Music and reading: a perfect pairing

Remember the last time you found that song that perfectly matched your mood? The song that let you be happy? Or made you cry when you needed to cry?

Here are some songs I think capture some of the biggest moments in Humans, Practicing, third in the Navy Trent series. Listen as you read, or ignore the book and find some new favorite songs. :)


I've built playlists in Spotify and Youtube. Choose your favorite morally questionable corporation. Or just build your own playlist based on the songs listed below.

Song 1 - My Name is Human: Highly Suspect

Favorite lyrics

Get up off your knees, girl / Stand face to face with your God / And find out what you are

Excerpt - this excerpt is from Ch 31, but this song encapsulates the theme of "Humans, Practicing" for me. When none of the options are right, what's the right thing to do? What do those decisions say about who we are?

Despite all the moral dilemmas she'd navigated . . . despite all the skills she thought she had learned, she always seemed to end up in the same place. Alone with her secrets and her guilt and wondering if she was doing the right thing.

Song 2 - Danger: AHI

Favorite lyrics

I feel danger / Hear me calling / Be my savior, Lord / Hear me calling / I'm afraid here

Excerpt - Ch 12, Navy and Jackson say goodbye before he leaves for North Korea

Behind those doors, Navy knew Jackson was packing the last few items in his bag. When he left, he would be walking toward the most dangerous mission he had ever been on. And it was all Navy's fault. Three years ago, she had decided not to die quietly like she was supposed to. For a few short months, she had been famous or infamous, depending on who you asked. And now, half a world away, a man had decided to use Navy as his ticket out.

Navy didn't know if Min Gyu deserved to be saved. She didn't know if Min Gyu could dismantle North Korea's nuclear weapons program. All Navy knew was right now she felt like she was drowning. If Jackson died, it would be her fault. Just like Sara and Moss almost dying had been her fault.

Song 3 - Only Love Can Save Me Now: The Pretty Reckless

Favorite lyrics

From the sound, the sound / The world is spitting out / Only love can save me now / Gone so down / Lost is all I found / Only love, love, love can save me now

Excerpt - Ch 16, Jackson is tortured

He heard himself cry out, but distantly. His pulse kept tempo with the roaring in his ears. But even the pain from the needle being pushed slowly into his flesh couldn't dislodge Navy's face from his mind. The young man was inexperienced. The torturer's apprentice didn't yet understand that even extreme pain required crescendos to truly be felt.

Song 4 - What's Coming to Me: Dorothy

Favorite lyrics

I could feel it from the start / Thick, like fog / It was the warning of a / Broken heart

Excerpt - Ch 17, Navy gets the news that Jackson was captured

"They captured him," Kevin said. "I'm going to try, but I don't think we'll get him back."

Navy's fingertips turned white as she gripped the door. Anyone else would have thought she was taking the news well. Kevin knew better. He pushed his way inside.

Her eyes were red from the effort of not crying. "Get out."

The line between grief and anger was thin. "You have things to say. Say them."

Navy's voice slammed against Kevin's chest. "You promised me!"

Song 5 - Ain't Gonna Drown: Elle King

Favorite lyrics

Train's coming but I'm stuck on this road / Moon's rising and my blood is growing cold / Preacher man can't save a soul like mine / Miracles are just too damn hard to find

Excerpt - Ch 18, Navy trying to cope

The coffee machine hissed and sputtered, releasing an aroma like dark chocolate into the small kitchen. Memories crowded Navy's space. Slow, lazy weekend mornings spent lingering over omelets or cinnamon rolls baked from a package. Harried mornings spent tripping over each other as they rushed to work, then regretting their sharp comments. It was all over. The good and the bad. The needing and wanting and supporting and failing each other. All the things she had said that she wanted to take back, and all the things she should have said that she never did.

Song 6 - Sorry I'm Not Dead: Dead Posey

Favorite lyrics

Not gonna lay in this bed / Sorry, I'm not dead / Gonna make ya head spin / Time to even the score

Excerpt - Ch 21, Navy confronts Saul about why the rescue mission is delayed

Saul turned the key in the lock, but immediately there was a click as the door locked again.

"Huh. Guess you're locked out," Navy said. "Until I get some answers."

