If you’re anything like me, you’ve been streaming folklore nonstop since it’s drop in late July, soaking in the lyrics, the stories, the sounds and unable to turn it off even when you’re not listening to it. I’ll admit I’m surprised that I like it so much considering I didn’t really become a Taylor fan until 1989 (aside from liking the occasional single from her country albums- Love Story is a bop). So I thought, why not channel my obsession with the album’s melancholy tones that perfectly match my quarantine mood with some selections from my TBR? It ended up being a fun guessing game with perhaps mixed results- I haven’t read any of these, I’m just going off the synopsis of each book, the lyrics of the songs, and the overall vibe I get from both!
*All songs and lyrics, of course, belong to Taylor Swift and books to their respective authors and publishers!
books from my tbr that remind me of folklore songs:
the 1 | Heart Land | This novel follows a struggling fashion designer who falls on hard times and has to move from the big city back to her small hometown where she reconnects with her high school sweetheart. This reminded me of the lyrics of the 1 which reference someone who has changed a lot but is still nostalgic for a past romance that had the potential to be forever. It’s nostalgic but still acknowledges how people grow and change, which seems fitting for this second chance romance story!
cardigan | Make Up Break Up | This debut adult romance by popular YA author Sandhya Menon (with a romance pen name!) is a second chance romance featuring two app developers who had a fling a while back that left them both bitter and competitive and they are now forced to compete against each other. This reminds me of cardigan’s lyrics which are about a hurt and bitter singer who’s still nostalgic and aching for the past, knowing that it is inevitable the person who hurt her is going to come back into her life. The relationship is painful but comfortable at the same time.
the last great american dynasty | Meet Me in Monaco | The third song on Swift’s album is the one with the clearest, linear story, so it was a little challenging to match its plot up with a novel from my TBR! I settled on this historical fiction novel centering on Grace Kelly as the vibes of the song of a daring American woman infiltrating a society that’s suspicious of her seem like they could apply to an American who married into a European royal family (though I have no idea if this was Grace Kelly’s experience or not!)
exile | Chain of Iron | (Some spoilers for Chain of Gold ahead!) exile is a haunting song about two lovers (or ex lovers) who are describing their (conflicting) views of their situation in equal measures of pain and heartbreak. This SO reminds me of the end of COG when James and Cordelia are engaged to be married, but for ALL the wrong reasons and both have VERY different views of the situation ahead and what they truly want from it. No doubt they are going to each hurt each other in a myriad different ways while not telling the other how they actually feel in the next installment, just like the singers in this song. Ugh, my heart.
my tears ricochet | You Deserve Each Other | This was a hard song for me to align to a book on my TBR because I don’t have very many depressing books on my TBR and this song is SUPER sad. I decided to take a less literal approach of the funeral/wake/death imagery and thought about it as the death of a relationship, the loss of a home, and found that themes from You Deserve Each Other could work, as two characters who’ve been together forever and are engaged to be married realize they are both stuck going through the motions even though the love and passion has long died away and they begin a battle of emotional warfare to see who will break up with the other first. I’m sure this is more of a rom-com than a tragedy but if you really think about the premise, it IS sad. Just like when Taylor sings that she can go anywhere but home, these characters can’t return to how things used to be. Also, clearly neither of these characters is going with grace or holding the good years they had closely.
mirrorball | You Had Me at Hola | This story follows two actors who must fake on screen chemistry to nail roles they both desperately need, but who end up having a real life, behind-the-scenes romance. This situation reminds me of mirrorball, where Taylor sings she can “show you every version of yourself tonight” as the novel protagonists are falling for each other both as actors and real, vulnerable people, despite the image they must project to the public, changing themselves to fit the mold their careers demand of them.
