If you're reading The Music Between Us as part of a reading group, this guide is for you. I hope this helps guide your conversation about the themes of my memoir and unexpected journey to healing. Spoiler alert: This guide does contain book spoilers!
12 Reading Guide Questions
What feelings did this book evoke for you?
What aspects of the author’s story could you most relate to?
What new things did you learn?
Each of the book’s chapters begins with a patient vignette. Which one(s) did you find most memorable? Why?
Steve wrote the book in his mid-sixties while in the midst of his healing process, over twenty-five years after most of the events in the book took place. Why did he take so long to contemplate his past?
Steve’s father barely made it into the first draft of The Music between Us. The decision to give him a larger role in the memoir became a difficult one for the author. Why do you think he struggled with this?
A crucial question in The Music Between Us is how much Steve can trust his own memory. How reliable are his observations? Since the relationship between truth and memory is often a slippery one, how objective or “true” can a memory, by definition, really be? Can memory lie? If so, what factors might influence it? Consider examples from the book.
There is a strong suggestion that volunteering to be with people who are dying takes a rare type of individual and can be a life-changing endeavor. An extension to this idea is that other types of service to others may be a powerful impetus for personal transformation and even spiritual growth. Do you agree or disagree? Have you had a similar experience?
There are a number of themes throughout the book that seems to intersect on a regular basis. For example, the idea of music as a marker in different stages of our lives, religious conversion, the personal drive towards emotional self-awareness, the impact on children raised by a mentally ill parent, lessons the dying may impart to us intentionally and unintentionally, our attitudes about death. Which of these book themes stood out to you?
In Chapter 27 (pages 193-196), the author shares some of the “advice for living” he gleaned from his clients. Which of these resonates with you?
What do you think was the author’s greatest life lesson learned from his experience?
What songs or style of music became the soundtrack of your life? Where were you and what were you doing when this music became permanently embedded in your memory?