I was curious about Alex Ross's latest offering, "Listen to This"? And wondered what others thought about it. I'm familiar with his New Yorker articles, which I assume his book is just a compilation of, though I understood there was some new stuff added.
Also, wondered if his prior, "The Rest Is Noise" was worth dipping into. It got so many rave reviews, but I was kind of hesitant about delving into another "let me tell you the entire history of music" book. I don't like those books. Unless it's really fun.
For my money, the best writer of CM was Harold C. Schonberg. Very smart with sharp humor; loved his writing style; it just flowed. He wrote a pretty awesome book on chess too: "Grandmasters of Chess."
I read The Rest Is Noise. It was fun, not really a typical "let me tell you the entire history of music" book; for one thing, it's just the 20th century, and he ties it into historical context. And it's got a companion on the web with listening samples of works he writes about, which is nice.
"The Rest Is Noise" is very readable cover to cover, it's not so much of a "dip into" book I don't think. It offers some fascinating insight into the lives and works of the 20th Century composers, the detail of which I've not seen or heard elsewhere. It's written with some sprinkling of humour here and there, but it is more of a serious book rather than "fun".
I enjoyed The Rest is Noise. It covers the entire 20th Century (maybe not the last decade), hitting just about every major and many almost-major composers, and it's very readable. I would consider Listen to This because of his writing style, but from what I've seen in scanning the book, it's talking about a lot of music I'm not that interested in.
I've read some chapters of The Rest is Noise. Like Manxfeeder, focussing on the things that interest me. I think, judging from that, it's pretty good. He does seem to be pretty balanced but at the same time gives his opinions. He's not a plastic writer, he's basically real & genuine as far as I can tell. I have not read his latest book, which is of course a different thing altogether...
I'm just finishing reading "TheRestIsNoise", and as both a non-musician and a "newbie" to the classical music genre, I would heartily recommend it to both those who match my description and seasoned musicians. IMHO, it is a very well-written opus which has a foot in both the non-musical and musical worlds.