seven | The Simple Wild | This song at its core is about a child’s troubled relationship with their father, which is fitting as The Simple Wild follows protagonist Calla as she travels back to the Alaskan homeland she barely remembers to reconnect with a father. While there, she develops romantic tension with a gruff Alaskan pilot, which pairs nicely with the flying metaphors in the song. It’s about going back to your childhood roots and finding yourself and your history, the beautiful and ugly parts, just as Taylor sings about going back to a time before she learned civility.
august | Chasing Lucky | august is my FAVORITE song on the album (I especially love the tie-in with cardigan and betty plot wise, too). While the lyrics point to the POV of someone lamenting the fact they are the “other woman,” I chose to focus instead on the elements of the song that are about longing for someone who you know you can never truly have or tame, which sounds familiar to the plot of Chasing Lucky, which follows protagonist Josie who’s intrigued by the town bad boy who she used to be childhood friends with but now wants nothing to do with her.
this is me trying | A Court of Silver Flames | Honestly the synopsis of this book is SENDING me. Nesta, bitter and enraged that she was turned into a High Fae, Cassian the only one who can get through her bitter armor, even if it’s to enrage her? It can’t get here fast enough. Right off the bat the story seems to connect with the song, which tells the tale of someone who is having a hard time adjusting, having regrets, wasted potential…ugh it works so perfectly!
illicit affair | Evidence of the Affair | Probably one of my straight forward selections as they both blatantly have “affair” in the title, I like that both Taylors (author and songwriter!) explore affairs from a different angle- one from the heartbroken mistress and one from the betrayed spouses who form an unlikely bond.
invisible string | Say You Still Love Me | This song has sweet, nostalgic vibes about lovers who have always been connected, even if unbeknownst to them, by an invisible string. In Say You Still Love Me, protagonist Piper is confronted with her first schoolgirl love as an adult and finds the feelings still flaming despite years and miles between the people they were then and are now- yet they are still drawn to each other, just as the song invisible string alludes to.
mad woman | Mexican Gothic | I got a little creative with this one, as from the synopsis of Mexican Gothic doesn’t make it seem like it’s going to be a story about a woman scorned by love. However, I feel that you can take another meaning from the song mad woman and relate it back to the novel, as the song talks about a woman who is not afraid to hunt and kill and defend herself, just as the protagonist of Mexican Gothic heads to a manor to save her cousin from strange happenings. Also, from the synopsis it seems like the house may be gas lighting the protagonist in a sense (making her think it’s haunted, crazy things are happening, etc) making her quite literally a “mad woman,” just as the song references a woman getting more crazy the more she’s told she’s crazy by an abusive lover. Definitely one of my more creative takes but I think it could work!
epiphany | Lovely War | Also another straightforward selection, as both are about the tragedy of war and how love and war coexist even in the darkest of times.
betty | Small Town Hearts | This was a hard one for me as well since betty has such a specific plot to the lyrics, so I chose a novel that focuses on a love triangle with a protagonist who’s wavering between her ex-girlfriend and a potential summer fling with a tourist boy. I just wonder if she’ll make a big of mess of things as James did…
peace | The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue | This song speaks of the coming of age period in one’s life being over and how one is ready for peace, for stability and falling in love with one better than oneself. This reminded me of the premise for Addie LaRue who makes a deal with the devil centuries ago for immortality, going on great adventures but being stopped in her tracks by a modern boy who I daresay brings her peace? (I also love the “devil’s in the details” reference in the lyrics, it matches up nicely with the Faustian bargain element of the book!)
hoax | The Project | hoax is actually a pretty dark song, about someone who has pretty much given up, dependent on a faithless love. I actually thought the lyrics aligned well with the upcoming thriller from Courtney Summers that follows protagonist Lo who is trying to uncover the secret underbelly of a cult she infiltrates, but finds herself sucked in deeper than she ever could have thought.
And there you have it, selections from my TBR that remind me of the tracks of folklore! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, especially if you’ve read any of these, and whether or not you think they correspond with the song I chose! Or, you can just let me know which song is your favorite off of folklore- I’d love to gush over the tracks too!