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

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  2,725 ratings  ·  525 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.
Kindle Edition, 264 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 ot…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.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,725 ratings  ·  525 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Sounds Like Titanic
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 yo
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoirs
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 introductio
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ 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 hal
Olive Fellows (abookolive)
Incredibly bizarre, but FASCINATING. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. ...more
Amy Bruestle
Feb 04, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 d
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 i
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 t
This memoire stuck with me while I was reading it. I kept turning her ideas over and over in my mind while I was out and about. Chiccehitto Hindman's revelations when she entered Columbia about class, money and genuine talent versus "smoke and mirrors" are particularly timely. There is such a disconnect to reality these days thanks in part to technology and also to network effects. Many products presented to us are funneled through these two constructs and have very little to do with the actual ...more
Jessica Rodrigues ☕ (decafJess)
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 soun
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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 liv ...more
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!
Jan 05, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oh, how I loved this memoir! I listened to it on audio and the narrator did an incredible job. I felt so invested in Jessica's story and could not stop listening. The author has a very unique voice with a great sense of humour. I am very excited to read whatever she comes out with next. ...more
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
May 06, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, titanic-books
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 boo ...more
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.4 ⭐

Well, that was...different. I'd say it's too strange to be fiction except there were one or two incidents that seemed contrived. For the most part, though, it felt like an honest memoir, at times brutally so. Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman may not have turned out to be a virtuoso violinist but she's not bad on the (computer) keyboard.

The book's hook is Hindman's career, while an impoverished student, as a "fake violinist." Her studies at New York's Columbia University were floundering; her hil
Wynne Kontos RONA READS
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 "s
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 belo
Robert Blumenthal
Jul 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 refe
Feb 23, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This memoir did something I've never experienced before - it made me love the book but hate the author as a person. Since my feelings are so polarized, I'm settling on a 3 star rating.

It's crazy that an orchestra was able to fake performances all over the world. That an audience can hear a CD playing, and watch some performers move their instruments around, and believe they are playing. The Composer must have been some kind of evil genius.

But the author refuses to take any responsibility for her
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, favorites
It’s difficult to say exactly what Sounds Like Titanic is about - but I can firmly say that it is a captivating, beautifully written memoir that’s well worth a read. In many ways, it’s like one of those Russian nesting dolls: on the outside, there’s the tagline of the book - Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman is a mediocre violin student from Appalachia studying at Columbia who gets a job as a fake violinist for a musical ensemble led by a dude whose formulaic instrumental music sounds just like the so ...more
Aug 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was so good! It made me laugh out loud, which always endears me to a book, and it was about so much more than one young woman's experience playing "fake violin" for a living back in the early 2000s. The book is about America after decades of trickle-down Reaganomics, Fox "News" and out-of-control capitalism. It's about America's obsession with "hard work" which just so happens to dovetail nicely with the raping of the middle- and working-class in service to making billionaires richer a ...more
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, 2019
I am not a big believer in all of the stereotypes about the generations, but every once in a while something or someone comes along that makes you think that there just might be something to it. In this memoir the self-admitted less than competent musical author picks up a gig faking that she is playing songs that evoke the feelings and emotions of the title song to the movie Titanic. She is paid for this. She travels around the country in a bus pretend playing over and over again. It is clear t ...more
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 cent ...more
Race Bannon
May 08, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This alleged memoir was all over the map. I felt that
the author was bipolar or something, and she did
mention a few times about seeing a psychiatrist.

Her writing is so cynical most of the time. She seems
almost snobbish when she relates her feelings about
conversations she has had with other people and
how 'wrong' they are. And yet in a nearby paragraph
she will go on and on about how she is a poor
disadvantaged Appalachian woman and she seems
to project that as if she is unique. Ugh.

The story itself i
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best memoirs I’ve read. She approaches her past philosophically, psychologically, ethically, and still entertainingly. She takes what seems like a silly premise (fake orchestra “playing” cheesy music around the country) and wrangles tons of nuanced meaning and relevance out of her experiences. And it’s engrossing, to boot. I didn’t want to put it down. The shifts in voice may seem gimmicky, but I was fine with them. Hindman is interested in learning and growing from her own li ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Around the Year i...: Sounds Like Titanic, by Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman 1 13 Jul 29, 2019 10:59AM  
Obsessed with Tru...: Sounds Like Titanic 4 25 Mar 06, 2019 09:33AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Pandemic, Inc.: Chasing the Capitalists and Thieves Who Got Rich While We Got Sick
  • As It Turns Out: Thinking About Edie and Andy
  • A Summons to Memphis
  • Соло на ундервуде. Соло на IBM
  • Ремесло
  • La fille sans nom
  • Rogues: True Stories of Grifters, Killers, Rebels and Crooks
  • This Is Not a Book about Benedict Cumberbatch: The Joy of Loving Something--Anything--Like Your Life Depends on It
  • I Cried to Dream Again: Trafficking, Murder, and Deliverance -- A Memoir
  • Night of the Living Rez
  • Happy-Go-Lucky
  • The Steinway Hunter: A Memoir
  • The Old Woman with the Knife
  • Trailed: One Woman's Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders
  • Into Every Generation a Slayer Is Born: How Buffy Staked Our Hearts
  • Inventing a Nation: Washington, Adams, Jefferson
  • Arrival Stories: Women Share Their Experiences of Becoming Mothers
  • His Name Is George Floyd: One Man's Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice
See similar books…
See top shelves…
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

Articles featuring this book

Your 2019 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal is just within reach, and we're here to help you finish the reading year with some great new...
111 likes · 55 comments
“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” 4 likes
“You are someone whose upbringing was upper class enough to make you believe you could make music for a living, but lower class enough to provide no knowledge of how to do it.” 1 likes
More quotes…