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  • June 2013
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Daft Punk, “Get Lucky,” and the One Book, Every Decade Challenge

swing-dance-vintageAnyone who’s spent any time around me knows that I have an affinity for dance music.

In fact, one of the best parts of my job is getting to go to CAPA and other schools where, as part of our CLP – BAM! (Books and More!) outreach initiative, I get to rock dance parties in school lunch rooms, while at the same time partnering with other librarians to check out books and other materials, provide crafts, play games, and offer all sorts of fun stuff.

One of the cool things about dance music is that it’s not a recent phenomenon (yes, really). As soon as ancient people were able to carve out hollows in wood and gourds, they were working out rhythms and moving along to them. And that old-timey music your grandparents listen to on the radio might not compare in volume to the synth bass lines of Deadmau5, but they were able to get huge dance halls moving.

Enter Daft Punk and their stripped-down neo disco song “Get Lucky,” which you can download–and keep–from the Library through our new Freegal service or, of course, check out. Part of this song’s purpose, as they outlined in a rare radio interview, is to try to strip dance music to its roots and get back to a timeless feeling of groove:

“Like every song on this record, it was something really organic,” Thomas Bangalter said. “They really represent bridging the generations together and what Nile Rodgers represents for dance music and R&B in America in the Seventies and the Eighties and what Pharrell represents from somehow the same genre of music in the Nineties and 2000s, it felt really interesting to connect all these eras together to create the music of the present and possibly the music of the future as well.”

Picking up on that feeling, one very perky Frenchman decided that he’d remake “Get Lucky” into a mix of what the song would sound like through the years, featuring musical styles from every decade from 1920 to… 2020.

After listening to these ditties, I posed a challenge to myself: could I come up with a list featuring books that take place in each decade of the video? The answer, of course, was yes. So now I pose a challenge to you: this summer, can you read a book that takes place in every decade of the century covered?

If you’re looking for suggestions, here’s my one book for every decade list:

1920s

silhouetteofasparrowSilhouette of a Sparrow
Molly Beth Griffin

During the summer of 1926 in the lake resort town of Excelsior, Minnesota, sixteen-year-old Garnet, who dreams of indulging her passion for ornithology, is resigned to marrying a nice boy and settling into middle-class homemaking until she takes a liberating job in a hat shop and begins an intense, secret relationship with a daring and beautiful flapper.

1930s

watcherintheshadowsThe Watcher in the Shadows
Carlos Ruiz Zafón

When a fourteen-year-old moves with her family to the coast of Normandy, she’s immediately taken by the beauty of the place–its expansive cliffs, coasts, and harbors. But a dark mystery is about to unfold involving a reclusive toymaker who lives in a gigantic mansion filled with mechanical beings and shadows of the past.

1940s

momentcomesA Moment Comes
Jennifer Bradbury

As the partition of India nears in 1947 bringing violence even to Jalandhar, Tariq, a Muslim, finds himself caught between his forbidden interest in Anupreet, a Sikh girl, and Margaret, a British girl whose affection for him might help with his dream of studying at Oxford.

1950s

outoftheeasyOut of the Easy
Ruta Sepetys

Josie, the seventeen-year-old daughter of a French Quarter prostitute, is striving to escape 1950 New Orleans and enroll at prestigious Smith College when she becomes entangled in a murder investigation.

1960s

fireinthestreetsFire in the Streets
Kekla Magoon

In the aftermath of Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968, Chicago fourteen-year-old Maxie longs to join the Black Panthers, whether or not her brother, ex-boyfriend, or her friends like it. Soon, she finds herself caught up in the violence of anti-war and civil rights demonstrations.

1970s

takewhatyoucancarryWhat You Can Carry
Kevin C. Pyle

In 1977 suburban Chicago, Kyle runs wild with his friends and learns to shoplift from the local convenience store. In 1941 Berkeley, the Himitsu family is forced to leave their home for a Japanese-American internment camp, and their teenage son must decide how to deal with his new life. But though these boys are growing up in wildly different places and times, their lives intersect in more ways than one, as they discover compassion, learn loyalty, and find renewal in the most surprising of places.

1980s

eleanorparkEleanor & Park
Rainbow Rowell

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits–smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

1990s

whenlovecomestotownWhen Love Comes to Town
Tom Lennon

The year is 1990, and in his hometown of Dublin, Ireland, Neil Byrne plays rugby, keeps up with the in-crowd at his school, and is just a regular guy. A guy who’s gay. It’s a secret he keeps from the wider world as he explores the city at night and struggles to figure out how to reveal his real self–and to whom.

2000s

staywithmeStay With Me
Garret Freymann-Weyr

Sixteen-year-old Leila Abranel was born some twenty years after her sisters. Her elegant sisters from her father’s first marriage have lives full of work, love affairs, and travel. Leila doesn’t know either of them very well, but she loves hearing about them–details of Rebecca’s ruined marriage, Clare’s first job, and the strings of unsuitable boyfriends. When Rebecca kills herself, Leila wants to know why. She starts by spending time with Clare and finally comes to know her as a person instead of a story. With Clare’s reluctant help, Leila tracks down Rebecca’s favorite places and tries to find her sister’s friends. Along the way, Leila meets Eamon. Eamon is thirty-one and writes for television. He thinks Leila is beautiful and smart, but he does not, he tells her, date teenagers. And yet, the months go by and Leila turns seventeen and learns that you can love someone you are not dating. Maybe letting Eamon love her back is a mistake. Maybe she’ll never know why Rebecca did what she did. Maybe, Leila, decides, most people have a hard time figuring out which way is left or knowing when to let go and when to stay.

2010s

wingerWinger
Andrew Smith

Two years younger than his classmates at a prestigious boarding school, fourteen-year-old Ryan Dean West grapples with living in the dorm for troublemakers, falling for his female best friend who thinks of him as just a kid, and playing wing on the Varsity rugby team with some of his frightening new dorm-mates.

2020s

whenwewakeWhen We Wake
Karen Healey

Sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl living in 2027–she’s happiest when playing the guitar, she’s falling in love for the first time, and she’s joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world: environmental collapse, social discrimination, and political injustice. But on what should have been the best day of Tegan’s life, she dies–and wakes up a hundred years in the future, locked in a government facility with no idea what happened. Tegan is the first government guinea pig to be cryonically frozen and successfully revived, which makes her an instant celebrity–even though all she wants to do is try to rebuild some semblance of a normal life. But the future isn’t all she hoped it would be, and when appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: Does she keep her head down and survive, or fight for a better future?

Dance, read, and have a good summer!

~Joseph
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main

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