Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Sounds Like Titanic” as Want to Read:
Sounds Like Titanic
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Sounds Like Titanic

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  1,398 ratings  ·  318 reviews
A young woman leaves Appalachia for life as a classical musician—or so she thinks.

When aspiring violinist Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman lands a job with a professional ensemble in New York City, she imagines she has achieved her lifelong dream. But the ensemble proves to be a sham. When the group “performs,” the microphones are never on. Instead, the music blares from a CD.
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published February 12th 2019 by W. W. Norton Company
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Sounds Like Titanic, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Gerald Check out this you tube pretty much fits the description that Hindman describes. Complete with voice over by...George Clooney. There are…moreCheck out this you tube pretty much fits the description that Hindman describes. Complete with voice over by...George Clooney. There are other videos as well.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,398 ratings  ·  318 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Sounds Like Titanic
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Holy Milli Vanilli!

Or, should I say Milli Violini?

While still in college, the author, an aspiring violinist, was chosen to be part of an professional music ensemble. Her duties involved playing her instrument, and selling CDs at shopping malls, AND the 54-city God Bless America concert tour. The catch was . . . she performed before a dead microphone. The flawless music came from a recording. The audiences paid big bucks to see musicians "lip sync" to a CD.

The entire scheme was masterminded by
”Sometimes I wonder where I've been,
Who I am,
Do I fit in.
Make believin' is hard alone,
Out here on my own.”

-- Out Here On My Own, Irene Cara, Songwriters: Leslie Gore / Michael Gore

”Vivaldi is in your head. The music you hear is like the blaze-orange clothing the men wear on the mountainsides while deer hunting in autumn. The music is like a bulletproof vest, a coiled copperhead, a rabies shot. The music is both a warning and a talisman. The music tells you things.”
”The music says: What you
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
“There were just some things you couldn’t do for money. Not because they were particularly difficult, but because you just didn’t want to. Because they weren’t worth your life, which might not be worth much, but was worth something.”

God, this book. It’s catapulted itself into my favorite books of all time, but how do I even begin to explain why? Yes it’s about playing the violin (or not playing the violin, however you want to look at it), but the most important parts of this memoir are not about
Heidi The Reader
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs, non-fiction
A violinist and Eastern Studies major who is struggling to pay her way through Columbia gets a job that seems to be more than she ever hoped for. She is going to be playing professionally for audiences across the U.S. It turns out to be fake — the music is played through speakers, never live.

"While this is a memoir about being a fake, this is not a fake memoir. This is a memoir in earnest, written by a person striving to get at the truth of things that happened in her past." From the
Nenia ⚡ Aspiring Evil Overlord ⚡ Campbell

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

What a strange book this was. Even though it's a memoir, it kind of reminded me of MY YEAR OF REST AND RELAXATION because of its tongue in cheek narrative and critical examination of what living in the U.S. during a post-9/11 society means for the population. But it's also more than that - it's the very strange journey of a violinist from the Appalachians joining a "fake" orchestra where she and the other musicians played in concert halls
Amy Bruestle
Feb 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
I won this book through a giveaway in exchange for an honest review....
Unfortunately I could not get myself to finish this. I really hate not finishing a book and I usually force myself to suffer through it if it’s bad or not something I’m into, but now that I am getting older, I am learning that there are tons of books I want to read in my lifetime, and it is okay not to finish the ones I don’t like. That might seem obvious to some of you, but my OCD-ness qualities make it difficult for me to
Sonja Arlow
Friend: You really played in a fake orchestra touring the whole of America?
Jessica: Yep, we were all playing in front of dead microphones and the crowd could never tell.

Friend: So do you feel guilty having conned hard working folks out of their money?
Jessica: It wasn’t ME, it was the composer…

Friend: Kinda like Milli Vanilli, it was not them it was their manager.
Jessica: Exactly

Friend: Wow that’s so interesting you should write a book about it
Jessica: To be honest my life has not been very
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the sort of book you stay up too late reading.

I usually stick to fiction, because a character's life as invented by the author has to be more interesting than the real lives of people around us. But Jessica's account of working for The Composer is weirder than fiction. Sure, it's a story about being a violinist in fake concerts, but also manages to be a study on the nature of memoir, reality, growing up female in the nineties, undergraduate class conflict, a tour of America at war, and
Jessica ☕ Rodrigues
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, adult-nonfiction
I know I'm posting this review early, but I just have to share.

I'm going to cut to the chase and just come out and say that this is one of my favorite books that I have read in a long time and I want every woman I know to read it and we will all be in one huge book club.

