Christie Burke's Infinite Booklist

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist June 8, 2009

Filed under: fiction,Uncategorized,YA — Christie @ 8:28 pm

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (cover image from and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan.  Knopf, 2006.

Nick is the bassist in a reasonably successful NYC high-school band.  He spots his ex-girlfriend with another guy after a gig, and he has this to say:

I am the old model and this is the new model and I could crash out a year’s worth of time on my bass and nothing, absolutely nothing, would change.

She sees me.  She can’t fake surprise at seeing me here, because of course she fucking knew I’d be here.  So she does a little smile thing and whispers something to the new model and I can just tell from her expression that after they get their now-being-poured drinks they are going to come over and say hello and good show and — could she be so stupid and cruel? — how are you doing? And I can’t stand the thought of it.  I see it all unfolding and I know I have to do something — anything — to stop it.

So I, this random bassist in an average queercore band, turn to this girl in flannel who I don’t even know and say:

“I know this is going to sound strange, but would you mind being my girlfriend for the next five minutes?”

And the rest is just as delightful and weird and thrilling (oh, so very thrilling).  Rachel Cohn writes Norah’s chapters, and David Levithan writes for Nick, which gives both characters deeper authenticity.  They both comfortably and realistically address teenage sexuality – straight and GLBT.

My take: These authors got it precisely right; Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist is a perfect story of roaming around all night with Someone Significant.  I’d love to get to know Nick and Norah and all their cohorts (even Tris, who doesn’t seem all that nice but may have a little more depth than we give her credit for).  The whole thing is laced with true love and music and heartbreak and putting it back together, and I would very much like to live inside this book.

I’d read Levithan’s work before (Boy Meets Boy, see below) and found it excellent.  I’m adding Rachel Cohn to my must-read list.  I like the fact that this book doesn’t get wrapped up in histrionics; everything that happens in the end is reasonable, where it could have gone wildly astray.


  • David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy is a different kind of could-this-be-love story, hilarious and heartbreaking and sometimes unexpected.  This guy writes WELL, and you should seek out his work.
  • Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List is the second Cohn-Levithan collaboration.  I expect it’s fabulous. 🙂
  • .  ‘Nuff said.
  • FAQ for Rachel Cohn & David Levithan in collaboration.
  • Nick and Norah have been made into a movie which is kind of drastically different from the book.  Looks like fun (based on the trailer), and I am moving it to the top of my queue RIGHT NOW, but it doesn’t actually appear to be quite the same story.  Also I am totally unsure of Michael Cera; I really think Nick is a brunette. 🙂

Cover image from


3 Responses to “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”

  1. Keri Says:

    David Levithan is one of my favorite YA authror’s right now. I like his collaborations with Cohn – I think I liked the Nick and Norah book slightly better than the No Kiss List, but it was still good. I didn’t care as much for her solo books, with the exception of You Know Where to Find Me, which was good. Gingerbread and sequels were too repetitive and I got very sick of the characters. The book about a girl who becomes a pop star was ok, and I can see teens girls liking it, but it didn’t ring very true to me. Maybe I’m just too old.

    My favorite Levithan book is Boy Meets Boy by leaps and bounds, although I enjoyed all of them. I even read and mostly liked The Realm of Possibility which is in a poetry format (well, actually, many poetry formats) even though I am usually not very patient for that type of thing.

    Oh, and the NIck and Norah movie was pretty different than the book and not as good, but still kinda cute.

  2. Kayjay Says:

    I’ve seen the movie (and Michael Cera does actually work, though you wouldn’t think he would.) but haven’t read the book yet. It sounds like I’ll be glad to do it in that order. My expectations weren’t built up from the book, but having seen the movie, I definitely want to read the book.

  3. Cat Says:

    I saw the movie and thought it was lovely, one of those kind of underground things I actually want to show to my teenage son. And the music in it is gooood. I’ll have to read the book now, thank you!

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