Taylor Swift decided to surprise announce her eighth album, folklore, and release it that same night, which has left me all kinds of overwhelmed. It’s such a narrative album, as the title suggests, and isn’t feeding into the chart-hungry nature of many celebrities today. I’d highly recommend a listen and if you like the album, definitely check out these books!
Don’t forget to check out my Book Recommendations Based on Lover by Taylor Swift post as well!
1. Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid as the 1
Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six: The band’s album Aurora came to define the rock ‘n’ roll era of the late seventies, and an entire generation of girls wanted to grow up to be Daisy. But no one knows the reason behind the group’s split on the night of their final concert at Chicago Stadium on July 12, 1979 . . . until now.
Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ‘n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.
Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.
Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.
KEY LINE: If one thing had been different, would everything be different today? We were something, don’t you think so?
WHY I RELATE IT TO THAT SONG: The first time I heard this song I thought of Daisy and Billy because it encapsulates idea of ‘right person, wrong time.’ It’s reminiscent of a past relationship, of wanting someone to be the one, but knowing they’ve moved on — like if Billy wasn’t already settled with Camila, would Daisy have been the one for him? I did a full review of the book that can be found here.
2. The Lucky Ones by Liz Lawson as cardigan
How do you put yourself back together when it seems like you’ve lost it all?
May is a survivor. But she doesn’t feel like one. She feels angry. And lost. And alone. Eleven months after the school shooting that killed her twin brother, May still doesn’t know why she was the only one to walk out of the band room that day. No one gets what she went through–no one saw and heard what she did. No one can possibly understand how it feels to be her.
Zach lost his old life when his mother decided to defend the shooter. His girlfriend dumped him, his friends bailed, and now he spends his time hanging out with his little sister…and the one faithful friend who stuck around. His best friend is needy and demanding, but he won’t let Zach disappear into himself. Which is how Zach ends up at band practice that night. The same night May goes with her best friend to audition for a new band.
Which is how May meets Zach. And how Zach meets May. And how both might figure out that surviving could be an option after all.
KEY LINE: To kiss in cars and downtown bars was all we needed, you drew stars around my scars and now I’m bleedin’.
WHY I RELATE IT TO THAT SONG: May has endured a lot of trauma, she’s angry and standoffish a lot of time, so the fact Zach cares for her and puts the effort in to get to know her channels the core of cardigan — something discarded that nobody else wanted is now someone else’s favourite thing.
3. The Luxe by Anna Godberson as the last great american dynasty
Pretty girls in pretty dresses, partying until dawn. Irresistible boys with mischievous smiles and dangerous intentions. White lies, dark secrets, and scandalous hookups. This is Manhattan, 1899. Beautiful sisters Elizabeth and Diana Holland rule Manhattan’s social scene. Or so it appears. When the girls discover their status among New York City’s elite is far from secure, suddenly everyone–from the backstabbing socialite Penelope Hayes, to the debonair bachelor Henry Schoonmaker, to the spiteful maid Lina Broud–threatens Elizabeth’s and Diana’s golden future. With the fate of the Hollands resting on her shoulders, Elizabeth must choose between family duty and true love. But when her carriage overturns near the East River, the girl whose glittering life lit up the city’s gossip pages is swallowed by the rough current. As all of New York grieves, some begin to wonder whether life at the top proved too much for this ethereal beauty, or if, perhaps, someone wanted to see Manhattan’s most celebrated daughter disappear… In a world of luxury and deception, where appearance matters above everything and breaking the social code means running the risk of being ostracized forever, five teenagers lead dangerously scandalous lives. This thrilling trip to the age of innocence is anything but innocent.
KEY LINE: There goes the most shameless woman this town has ever seen, she had a marvellous time ruining everything.
WHY I RELATE IT TO THAT SONG: The song is all about wild socialite that indulges in parties and boys whilst being heavily scrutinised, which is the embodiment of The Luxe. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is another great match, but I already included that in my Lover suggestions, so decided against using it again.
