When you’re playing in a cruise-ship band, you tend to have a lot of free time on your hands. Which is how Dave Malloy found himself plowing through “War and Peace,” a section of which triggered an epiphany. “It ended with Pierre seeing a comet, and tears streamed down my face,” he said. “I felt as if Tolstoy had just handed me a musical!” That “gift” became “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812,” now on Broadway with Josh Groban.

Malloy’s latest project? “Beardo.” Based on the life of an infamous Russian monk, it’s being staged at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Brooklyn. “I’ve always been fascinated by Rasputin,” Malloy said. “Was he a man of God or the devil incarnate?”

Here are four books Malloy may one day turn into musicals:

The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie
This is all about music! It’s a take on the Orpheus and Eurydice myth and tells an alternate history of rock ’n’ roll. You start to realize that the stories about the Beatles and Elvis Presley are slightly off and that it’s set in a parallel universe. Rushdie does this magical-realism thing: One character can start earthquakes. This is his love song to rock ’n’ roll.

Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson
In the last two years, I got obsessed with Marvel comics. There’s an app so you can read them all on your phone. I started with X-Men and branched out. Ms. Marvel is the first Muslim superhero, a teenager from NJ who suddenly gets superpowers. It’s beautifully written and drawn.

Tenth of December by George Saunders
Saunders takes technological things that are happening now and pushes them into a future dystopia. The title story, about a boy who finds an old man freezing in the cold, made me cry on the subway. That feeling of helplessness, that sadness — so much of rock ’n’ roll is about, feeling disconnected with the world.

Grapefruit by Yoko Ono
I was raised on the Beatles. Only in college did I discover that Yoko didn’t break them up, and her art is incredible! The pieces in this book are essentially instructions: tiny little poems, like, “Have a conversation with a person. Imagine it’s snowing. Finish the conversation when the person’s covered in snow.” Any time I’m feeling artistically lost, I pick this up.

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