Books for Mature Teens and Adults

Theme: The World of Music and the Arts

Bel Canto - (ISBN: 978-0060838720 )

by Anne Patchett

While a world-class soprano sings at a birthday party for a Japanese industrialist in a nameless South American country, terrorists take over the mansion. Members of the house staff, the musicians, and the party-goers are now hostages, and many rapidly passionate romances ensue, including a love affair between the Japanese business man and the aria singer. Music continues to fill the besieged household as she practices every day, the captors as well as the captured responding to the great beauty of the singing!

Eyes with Winged Thoughts: Poems and Photographs - (ISBN: 978-0743279628)

by Gordon Parks

This mixed-media publication combines thoughtful poems with highly artistic photographs. The author is an acclaimed movie producer, and his observations on human life and its frailties come through with the unstated messages which result from the combination of two of his talents.

Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo - (ISBN: 978-0060085896 )

by Hayden Herrera

An inspirational story of a woman who was severely injured in a bus accident and never regained her health but went on to forge ahead with an original and delightful painting style, Frida also brings the time of the Mexican revolution to life. Additionally, the color and designs in her paintings bring up the flavor of Mexican culture. Frida is known for her sometimes somber self-portraits and her stormy marriage to Diego Rivera, another of Mexico’s most original and prolific painters.

Girl with a Pearl Earring - (ISBN: 978-0452282155 )

by Tracy Chevalier

While reading about the imagined adventures and romance of the girl in this famous Vermeer painting, readers learn about painstaking details of paint and canvas preparation as well as the culture and times of his subjects. Find out how the “girl,” who starts out as a servant, becomes a model and ultimately the lover of the painter.

Jazz - (ISBN: 978-1400076215 )

by Toni Morrison

This Pulitzer Prize winning novelist has created a work of art whose time weaves between past, present, and future. The story's disjointed chronology and unreliable narrative voice are informed by the improvisatory spirit of jazz. The African American characters “sing” the blues as they battle with an inner city life dragged down by their past existence as slaves. The mysterious voice of the narrator interacts with the reader as the message of the “music” blends with the input of the listener.

Murder at the National Gallery - (ISBN: 978-0517323717 )

by Margaret Truman

The underside of the art world and its forgeries, thefts, blackmail, and even murders are highlighted here as a recently “rediscovered” masterpiece is added to the National Gallery’s collection. At the same time, a forgery sells to an Italian dealer who believes his is the real copy. Learn about the world of art deals and steals in this fast-paced thriller!

The DaVinci Code - (ISBN: 978-1400079179 )

by Dan Brown

What does DaVinci’s famous painting of the Last Supper reveal? Who is the descendant of Mary Magdalene? An art lecturer, a forensic detective, and the director of the Louvre get caught up in an ever-cascading plot to keep the true meaning and location of the Holy Grail secret in this fast-paced run from the most famous museum in the world to steps along the path to the chalice’s present day site.

The Piano Lesson - (ISBN: 978-1559363006 )

by August Wilson

This Pulitzer prize-winning play reveals an African American’s family’s tensions and greed as they battle over the fate of an antique piano once owned by white slave owners. The piano had been traded for the freedom of two family members, and its history continues to haunt the household.

The Piano: A Novel - (ISBN: 978-0786880966 )

by Jane Campion

A mute woman, who is forced into a marriage with a stranger, arrives to meet the new husband in New Zealand, her main baggage a piano. She agrees to give piano lessons to a neighbor who has bought some of her husband’s land, but the neighbor is more interested in the woman than the piano, and an affair results in her regaining her ability to speak.

The Song That Never Ended: A Jazz Musician's Journey to a Love Beyond Life - (ISBN: 978-1892138095 )

by John Novello

After accomplished musician John Novello’s beloved wife dies of cancer, he continues communicating with her through mediums. This love story has the backdrop of busy Los Angeles with its world class music scene. Read about how one man copes with loss through continuing his love on another plane and also by going on with his music.

Frida Kahlo: The Paintings - (ISBN: 978-0060923198 )

by Hayden Herrera

Girl in Hyacinth Blue - (ISBN: 978-1878448903 )

by Susan Vreeland

Moon and Sixpence - (ISBN: 978-0486446028 )

by W. Somerset Maugham

Murder in the Smithsonian - (ISBN: 978-9991253817 )

by Margaret Truman

My Art, My Life: An Autobiography - (ISBN: 978-0486269382 )

by Diego Rivera

Activities for this Theme

Enjoy a family movie night with Girl with a Pearl Earring, Frida, The Piano, and The DaVinci Code. Don't forget the popcorn!

Visit a local museum and choose one painting which particularly appeals to you. Try to imagine the events that happened before the scene in the picture took place. What happened afterwards?

Try taking photos of unusual things with a digital camera. Make a slide show on your computer and guess what the objects are.

Visit art galleries and museums in your own town or city. Many such places are small and do not advertise, but they often open their doors to the public at no charge. Look under “Museums” in your local phone book to find this great cultural opportunity!

Take advantage of free concerts often offered by local high schools, colleges, and universities in order to become familiar with the richness of musical offerings. In the summer, watch for free concerts in the park!

At the holiday season, watch the newspaper for Messiah singalongs and take the family. Share the joy of making music together or seeing other amateurs enjoying themselves!