4. It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne as exile
Audrey is over romance. Since her parents’ relationship imploded her mother’s been catatonic, so she takes a cinema job to get out of the house. But there she meets wannabe film-maker Harry. Nobody expects Audrey and Harry to fall in love as hard and fast as they do. But that doesn’t mean things are easy. Because real love isn’t like the movies…
The greatest love story ever told doesn’t feature kissing in the snow or racing to airports. It features pain and confusion and hope and wonder and a ban on cheesy clichés. Oh, and zombies…
KEY LINE: I think I’ve seen this film before and I didn’t like the ending.
WHY I RELATE IT TO THAT SONG: Film is a recurring motif throughout the album, so it seems appropriate that I include a book all about film clichés. Like It Only Happens in the Movies, exile is about having known something wouldn’t work out all along. Audrey knew life wasn’t like the movies, but put her trust in Harry all the same, only for him to betray that trust with Rosie. It’s an impassioned song and reminded me of the communication issues Audrey and Harry sometimes had (they’re still my adorable babies though!)
5. House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas as my tears ricochet
Bound by blood.
Tempted by desire.
Unleashed by destiny.
Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.
Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.
As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.
KEY LINE: And I still talk to you when I’m screaming at the sky and when you can’t sleep at night, you hear my stolen lullabies.
WHY I RELATE IT TO THAT SONG: Whilst making this list, Bryce and Danika instantly came to mind for this mournful song. The lyrics are bitter and capture a lot of what I imagined Bryce to be feeling about Danika because there was a lot of anger, sadness and resentment towards her best friend due to what happened — even if it was out of her control. Full book review can be found here.
6. More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn as mirrorball
Growing up under his punk rocker dad’s spotlight, eighteen-year-old Luke Greenly knows fame and wants nothing to do with it. His real love isn’t in front of a crowd, it’s on the page. Hiding his gift and secretly hoarding songs in his bedroom at night, he prefers the anonymous comfort of the locally popular podcast he co-hosts with his outgoing and meddling, far-too-jealousy-inspiringly-happy-with-his-long-term-boyfriend twin brother, Cullen. But that’s not Luke’s only secret. He also has a major un-requited crush on music blogger, Vada Carsewell.
Vada’s got a five year plan: secure a job at the Loud Lizard to learn from local legend (and her mom’s boyfriend) Phil Josephs (check), take over Phil’s music blog (double check), get accepted into Berkeley’s prestigious music journalism program (check, check, check), manage Ann Arbor’s summer concert series and secure a Rolling Stone internship. Luke Greenly is most definitely NOT on the list. So what if his self-deprecating charm and out-of-this-world music knowledge makes her dizzy? Or his brother just released a bootleg recording of Luke singing about some mystery girl on their podcast and she really, really wishes it was her?
KEY LINE: I’m a mirrorball, I’ll show you every version of yourself tonight, I’ll get you out on the floor, shimmering beautiful.
WHY I RELATE IT TO THAT SONG: Vada is Luke’s mirrorball in every sense — she brings out parts of himself he tries to hide away and he lets himself be drawn into the spotlight for her. This song is very much about wanting to keep someone’s attention on you — even when the crowd is is gone and there’s nobody left to impress — which sums up their relationship.
It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capital, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.
The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined — every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute… and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.
KEY LINE: And just like a folk song, our love will be passed on.
WHY I RELATE IT TO THAT SONG: The song itself about the nativity of childhood and how the speaker seems to think all problems (even an unhappy home life) can be solved by playing pretend or running away. This mirrors the relationship between Coriolanus and Lucy. I also find that Lucy herself to became a bit of a folklore as the forgotten victor and the simplicity of seven reminds me a lot of songs like The Hanging Tree.
8. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson as august
Andie had it all planned out. When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future. Important internship? Check. Amazing friends? Check. Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).
But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life. Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected. And where’s the fun in that?
KEY LINE: So much for summer love and saying “us” ’cause you were never mine to lose.
WHY I RELATE IT TO THAT SONG: Andie is a character that’s very fixated on low stakes relationships, so enduring in a whirlwind summer romance where she develops genuine feelings was not part of her plan. In comparison, august is about a summer romance that faded too fast into a mere memory and that was a real risk for Andie and Clark too.
