I’ve written a post on songs that I associate with books but it’s 3+ years old at this point (read it here). A couple of years ago, I started including songs in some of my reviews that I really felt fit the book. I wanted to point out a few of my favorite song and book pairings and discuss why I chose a certain song for each book.
You can always see all of these and more in my “song of the day (sotd)” tag.
And check out more of my song and book pairings posts here!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- “Dynasty” by Rina Sawayama
- “Strong” by One Direction
- “Paper Rings” by Taylor Swift
- “I Know A Place” by MUNA
- “Oh No!” by Marina and the Diamonds
- “Orange Trees” by MARINA
- “Moderation” by Florence + the Machine
- “Doom Days” by Bastille
- “Ya’aburnee” by Halsey
- “You asked for this” by Halsey
“Dynasty” by Rina Sawayama
The pain in my vein is hereditary
Running in my bloodstream, my bloodstream
And if that’s all that I’m gonna be
Won’t you break the chain with me?
rep: South Asian inspiration and -coded characters; (British Indian author)
In a universe of capricious gods, dark moons, and kingdoms built on the backs of spaceships, a cursed queen sends her infant daughter away, a jealous uncle steals the throne of Kali from his nephew, and an exiled prince vows to take his crown back.
Raised alone and far away from her home on Kali, Esmae longs to return to her family. When the King of Wychstar offers to gift the unbeatable, sentient warship Titania to a warrior that can win his competition, she sees her way home: she’ll enter the competition, reveal her true identity to the world, and help her famous brother win back the crown of Kali.
It’s a great plan. Until it falls apart.
Inspired by the Mahabharata and other ancient Indian stories, A Spark of White Fire is a lush, sweeping space opera about family, curses, and the endless battle between jealousy and love.
“Dynasty” is a song about intergenerational trauma, of which there is much in the Celestial trilogy. The dynasty is also a literal thing in this series, as Esmae fights her brother and mother for the throne of Kali. It’s a tense situation all around, and I just so strongly associate this song with the series in general.
“Strong” by One Direction
But I don’t care, I’m not scared of love
‘Cause when I’m not with you, I’m weaker
Is that so wrong? Is it so wrong
That you make me strong?
rep: lesbian East Asian side character, wlw side character, side character with epilepsy
A contemporary novel about a girl whose high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream leads her to new friends—and maybe even new love.
The day of the last party of the summer, Claudia overhears a conversation she wasn’t supposed to. Now on the wrong side of one of the meanest girls in school, Claudia doesn’t know what to expect when the two are paired up to write a paper—let alone when they’re both forced to try out for the school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
But mandatory participation has its upsides—namely, an unexpected friendship, a boy band obsession, and a guy with the best dimpled smile Claudia’s ever seen. As Claudia’s world starts to expand, she finds that maybe there are some things worth sticking her neck out for.
I’ve spoken a lot (especially in my review!) about one of my favorite parts of Foolish Hearts being Iris’s, and later Claudia’s, deep love for a boy band. So, of course, I had to match a One Direction song with this book! Something about this song in particular reminds me of the softness of this book, in both its platonic and romantic relationships.
“Paper Rings” by Taylor Swift
Darling, you’re the one I want, and
I hate accidents except when we went from friends to this
Uh huh, that’s right
Darling, you’re the one I want
In paper rings, in picture frames, in dirty dreams
Oh, you’re the one I want
rep: bisexual protagonist, gay main character
“What’s your name?”
“Serena?” Elliot asked.
“Serene,” said Serene. “My full name is Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle.”
Elliot’s mouth fell open. “That is badass.”
The Borderlands aren’t like anywhere else. Don’t try to smuggle a phone or any other piece of technology over the wall that marks the Border—unless you enjoy a fireworks display in your backpack. (Ballpoint pens are okay.) There are elves, harpies, and—best of all as far as Elliot is concerned—mermaids.
Elliot? Who’s Elliot? Elliot is thirteen years old. He’s smart and just a tiny bit obnoxious. Sometimes more than a tiny bit. When his class goes on a field trip and he can see a wall that no one else can see, he is given the chance to go to school in the Borderlands.
