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Music to Eat Cake By: Essays on Birds, Words and Everything in Between

By Lev Parikian

Essays on Birds, Words and Everything in Between

Humour | SALE
112% funded
433 supporters

Publication date: November 2020

book cover
You made Music to Eat Cake By: Essays on Birds, Words and Everything in Between a reality. It's available in all good book stores now.
64 pledges


An ebook edition of the book
Buy now
$30  + shipping
152 pledges


A hardback edition of the book, plus an ebook
Buy now

Sold out!

36 pledges

Word Included

Give us a word to be included in the book. Plus the ebook edition. (100 available)
$45  + shipping
30 pledges

Hardback (Earlybird)

A signed hardback limited edition of the book, with your name printed in the back as a supporter, plus an ebook (only 30 available)
$55  + shipping
53 pledges


A signed hardback limited edition of the book, plus an ebook
$70  + shipping
43 pledges

Word Included

Give us a word to be included in the book. Plus a signed edition. (100 available)
$90  + shipping
10 pledges

100 to 1,000 Words

Provide the subject and length (first come first served) for a piece from 100 - 1000 words, plus a signed edition of the book (only 10 available)
$100  + shipping
10 pledges

1,100 to 2,000 Words

Provide the subject and length (first come first served) for a piece from 1,100 - 2,000 words, plus a signed edition of the book (only 10 available)
$100  + shipping
7 pledges

Signed Cover Art

Signed print of the cover art, a signed copy of the hardback first edition, plus the ebook
$100  + shipping
1 pledge

Be a Mighty Deity

Strike fear into your enemies. Feast on ambrosia. Be immortalised in print and feature in the book in the phrase 'X is a mighty god(dess)! All hail X!'
Let someone special know how much you admire them, or feed your own ego. The choice is yours.
Plus a signed first edition of the book.
(Only one available)
$105  + shipping
10 pledges

2,100 to 3,000 Words

Provide the subject and length (first come first served) for a piece from 2,100 - 3,000 words, plus a signed edition of the book (only 10 available)
$105  + shipping
2 pledges

Handwritten Essay

A handwritten copy of one of the pieces in the book plus a signed copy of the hardback first edition, and the ebook
Numbers limited
$115  + shipping
10 pledges

3,100 to 4,000 Words

Provide the subject and length (first come first served) for a piece from 3100 - 4000 words, plus a signed edition of the book (only 10 available)
$115  + shipping
2 pledges

The Copy-Edited Manuscript

A copy of the copy-edited manuscript plus a signed copy of the hardback first edition, and the ebook
$120  + shipping
1 pledge

Lev's Notebook

Lev’s project notebook, containing all the ideas, doodles and rejected thoughts during the writing of the book plus a signed copy of the hardback first edition, and the ebook
Only one available
$150  + shipping
12 pledges

Conducting Lesson

A conducting lesson with Lev plus a signed copy of the hardback first edition and the ebook
$225  + shipping
1 pledge

Participate in the Editorial Process

Send Lev your notes on the first draft of a piece (NB there is no guarantee that your ideas or suggestions will be incorporated in the final manuscript), plus a signed copy of the hardback first edition and the ebook
Numbers limited
$265  + shipping
2 pledges

A Day of Birdwatching

A day birdwatching with Lev at a birding venue in the South of England, guided by Lev who will lead the tour and help with identification, bird song and general advice. Plus a signed copy of the hardback first edition and the ebook
Numbers strictly limited
$750  + shipping

The Frontispiece

Lev will write a special dedicated thank you to three pledgers printed at the front of the book, plus a word of your choice to be included in the book and a signed hardback limited edition of the book
Only three available

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will it take for my book to get dispatched?

For books in stock we usually dispatch orders within a few working days. You will receive a dispatch email when your order is on the way.

Where can I get my book delivered to?

We have temporarily stopped taking orders for published books going to EU destinations due to BREXIT restrictions, but we deliver to most other countries worldwide. Enter your delivery address during checkout and we'll display the shipping cost when we know where to send your book. If your country does not appear on the list we are not currently taking orders to that destination.

If I buy an ebook, when will I receive this?

Ebook files are sent via email after checkout, or you can download them from your Unbound account.

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The book should be available to order from most bookshops, or you can support your local bookshop online by ordering from

Still have a question? Visit our Help Centre to find out more.

Today’s reader has choices. Books about love; books about death; books about Sheffield.

Books about love, death and Sheffield.

The variety is overwhelming, bewildering.

But what if readers want to choose the subject they’re reading about? What if they want to play their part in producing something different, something not just about love, death and Sheffield, but about everything, about nothing, about everything and nothing at the same time?

What if the reader could tell the writer what to write about?

Music to Eat Cake By is that book. Or at least it will be. The concept is simple: you suggest – I write – you read.

Music to Eat Cake By will comprise a number of chapters, containing within them forty sections, from short (100 words) to long (4000). Each of these will be commissioned by a reader – you will decide both subject and length. From that I will run with the subject as far and wide as I can, hoping to entertain, provoke and enlighten, and aiming to encompass everything (why do we love?), nothing (what happens when we die?) and all the stops in between (how do you get to Sheffield?)

If you have a more restricted budget, or just want to make me suffer in a very specific way, you can commission individual words for me to shoehorn into the final text in any way I can. Or you could just support the book with a simple pledge, in the usual Unbound way, so that the book gets written.

However you choose to support Music to Eat Cake By, you’ll do so knowing that you’ve helped produce something different.

And if you want me to write about love, death or Sheffield, well, here’s your chance to make me.

All commissioning slots for the book are now SOLD OUT, but do please see the new and exciting pledge levels on the right.


