Folklore Songs as Books (by Anika F. ’21)

If you are at all like me, you are obsessed with Taylor Swift’s new album, folklore. The melodies are wonderful, the lyrics are mesmerizing, and every time I listen, I feel all the emotions.

folklore album cover

So, here is a list of books that correspond with songs on the album. Some have the same vibes, and others have similar content. Please be aware that some of these books deal with triggering topics; I’ve tried my best to list them under each recommendation (labeled TW).

“the 1”

I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend a book with the exact same title: The One by John Marrs. What if there was an app that could match you to your soulmate… with DNA? But what if this app went wrong?

TW: murder, violence, cheating, death, suicide

The One by John Marrs

“cardigan”

For this song, I’m recommending Strange the Dreamer and Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor. This duology has gorgeous prose, a lovely romance, and the most wonderful main character, Lazlo. 

TW: physical violence, implied sexual violence

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

“the last great american dynasty”

This song is about a house, a strong-willed woman, and a judging society. I recommend Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Mexican Gothic is a 2020 release inspired by “The Yellow Wallpaper” (shout out to the sophomores reading it this year!).

TW: sexual assault, suicide, child brutality

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

“exile”

 If you want a series that will give you all of the feelings, I recommend The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare. This series is part of the giant mega Shadowhunters universe, but you don’t need to read any of the other ones in order to read this one. The Infernal Devices is my favorite series of all time, so I had to recommend it at least once. Think of 1878 London… with demon hunters!

The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

my tears ricochet

I’ve got a few recommendations for this one.

First off, I recommend Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness. JVN (the wonderful TV personality) details their experience as a child, being bullied for being feminine and gay, but how they turned their life around to be an absolute icon.

TW: sexual abuse, drug addiction, sex addiction, cheating, bullying, homophobia, death disordered eating, mental health struggles

Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness

Second, I have to recommend a similar book about coming to terms with one’s gender and sexuality which is Sissy by Jacob Tobia. In this touching memoir, they discuss coming out as nonbinary while living in a highly gendered world.

TW: homophobia, transphobia, bullying, mental health struggles, violence

Sissy by Jacob Tobia

Third, I’d like to recommend a book that you may have already read, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This book deals with police brutality of Black people, which is especially relevant now, with the murders of Black people, the BLM protests, and the upcoming election. 

TW: police shooting, death, racism, implied domestic violence

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

“mirrorball”

For “mirrorball,” I was particularly inspired by one line:

“I’ll show you every version of yourself tonight.”

So, I picked The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. This novel details the lives of two twins who are Black, but white passing. One decides to live as a Black woman and the other decides to live as a white woman. We get to see the ramifications of these decisions as their lives and the lives of their children unfold.

TW: racism, colorism, domestic abuse, hate crimes, race-based violence

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

“seven”

This recommendation is pretty simple: Life was better at age seven. As a little kid, your imagination can run wild, which is exactly what happens in The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. If you read this in middle school, read it again. As a high schooler (or an adult), you will look at it with completely different eyes.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“august”

For “august,” I have a recommendation that fits the same emotions, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. This book is the most incredible retelling of the Trojan War, centered around a romance between Achilles and Patroclus, our narrator. Prepare to have your heart absolutely destroyed by the ending.

TW: murder, death, slavery, abduction, abandonment, torture, mention of rape, physical violence, human trafficking, self-harm, child abuse

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

“this is me trying”

“They told me all of my cages were mental / So I got wasted like all my potential”

is one of the best lines I’ve ever heard in a song.

Therefore, I must recommend one of the most heartbreaking books I’ve ever read: Know My Name by Chanel Miller. In this memoir, Chanel deals with the aftermath of being sexually assaulted.

TW: sexual assault

Know My Name by Chanel Miller

“illicit affairs”

For “illicit affairs,” I would recommend Lovely War by Julie Berry. This is a historical fiction set in World War 1, following a group of four people who are brought together by music and love. Narrated by the Greek gods, this story is sure to transport you back to the past.

TW: racism, violence, PTSD

Lovely War by Julie Berry

“invisible string”

Here, I’d recommend Middlegame by Seanan McGuire. The vibes of the song and the book are completely different: The song is a slower, reflective track, and the book is weird science fiction. However, I think that the content matches. Middlegame is a novel about a duo, Roger and Dodger who are linked by special powers. 

TW: gore, murder, death, drug use, seizures, cutting, attempted suicide, overdosing

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

“mad woman”

This song truly screams Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Gone Girl is a thriller about Nick, and his wife Amy, who goes missing. I don’t think you should know anything else about the book beforehand; it will truly take you for the most wild ride.

TW: mentions of rape & abuse

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

“epiphany”

I’m going to recommend Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. I won’t say too much, but you will understand the connection after reading Crooked Kingdom.

TW: death, graphic violence, drug addiction, human trafficking, mentioned slavery

Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo

“betty”

Here, I’ll recommend Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. This book starts off with the death of the daughter in a family, and leads readers down a path of uncovering all of the secrets of a “perfect” family.

TW: death, drowning, emotional abuse, sexism, sexual assault, violence, racism

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

“peace”

For a book that gives you the same feeling as “peace,” I’d recommend Radio Silence by Alice Oseman. This story, at its heart, is one of friendship and acceptance, and will leave you feeling sad but comforted. Best part is that it centers around teens in high school who are making a podcast!

TW: mental illness, parental abuse, physical abuse

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

“hoax”

I would recommend Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust if you want similar vibes to “hoax.” This book is a retelling of some famous Persian myths and features some very interesting and compelling characters.

TW: violence, murder, death, imprisonment

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

“the lakes”

For the final (bonus) track, I want to recommend two books by the same author.

The first is The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

TW: domestic abuse, death, grief, homophobia, biphobia, racism, abortion, suicide

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The second is Daisy Jones & the Six, also by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

TW: substance abuse/addiction, abortion

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Both novels depict the life of someone famous who struggles under the limelight. Evelyn Hugo is a famous actress, and Daisy Jones is part of a sensational band. These character-driven stories will pull on your heartstrings in just the way that this entire album does.

If you take any of these recommendations, please let me know. Do you agree? Disagree? –Anika Fuloria ’21

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