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The Importance of Music to Girls

3.03  ·  Rating details ·  406 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
The Importance of Music to Girls is the story of the adventures that music leads us into—how it forms and transforms us. As a soundtrack, it’s there in the background while we go about the thrilling and mortifying business of growing up: raging, falling in love, wanting to change the world. Lavinia Greenlaw turns the volume up loud, and in prose of pure fury and beauty mak ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published April 29th 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published August 16th 2007)
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Oct 26, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biogs
A personal account of growing up with music, or rather, what music you choose to grow up to. This was one thin-skinned child and angsty teenager it seemed to me. Luckily she had angry punk as an outlet. She conjures up a lost era of LPs, 2nd hand record shops, making the object of your affections tapes with your own designs, the excitement of going to live gigs, but some of the existential teenage angst does go on a bit. And frustratingly, just when her life actually seemed to be getting interes ...more
Jul 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who has ever loved music above all else
'The Importance of Music to Girls' is an insight into growing up in the 1960s and 1970s in the UK, from the perspective of a girl to whom music meant everything. It is an interesting read and more than just a memoir; more of a social history book.
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
The importance of music to girls seems to me, based on this book, to be as something to dance to and sing to, and something to differentiate yourself with. The author covers what music meant to her as she was growing up, from about the time she was 8 till she started college. The very short chapters cover the kinds of music she likes, with some rock critic like descriptions, but also covers how music played a role in different events in her life. I was surprised at the number of times she mentio ...more
Nov 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lavinia Greenlaw, die mich bisher mit einigen Gedichtbänden und dem hervorragenden Roman „Mary George of Allnorthover“ begeistert hat, hat mit „The Importance of Music to Girls“ ein eigenartiges kleines Buch vorgelegt. Der Titel hat bei einigen Lesern eine Erwartung geweckt, die das Buch nicht erfüllt hat, so dass es mehrere weniger gute Bewertungen erfahren hat. Was also kann man erwarten?
Lavina Greenlaw ist im Herzen eine Lyrikerin, und das macht sich auch in diesem Prosatext bemerkbar. Zu Beg
May 29, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
I must confess that I did not finish this book. Perhaps it was the mood I was in the several times I picked it up and gave it a try, but ultimately I believe it was a combination of the level of expectation I had placed upon it and the anticipation I had as I waited for it to arrive. When I originally read a review/description and decided to request it, I was under the impression that it would focus on music and its sociological impact on the development of adolescent girls. Having been an adole ...more
Oct 06, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a memoir, it's not a bad read. Poetic, almost opulent language, issues and scenes that I can identify with. However I expected this book to be much more music-focused. Throughout most of the book, Greenlaw touches upon music only in its relation to other aspects of her life: making friends as a child through dance, becoming interested in boys, commenting on her political and social ideals. For the first 100 pages or so, music is just an afterthought, and Greenlaw did not even convince me of i ...more
Lucy Baldock
I liked that I could relate to this book in some way with the musicals, the songs, making angel delight with her siblings, her school life as a teenager, falling in love, there were a lot of aspects I could relate too. I did also enjoy reading some of the more shocking events I couldn't really relate too. She also had a really poetic writing style I liked that. However there were parts in this book that the pace really slowed down and dragged a little. Also by the way it ended it wasn't what I q ...more
Jul 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was a girl. Music was important to me. In the 1980s, I was a disc jockey on the FM radio. I love memoir the best and this is one of my all-time favorites. I would go so far as to say it's my favorite memoir. Lavinia lives in England and Music to Girls is the soundtrack to her life. Her words transported me to a time and a place far away, yet so close to my heart. I was a lonely, misunderstood teenager and Greenlaw had tons of friends, yet I loved the richness of detail of her relationships and ...more
May 26, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008-read
At one point in her book The Importance of Music to Girls Lavinia Greenlaw makes this observation: “I don’t know how to think or how to talk about what I think. I haven’t learned anything for years. I don’t listen. I can’t speak. I am watching myself happening or not happening . . .”

For some reason when I read that passage I immediately thought “AHA! That’s it, that’s the problem.” Because I really, really wanted to love this book and it somehow left me a little cold. . .

Read the rest on iwilld
Shana Hampton
Apr 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i picked this up at quimby's earlier this week and couldn't put it down. a perfect book for anyone who spent hours with the same song on repeat, spent algebra class doodling song lyrics and daydreamed about the perfect song for your first kiss. yeah, i loved this book.
Katey Lovell

A collection of memoir essays that relive the connectivity of music and life at key points in the author's life. I was expecting a more a academic and general look at the link between music and females, but this was still a nostalgic and touching read covering music from a wide spectrum of genres.
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this. The blurb comparing it to High Fidelity does it a disservice, as this is much more of a literary memoir, tied together with the author's experience of music as central to her life. She and I are the same age and so we experienced historical events at the same age, including our progression through various musical styles (bubblegum, pop, disco, rock, punk, New Wave). There are other similarities: recorder and violin (check), dance (check), a mother who sang and a dad who loved opera ...more
Sep 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographical
Lavinia Greenlaw creates lyrical connections between such disparate cultural phenomenon as the death of punk rock and the Pompidou Center ("We could see how it worked and so it stopped working" pg. 179). She gives us glimpses of her youth as if looking through a kaleidoscope, each phase of her growth into adulthood marked by genres of music. Her insights into her own self and distinct dynamics between the sexes are laid out for us like the spoken offhand comments at the end of a studio track, an ...more
Mark Hornsey
Mar 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For me this book is almost as good as it gets, although judging by some of the comments here, not everyone agrees. Maybe the title is somewhat misleading - the book is not directed only at girls, but at anyone who has ever loved music.

