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The Importance of Music to Girls

Lavinia Greenlaw

The Importance of Music to Girls is award-winning poet and novelist Lavinia Greenlaw’s vivid and engaging portrait of what music means to us as we grow up.

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If I had not kissed anyone, or danced with anyone, or had a reason to cry, the music made me feel as if I had gone through all that anyway . . . the music attracted and repelled, organised and disturbed and then let us into the night, clusters of emotion ready to dissolve into sleep.

In The Importance of Music to Girls, Lavinia Greenlaw tells the story of the adventures that music leads us into: getting drunk, falling in love, dying of boredom, cutting our hair, terrifying our parents, wanting to change the world. This is a vivid memoir unlike any other, recalling the furious passion of being young, female, and coming alive through music.

Critic Reviews

Despite the title, this is not a girlie book, but a poetic, evocative exploration of music and identity. Greenlaw's preferences range from Bob Dylan to Joy Division, her prose has a sharp honesty and she wields her erudition lightly.

Sunday Times
Critic Reviews

It is the candour of this off-beat memoir that makes it stand out. There is no guff about the transcendental power of music: more a wry reflection on the way in which music weaves its way in and out of childhood.

Sunday Telegraph
Critic Reviews

Greenlaw's unflinching eye and spare, sophisticated prose render a rare and quite beautiful book.


Lavinia Greenlaw was born in London. She studied seventeenth-century art at the Courtauld Institute, and was the first artist in residence at the Science Museum. Her awards include a NESTA fellowship, the Ted Hughes Award for her immersive soundwork, Audio Obscura, and a Wellcome Engagement Fellowship. She has published six collections of poetry with Faber, including Minsk (2003), which was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot, Forward and…

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