for one-on-one suggestions/discussions.

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My Bookshelf of Actual History with Little or No Smooching – The Brit Edition

I bought myself a few Mother’s Day presents. Because Santa didn’t bring me anything from my wish list.

These arrived on my doorstep this week….

Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Fashion in Detail - V&A MuseumWhat People Wore When - Melissa Leventon (Editor)The Impossible Life of Mary Benson by Rodney Bolt

The obsession started with watching the (wildly inaccurate) movie Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett. Then I found the book I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles at the library, and then I discovered Jean Plaidy, and the rest is…um…history (sorry, couldn’t resist).

The new additions will take their places of honor alongside….

Nineteenth Century Fashion in Detail - V& Museum Lost Mansions of Mayfair by Oliver Bradbury London: Life In Maps by Peter Whitfield

The English Town by Mark Girouard Royal Palaces of Tudor England by Simon Thurley The Regency Country House: From the Archives of Country Life by John Martin Robinson

And I read history without pretty pictures too!

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