The author's taste in music is catholic to say the least, and we see it constantly evolve throughout the period of her life this book covers - early childhood through to leaving home aged 18.

The story really comes alive when punk eventually arrived in the rather ba
Apr 13, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really really wanted to love this book. From the description, it sounds like it could be about me. But I think I expected too much, which is never going to work out well for the reader.

Overall, I think this book could have been a lot better. It seems like ideas were underdeveloped. She never really let us see the people she was describing. I just wanted more in every respect.

Also, there was a bit of a feeling of pretentiousness. Every little chapter/section began with a quote and most of the t
Perhaps the element to take away from this music lovers’ memoir is the idea that girls are capable of loving rock music as much as boys, but our devotion is brushed aside as less important.

I knew there were those for whom music was soundtrack and those of us for whom it was, well, music, but didn't notice that most of those who took it seriously were boys. Sophie and Julia each had a few records but they didn't get upset or excited about bands. I was thrilled by discovery, crushed by disappoint
Jan 31, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I started this book thinking it would be a breezy memoir of teenage life shared with punk rock and late night drives and adolescent crushes. This is pretty much what the sleeve promised. Instead it's a collection of very short, scattered, and loose essays that read like prose poems and don't really go anywhere. I couldn't even make myself read it on my lunch break, when it was the only book I had with me. To sum up: I would rather stare at a cafeteria bulletin board and doodle on a napkin than f ...more
Oct 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Parts of this creative memoir were like reading about my own life, although unfortunately the music of my youth was the deeply terrible nu-metal in the equally terrible nineties. A beautifully lyrical exploration of growing up through music; this book contains the best depiction of female adolescence in the British alternative music scene that I have read since Gemma discovers punk music in Junk.

I heard Lavinia Greenlaw read from this and immediately rushed to the library to check it out. I hav
i thought this was going to be a normal book about music and stuff. but it's an autobiography on a woman and her teenage life and DANNNG it was dramatic. it's a lot of "i slept with them, then them, then i woke up in my own PUKE because I got HIGH last night..."

but overall, AHMAZINGLY written, and really helps you understand why music is SO important to our culture.
Feb 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2007, music
When I originally bought this book, I thought it was going to be a socio-scientific look at the way girls understand and interpret music. Instead, it’s a memoir collection of essays by Greenlaw discussing her own life in relation to music. After I got over my initial shock, I enjoyed it a great deal. Some of her pieces are startling in their perceptiveness and incredibly moving.
Jan 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Camden, Live music and Love! I loved this book!
Jun 05, 2009 rated it liked it
I don't know, this book just didn't grab me. it has an amazing title, and I think I was expecting too much from it. less about the importance of music to girls and more a scattered memoir.
Aug 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was so excited to read this as someone who loves music and usually has a song running in my head. It wasn't quite what I was expecting but very interesting to read, it outlines key stages as girls grow up and talks about the authors musical memories that accompany these times. It works well in most chapters but others don't quite work as well which is a shame. Having said that I enjoyed the book and it has given me plenty of ideas of how this clever idea could work.
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was disappointing. I was expecting more of exploration on the role music plays in girl's lives, but it's essentially a memoir with a little about music. Greenlaw writes beautifully, but it is a little dull and not what I was looking for. Won't be finishing it.
Carina Vulcan
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Turned out to be a great read - Thank you Sam for sharing this book with me, what a lovely present <3
Dec 31, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Musikens betydelse för flickor, 2009
Beautiful prose that evokes emotion and memories of your own adolescence and the importance of music to people in this stage of life.
Bookish Jen
Mar 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Music. It’s a life force for so many people. Music forms our ideas, passions and opinions. A song on the radio makes us recall a distinct moment in our lives. A song can inspire us to change ourselves or change the world. A song is there when we fall in love or when our hearts our broken. Music is so much more than “it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it.”

But when music is discussed in these terms, it’s usually done by the boys. Nick Hornby and Chuck Klosterman can obsess over bands, discu
Rebecca (whymermaids)
This book is a love letter to music and childhood, and how the two are so intersected. Lavinia is a 60s English baby, and her story is one of the changing musical genres, how music helped form and transform her life as it went through the different stages.

While I appreciate the concept and the ode to the recklessness of youth and growing up, I didn’t love this. I don’t know if it was because I was not in the right mood to read it, or that I was rushing through it, or if those things were affecte
Jun 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, does this book have mixed reviews, and I can see why. The cover (mine is different from the one pictured) makes it look quite poppy. The back of my version, at least, talks about its being a memoir. But once I started reading, each section begins with a literary excerpt, some of them fairly obscure/erudite, and the sections are heavily atmospheric and poetic, and though chronological (I think), not clearly connected, so that it felt highly literary and rather different in tone from what I a ...more
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“More so than with any other instrument, the violin becomes part of the body. Good musicians are physically dissolved when playing, and for violinists, who cannot see where to place their fingers and have nothing to guide them through touch, music must be more than ever about memory than fingertips and breath; the ventage is deeper, more of the self, closer to singing.” 6 likes
“The greatest act of love was to make a tape for someone. It was the only way we could share music and it was also a way of advertising yourself.” 5 likes
More quotes…