On its surface, it is a memoir of a woman who spends a few years of her young adulthood faking it as a professional violinist. The Composer, a man who is never named specifically, has written simplistic orchestral music that
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music
I always enjoy stories featuring amateur musicians (cough cough Station Eleven), and this was no exception! Hindman's experiences with the Composer, and her struggles to get in that position, are unique and remarkable, and I found her voice to be a perfect fit to narrate those experiences.

To me, the most interesting aspect of the memoir was the author's ability to dive into the psyche of America; what do those Ruby Tuesdays and mall performances really tell us about the soul of America? Travel
Michael Waddell
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing story! I found myself shocked by many of the twists and turns in the author's life, the bizarre situations she found herself in, the ways she found to get by through all of it. But what really makes the book great is the author's style: direct, curious, unflinching, playful. Nearly every page has something that makes me think about some unobserved detail in life -- what we mean by "make a living", how it's often the most inauthentic things that authentically touch people's ...more
Jan 05, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
dnf p. 31. Written in the 2nd person. Grew tired of reading the word, "you," in every line incredibly quickly. (She referred to herself as, "You.") Did not find a character to get invested in as no one here had any personality. Timeline kept jumping. I couldn't figure out what was going on, or indeed if anything was going on, & I started to fall asleep the 2nd time I tried to read it. So I'm done.
Nov 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
This memoir was interesting in the beginning but then dragged on and became very repetitive. I read about half of it and skimmed the rest. It just didn’t hold my interest. I agree with my friend, Alyson - wanted to know who “The Composer” really is!
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
This book was amazing. If I highlighted books, I would have marked the shit out of this.

The story that the author tells is the true story of how a West-Virginia-turned-Columbia-student went on tour in the early 2000s with a few other musicians and The Composer — a man who "created" violin and pennywhistle music. Though she was a decent violin player, the author's talents didn't mean anything since she was helping The Composer to sell a lie: no matter where the ensemble went, from a suburban mall
Jun 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
I picked this up because my daughter plays the violin. I kept reading because I found it all fascinating. Chiccehitto Hindman "played" violin for an ensemble for several years to help pay her tuition at Columbia University. She refers to her employer simply as The Composer throughout (although a quick internet search indicates who it may be). She seems to have a love hate relationship with this man, yet she needs the money, so she puts up with the ego and the disrespect.

This is more than just a
Books on Stereo
Mar 02, 2019 rated it did not like it
A tad bit frantic and meandering for my taste.
Robert Blumenthal
Jul 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating memoir written by a woman who grew up in Appalachia and ended up in New York City. She was better off than some in West Virginia, but she still had her struggles. She turned to the violin to assuage her troubles as she went through public school, yet she never attained a level that would enable her to make a living from her playing.

In New York, desperate for money so that she could complete her studies at Columbia, she chanced upon an offer to play for someone she only
Wynne Kontos
Jan 22, 2019 rated it liked it
I was practically salivating for a copy of this before its February release date, and the buyers at my store graciously tracked one down for me (as well as a colleague who had heard how I bad I wanted to read it.)

The premise was really, really cool. While attending Columbia University in NYC circa 2002, Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman joined a classical music ensemble as a violinist, that as it turned out, wasn't playing music at all but mimicking along to pre-recorded, half-plagerized music that
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Playing in front of a dead microphone while pre-recoded music boomed through the speakers, Hindman toured America with a well-known composer pretending to perform live music. This book follows her journey as she struggles to separate what’s real from what’s fake.

This book was deeper than I expected. It took me to Hindman's childhood where she played the violin and everyone in town thought she has a “reeeyal” talent. Fast forwarding to her entering college to discover that her talent is just
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman has written a memoir of "holy shit allegro" proportion. Her time-hopping memoir spans from rural 1980s West Virginia, to 2001 Cairo, Egypt, to major cities across the United States as a violinist on a mysterious, PBS-favorite composer's God Bless America Tour. At its heart, Sounds Like Titanic is Chiccehitto Hindman's journey of wrestling with life in the body, navigating the crooked gaze of America in its large cities and small towns. It's also a distinctly 21st ...more
Apr 29, 2019 rated it liked it
I wish more memoirs were written by ordinary people who aren’t really ordinary but who just think they are because they associate with so many people whom other people think are extraordinary but aren’t really.
The music world is a funny place, full of people who work really hard and those who don’t really do anything much. This book is all about faking it so that you will at some point have the wherewithal to be genuine. And somehow, this story works. Especially because I listened to it being
Mar 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received a copy of this book for free through a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway.

