8 Books To Read If You Love 'Mozart in the Jungle'

by Melissa Ragsdale

I'm absolutely nuts about Mozart in the Jungle. A classical musician myself, this series hits me in all the musical feels. I always finish an episode itching to attack my piano.

But Mozart in the Jungle is much more than just a show for/about musicians; the storytelling is absolutely brilliant. No wonder it killed at the Golden Globes. You fall hard for every single character, are thoroughly hooked by every facet of their lives, and you develop major opinions about all the colorful goings-on of the New York Symphony. If you're a story junkie like me, you cling to every moment of this charming series. Plus, like the perfect cherry on top, there are tons of genuinely squeal-worthy moments, from actor cameos to the appearances of legendary composers.

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Even though they only dropped the second season onto Amazon Video a few weeks ago, I'm already thirsty for more music, more drama, and more Rodrigo. Even if you're not a musician, these books all promise to quench that thirst. So put on your favorite classical music station, make yourself the perfect cup of mate (or, even better, have your assistant do it for you), and settle down to these great reads.

1. Mozart in the Jungle by Blair Tindall

The book that inspired the show, this is the obvious choice to get more of the juicy classical world. A memoir by oboist Blair Tindall, Mozart in the Jungle the book is an illuminating exploration of the classical musical world. The perfect chance to geek out about the real-life inspirations for all of your favorite characters and moments.

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2. Drama High by Michael Sokolove

This stunner of a book brings all the drama of MITJ to the world of the high school musical. Said to be like Friday Night Lights meets Glee, this is the true story of how theater teacher Lou Volpe turned a struggling high school into a musical theater destination, opening doors for his students into Broadway and beyond.

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3. Secret Lives of Great Composers by Elizabeth Lunday

If you're a geek for all the composer cameos, look no further. This book takes you through the whirlwind lives of all our musical heroes. From heartbreak to murder, you won't believe the crazy hijinx these legends got up to. Among many others, these secrets include: Wagner was allegedly a cross-dresser, John Cage was obsessed with fungus (not surprising), and Giacomo Puccini stole his church’s organ pipes and sold them as scrap metal so he could buy cigarettes.

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4. Dancing On My Grave by Gelsey Kirkland

Fall into the dizzying world of ballet with this killer memoir from famous ballerina Gelsey Kirkland. Just as Mozart in the Jungle does with music, this book reveals a whole new side to the dance world, from Kirkland's struggles with drugs to her legendary partnership with Mikhail Baryshnikov.

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5. Listen to This by Alex Ross

One of the top music reviewers today, Alex Ross masterfully opens new doors into how you experience music in this top-notch read. A collection of his best essays, including some previously unpublished ones, this book peers into the heart of music itself, from Mozart to Bob Dylan. It's impossible to watch MITJ without wanting to go deeper into music, and this book will help you do just that.

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6. The Joy of Music by Leonard Bernstein

Not only was he a legendary composer and conductor, but Leonard Bernstein is one of the clearest, most intelligent voices about the experience of music out there. Especially if you're a musician, but even if you're not, you'll be drawn into his brilliant ideas of how music is made and how it touches our lives.

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7. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

Dive into another specialized industry with this classic memoir/expose from legendary chef Anthony Bourdain. Bourdain takes you through the dirty laundry of the culinary world, revealing what Bourdain calls "twenty-five years of sex, drugs, bad behavior and haute cuisine." This book is for anyone who dug the sizzling parts of MITJ (aka, all of it).

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8. The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli

Though their stories are very different, the spirit of this book's protagonist — a legendary auctioneer named Highway — reminds me of Rodrigo. Free-spirited, excitable, and appreciator of art through and through, Rodrigo and Highway share a style that is hard not to be drawn to. Plus, this book is an innovative look at storytelling, using new techniques and calling up famous authors in a way that is sure to delight.

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Image: Amazon