9. The Best Laid Plans by Cameron Lund as this is me trying
It seemed like a good plan at first.
When the only other virgin in her group of friends loses it at Keely’s own eighteenth birthday party, she’s inspired to take things into her own hands. She wants to have that experience too (well, not exactly like that–but with someone she trusts and actually likes), so she’s going to need to find the guy, and fast. Problem is, she’s known all the boys in her small high school forever, and it’s kinda hard to be into a guy when you watched him eat crayons in kindergarten.
So she can’t believe her luck when she meets a ridiculously hot new guy named Dean. Not only does he look like he’s fallen out of a classic movie poster, but he drives a motorcycle, flirts with ease, and might actually be into her.
But Dean’s already in college, and Keely is convinced he’ll drop her if he finds out how inexperienced she is. That’s when she talks herself into a new plan: her lifelong best friend, Andrew, would never hurt or betray her, and he’s clearly been with enough girls that he can show her the ropes before she goes all the way with Dean. Of course, the plan only works if Andrew and Keely stay friends–just friends–so things are about to get complicated.
KEY LINE: And it’s hard to be at a party when I feel like an open wound, it’s hard to be anywhere these days when all I want is you, you’re a flashback in the film reel on the one screen in my town.
WHY I RELATE IT TO THAT SONG: Keely feels like she’s falling behind or failing somehow because she’s not caught up with the rest of her friends in some aspects and this is me trying personifies the fears and uncertainties of not only being in a relationship, but being a teenager and not being good enough or experienced enough. It feels like it could be the soundtrack to a coming of age movie and, funnily enough, I made a similar coming of age movie comparison in my The Best Laid Plans review.
10.Rules for Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell and Katie Cotugno as illicit affairs
It starts before you can even remember: You learn the rules for being a girl. . . .
Marin has always been good at navigating these unspoken guidelines. A star student and editor of the school paper, she dreams of getting into Brown University. Marin’s future seems bright―and her young, charismatic English teacher, Mr. Beckett, is always quick to admire her writing and talk books with her.
But when “Bex” takes things too far and comes on to Marin, she’s shocked and horrified. Had she somehow led him on? Was it her fault?
When Marin works up the courage to tell the administration what happened, no one believes her. She’s forced to face Bex in class every day. Except now, he has an ax to grind.
But Marin isn’t about to back down. She uses the school newspaper to fight back and she starts a feminist book club at school. She finds allies in the most unexpected people, like “slutty” Gray Kendall, who she’d always dismissed as just another lacrosse bro. As things heat up at school and in her personal life, Marin must figure out how to take back the power and write her own rules.
KEY LINE: And you wanna scream, don’t call me “kid,” don’t call me “baby,” look at this godforsaken mess that you made me.
WHY I RELATE IT TO THAT SONG: Taking the very literal meaning of the title, this book involves an illicit student/teacher affair. It’s also a really badass book with feminist themes. I chose the key line from Chloe’s perspective, thinking about how teenagers always think they’re older than they are and can handle very inappropriate, adult situations when they should never have to. You can find my book review of Rules for Being a Girl here.
11. It’s Not Me, It’s You by Stephanie Kate Strohm as invisible string
Avery Dennis is a high school senior and one of the most popular girls in her class. But a majorly public breakup with the guy she’s been dating causes some disastrous waves. It is right before prom and Avery no longer has the perfect date. She runs the prom committee, how could she not show up with somebody?
Post-breakup, Avery gets to thinking about all of the guys that she has ever dated. How come none of those relationships ever worked out? Could it be her fault? Avery decides to investigate. In history class she’s learning about this method of record-keeping called “oral history” and she has a report due. So Avery decides to go directly to the source. Avery tracks down all of the guys she’s ever dated, and uses that information, along with thoughts from her friends, family, and teachers, to compile a total account of her dating history.
Avery discovers some surprises about herself and the guys she’s spent time with — just in time for prom night!