A unique memoir that I was surprised to really enjoy. The premise doesn't sound all that engaging, but the opposite is true.

What made it so unique was both the content (a musician traveling the United States, and China, performing "live" music that is actually just a CD on playback) and the style. The writing is in the 2nd person, which was both distracting at first but a welcome change to the typical memoir
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In Sounds Like Titanic, Jessica Chichetto Hindman weaves a remarkable tale that is utterly unique yet eminently relatable.

Early on in this hard-to-put-down memoir, Hindman switches from first to second person because, she posits, “For many people, myself included, sitting down to write something in first person feels like the worst type of fakery.” Hindman knows a thing or two about fakery, having traveled across the country playing her violin with the mic turned off as music music that ‘sounds
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Listened. I wouldn't recommend the audio on this - the inflections of the narrator felt counter to the author's intentions a lot of the time.

This book was a lot more than the story of playing in a touring ensemble that didn't actually play any live music. The author does a very skilled job of social commentary- on general American society, on living in a woman's body, on what is real. I've been thinking about the fetishization of Work and productivity, and how every part of our society has been
May 06, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
A terrible supposed memoir, Sounds Like Titanic is the self-righteous musing of a con-artist (and not even a good one). Author Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman recounts how she went from an aspiring professional violinist to a fraud, fake performing on stage to CDs with a national tour group. Yet somehow she thinks she’s the victim, shows no remorse for taking part in this hoax, and goes off on long liberal diatribes about American culture. But worse than all that, Hindman has written most of the ...more
Apr 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
I knew almost nothing before starting this (including the fact that it was a memoir), but found the audiobook completely captivating. The author moves backward and forward in time from the age of five when she first decided she wanted to play the violin, through her year abroad when she thought she would become a war correspondent, and central to the story, her years pretending to play classical music on stage for “the composer.” There are many laugh-out-loud moments throughout, but even more ...more
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
A fascinating story, yet drawn out by the author's musings on politics and culture and philosophies of life. The story jumps around with no discernible timeline or progression, which makes it become monotonous after a while. Performing the same thing over and over again is even less exciting when you read about someone else doing it.
And yet I didn't altogether hate it, and I appreciate her insight into class and culture and modern America.
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This slim memoir really packed a mean punch. An enthralling, relatable and timely commentary, this is one of my favorite books of the year.

What sounds like your average girl gets scammed by famous musical composer/imposter story, turned out to be a whole lot more. Every sentence beautifully crafted by this insightful, sensitive author is incredibly impactful; Hindman's words made my hair stand on end, they were so good. And while music plays front and center in this memoir, it's EVERY topic,
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Here’s a first for me. I did a total turnaround regarding Sounds Like Titanic. Listening to it on Audible, at first I thought I’d die. Between the unusual writing style and the melodrama in the narrator’s tone, I considered returning it. Fortunately, I did not. Once into it, I found Sounds Like Titanic to be the most unusual, witty, on-the-mark meaningful, and downright enjoyable piece of both poignancy and social satire I’ve experienced in years.

It is non-fiction, a memoir written by a
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Around the Year i...: Sounds Like Titanic, by Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman 1 9 Jul 29, 2019 10:59AM  
Obsessed with Tru...: Sounds Like Titanic 4 23 Mar 06, 2019 09:33AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Magic Is Dead: My Journey into the World's Most Secretive Society of Magicians
  • Trust Exercise
  • Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death
  • Rough Magic: Riding the World's Loneliest Horse Race
  • The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays
  • Miracle Creek
  • Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive
  • Parkland: Birth of a Movement
  • Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion
  • The New Me
  • The Witches Are Coming
  • In the Dream House
  • 1919 The Year That Changed America
  • Mostly Dead Things
  • Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life
  • The Queen: The Forgotten Life Behind an American Myth
  • Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee
  • The Need
See similar books…
Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman has “performed” on PBS, QVC, and at concert halls worldwide. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, McSweeney's, Brevity, and Hippocampus. She holds a BA in Middle Eastern studies and an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and a PhD in English from the University of North Texas. She teaches creative writing at Northern Kentucky ...more
“And because you have not yet developed feelings toward yourself (other than negative feelings about your body), you see yourself only as a reflection of what other people think of you” 2 likes
“Years later, the writer Malcolm Harris will articulate the ways in which people of your generation were taught to value work as an end in itself, rather than a process through which something tangible is gained.” 1 likes
More quotes…