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Paperback Writer – Tom Kiehl On The Value Of Music Books On World Book Day

UK Music's Interim Chief Executive Tom Kiehl tells how reading has been such an important part of his life and his hopes that World Book Day will encourage a new generation to share his passion. 

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07.03.2024: UK Music’s Interim Chief Executive Tom Kiehl outlines below how reading has been such an important part of his life and his hopes that World Book Day will encourage a new generation to share his passion. 

“Parents, teachers, children and schools around the country are today celebrating World Book Day. A fantastic initiative designed to promote reading for pleasure, and offering every child and young person a chance to have a book of their own.

World Book Day has reminded me of own love of books, the sorts of things that I read while growing up and the journey I then eventually took. Brought up on a healthy diet of Colin Dann and Doctor Who novelisations I eventually graduated to Douglas Adams and Agatha Christie as my reading tastes developed.

However, it wasn’t fiction that always captivated my imagination and in my teen years my love of reading coincided with an increasing obsession of popular music.

As an avid reader of the music press and the great music writing of iconoclasts like Steven Wells, Simon Price, John Robb, Neil Kulkarni, Kitty Empire and Caitlin Moran, their articles and journalism gave me an insight into the wider countercultures that existed around popular music at the time.

I then developed a deeper sense of the historical perspective that surrounded the music I listened to by reading books by the likes of Jon Savage, Nik Cohn, Simon Reynolds and Charles Shaar Murray.

It is therefore fantastic that the Penderyn Music Book Prize exists. Now in its 10th year the prize is the only UK based book prize specifically for music based books, whether its history, theory, biography or autobiography.

Tom Kiehl, Dr Hayleigh Bosher and All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music Chair Kevin Brennan MP (image: UK Music).

Tom Kiehl, Dr Hayleigh Bosher and All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music Chair Kevin Brennan MP (image: UK Music).

Previous winners include Daniel Rachel’s “Walls Come Tumbling Down: The Music and Politics of Rock Against Racism, 2Tone and Red Wedge” and Shirley Collins “All in the Downs – Reflections on Life, Landscape and Song”.

This year’s long list features books covering such diverse subjects as Karen Carpenter, the Bee Gees, Sly and the Family Stone and late 90s UK pop. The awards are a celebration of the best in music writing and I can’t wait to find out who wins!

For many people having a passion for music is more than just liking the music. It is not just about the melody, the tune, the sounds or the emotions that it conjures up, it is a passion and excitement about “something else” too. Those who write great books about music are able to articulate that “something else” in a way that none of the rest of us can.

I do hope that many of the children that will be able to enjoy the love of reading and owning a book for the very first time this World Book Day go on to eventually discover and appreciate the many great works of music writing that exist out there as part of their own reading journey.”

You can read more about the Penderyn Music Book Prize here.

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