Written by Marianne Lezeau
In honour of The Eras Tour ™, here is a retrospective of Taylor Swift’s discography through books, one for each album. Taylor Swift is known for storytelling in her music, for creating narratives and being inspired by literature (The Great Gatsby! Pride and Prejudice! Romeo and Juliet!). What better way to celebrate that than to select some items from our catalogue that reflect her discography’s vibes?
Taylor Swift (Debut):
An album that is about discovering yourself and being on the cusp of adulthood, while still being a child. This album, to me, sounds like Stardust, by the one and only Neil Gaiman. It’s a twist on fairy tales – a fantasy novel for when you’re too old for the Grimms brothers, but you still want to read about love, loyalty, and magic.
Featured quote: “Anyone who believes what a cat tells him deserves all he gets.”
Listen to: Mary’s Song (Oh My My My).
Fearless (Taylor’s Version):
Fearless is about running into things headfirst, the euphoria and pain of growing up, and discovering what you want from love and life. That’s what The Sun is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon, is all about. It’s the story of a single day in a big city, with two lives overflowing into each other and the steady sense of time running out.
Featured quote: “I don’t believe in love.”
“It’s not a religion,” he says. “It exists whether you believe in it or not.”
Listen to: Jump then Fall.
This album is a dreamy, escapist fantasy about past, present and future: what maybe happened, what could be happening now, and what could maybe happen tomorrow. Dreamy escapist fantasies are a dime a dozen, it’s true, but one of the best is The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. It’s a story about stories, dreams, swirling music and tragically beautiful encounters. When you finish it, you’ll never look at a red scarf in the same way again.
Featured quote: “and there are never really endings, happy or otherwise. Things keep going on, they overlap and blur, your story is part of your sister’s story is part of many other stories, and there is no telling where any of them may lead.”
Listen to: Enchanted.
Red (Taylor’s Version):
Red is the coming-of-age album, the one with the heartbreak and the exhilaration and the rollercoaster of emotions. Normal People, by Sally Rooney, is that ordinary heartbreak that you feel when you’re stuck in a rut of the same mistakes, over and over again – but hoping for the best, and working towards it.
Featured quote: “… the snow keeps falling, like a ceaseless repetition of the same infinitesimally small mistake.”
Listen to: All Too Well (10 min version)
This album is chaotic young adulthood in a nutshell. It’s the feeling of being under pressure but at the top of the world, living it up in a big city. The City We Became, by NK Jemisin, is a similarly fast-paced urban fantasy novel, full of Lovecraftian horror and a found family trope to warm your heart.
Featured quote: “these people are always gonna tell themselves that a little fascism is okay as long as they can still get unlimited drinks with brunch!”
Listen to: “Out of the Woods”
Rep is angry, sarcastic, and vengeful. It’s also about stepping into your own power, and learning to let yourself love after being hurt. Both of those conflicting directions permeate The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas, a massive adventure epic about betrayal, hope, revenge, and mercy.
Featured quote: “Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome. Do your worst, for I will do mine! Then the fates will know you as we know you”.
Listen to: I Did Something Bad.
It’s about love (surprise!), about adulthood, fighting for peace and being afraid of losing it. The Priory of the Orange Tree, by Samantha Shannon, is also a massive epic that has all of these themes and more. War! Sapphics! Witchcraft! Friendship! Dragons!
Featured quote: “My evening star. If the sun burned out tomorrow, your flame would light the world.”
Listen to: The Archer.
The first part of the pandemic, full of cottagecore warmth, whimsy, and fantasies about escaping into nature. The Anne of Green Gables series, by LM Montgomery, is an escapist and comforting read about found family in the countryside, and a young girl dreaming big.
Featured quote: “Dear old world’, she murmured, ‘you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.”
Listen to: Seven
The second half of the pandemic, once we all got cabin fever. If I had to put a label on it, it would be sad, yearning, dark academia. It pairs perfectly with rainy days and On Earch We’re Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong; a devastatingly beautiful work that covers trauma, class and racial dynamics and asks what it means to look for joy and healing in darkness.
Featured quote: “In Vietnamese, the word for missing someone and remembering them is the same: nhớ. Sometimes, when you ask me over the phone, Có nhớ mẹ không? I flinch, thinking you meant, Do you remember me?
I miss you more than I remember you.”
Listen to: Tolerate It.
A retrospective montage about trying to find closure and ascribe different meanings to our past. In the same vein, The Midnight Library by Matt Haig is a short read that combines a slice-of-life style, the multiverse, and all the ways in which our small daily decisions combine to make our lives.
Featured quote: “Is happiness the aim?”
“I don’t know. I suppose I want my life to mean something. I want to do something good,”
Listen to: “Would Have, Could Have, Should Have”