Hello friends! At this point, it’s a pretty much a tradition for us to celebrate Taylor Swift’s new releases with a book recommendation post: we did it with folklore, we did it with evermore (you can click on the titles for the posts), and now here we are, recommending you 25 books based Fearless (Taylor’s Version). Note that if you’ve listened to Fearless (Taylor’s Version), you’ll know that the album has 26 tracks, however, one of the songs – “Forever & Always” – has both a regular and a piano version. We decided to only include this song once, thus the 25 recommendations.
While we both love Taylor’s music, neither of us was completely familiar with Fearless, so many of these songs were new to us, which made it a challenge and a lot of fun to try to find the perfect book for each song. If you’re a regular at W&W, you might know that our usual posting schedule is Wednesdays and Saturdays, but we both agreed that there is no better date to publish this post on than the 13th, so here we are today. 😊
Recommending Books Based on Taylor Swift’s Fearless (Taylor’s Version)
“My hands shake, I’m not usually this way but
You pull me in and I’m a little more brave
It’s the first kiss, it’s flawless, really something“
Vera: I don’t think I have talked about Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo on the blog before, so I’m glad that the lines I quoted above instantly made me thing of this YA historical fictional novel. The novel takes place in 1954 and it follows Lily Hu, a Chinese-American girl who has been questioning her sexuality. ‘Fearless’ reminds me of Lily and Kath, two girls who really start to fall for each other during the course of the novel as their connection grows stronger and stronger. On a side note, it is very obvious that Malinda Lo did tons and tons of research for Last Night at the Telegraph Club, so this book is well worth reading for the historical setting too.
“I’ve found time can heal most anything
And you just might find who you’re supposed to be
I didn’t know who I was supposed to be
Sabrina: Unfortunately, the main character in Still Life With Tornado by A.S. King is sixteen years old, but it’s close enough, right? The book follows Sarah, who is going through an identity crisis after finding she can no longer draw like she used to as well as discovering some repressed trauma – which I think relates to the lyrics I’ve included above. The main reason I chose this book though, is that Sarah has several encounters throughout the story with herself at different stages of her life, both younger and older. ”Wish you could go back and tell yourself what you know now”? Sarah actually has that opportunity. I think this ties in well with the reflective nature of the song.
“So I sneak out to the garden to see you
We keep quiet, ’cause we’re dead if they knew“
Vera: ‘Love Story’ screams forbidden romance, and I don’t think I could have found a better book to recommend for this song than Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. This is a YA fantasy trilogy where the protagonists are fighting on opposites sides of a war, and yet, they have an instantaneous connection that makes it impossible for them not to fall in love with each other. What’s that if not a perfect recommendation for ‘Love Story,’ a song partially based on Romeo and Juliet? On top of that, the novel is incredibly whimsical and atmospheric which makes it a perfect fit for Taylor’s songs.
“Hey Stephen, boy, you might have me believing
I don’t always have to be alone“
Sabrina: This is going to be an ongoing theme with most of my choices – the links between this song and The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune are few, but they are there. This wonderful book follows Linus, a man whose life is about as humdrum as it gets. He’s not exactly content, but he has accepted that it’s just how things are. Until his latest work assignment puts him in the path of some incredibly special children and their guardian, Arthur. Linus immediately feels a connection to Arthur, but he tries to hold it back. This romance is a very minor part of the book, but I do think this song matches that part perfectly, from both Linus and Arthur’s perspectives.
“‘Cause I’m not your princess, this ain’t a fairytale
I’m gonna find someone someday who might actually treat me well“
Vera: I feel like Headliners by Lucy Parker is my go-to break up book recommendation, but I can’t help it, I love this book so damn much. Sabrina, the heroine, has recently gone through a difficult break up: after some time she went back to a guy that had previously broken her heart… just for him to do it again, worse than even before. That, to me, is very similar to ‘White Horse,’ especially the lyrics I quoted above, because I think Sabrina very much understands that she deserves better and that she will get that one day… and she does in Headliners, which is a fantastic romance novels.
