I’m back with the second half of the album and I’m going to try and be kind to myself so I don’t wind up recommending a million books per song, but that’s to be determined honestly. Anyway, let’s get into it!
Death by a Thousand Cuts
So this is definitely a break up song, but it gives me Kiss of Snow vibes hard, just Kiss of Snow has a for sure happy ending and who knows where Death by a Thousand Cuts goes? (Just so we’re clear, it turns out this song is inspired by that movie on Netflix that I haven’t seen yet, but apparently should watch.) Anyway, Kiss of Snow is my favorite in the Psy-Changeling series as you may well know by now. Hawke and Sienna forever. But because of the age gap and some other things, Hawke is very much like, “nope, no, this can’t happen” but he wants Sienna and it’s SO good, y’all. Anyway, I love this book the most.
I mean, literally everyone, including Casey McQuiston is now aware that this song has STRONG Red, White, and Royal Blue vibes. Like, Taylor needs to read that book if she hasn’t. If you’ve missed the fervor, Red, White, and Royal Blue is about First Son, Alex, and Prince of Wales, Henry, having to pretend to be friends because publicity and then oops, they fell in love. I absolutely adore this book. I think it’s hilarious and wonderful, but here are a couple of reasons you may not like the book so don’t at me if you try it and hate these things: (1) Henry should not have the title Prince of Wales, (2) the political AU is weird, (3) it is incredibly odd to read third person present tense, and (4) CW: unwanted outing. Here are reasons you may love this novel: (1) the perfect amount of Harry Potter references, (2) the texts are EVERYTHING, (3) the characters are wonderful, and (4) the turkey scene.
Soon You’ll Get Better
Okay, so this song is just about grief. Specifically, Taylor’s mom (Andrea) is sick and this song is what Taylor wrote because it’s how she feels and it’s very real and honest. So I’ve got a range of books here because grief is something Romancelandia tackles with pretty regular frequency, but the most on point recommendation if you want to cry is The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lorde, which was a devastating YA contemporary with romance. The overarching themes in The Names They Gave Us though is that her mom is sick and she’s being sent off to be a camp counselor at a different camp than the Church Camp her parents run. I thought it tackled religion really, really well without ever feeling too preachy, but I’m sure that’s a YMMV kind of thing. There is a romance in here that I absolutely adored, but mostly this book is about grief and fear about what’s going to happen with her mom. It’s honestly so good. I don’t have words. Anyway, in adult land, both Trade Me and Hold Me by Courtney Milan have scenes with an important family member in the hospital that hit at that same sensation. Romancelandia in general would absolutely be able to help you if you want to work through your grief with a book, but to be honest, I tend to avoid books with grief as a major plot point because I do not cope well with grief.
Okay, I know I’ve made my obsession with Psy-Changeling very clear, but let’s be honest, Tangle of Need by Nalini Singh reeks of False God energy. Riaz has met his mate, but she’s human and happily married, so he returns home and he and Adria keep clashing. They are peek angst, honestly (plus, so much Hawke and Sienna, it’s great!) and just really, False God energy. It’s also kind of hard not to think of Sinner by Sierra Simone considering Zenny is literally trying to become a nun and then she asks Sean to basically show her everything she’ll be missing. It’s… delightful. Also, also, Max and Gina from Troubleshooters? Omg. Okay. I need to stop because now I keep thinking of people, because like, I think this song is basically my favorite concept when done by Suzanne Brockmann because wow, Sam and Alyssa and Jules and Robin…
You Need to Calm Down
Listen, there’s this scene in Still by Kennedy Ryan that knocks it out of the park with putting racist assholes in their place. I absolutely adore the Grip trilogy and I think it’s basically tied with Block Shot as my favorite Kennedy Ryan work. Anyway, the Grip trilogy starts with Flow and you should definitely start there. Grip and Bristol meet in Flow and they have this intense connection. Grip is a black man from a poor neighborhood outside of LA who met Bristol’s brother when he got a scholarship to this magnet school for the arts. He’s an aspiring rapper–or he is a rapper, but he hasn’t MADE it yet, so whatever you want to consider that. And Bristol is this WASPy white lady from the East Coast, but they just… connect. And then it all goes wrong and I swear the angst almost killed me. Anyway, the mood isn’t necessarily right, but the social commentary is on point and brilliant. CWs may be necessary for the series, so feel free to reach out if you need them.
So I struggle with this song, because I know that what it actually is, is Taylor talking about how her anxiety keeps her in her head a lot and she withdraws sometimes instead of actually talking about her problems. But like… there are definitely some lines in this song that has my domestic violence focused brain sending up some alarms. That said, anxiety is (obviously) super real and I absolutely have similar bad instincts sometimes when my anxiety flares and decides that everyone hates me. I think American Dreamer by Adriana Herrera tackles some of those relationship anxieties in a very real way and how sometimes we hurt people when we don’t mean to and despite the fact that we love them a lot. I also think Untouchable by Talia Hibbert hits on some of this pretty well too. Both Hannah and Nathaniel can struggle with communication sometimes and they want their relationship to work so it sucks when things get in the way. And… Finally. A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole also has some of this. Nya’s dealing with a lot of guilt about her father’s actions in A Princess in Theory and Johan is just…. Oh my sweet precious baby. He’s got a lot going on in that head of his. Anyway, anxiety gets in the way of a lot sometimes, doesn’t it? Okay, I’m coming around to loving this song the way I think I should. Lol
Did I use Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating yesterday? I did. But I shouldn’t have because wow, does Hazel give off major Me! vibes. I love her so much. Anyway, since I DID use that yesterday, let me take a minute to recommend Hook Shot by Kennedy Ryan. I feel like I always talk about the other books in the Hoops series, but actually I love Hook Shot. Lotus is such a babe. She’s sworn off men, except, well, Kenan can be her friend, fine. (If you’re like, hey that sounds like “I hate accidents except for when we went from friends to this”, you are RIGHT and can consider this book also a rec for Paper Rings.) She works for a fashion designer and is just so HERSELF that it’s really incredible. CW for prior sexual assault, a suicide attempt, and a car accident. In case you can’t tell from today’s recommendations, I love Kennedy Ryan. Lol
It’s Nice to Have a Friend
Alright, here’s a throwback and also I’m only recommending this YA romance so sorry if that’s not your jam. But as soon as I heard this line, I got the BIGGEST Wes and Macy vibes. The Truth About Forever is my favorite Sarah Dessen novel and there are some things you should know going in. One, Macy’s dad died and she feels like it’s her fault. Two, her boyfriend is off to smart kid camp for the summer. Three, she starts working for this catering company and then her whole direction in life changes. I love this book so, so much. I did read it for the first time as a high schooler, so idk how adult me would feel about it, but high school me was like WOW. Anyway, Wes and Macy play truth and it’s just really, really good. Maybe I should go re-read this…
Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes is not technically a romance, but it’s actually perfect for this song and it is a romance in accordance with our one TRUE genre convention. Evvie Drake is now a widow. In fact, she was widowed on the very day she was going to leave her husband. She’s kind of adrift in life right now and then her best friend, Andy, says he has this friend who needs a place to lie low and would it be okay if he rents her apartment in her house. Evvie agrees and then she and Dean, former professional baseball player, strike up a friendship that slowly turns into more. This book doesn’t follow typical genre conventions, which is why I say it’s not technically a romance, but it’s really lovely and quiet and just good.
And there you have it! Another nine songs (thank you, Taylor) and a whole lot of books to go with your favorite song! If anyone else has done something similar, and I know there are a few already, please feel free to leave them in the comments because I’m obsessed. Also, please leave your favorite songs below!