February 2019: The Piano Shop on the Left Bank by Thad Carhart
This book has been waiting for me on my bookshelf for something like seven years now. Isn't it funny how books can seem to wait patiently until you're ready to read them?
This book has been an absolute joy from the first page. It was one of those times where I was trying to decide which book to read next from a few different options. I decided to read the first few pages of each to see which grabbed me. This was the first one I picked up - an hour later I was still reading, the other options forgotten.
This book is about more than "rediscovering a forgotten passion" as the the cover suggests. It is about doggedly pursuing something new outside of your routine. It is about finding inspiration in unlikely places and finding new friends even geekier than you are.
If you enjoy the piano you must read this book. However, I am recommending this book to artists because there is something broader that resonates with anyone who creates for their own enjoyment. From the beginning of the book you understand that Carhart enjoys playing only for himself. The rigor with which he pursues his rediscovered hobby is an inspiring example no matter what your interest is.
Further, Carhart's writing is both beautiful and enlightening. Not everyone can write a riveting chapter about tuning pianos that leaves you both marveling at the beauty of language and also listening to music more closely. He characterizes piano tuners as, "part scientist, part artist, and part psychologist," and in doing so hints at the fractal-like specializations of every occupation - revealed only when you take the time to look below the surface.
Any writing or idea is significant that can present a subject you think you comprehend in a completely new light.
Side note (no pun intended!): Between purchasing this book and reading it, I was able to fulfill a long-held dream of owning by own piano. There are many more people trying to sell pianos right now than there are buying them. You can have one of these instruments in your life for almost nothing (some are even free if you agree to pick them up, though they often need work). As a painter, one of the things I love about playing the piano is how ephemeral the creation is. The music hangs in the air only as long as you play. There is no record of mistakes, and even if you only know one song well you can play it differently every time.
I really loved this one! Hope you do too.