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April 5, 2011

Book Notes - Claudia Sternbach ("Reading Lips: A Memoir of Kisses")

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

In each of her collection of linked essays Reading Lips: A Memoir of Kisses, Claudia Sternbach recounts a kiss from her life's important relationships, both platonic and romantic. These episodes are always insightful and surprisingly humorous, and come together to form a memoir I simply couldn't put down.

The Book Lady's Blog wrote of the book:

"Through it all is Sternbach's voice, ringing with clarity and insight and a healthy sense of humor about the experiences we all share but rarely discuss. This slim volume is a one-sitting read and would be an excellent companion on the couch, the beach, or at a book club meeting. Sternbach is funny when she wants to be, serious when she needs to be, and often quite poignant, and Reading Lips is a delightful gift of a book."

In her own words, here is Claudia Sternbach's Book Notes music playlist for her memoir, Reading Lips: A Memoir of Kisses:

It's funny, the music that sticks with you when you recall your past. Who knows why one album or one track imprints itself forever. But like the smell of pancakes on a frosty morning or the feel of a scratchy wool sweater on a day too warm for such a garment music has the ability to become part of and even help shape memory. Working on Reading Lips: A Memoir of Kisses, I could hear clearly the soundtrack of my life.

Peter and the Wolf by Sergi Prokofiev

This is the first record I recall owning. I had a true love hate relationship with it. Sliding the LP out of its cover and placing it on the turnstile felt both brave and foolish. Lifting the arm and setting it down on the black vinyl I knew there was no turning back. Our version had no narration, only music. It relied on the listener's imagination to create the world of Peter and the wolf who with dripping fangs and evil snarling, stalked him in the deep dark woods. It terrified me. And I wore it out.

"Moon River" by Andy Williams,

This was the background music to Saturday morning chores around our house. My mother would hand my sisters and me a dust rag or the vacuum and as we cleaned the smell of lemon scented polish would blend with the romantic sounds of longing for another place. My father had left us and I wonder now about my mother's wishes and desires as we listened to the romantic crooner.

"Chances Are" by Johnny Mathis

This came in at a close second on those weekend work days. If I hear it today I can still smell the floor wax my mother would slather on the linoleum in the kitchen and hear the scraping sound of the chrome table legs as she moved the dinette set out of the way.

"Georgia on My Mind" by Ray Charles

This was in direct contrast to the music we heard at home. But "Georgia on My Mind" would blare at the neighbor's house across the street. Dashing over there after chores were completed, or before if I could sneak away, I would find Jean and Fran, parents of two boys, dancing in their bathrobes, their thick white cotton socks gliding on the hardwood floors. There they were, a man and a woman, dancing, holding each other close, in a state of partial undress. Exciting. Exotic. And they let me watch!

"In My Room" by the Beach Boys

This became my theme song by the time I was a teenager. The only problem was that I had to play it in the living room where the entire population of our household was free to wander, totally eliminating the feeling of privacy the song promised. And the bedroom I did have I shared with my two younger sisters. But I could dream.

"I Want to Hold Your Hand" by the Beatles

This served as the perfect background for holding hands and being kissed by a tall, blond, blue eyed boy in a letter sweater named Rick at a teen club dance. I was thinking of George Harrison the entire time.

"A Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon and Garfunkel

This song promised salvation of some sort as I listened to it while driving and planning to divorce my first husband. At 19 years old I was searching for help anywhere I could find it and a bridge promising to transport me over some rough water seemed a comforting place to begin as I packed my bags and headed out of town.

Tapestry by Carol King

It was the fat, eight track tape I wore out in my car. Her clear voice, her confessing to feeling the earth move, something I wanted to feel myself, left me hopeful. I sang at the top of my lungs while driving along a river road feeling life opening up in unexpected ways.

"Margaritaville" by Jimmy Buffett

Actually anything by Buffett, will take me right back to the days I lived in Mexico with my husband Michael. After being married for more than 25 years I can still feel the sand between my toes and feel the warm Caribbean water once I pop in a CD by the singer who seems to have more fun in life than should be legal. Play a bit of Buffett on a Saturday morning and it is highly likely you will see Michael and me dancing in our pajamas imagining palm trees and coconuts outside the windows.

Claudia Sternbach and Reading Lips: A Memoir of Kisses links:

the author's blog
excerpt fro the book

The Book Lady's Blog review
Girls Gone Reading review
Kirkus Reviews review
Rundpinne review
The Well-Read Wife review review

The Book Lady's Blog guest post by the author
Boxing the Octopus guest posts by the author
On the Bookcase guest post by the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

other Book Notes playlists (authors create music playlists for their book)

52 Books, 52 Weeks (weekly book reviews)
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from the week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists

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