It turns out that on the other side of the wall, classes involve a lot more weaponry and fitness training and fewer mermaids than he expected. On the other hand, there’s Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle, an elven warrior who is more beautiful than anyone Elliot has ever seen, and then there’s her human friend Luke: sunny, blond, and annoyingly likeable. There are lots of interesting books. There’s even the chance Elliot might be able to change the world.
Okay, this song and book pairing stemmed primarily from when Lover came out and two of my online friends were discussing “Paper Rings” being about In Other Lands. I think I happened to be rereading it around this time? Ever since then, I think of Elliot and Luke whenever I listen to this song. Take me back to 2019, man, simpler times…
“I Know A Place” by MUNA
I know a place we can run (yeah)
Where everyone gonna lay down their weapon
Lay down their weapon
Don’t you be afraid of love and affection
Just lay down your weapon
rep: lesbian protagonist, wlw side character/love interest, bisexual Panamanian-American side character, gay Black side characters
She’s never crashed a party, never stayed out too late. She’s never even been kissed. And it’s not just because she’s gay. It’s because she and her two best friends, Maritza and JaKory, spend more time in her basement watching Netflix than engaging with the outside world.
So when Maritza and JaKory suggest crashing a party, Codi is highly skeptical. Those parties aren’t for kids like them. They’re for cool kids. Straight kids.
But then Codi stumbles upon one of those cool kids, Ricky, kissing another boy in the dark, and an unexpected friendship is formed. In return for never talking about that kiss, Ricky takes Codi under his wing and draws her into a wild summer filled with late nights, new experiences, and one really cute girl named Lydia.
The only problem? Codi never tells Maritza or JaKory about any of it.
From author Kelly Quindlen comes a poignant and deeply relatable story about friendship, self-acceptance, what it means to be a Real Teenager. Late to the Party is an ode to late bloomers and wallflowers everywhere.
God, it feels like forever since I first read this book, but I just remember it really resonating with me, especially how it depicts how so many LGBTQ+ teens “come of age” later in life because of ~repression. When I was going through my reviews for this post, I read a tweet that I linked in this review and it still just really hit me. Anyways, “I Know A Place” is an anthem about providing a safe place for LGBTQ+ people, which I think Late to the Party tries to do.
“Oh No!” by Marina and the Diamonds
I know exactly what I want and who I want to be
I know exactly why I walk and talk like a machine
I’m now becoming my own self-fulfilled prophecy
rep: lesbian protagonist, gay main character, wlw main character
cw: blood, violence, gore, magic using self-harm, full list here
A dark, queer YA fantasy that’s perfect for fans of the Three Dark Crowns series and Wicked Saints. After Emanuela Ragno kills the one person in Occhia who can create water, she must find a way to save her city from dying of thirst.
Emanuela Ragno always gets what she wants. With her daring mind and socialite schemes, she refuses to be the demure young lady everyone wants her to be. In her most ambitious move yet, she’s about to marry Alessandro Morandi, her childhood best friend and the heir to the wealthiest house in Occhia. Emanuela doesn’t care that she and her groom are both gay, because she doesn’t want a love match. She wants power, and through Ale, she’ll have it all.
But Emanuela has a secret that could shatter her plans. In the city of Occhia, the only source of water is the watercrea, a mysterious being who uses magic to make water from blood. When their first bruise-like omen appears on their skin, all Occhians must surrender themselves to the watercrea to be drained of life. Everyone throughout history has given themselves up for the greater good. Everyone except Emanuela. She’s kept the tiny omen on her hip out of sight for years.
When the watercrea exposes Emanuela during her wedding ceremony and takes her to be sacrificed, Emanuela fights back…and kills her. Now Occhia has no one to make their water and no idea how to get more. In a race against time, Emanuela and Ale must travel through the mysterious, blood-red veil that surrounds their city to uncover the secrets of the watercrea’s magic and find a way to save their people-no matter what it takes.