KEY LINE: Cold was the steel of my axe to grind for the boys who broke my heart.
WHY I RELATE IT TO THAT SONG: In many ways, invisible strings is nostalgic of the relationships that went wrong before and how they brought you to the right person that fate has tied you to all along. It’s Not Me, It’s You is exactly that — a look back at the good, bad and the ugly as Avery’s still navigating who she’s meant to be and who she’s meant to be with.
12. The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White as mad woman
Elizabeth Lavenza hasn’t had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her “caregiver,” and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything–except a friend.
Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable–and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.
But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth’s survival depends on managing Victor’s dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.
KEY LINE: Good wives always know she should be mad, should be scathing like me, but no one likes a mad woman, what a shame she went mad, you made her like that.
WHY I RELATE IT TO THAT SONG: The book is a retelling from an orphan taken in by the Frankenstein family and later Victor’s fiancée. Whilst Elizabeth is smart and ambitious, she’s also a woman who is easily dismissed as mad when it suits the narrative of a man. As the title of the song suggests, mad woman is about a woman seeking revenge after being cast out.
13. I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios as epiphany
If Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing separating Skylar from art school is three months of summer…until Skylar’s mother loses her job, and Skylar realizes her dreams may be slipping out of reach.
Josh had a different escape route: the Marines. But after losing his leg in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be.
What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and, soon, something deeper.
KEY LINE: But you dream of some epiphany, just one single glimpse of relief to make some sense of what you’ve seen.
WHY I RELATE IT TO THAT SONG: I’ll Meet You There is all about hope amidst chaos and trauma, linking to epiphany being about that moment of clarity as things start to make sense again. Skylar is a reprieve for Josh — someone whose endured a lot, but is also not a great person sometimes and needs to be called out on it. Similarly, Josh is a reprieve for Skylar — someone who is a victim of circumstance and things out of her control, but has dreams beyond her small town.
14. 99 Days by Katie Cotugno as betty
Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.
Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”
Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.
KEY LINE: I showed up at your party, will you have me? Will you love me? Will you kiss me on the porch in front of all your stupid friends?
WHY I RELATE IT TO THAT SONG: 99 Days and betty are both about love triangles, cheating and summer affairs. Whilst the love triangles are flipped (two boys vs two girls at the points of said triangle), the messages are the same. At the core, betty is about being 17, making mistakes and learning that sorry won’t always fix things — sentiments which can be found in 99 Days too.
15. The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh as peace
In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.
When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.
KEY LINE: All these people think love’s for show, but I would die for you in secret, the devil’s in the details, but you’ve got a friend in me.
WHY I RELATE IT TO THAT SONG: Bastien knows being with Celine means she’d never know peace — her life would irrevocably changed and she’d be thrust into the chaos of the supernatural — but their relationship is so full of passion and conflict that he’d never know peace with her either. They’re both fiery personalities and would (and have) sacrificed a lot for each other.
16. A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik as hoax
Learning has never been this deadly
A Deadly Education is set at Scholomance, a school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death (for real) — until one girl, El, begins to unlock its many secrets. There are no teachers, no holidays, and no friendships, save strategic ones. Survival is more important than any letter grade, for the school won’t allow its students to leave until they graduate… or die! The rules are deceptively simple: Don’t walk the halls alone. And beware of the monsters who lurk everywhere. El is uniquely prepared for the school’s dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out millions. It would be easy enough for El to defeat the monsters that prowl the school. The problem? Her powerful dark magic might also kill all the other students.
KEY LINE: Your faithless love’s the only hoax I believe in, don’t want no other shade of blue but you, no other sadness in the world would do.
WHY I RELATE IT TO THAT SONG: El and Orion are in a doomed relationship, which is what hoax is all about. I especially relate hoax to El because she’s a cynic when it comes to love and stubborn. Although she doesn’t want love, she maybe plays into a hoax of her own when it comes to a presumed relationship of hers. I did a full review for this book (due out September) to be found here.
Have you listened to folklore? What’s your favourite song? Also, what’s your favourite book from this list? Let me know in the comments.
read it and weep,