By Collection Management Librarian Dontaná McPherson-Joseph
For Valentine’s Day, Hulu released a brand new adaptation of High Fidelity, starring Zoë Kravitz as Rob Brooks, a record store owner trying to face the common thread in her “Top Five Heartbreaks.” Whether you spent the weekend watching the entire series or you haven’t started yet, here are some books that capture the one constant in Rob’s life: music.
Hulu’s High Fidelity read-alikes
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
Why you should try it: High Fidelity has been adapted into a movie, a Broadway musical, and now, a Hulu series. But before all that, it was a novel. You can’t really go wrong with the original. Can you spot the main difference between the book and the show? Hint: It’s Rob.
Description: Follows the love affairs and belated growing up of a Generation X pop music fanatic and record store owner.
Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro
Why you should try it: Music is as much a character in High Fidelity as Rob and her “Top Five Heartbreaks.” These connected short stories, from a master storyteller, also entwine music with heavy emotions.
Description: Five interconnected stories—in which music is an intrinsic theme—follow the struggles of such protagonists as a once-popular singer desperate for a comeback, a songwriter who is unwittingly involved in a failing marriage, and a jazz musician who wrongly believes that plastic surgery will secure his career.
Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir by Carrie Brownstein
Why you should try it: This memoir, though a bit of a wild card, is about the lead vocalist of Sleater-Kinney, Carrie Brownstein. She tells what it’s like to be a real life “riot grrrl” rock star. Rob only wants to be rock star adjacent; Carrie is the real deal.
Description: The guitarist and vocalist of feminist punk trio Sleater-Kinney presents a candid and deeply personal assessment of life in the rock-and-roll industry that reveals her struggles with rock’s double standards.
A Song For a New Day by Sarah Pinsker
Why you should try it: One of the joys of Rob’s life is listening to live music. In this novel, live music is illegal, due to the size of the audience. It wonders at what life looks like, what music sounds like, when concerts are only allowed to happen in cyberspace.
Description: Public gatherings are illegal, making concerts impossible, except for those willing to break the law for the love of music and for one chance at human connection.
The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce
Why you should try it: Both stories revolve around a music store, its owner, and daring to take a chance on new love.
Description: The owner of a 1988 music shop in a down-at-heel suburban community uses his talent for connecting customers to the music they seek and resists a chance at an intimate relationship with a beautiful young woman who hides a mysterious agenda and compels him to confront painful elements from his past.
Hairstyles of the Damned by Joe Meno
Why you should try it: A theme in High Fidelity is growing up and discarding old patterns. Brian and Gretchen don’t have old patterns yet. They’re just trying to figure it all out.
Description: Brian Oswald and his best friend, Gretchen, get involved in the punk scene on Chicago’s South Side, experimenting with drugs, drinking, and relationships and aligning themselves with various outcast groups in order to fit in.
Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Why you should try it: Rob knows a lot about the behind the scenes drama of Fleetwood Mac. If Daisy Jones and the Six were a real band, Rob would totally know this entire story, and then some.
Description: When singer Daisy Jones meets Billy Dunne of the band The Six, the two rising 70s rock-and-roll artists are catapulted into stardom when a producer puts them together, a decision that is complicated by a pregnancy and the seductions of fame.
The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic by Jessica Hopper
Why you should try it: Hulu’s adaptation of High Fidelity differs from its source material by casting Rob, originally a white man, as a black woman. Yet it leaves Rob’s love and deep knowledge of music. Hopper’s collection is 15 years of her writing about music, essentially building a Rob-worthy playlist.
Description: Presents a selection of the author’s articles written over the past fifteen years for entertainment publications that shed light on the shifting landscape of music.
Dontaná is a Collection Management Librarian who was born with an unending reading list. She is almost always reading two books simultaneously and is easily distracted by cool covers.