Who are you?

Hello. I’m Lev Parikian and I’m a writer and conductor. That’s about it, really. Oh, I’ve never been to Uzbekistan, if that’s of any interest.

What have you written?

This is my third book. I self-published the first one, Waving, Not Drowning, in 2013. It’s a monstrously silly work that purports to demystify the Noble Art of Conducting, but does no such thing.

The second book, Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear?, was crowdfunded through Unbound, and will be/is being/was published (delete according to when exactly you’re reading this) on May 17th 2018. You can buy it through Unbound – just search ‘Why Do Birds’.

What is Music to Eat Cake By about?

You tell me! You can commission one of the pieces or just individual words. If you want to support it, just click ‘pledge’ and all will be revealed.

Can I really suggest ANY subject or word?

We will have to give any suggestions the once-over to check that they’re suitable, and to make sure the spread of subjects makes for a balanced read in the finished book. We might want to tweak ideas and/or titles, but will always discuss any changes with you. I am basically up for writing about anything, and we wouldn’t want to restrict you. Do bear in mind, though, that current affairs (a) aren’t my strong point, and more importantly (b) won’t be current by the time the book is published. Otherwise, go for it – make me miserable.

What do you need money for?

Unbound is a small publishing house, employing brilliant editors, designers, proofreaders, publicists and an old man who sits in the corner reading Moby Dick out loud on a loop to nourish the workforce. They’re the ones who will turn my words into a physical thing, and they are really really good at it.

All the money raised goes straight into the production of the book. By pledging, you're helping to make this book happen. So, you know, thanks.

What do I get?

Supporters of physical Unbound books get a copy of the Subscribers’ Edition. For Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear? this was well posh – a creamy front cover with debossed bird tracks tracing across it, bronzed titles, delicious endpapers. These copies are produced as a limited edition – once they’re gone, they’re gone – so while the trade edition that will appear in the shops is a fine thing in itself, there’s an advantage to signing up at this stage, not least because by doing so you’ll help make the book exist.

There are limits to what we can do to an ebook to make it more gorgeous, I’m afraid, but we do throw extra gratitude out into the ether, and in all cases you get the satisfaction of bringing something into being. Think of it as ‘patronising the arts’ – believe me, we artists love to be patronised.

When do I get the book?

Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear? started crowdfunding on May 25th 2016, it reached its funding target exactly three months later, I submitted the ‘final’ manuscript on February 20th 2017 and publication date is/will be/was May 17th 2018.

So at least two years, basically.

What can I say? That’s basically how long it takes to make a book, especially one that the author hasn’t even started writing yet. It’s not the most efficient way to buy a book, but it is, in my experience as both writer and supporter, the most fun.

Where do I sign up?

Just click ‘pledge’ and all will be revealed. Pick the level that suits you (adding a further contribution should the fancy take you) and follow the instructions from there.

How do I tell you which word or subject I’d like to give you?

Once your payment’s been received you’ll receive an email with a link to a document where you can fill in your word(s) or subject. So do check your inbox (and maybe your spam folder if you don’t receive anything immediately).

And if I have more questions?

There should be a ‘Q&A’ tab just below this text. Click there and send me your questions and I’ll try to answer them as soon as I can.


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  • Lev Parikian avatar

    Lev Parikian

    Lev Parikian is a conductor, writer and hopeless birdwatcher. His numerous conducting credits include the re-recording of the theme tune for Hancock’s Half Hour for Radio 4; his first book, Waving, Not Drowning, was described as ‘hilarious’, ‘a must-read’ and ‘mercifully short; and he once saw a black redstart (or so he says). His hobbies include avoiding the news, shouting at technology and stubbing his toe. He has never been to Uzbekistan.


  • Lev Parikian has written 11 private updates. You can pledge to get access to them all.

    17th October 2020 Arrival


    After quite a few delays, a name change, many internal dramas and crises, your copy of Music To Eat Cake By should be plopping through the letterbox any time now. I do hope you enjoy it and feel your *ahem* investment has been worthwhile. It is, as I say in the introduction, an experiment, one I've thoroughly enjoyed conducting, and one that simply couldn't have existed without you. A thousand…

    30th June 2020 Into The Tangled Bank

    Funny old world, publishing.

    Here we are, just over two years since the launch of Music To Eat Cake By (which was at that time known as The Long and the Short of It), and still nearly five months away from its publication (12 November, in case you missed it), and I’ve only gone and written another book in the interim, and it’s only going to be published next week.

    What’s that all about?


    4th March 2020 The Long and the Short of It – TITLE CHANGE

    The trouble with thinking of a title for a book that doesn’t exist yet is… well, it doesn’t exist yet. And when I had the idea for this book, I had no idea what it would be about, just that it would be about forty different things.

    What I did know was that the longest essay would be long and the shortest would be short, and that there would be a load of others in between. So when my son Oliver…

    16th November 2018 Goethe, sandwiches and John Virgo

    'Where do you get your ideas from?'

    It's the writer's least favourite and most often asked question (although 'Will I have read any of your books?' runs it a close second). For The Long and the Short of It, though, the answer is easy: from The People. Forty pieces of writing, subject and length imposed by the book's funders, who have, after all, paid for the privilege.

    When I put the book idea…

    14th June 2018 Free range book

    This book is going to turn out quite interesting, I reckon.

    When I submitted myself to the wilful sadism of my devoted readership, I genuinely had no idea what subjects they would suggest for me to write about. Now all the 40 slots for pieces in the book have been snapped up (from 100 words up to 4000, in 100-word increments), I mostly know. I say 'mostly' because a few of those kind souls have…

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