Libraries Rock: Jonathan Segel

One of Jonathan's many solo albums, Superfluity.

Recently I asked Jonathan Segel to share his thoughts about libraries, reading, and children's literature. Jonathan is a multi-instrumentalist who is best known as the violinist of my all-time favorite band, Camper Van Beethoven. He also played with the legendary Mark Linkous in Sparklehorse

Camper Van Beethoven photo by Jason Thrasher. Jonathan is second from the left.

It would be difficult to overstate how important reading is to me, both as a person and as a musician. I’ve been surrounded by books my whole life long, at home and in both the public and the school libraries. Books are essential universes to explore, especially as starting points for one’s own creativity. So many songs have direct or indirect inspiration from literature (or non-fiction, why not!) Lyrical writing may not exactly be prose, but when you read perfect prose, surely it can inspire lyricism. Whether writing songs or writing music, so many ideas can pass through one’s mind: if indeed music is a language itself, is a non-literal one, which means that any and all associations are possible. Reading can fill your head with so many ideas that can pop up when least expected, imbuing even instrumental music with some momentary meaning, and these fleeting feelings can evoke memories from real or imagined worlds. And if you’re still not finding exactly what you’re looking for, go to the library! 

These days I’m really enjoying reading the Ivy & Bean series to my kid. The characters in it are 7 and they’re just nuts. Nuts in a very real way, the way that kids are. The logic is rendered entirely correctly. I’m not a fan of a lot of kids books that are written by adults trying to pretend that they understand children’s minds or trying to teach the kids something, they get so hokey. Kids are smarter than you think!

-Jonathan Segel 

ps. To read more about the connection between music and books, check out these posts that I wrote for the ALSC blog. (Since he is one of my favorite musicians in the world, I thought Jonathan deserved a post all of his own!)


  1. (Should probably read "These days I'm really enjoying reading the Ivy & Bean series —*to my kid*!)


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