Creating Book Soundtracks


Do you ever wish books had soundtracks, like movies do?

Stephenie Meyer kind of famously did this for the Twilight series; she commented that these were playlists she listened to while writing the books, but they’d work great to have as background music while you’re reading, as well.

The same can be said of Sarah J. Maas, who has actually posted her “official” playlists on Spotify for all of her books. They are quite… extensive. For one book, Heir of Fire, she even has separate extensive playlists for each POV character.

I love the idea of creating a soundtrack or mood-matching playlist for writing, and for reading certain books. Though there’s a bit of a paradox, because I think to really get the feel of a book’s mood, you need to finish reading it. The books for which I created the playlists I’m linking below I’ve already read, but now I have the perfect soundtrack for a re-read!


The Throne of Glass Series

Listen here

As I mentioned above, Maas created very thorough playlists that she listened to while she was writing each book in the series. I created this one to cover the entire series, and there is some similarity with Maas’s own lists; she has commented in interviews that the main theme from Swan Lake heavily inspired one of the key scenes in the series, so I included that in my list.

I’ve also put in some pop and rock songs that remind me of certain characters or scenes in the books. Some of them may be a little on-the-nose, like Billie Eilish’s “You Should See Me in a Crown,” but others have a little more nuance. For example, the first time I heard “Wild Woman” by Sleep Machine was around the time I first read Heir of Fire, and I was like, “Oh, okay, this song is about Manon Blackbeak.”


The Winternight Trilogy

Listen here

Katherine Arden’s (did I mention I met her?) Medieval Russian fantasy series obviously needs a soundtrack with lots of Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky, and a few other Russian composers that aren’t as well-known, but Spotify was kind enough to introduce me to.

I added some pre-classical Russian music that Spotify was also kind enough to introduce me to, and a few pieces from film soundtracks that I felt fit the mood. Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal” just fits the mood, as well, as does “Scarborough Fair” by Simon and Garfunkel.


The Red Queen Series

Listen here

Victoria Aveyard’s series is an interesting mix of science fiction, fantasy, action, and royalty (tbh, that should be its own genre), so the playlist had to balance those elements. Songs by Sia and Imagine Dragons seemed to strike that balance, and film scores by Dario Marinelli and Hans Zimmer.

This series also reminded me a lot of The Hunger Games, so that may explain why I chose three Civil Wars songs, including the one on which they collaborated with Taylor Swift for the movie’s soundtrack. I also just really love The Civil Wars.


The Broken Earth Trilogy

Listen here

N. K. Jemison is a big Janelle Monae fan (and who wouldn’t be???), so I had to include a few of her songs on this soundtrack, of course. There’s also some Bjork, because why not, and some science fiction film and TV score pieces.

My favorite, maybe unexpected, choices are a jazz interpretation of Handel’s “Air” from the Water Music by Christina Pluhar and “Miner’s Child,” a bluegrass/zydeco fusion tune from violinist Regina Carter, of whom I’ve been a fan for a long time.


The Power

I did not create this playlist. That credit goes to Spotify user Elsie Campbell, and she totally nailed it. Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Heads Will Roll” seems to be written specifically for this book, and “Edge of Seventeen” by Stevie Nicks is an unexpected but perfect choice.

If I had made a playlist for The Power, Naomi Alderman’s book in which girls eventually end up running the world, I probably would have picked something really on-the-nose, like this:

To be fair, Beyoncé is never not the right answer.


Other Books/Series I Want to Create Playlists For

The Passage Trilogy

The Interdependency Series

An Ember in the Ashes

The Belles

Sorcerer to the Crown


What about you? Do you like having a soundtrack for reading? Or at least certain music genres for certain book genres?

What songs would you add to these playlists? What books do you want playlists for?

Let me know in the comments!


Image from: San Francisco Classical Voice


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