Book List

Books to Read if You Absolutely Love Taylor Swift’s Folklore

August 3, 2020
Jenny Lu

Taylor Swift’s surprise drop of folklore, her folksy, emotional eighth studio album, has us reminiscing about first loves, diving deep into nostalgic self-reflection, and ready to run off into the woods to dwell on the feels of y e a r n i n g. Taylor’s cottagecore era is just the company we need to keep us cozy(ish) at home—but with her poignant lyrics and a love triangle for the ages, we can’t help but wish there was more—so we’ve matched every track of folklore to a novel that captures the sentiments of each song.

Books to Read if You Absolutely Love Taylor Swift’s Folklore

1. the 1 – A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey

folklore’s opening track is from the perspective of someone who is content with their busy life but still has it in them to reminisce about a lost love. Another story of accepting when things don’t go as planned and coming to terms with heartbreak is Laura Taylor Namey’s A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow. Miami-raised Lila Reyes had plans to take over her grandma’s panadería, move in with her best friend, and live happily ever after with her boyfriend. When all her plans fall apart, she finds herself unexpectedly spending her summer in quiet Winchester, England.

 

2. cardigan – Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Our Year of Maybe is a story cut from the same cloth as “cardigan,” which explores the pain of being betrayed by a best friend and lover. Sophie and Peter have been lifelong friends and have always had feelings for each other, so when Peter needs a kidney, Sophie easily donates one of her own. But after the transplant, Peter finds himself drawn to Chase despite feeling like he’ll be forever indebted to Sophie, while Sophie finds herself increasingly bitter at a now-distant Peter. One heartbreaking night twists their relationship into something neither of them recognizes, leading them to question whether their friendship is even worth fighting for.

 

3. the last great american dynasty – Ever Cursed by Corey Ann Haydu

Taylor has us sit-down for story-time with “the last great american dynasty,” a song chronicling the life of infamous heiress Rebekah Harkness, which ends with Taylor’s own arrival at Harkness’ fabled Holiday House. For a novel unpacking what it means to be an infamous, fabled woman, we’d recommend Corey Ann Haydu’s Ever Cursed, a feminist fairytale about the Princesses of Ever who are all cursed to be Without one essential thing. In order to break the curse, they must confront the witch who cast the spell, Reagan. But Reagan may not be the villain that they thought she was, and the princesses must face the wickedness plaguing their kingdom…and family.

 

4. exile – Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

This call-and-response track is basically miscommunication nation, showing how a relationship falls apart without a strong base of communication. Zorie and Lennon learn that for themselves in Starry Eyes. When a camping trip goes south, these ex-best-friends-turned-almost-lovers-turned-enemies find themselves stranded in the California wilderness. Alone. Together. With no one but each other for company, they have no choice to hash out their issues via witty jabs, insults, and maybe, eventually, some revelatory moments.

 

5. my tears ricochet – Heart of Flames by Nicki Pau Preto

This lovers-to-enemies anthem is fitting for any rivals who were once partners, so we think a great pairing would be the Crown of Feathers series which opens with orphaned sisters Veronyka and Val parting ways after an unforgivable betrayal. (Plus, as Phoenix Riders, the fire and ashes metaphors are especially apt.) Veronyka and Val have always loved and protected each other fiercely, but as the series goes on, they find themselves increasingly at odds. In Heart of Flames, Val’s determination to regain the empire she lost may mean inciting a war with Veronyka and her allies.

 

6. mirrorball – Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From by Jennifer de Leon

For the song all about the need to people-please, we have Jennifer de Leon’s Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From. First-generation American Latinx Liliana Cruz does what it takes to fit in at her nearly all-white school. And at home, Liliana navigates the walls her mom has put up ever since Liliana’s dad left, again. At every turn, she becomes what people need her to be. But when family secrets spill out and racism at school ramps up, Liliana must stand up for who she is and what she believes in.

 

7. seven – When We Were Infinite by Kelly Loy Gilbert

When We Were Infinite by Kelly Loy Gilbert and “seven” share a concern for a much-loved childhood friend who faces danger in their home. Beth’s desperate to preserve her tight-knit friendship with Grace, Brandon, Sunny, and Jason—especially since she’ll never be able to tell Jason how she feels about him. After Beth witnesses a private act of violence in Jason’s home, Beth and her friends make a pact to do whatever it takes to protect him. But their fierce loyalty isn’t enough to stop Jason from making a life-altering choice, and Beth must decide how far she’s willing to go for him.