You Belong With Me
“Walk in the streets with you in your worn-out jeans
I can’t help thinking this is how it ought to be“
Vera: Here’s the thing, Miss Meteor isn’t a perfect fit for ‘You Belong With Me’ but nonetheless, I immediately thought of this book when I started to think about potential pairings. Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia and Anna-Marie McLemore is a YA Contemporary about Lita and Chicky, two ex-best friends who decide to team up in order to help Lita win the Miss Meteor beauty pageant. Miss Meteor has two friends to lovers romances and Chicky’s is the one I was thinking of in connection with ‘You Belong With Me.’ For Chicky, it’s difficult to trust people due to how she has been treated by her peers, so when her friend tries to tell her about his feelings, she shuts him out without an explanation. After this, Chicky sees her friend on a date with another girl, a girl that looks much closer to who Chicky thinks her friend is expected to be with. The way this makes her feel reminds Chicky of how much she wants to be with her friend. To be honest, this isn’t at all the focus of the novel, but it reminded me of the song still.
Breathe ft. Colbie Calliat
“And we know it’s never simple, never easy
Never a clean break, no one here to save me
You’re the only thing I know like the back of my hand“
Sabrina: Easily one of the most underrated books I’ve read, Laurinda by Alice Pung follows Lucy as she moves from her old public school to a prestigious, classist, and racist private school after receiving a scholarship. The story is framed through letters she writes to Linh, a girl from her old school. Lucy knows she had to accept the scholarship, but it’s still a very difficult experience which is made worse by most of the people around her. The book has such a lonely atmosphere to it, which ties it to this song for me – especially the parts where Lucy is missing Linh and her old life.
Tell Me Why
“And I need you like a heartbeat
But you know you got a mean streak
Makes me run for cover when you’re around“
Sabrina: Bear with me here, because I admit this may seem a strange choice at first, but I’ve gone with Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir for this song. It’s the first book in an adult SFF series that has some of the most interesting and unique characters I’ve read about along with intensely complex world building. I’ve paired it with this song because of the relationship between Gideon and Harrowhark. Harrow is honestly so mean and I don’t like her very much (…except I kind of do) and she could definitely “write a book on how ruin someone’s perfect day”. Her and Gideon are always arguing and fighting, even though they need each other.
You’re Not Sorry
“So you don’t have to call anymore
I won’t pick up the phone
This is the last straw
There’s nothing left to beg for“
Vera: The fact that I don’t tend to read books with sad endings makes it so difficult to pick books for all these break up songs, but I feel like A Girl Like Her by Talia Hibbert is a solid pick for ‘You’re Not Sorry.’ Ruth, the heroine, is an outcast in her small town because of the way her past relationship with the town’s golden boy played out. Of course, Ruth wasn’t at fault at all; in fact, it was the guy that refused to treat Ruth as anything other than his dirty secret and he was also abusive to her. Up to a point, Ruth believed that he loved her and would start to treat her right, but when he barreled past that point, Ruth refused to hear his excuses which reminds me of the lyrics I quoted above.
The Way I Loved You
“And it’s 2AM and I’m cursing your name
You’re so in love that you acted insane
And that’s the way I loved you“
Sabrina: I am sorry for this, but I’m choosing The Cruel Prince by Holly Black for The Way I Loved You. In case you are somehow unaware, this is a YA fantasy series about the mean kind of fae and some humans that, through no fault of their own, got involved with them. Honestly, every one of the romantic relationships in this trilogy is all-round ridiculous, in the same way as the lyrics I’ve included above are – they all hate each other even though they apparently love each other too. Of course this is most applicable to the main characters’ romance – Jude and Cardan. Jude in particular knows that she will feel unfulfilled not only without Cardan, but without the whole world of the fae, and I think that relates well to this song.
Forever & Always
“Baby what happened?
Please tell me ’cause one second it was perfect
Now you’re halfway out the door”
Vera: This whole song reminds me of the relationship in You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle where Naomi and Nicholas, who are engaged to be married, find that they cannot recall why they ever loved each other. Granted ‘Forever & Always’ has a very melancholic tone while You Deserve Each Other is a rom-com where these two realize and admit that they want to start working on their relationship, but still, I like this pairing. Even though the book is told from Naomi’s POV, it’s pretty clear that they’ve both suffered – in a big part due to not being open and honest with each other – which fits the song really well, in my opinion.
