Sure, it’s fun to look at what your fellow Evanstonians are checking out of the library these days. But there is a certain fascination that comes with seeing what they won’t touch with a 10 foot-pole. Case in point, books about music. It’s not that Evanston doesn’t like music, it is just that folks here in town would rather hear it performed than read about it.

Maybe the problem is more complex than that, however. After all, we as a community check out so many books, it can be hard to even know what’s out there.

Here then are some marvelous musical offerings, available in your local library. Won’t you give them some love?

“Experiencing Jewish Music in America: A Listener’s Companion” by Tina Frühauf

No fuddy duddy encapsulation here. Ms. Frühauf begins with the first Jewish congregation established in North America in 1654, then proceeds to trace Jewish music as it came to be heard through the screen, concert hall, and rock stages. The name of the game here is to identify the diversity and complexity of this music. Heck, there’s even a section on Broadway. How can you resist?

“Sassy: The Life of Sarah Vaughan” by Leslie Gourse

If you want to start a fight with your jazz enthusiast friends, ask them: “who had the most spectacular voice in jazz history”?

And if none of them mentions Sarah Vaughan, get out of that room. Clearly they do not know what they are talking about. On stage she
was a goddess. Off-stage she had some . . . let’s say issues. A fascinating history detailing the life and career of one of the greats.

“Spirituals and the Birth of a Black Entertainment Industry” by Sandra Jean Graham

We already have lots of books on spirituals. What makes this one any different? Well, while most of those other books will just talk about the songs, this is the rare book that dives into the actual exponents of this important African American tradition. Reviews of this book call it “refreshing” and “disarming.” Basically, if you have ever wanted an encapsulation of the history of spirituals and the big players involved with them, this is one you are going to need to check out.

“Bruce Springsteen: From Asbury Park, to Born to Run, to Born in the USA” by David Gahr

I can’t believe I’m writing this, but did you know that there’s a Bruce Springsteen book out there that no one in Evanston has ever read? Filled with previously unpublished photos of young Bruce, this is precisely the kind of time machine you need this summer to remember the Boss in his prime. It starts when Bruce is 23 and goes from there. Go on. You know you’re curious.

“A Passionate Journey: A Memoir” by Robert Mann

Meet Robert Mann. Not only was he a founding member of the Juilliard Quartet, but apparently he has known everyone from Elliott Carter and Aaron Copland, to Willem de Kooning and Albert Einstein! He’s a great storyteller, but he can also dissect a Beethoven or Bartok string quartet so well that you will not even have to play an instrument to enjoy what he has to say.

And, naturally, all of these are available at your helpful local library.

Betsy Bird is the Collection Development Manager of Evanston Public Library. She has been writing for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.