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October 28, 2015

Book Notes - Kate Gavino "Last Night's Reading"

Last Night's Reading

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

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Kate Gavino is a fixture on the New York City literary scene, capturing the essence of literary events with author portraits and quotes she posts on her Tumblr, Last Night's Reading. The best of these pieces have been collected in her new book, which is as inspirational as it is beautiful.

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Kate Gavino's Book Notes music playlist for her book Last Night's Reading: Illustrated Encounters with Extraordinary Authors:


Last Night's Reading, the book, is a collection of old and new author portraits, but it is also a love letter to the authors and bookstores who make book readings possible. This playlist begins in 2008, when I first moved to New York, and then follows me through the literary events that have brought me to present day.

Pulp - "Do You Remember the First Time"

My first literary event in New York was the Brooklyn Book Festival. I had just moved to Brooklyn the day before from Texas. At the festival, I was amazed that so many authors were there for free. I was overwhelmed, but in a good way. To this day, Fall reminds me of moving to New York and running from stage to stage at BKBF.

Field Mice - "Emma's House"

For the next three years, most of the readings I went to were at Pratt, where I was studying creative writing. I discovered most of my favorite authors from my professors there, and I was very snobby about it. The same goes for music. I pretty much only listened to c-86 and jangly indie pop. Like every other female art student at the time, I had bangs modeled after Jenny Lewis's.

Belle and Sebastian - "Step Into My Office, Baby"

While I was at Pratt, I did a bunch of internships at publishing houses because I had watched The Last Days of Disco and decided I wanted a cushy office job where I could dress cute and read books all day. My internships mostly involved me reading the slush pile, squeezing lime into sparkling water for a managing editor, and incorrectly answering phones. Occasionally I would get free tickets to see an author at 92Y, and to me, this was proof that I had made it.

Lauryn Hill ft. D'Angelo - "Nothing Even Matters"

After college I was an editorial assistant for a small indie press. I started going to bookstore readings and gradually became familiar with New York City's bookstores. I knew what part of the city I was based on whatever bookstore was nearby. "Nothing Even Matters" is a perfect love song, and this was the period in my life where I was Lauryn and bookstores were D'Angelo.

Big Sean - "I Don't Fuck With You"

All of a sudden I decided I didn't want to work in book publishing any more, so I took an editorial job at a guns and weapons print magazine. (They paid a lot.) I was now working with people who listened to right-wing talk radio all day and had taxidermied big game above their desks. To mentally combat this, I decided to start Last Night's Reading. Going to readings at night was my reward for listening to conversations about tactical weapons and panic rooms all day.

Mark Morrison - "Return of the Mack"

Needless to say, I took a book publishing job at an academic press three months later. I was more focused on LNR now and going to 3-4 readings a week. During the day, I'd console nervous authors and copyedit blurbs about the rituals of Satanic cults. At exactly 5:01 pm, I'd run off to a book reading. This was a very satisfying ritual for me, and I felt like I had found my routine. To quote Mark, "I [was] back to run the show."

The Cranberries - "Dreams"

When Penguin told me they wanted to turn LNR into a book, I started going to 5-6 readings a week. I went to every festival and conference in the city. I didn't get much sleep during this time, but I was happy to have content for the book. I got to cross off a lot of things on my bucket list during this time: seeing Toni Morrison, Ursula LeGuin, and Margaret Atwood, going to a reading in Queens, and meeting Ann M. Martin, author of The Baby-Sitter's Club and pivotal figure in my life.

Jens Lekman - "A Higher Power"

Now the book is done. I still go to about 3-4 readings a week, and I love spending most evenings in different bookstores. I like routines, and going to book readings is now an integral part of mine. One of my favorite moments happened recently when I saw the poet, Elizabeth Alexander. I, along with everyone sitting in my row, was quietly sobbing after she read an amazing poem about her husband. The woman next to me said, "I feel like I'm at a church revival right now." If I hadn't been covered in snot and tears at that moment, I would have answered, "Amen."


Kate Gavino and Last Night's Reading links:

the author's Tumblr
Last Night's Reading Tumblr
excerpts from the book

Boston Globe review

Poets and Writers profile of the author
Publishers Weekly profile of the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
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
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists
Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)


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