Whole buncha piano-related books.
Turns out there's this whole sub-genre of, middle-aged man decides that he's always wanted to get serious about piano and buys one. And I've been devouring them like a housewife reads Harlequin romances. These books are catnip to me.
Piano Lessons by Noah Adams
NPR reporter and Volvo driver buys a piano and starts trying to learn to play. Each "chapter" is a month, and at Christmas he wants to play Träumerei for his NPR-reporter wife. In the meantime he talks to teachers and famous players, goes to a camp, etc. A little fru-fru, like an NPR piece, but pleasant. Short book.
The Piano Shop on the Left Bank by Thad Carhart
American expat in Paris walks by a piano shoppe every morning while taking his kid to school. Goes in one day, makes friends with the owner, eventually buys one. Turns out he used to take lessons as a child, and the book alternates between his recollection of lessons and the present day, where he talks to teachers and players, takes lessons, etc. This one is enjoyable, esp if you like Paris (which my wife & I do) because there's a fair amount of French scene-setting and description.
Play it Again by Alan Rusbridger
By far the best of these books, and one I totally recommend. The writer was editor-in-chief of the Guardian, and the period covered is also the period of WikiLeaks and the UK phone-tapping scandal. Big book, ~350 pages. Diary of a year that this guy gives himself to learn to play one of the most formidable pieces in the repertoire, a Chopin Ballade. He's the most accomplished player of all of these writers, but this piece is one that challenges virtuosi, and the guy has a full-time job. Lots of super interesting stuff about his job: like he takes meetings with Julian Assange, etc. Great book.
Grand Obsession by Perry Knize
Woman in her 40s buys a piano and starts to get serious again about music, which she gave up in her twenties. I'm going off the Amazon review here: I haven't read this yet. Looks like she tries to re-create the certain sound of an instrument her family had when she was a kid, and she dives into the world of piano tuners and "voicing" a piano etc etc. Can't wait.
Outside the subgenre ghetto, some other piano-related books:
Playing The Piano For Pleasure by Charles Cooke
This is an old classic of the "You can learn to play!" sort, intended to be inspirational. 200 pages plus a few appendixes, it's a very quick read. There's a newer edition, edited and released I think 2011. An Amazon reviewer said they edited out all the good stuff that was particular to the era, so I made sure to get the old one from the library. Fun.
Piano Lessons by Russell Sherman
This one sucks. I only got a couple pages into it, I'm gonna drop it. The writer is a concert pianist; the book is a collection of short essays (as short as a paragraph or so) and epigrams about his impressions. It's incoherent, makes no goddam sense, ridiculous.
When the shepherd sings, the earth moans, the wind murmurs, the aspen trembles. Each refrain is but a response to a chorale audible only to Schumann's elect, to the better and silent portion of human character. When Artur Schnabel said the he played the rests, if not the notes, better than other pianists, he was acknowledging that subliminal choir only silence can reveal.
I mean, WTF?
“War is the remedy our enemies have chosen. Other simple remedies were within their choice. You know it and they know it, but they wanted war, and I say let us give them all they want.”
― William Tecumseh Sherman