 

8. august – We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han

If the recipe calls for summer lovin’, a spicy love triangle, and ~longing~, then you know that Jenny Han’s Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy delivers the goods. Like “august,” We’ll Always Have Summer kicks off when summer is over. Belly has made her impossible choice between the Fisher brothers and she’s been with Jeramiah for the last two years. She’s almost positive he is her soul mate. Almost. Even though summer is over, something still lingers—and Conrad has not gotten over the mistake of letting Belly go. What will happen when Jeremiah asks Belly to make things forever?

 

9. this is me trying – Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi

As a match to this introspective reconciliation ballad, we offer Yolk, a funny and emotional story about estranged sisters. Once thick as thieves, Jayne and June are nothing alike and these days they don’t want anything to do with each other—until June gets cancer and Jayne is the only one who can help her. Flung together by circumstance, will the sisters learn more about each other than they’re willing to confront?

 

10. illicit affairs – Stay with Me by Mila Gray

We never thought Taylor would have us rooting for infidelity but you really sympathize with the unnamed protagonist in her song about the lose-lose inevitability of “illicit affairs.” Stay with Me may just deliver the happy ending we wish this song had. Didi has dreams of her happily ever after, and she thinks she may have finally found it with charming Zac Ridgemont—until she meets wounded marine, Noel Walker. After what he’s seen, Walker doesn’t believe in happily ever after, but somehow he makes Didi feel hopeful.

 

11. invisible string – A Pho Love Story by Loan Le

This song about an invisible thread of fate that links us with our soulmates is the perfect pair with A Pho Love Story, Loan Le’s sharp contemporary rom-com about two Vietnamese-American teens falling in love despite the feud between their families’ neighboring restaurants. Bao and Linh first crossed paths when they were children and they had an instant connection—before their parents pulled them apart. Their lives have always been intertwined. They just always thought they were doomed to be enemies. But after a night of crisis causes their paths to cross again, they begin to realize that they’re destined to be something else…

 

 

12. mad woman – Cursed by Thomas Wheeler, illustrated by Frank Miller

Cursed’s Nimue would appreciate Taylor’s damning anthem about what happens when a powerful woman stands up for herself. Nimue’s mission to reunite an ancient sword with a legendary sorcerer leaves little room for revenge, but the growing power within her can think of little else. (And we all know Taylor would appreciate Nimue’s desire for revenge.) The Netflix adaptation of this thrilling twist on the legend of King Arthur is streaming now!

 

13. epiphany – The Degenerates by J. Albert Mann

On this track, Taylor dreams of some epiphany to bring solace in life’s cruelest moments. The protagonists of The Degenerates would surely empathize with this desire as residents of the Massachusetts School for the Feeble-Minded in the early 20th century. In the tradition of Girl, Interrupted, this fiery historical novel follows four young women who have been being locked up by a world that institutionalizes the poor, the disabled, and the marginalized. Each girl is determined to change their fate, no matter what it takes.

 

14. betty – P. S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Is that you Peter K? Okay, maybe Peter never truly betrayed LJ like James in “betty” (and we love him for it), but if we’re talking predictable 17-year-old boys that are worthy of forgiveness because of their 17-year-old-boyishness and their pure hearts—Peter Kavinsky is the blueprint. To All the Boys hits all our teenage soft spots just like this song does. Peter K’s flaws, and Lara Jean’s challenge of deciding whether or not to forgive him for them, really come to light in P.S. I Still Love You, the second in Jenny Han’s addicting series.

 

 

15. peace – Lost Book of the White by Cassandra Clare

A song for after all the angst of falling in love is over, “peace” is an expression of commitment shown by admitting that you’ll never be able to bring your significant other peace. Magnus and Alec, the Shadowhunter power couple, would understand this type of love declaration. The Eldest Curses series is all about the couple’s romantic getaways together—which always turn into death-defying missions to save the world. The Lost Book of the White takes the couple to Shanghai and upon their arrival they find that a dark threat awaits them.

 

16. hoax – Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw

For this enigmatic track about being relentlessly devoted to a relationship despite the pain it brings, we have the equally enigmatic Winterwood. Oliver Huntsman should be dead, as he disappeared from the Camp for Wayward Boys weeks ago. But rumored witch Nora Walker discovers him in the middle of the haunted woods during a terrible snowstorm, with no memory of the time he’d been missing. As the pair grow close to each other, Nora realizes she must figure out how Oliver has survived his time in the forest, and what led him there in the first place. But Oliver has secrets of his own, secrets he’ll do anything to keep.

 

Looking for more? Check out the books you should read if you loved Taylor Swift’s Lover album!

 

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