"A little help?" Saul asked Kevin.

Kevin was doing his best to hide a smile. "Clearly, I'm not the one in charge here."

"Speaking of," Saul said. "How did you know I'd be here? Have you hacked my phone?"

"Nothing that complicated," Navy said. "I was in your email, remember? They sent you an appointment reminder."

Saul's glare would have intimidated Navy two weeks ago. "You've violated at least a dozen different laws here, not to mention the code of conduct," Saul said.

"I don't care." A flash of anger sharpened Navy's next words. "I spend two days thinking my boyfriend is dead because you didn't keep me in the loop. I had to tell you, the people who are supposed to know things, that he's alive and we can rescue him and now I can't seem to find both of you in the office at the same time. Ever."

"It's complicated," Saul said.

Navy crossed her arms. "Try me."

Song 7 - Human (ft. Barns Courtney): Tom Morello, Barns Courtney

Favorite lyrics

Cannibalism / The modern religion / We're riding a ticket to nowhere / And carry the vision / I do what I do to survive

Excerpt - Ch 31, Navy learns what it cost to greenlight the operation to rescue Jackson

Navy wished she'd asked for water instead of beer. "I don't understand. All of this effort just to . . . what? Punish Yung Bo?"

"A nice fringe benefit, I'll admit. But no." Kevin took a long drink of his beer. "Saul never found a country willing to take Yung Bo. We made a deal. Unofficially."

"You mean-"

"I promised Saul that Yung Bo would die before we reached United States soil in exchange for the mission to rescue Jackson."

"And the effects on Min Gyu? The trauma of being manipulated into killing someone? That doesn't matter?"

"Unavoidable, I'm afraid. I needed the killing to look natural."

Navy gripped her beer so hard she heard the can crinkle. "It's wrong. It's inhumane. Jackson would never-"

Kevin's hand slammed down on the bar. "It's right enough."

Song 8 - Say it to Me: AHI

Favorite lyrics

When your secrets are heavy / And you're ready to scream / I'll carry the burden / Say it to me

Excerpt - Ch 31, Sara tries to help Navy

"Are you okay?" Sara asked finally.

"I'm at a bar." Navy dodged the question. "Near the hospital." A military base hospital was probably not what Sara was picturing. And Navy was several miles away. But the description wasn't too far from the truth.

"Well, you're clearly not in Iowa with your parents," Sara said. "Is Jackson hurt?"

Navy fought the tears threatening to spill down her cheeks. Of course Sara would figure it out. Isn't that what Navy wanted? Isn't that why Navy had called her?

Song 9 - Not Enough: Anavae

Favorite lyrics

Am I not enough? / I always get the feeling of living on the wrong side / Oh god it hurts when healing I'm living on the wrong side / I always get the feeling that I'm not enough

Excerpt - Ch 32, Navy watches the surveillance video of Min Gyu's uncle being framed for Min Gyu's sabotage

The officer pulled out a black baton and hit Sung Yong in the ribs. Sung Yong's mouth opened in a silent scream. How much of Navy's sympathy did he deserve? Sung Yong had willingly and gleefully supported a murderous regime. He had killed Min Gyu's father in cold blood and sentenced Min Gyu's mother to a slow, terrible death.

Still, the quivering pile of flesh slumped in the office chair was too pathetic to hate. "They'll torture him," Navy said. No human being deserves that.

"My uncle is only caught in this trap because he is guilty. My code wouldn't have caught an innocent man. Like the code you wrote to catch your president and his lies." Min Gyu looked away from the screen and skewered Navy with his expression: calm, calculating, and satisfied. "You and I, we aren't so different."

Song 10 - Good Grief: Dessa

Favorite lyrics

They say there's good grief / But how can you tell it from the bad? / Maybe it's only in the fact / Good grief's the one that's in your past

Excerpt - Epilogue, Navy considers her choices

"Working on this operation was a once in a lifetime opportunity," Uri said. "Don't you feel lucky?"

Clearly Uri and Eli did.

Navy didn't. She imagined everything she'd done in the past couple months stacked on a scale - good deeds on one side, bad on the other. Which way would the scale tip and according to whom?