If you know anything about me from reading my blog posts over the years, it’s that I am a pretty basic person. I love Disney, cats, books (obviously), plants, and Taylor Swift. I have been a huge fan of Taylor since the release of Fearless in 2008 when I was just starting middle school. Over the years, my love for Taylor has never faltered and possibly has grown more obsessive with time. If you were to look at my Spotify Wrapped for the last 5 years, you would see that I listen to an absurd amount of Taylor Swift, to the point where I am in the top 0.5% of listeners in the world. Say what you want about Taylor, but she has done a lot in her 16+ years in the spotlight from releasing 11 albums, winning the trial against the DJ from Colorado who sexually assaulted her, to rerecording her albums to gain control over her music masters. In 2020 and 2021 alone, Taylor released 4 albums which shows her immense creativity and musical expression!
With all of this in mind, I wanted to blend a few of my favorite things together for this Feminist Book Club blog post which means that I am sharing what books I think pair well with the various Taylor Swift albums.
Favorite songs from the album: “Should’ve Said No” and “Tim McGraw”
Book Pairing: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
The debut album of a young 15 year old Taylor Swift sounds as if it were pulled straight out of a teens diary. With songs like “Picture to Burn” and “Teardrops on My Guitar,” Taylor introduces listeners to her poetic song lyrics that are all too relatable. Considering this, The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo is a wonderful pairing for the original Taylor Swift album because it has a similar amount of teen angst mixed with romantic writing through the main character of Xiomara.
Fearless (Taylor’s Version)
Favorite songs from the album: “Breathe (feat. Colbie Caillat)” and “The Best Day”
Book Pairing: One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle
Fearless is the first album I listened to by Taylor Swift because of the hits that overtook the radio in 2008. I related WAY too hard to “You Belong With Me” as an overly dramatic middle schooler with a crush on my neighbor. That being said, after more listens to Fearless, there are many incredible songs, one of them being “The Best Day” which is a beautiful song about Taylor’s relationship with her mother. One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle is a new release that details a mother daughter relationship while on vacation on the Amalfi Coast. Knowing Serle’s writing from previous books, One Italian Summer is sure to be one that keeps you thinking and feeling long after you finish, just like when listening to Fearless.
Favorite songs from the album: “Haunted” and “Long Live”
Book Pairing: Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
Speak Now is one of the first albums where we hear Taylor discussing some of her wishes for the future which can be heard in the song “Mine” where Taylor is describing a desire for someone to spend her life with. However, mixed in with the desire for the future are songs that are nostalgic of high school with lyrics like “I said remember this moment” and “long live the memories we made.” To me, Speak Now feels like a historical fiction novel with multiple timeline narratives so readers can watch characters grow up and evolve over time. One of my favorite books that does this is Firefly Lane because Kristin Hannah has such mastery over intertwining the past and present to create multidimensional characters.
Red (Taylor’s Version)
Favorite songs from the album: “All Too Well” and “Nothing New (feat. Phoebe Bridgers)”
Book Pairing: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Red is perhaps my favorite album ever written and so its pairing with one of my absolute favorite books seems a little too good to be true. But here me out on this one, Red has an incredible song called “The Lucky One” which was my second favorite song on the album until “Nothing New” was released from the vault with Taylors Version of Red in November 2021. “The Lucky One” is a rare song that does not seem based in Taylor’s direct life, rather in a storyline of a 50s era starlet who rises in fame only to discover that the limelight is not as it seems. Sound familiar? Well, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo tells a similar story where our main character of Evelyn changes over time just like the starlet in “The Lucky One.”
Favorite songs from the album: “Style” and “Blank Space”
Book Pairing: The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
1989 is the first Pop centered album that Taylor released in 2014 and would be the last one she would release for years to come. With this change in musical style came Taylor leaning more into the persona that people created for her as a “crazy ex girlfriend” and more upbeat songs romanticizing other parts of life than relationships. The song “Welcome to New York” demonstrates Taylors ability to paint musical visuals of places and exhibiting her ties to locations around the world. The City We Became reminds me of this song because of the personification of the city of New York just like Taylors song.
Favorite songs from the album: “Don’t Blame Me” and “Call It What You Want”
Book Pairing: Outlawed by Anna North
Reputation is Taylors big f you to the world. Taylor was done with the judgments of others and after a three year hiatus from producing music and the limelight, Taylor was back and ready to share her true feelings. In “Look What You Made Me Do,” Taylor specifically states that her past self is “dead” and she is moving forward as someone new and evolved. Outlawed by Anna North is a release from early 2021, but is still making waves in the bookish community because of its storyline of dismissing societal norms for women and instead leaving everyone guessing what you will do next. Would Taylor be apart of The Kid’s vision for a safe haven for women outcasts? Probably.
Favorite songs from the album: “Cruel summer” and “Daylight”
Book Pairing: Mediocre by Ijeoma Oluo
After listening to the darkness and vulnerability of Reputation, Lover was a much different album. Taylor’s first album to have the majority of songs positively portraying her current relationship with love and affection. Its almost as if the entire Lover album was written with rose colored glasses which goes with the pink ambience of the music videos and album cover. With this in mind, Taylor does elude to some of the struggles she has faced throughout her career in the song “The Man.” This song details her frustration with a white male dominated industry and how she has struggled to retain control over her career and music masters. Lover was actually the first album that Taylor owned the rights to outright! For this reason, I believe that Mediocre by Ijeoma Oluo would pair well with lover for this reason as it is about “the dangerous legacy of white male America” and how white supremacy is upheld each day by white men and women alike.
Favorite songs from the album: “august” and “my tears richochet”
Book Pairing: The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes by Elissa R. Sloan
The first surprise album of 2020! folklore was a divergence into the more indie and folk genre for Taylor which connects to her country roots. folklore is also different from Taylors previous albums because the entirety of it is written more as stories rather than drawing on personal experience. One of my most favorite parts of this album is the love triangle detailed in “cardigan,” “august,” and “betty.” This love triangle is told from different perspectives where listeners can understand just why all of the characters were so invested. The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes is told in multiple perspectives just like folklore, and details that everyone and everything has a dark side.
Favorite songs from the album: “cowboy like me” and “champagne problems”
Book Pairing: How Much of These Hills is Gold by C Pam Zhang
evermore was the second surprise Taylor gave us in 2020. Described as a “sister” album to folklore, evermore feels like the forgotten and misunderstood sister that did not get the attention she deserved. evermore has some beautiful songs that each could stand alone as hits for many years to come. That being said, evermore was quickly forgotten when Taylor announced her release of Fearless (Taylors Version) in April of 2021. evermore only had 4 months of time to gain listeners attention and I think it is truly underrated. Although I have not read How Much of These Hills is Gold by C Pam Zhang, our founder Renee only has amazing things to say about this 3.97 star rated novel. So as an underrated historical fiction novel and also a book with ties to the gold rush, I think that it pairs perfectly with evermore and especially the song from it “gold rush. “
As a major swifter, I completely agree with your comments for each album. Especially evermore! Also The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is the perfect book for Red (Taylor’s Version)!