The Best Day
“I don’t know who I’m going to talk to now at school
But I know I’m laughing on the car ride home with you
Don’t know how long it’s going to take to feel okay
But I know I had the best day with you today“
Vera: Originally, I really wanted to find a book with an incredible mother-daughter relationship, however, the lyrics I quoted above instantly made me think of My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman. Elsa is a seven-year-old girl who has been unable to find friends at her school – things are tough, but her grandma is always, always able to cheer Elsa up. That is, until the grandmother is diagnosed with and passes away due to cancer. On the one hand, My Grandmother is a sad book, but on the other hand it’s also about hope, building relationships within (and outside of) your family – Elsa has some things to work out with her mom, dad and stepfather – and understanding that people are imperfect and complex. It’s a stunning novel, which is what I expect from Backman at this point.
“But I believe in whatever you do
And I’ll do anything to see it through
Because these things will change
Can you feel it now?”
Sabrina: I really thought I would be picking a YA dystopian for this song, with all the lyrics about revolution but I have chosen On the Come Up by Angie Thomas because I think it’s a much better fit. As far as I’m aware, Taylor actually wrote this song about her journey with music and trying to become successful, which is a large part of what this book is about! We follow Bri, whose main goal in life is to become a successful rapper and to then help herself and her family out of their current financial situation. I absolutely loved this book and Bri’s journey throughout the story, standing up for herself and following her dreams.
Jump Then Fall
“I like the way you sound in the morning
We’re on the phone and without a warning
I realize your laugh is the best sound
I have ever heard“
Vera: When listening to this song, I immediately knew that I wanted to pair it with a romance novel where the characters – or at least one of them – realize their feelings for each other very suddenly, like in the lyrics I quoted above. This is exactly what happens in Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon, a young adult romance novel. This is a rivals to lovers romance, so a really fun one, and as the main characters are thrown together the heroine starts to see that she might actually be in love with this ‘awful’ guy that she has told herself she hated for years.
“In the middle of the night waking from this dream
I want to feel you by my side, standing next to me
You got to come on, come on, say that we’ll be together”
Sabrina: My choice for this song is Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas. My reasons for picking this paranormal YA are perhaps a little bit too on the nose, considering the main character, Yadriel, literally cannot touch Julian, his love interest, on account of him being a ghost. Still, I do genuinely think the whole vibe of the song – a little sad, a little hopeful – matches their relationship because they know they can’t be together (again, the ghost thing), but they still want to spend what time they can in each other’s company. Also, Julian definitely fits the description of “burning brighter than the sun” because he has so much chaotic energy.
Come In With The Rain
“I’ve watched you so long, screamed your name
I don’t know what else I can say”
Sabrina: Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley is quite a sad book (it takes place in the aftermath of the death of a sibling), so already the tone matches this song. Furthermore, the book follows a girl who has moved back to her hometown and has to interact with a boy she once confessed her love to – she actually gets a job at his family’s bookshop. Essentially this book is a friends-to-lovers romance with elements of unrequited love and second chances – both of the latter are things I would connect to this song.
“I’m no one special, just another wide-eyed girl
Who’s desperately in love with you
Give me a photograph to hang on my wall, superstar”
Sabrina: Unfortunately I didn’t like The Wicked + The Divine, otherwise that would have been the perfect choice for this song. Still, I have a great backup option and that is You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson. Be warned – I’m about to divulge minor spoilers. It’s not a huge part of the story – which is about a girl trying to win prom queen in order to get a scholarship – but the main character, Liz, really admires this band and if I recall correctly, has a bit of a crush on the main singer. She ends up going to their concert and actually gets to meet her. Being that this song is about Taylor’s celebrity crush, I’d say there is a clear connection between it and this book!
The Other Side of the Door
“And don’t you leave ’cause I know
All I need is on the other side of the door”
Sabrina: This is definitely the biggest stretch of this post, but I’ve picked Dark Matter by Blake Crouch for this song. It’s not about a break up or a misunderstanding – it is, however, an adult sci-fi about a man who ends up in an alternate reality, one that doesn’t include his son or his marriage. It follows this man as he tries to figure out what is going on and how to get back to his wife and kid – who are metaphorically stuck on the other side of the door. At the beginning, we see the man questioning if he made the right choices in his life, but the story shows that his true priority is his family, which I think, very loosely, connects with this song.
Today Was A Fairytale
“You’ve got a smile that takes me to another planet
Every move you make everything you say is right“
Vera: For ‘Today Was A Fairytale’ I knew I wanted to choose a romance novel that made me root for the character from start to finish. I ended up picking Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur, an adult contemporary romance that follows two women who seem like polar opposites at first glance: Darcy is an actuary while Elle is an astrologer. That being said, when these two are forced to fake date they realize that not only are they attracted to each other, but that they might be more suitable than they could have ever expected. I like this song and book pairing because for me, the song carries this feeling of wonder, which is exactly what Darcy and Elle (especially Elle) are feeling when they realize that they’ve started to fall in love with each other.
You All Over Me ft. Maren Morris
“Lost tears, swore that I’d get out of here
But no amount of freedom gets you clean
I’ve still got you all over me“
Vera: Again, I don’t really read books with sad endings, so my idea for ‘You All Over Me’ was to pair it with a second chance romance, and that is Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane. This is an adult romance where the main characters are old high school sweethearts whose secret high school relationship ended in heartbreak. When they meet again as adults they are forced to realize that they never quite got over each other, and that they need to address what happened on the night their relationship ended. If you pick this book up be mindful that it contains sexual assault, which is described in a somewhat explicit way and was incredibly hard to read.
Mr. Perfectly Fine
“And I never got past what you put me through
But it’s wonderful to see that it never phased you“
Vera: I love all the From the Vault song, but “Mr. Perfectly Fine” is probably my favorite of them – it’s such a fun, energetic songs and it was an instant favorite as soon as I heard it. While Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales is a second chance romance, I still think it fits the song, as the characters aren’t together for much of the book. Only Mostly Devastated is a modern Grease retelling, and for Ollie – one part of the main couple – it seems as though his summer boyfriend, Will, was completely unaffected by what happened between them… which, of course, isn’t the case, but it takes time for Ollie to fully grasp where Will’s coming from. The way Will seemed unaffected reminded me of the lyrics quoted above, which is how this song-book pairing was born.
We Were Happy
“We used to walk along the street
When the porch lights were shining bright
Before I had somewhere to be
Back when we had all night and we were happy“
Vera: You might want to skip this section if you haven’t read The Selection by Kiera Cass but want to because I’m about to spoil the (rather predictable) conclusion to the love triangle. I love “We Were Happy,” a song about falling out of love with someone, and it immediately made me think of America and Aspen in The Selection series. The two of them were childhood sweethearts who, throughout the course of the trilogy, came to the realization that they weren’t meant to be. I’m going to be honest, I tried to stay away from recommending The Selection because I read this ages ago and I doubt I’d enjoy it now, but I honestly couldn’t think of a better example for this song.
That’s When ft. Keith Urban
“And that’s when
I’ll be waiting at the front gate
When I see your face
I’ll let you in”
Sabrina: I’m about to spoil a whole plot point of the Parasol Protectorate series, particularly Blameless by Gail Carriger, so skip this portion if you have an interest in reading that series but haven’t yet. At the end of the second book, Alexia discovers she is pregnant and Lord Maccon loses his cool about the whole thing, assuming she must have cheated on him. Blameless, thankfully, ends with them getting back together after Maccon comes back to his damn senses. I immediately thought of this book when I listened to this song, because Alexia would have, I’m sure, accepted Maccon back any time after he admitted he made a huge mistake.
“Don’t you say you’ve
Missed me if you don’t want me again
You don’t know how much I feel I love you still
So why don’t you, don’t you?”
Sabrina: I struggled with this song but I eventually decided to go with Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. To be honest, I can’t really remember if this is actually a Catching Fire thing or if it was in the other books more/as well, so let that serve as a spoiler warning in case you need one. I’m linking this song to this book due to Gale’s feelings toward Katniss and her relationship with Peeta. It was hard not to feel bad for him after everything that went down in The Hunger Games, knowing how he and Katniss felt about each other, and I’m sure he would have felt the things in these lyrics when she returned from the games.
Bye Bye Baby
“And all I have is your sympathy
‘Cause you took me home but you just couldn’t keep me
Bye bye baby”
Sabrina: For this song, I’ve ultimately chosen Little Darlings by Melanie Golding. This is a thriller that follows a young woman who has just given birth to twins she believes someone is trying to steal. One of the main things I remember from this book is how absolutely awful her husband is, and how he doesn’t seem to be on his wife’s side any more. She was clearly under so much pressure with her newborns and he was not even remotely helpful – in fact, he was actively unhelpful. I can’t remember if they get divorced in the end or anything like that, (which would certainly make the song fit even more), but I sure hope they did.
Do you like Taylor Swift’s music? If yes, what’s your favorite album or song by her? Have you listened to Fearless (Taylor’s Version)? Which future rerecording are you the most excited for? Have you read any of the book we recommended?