The brashness of this song to the point of being obnoxious is LITERALLY Emanuela’s character and honestly love that for her. As I was reading this book, I instantly thought about this song, which is an old favorite.
“Orange Trees” by MARINA
I can see the flowers and the greenery
I take a breath of air, I feel free
Spent so long, was busy chasing happiness
When all I needed was a little peace
rep: side character with bipolar disorder
From the New York Times bestselling author of Love & Gelato comes a Mamma Mia–inspired tale about a teen girl finding romance while trying to connect with her absent father in beautiful Santorini, Greece.
Liv Varanakis doesn’t have a lot of fond memories of her father, which makes sense—he fled to Greece when she was only eight. What Liv does remember, though, is their shared love for Greek myths and the lost city of Atlantis. So when Liv suddenly receives a postcard from her father explaining that National Geographic is funding a documentary about his theories on Atlantis—and will she fly out to Greece and help?—Liv jumps at the opportunity.
But when she arrives to gorgeous Santorini, things are a little…awkward. There are so many questions, so many emotions that flood to the surface after seeing her father for the first time in years. And yet Liv doesn’t want their past to get in the way of a possible reconciliation. She also definitely doesn’t want Theo—her father’s charismatic so-called “protégé”—to witness her struggle.
And that means diving into all that Santorini has to offer—the beautiful sunsets, the turquoise water, the hidden caves, and the delicious cuisine. But not everything on the Greek island is as perfect as it seems. Because as Liv slowly begins to discover, her father may not have invited her to Greece for Atlantis, but for something much more important.
Love & Olives takes place in Greece. “Orange Trees” is about the artist’s Greek heritage. You can see how my brain connected them.
“Moderation” by Florence + the Machine
Then bow your head in the house of God
Little girl, who do you think you are?
You think you need it, you think you want love
You wouldn’t want it if you knew what it was
rep: bisexual protagonist, wlw side character
cw: gore, murder, implied torture, detailed descriptions of surgical procedures
He saw the darkness in her magic. She saw the magic in his darkness.
Wren Southerland’s reckless use of magic has cost her everything: she’s been dismissed from the Queen’s Guard and separated from her best friend—the girl she loves. So when a letter arrives from a reclusive lord, asking Wren to come to his estate, Colwick Hall, to cure his servant from a mysterious illness, she seizes her chance to redeem herself.
The mansion is crumbling, icy winds haunt the caved-in halls, and her eccentric host forbids her from leaving her room after dark. Worse, Wren’s patient isn’t a servant at all but Hal Cavendish, the infamous Reaper of Vesria and her kingdom’s sworn enemy. Hal also came to Colwick Hall for redemption, but the secrets in the estate may lead to both of their deaths.
With sinister forces at work, Wren and Hal realize they’ll have to join together if they have any hope of saving their kingdoms. But as Wren circles closer to the nefarious truth behind Hal’s illness, they realize they have no escape from the monsters within the mansion. All they have is each other, and a startling desire that could be their downfall.
Allison Saft’s Down Comes the Night is a snow-drenched romantic fantasy that keeps you racing through the pages long into the night.
Love makes monsters of us all.
“Moderation” is literally about Wren…she’s spent her entire life seeking love and validation from everyone in her life. She’s lonely and loves too hard. This is one of my favorite song pairings, by the way.
“Doom Days” by Bastille
When I watch the world burn
All I think about is you
rep: wlw protagonist, Latinx wlw protagonist
cw: death by drowning, parental abuse (emotional)
An electric romance set against a rebel art scene sparks lethal danger for two girls in this expertly plotted YA thriller. For fans of E. Lockhart, Lauren Oliver and Kara Thomas.
The summer is winding down in San Diego. Veronica is bored, caustically charismatic, and uninspired in her photography. Nico is insatiable, subversive, and obsessed with chaotic performance art. They’re artists first, best friends second. But that was before Mick. Delicate, lonely, magnetic Mick: the perfect subject, and Veronica’s dream girl. The days are long and hot―full of adventure―and soon they are falling in love. Falling so hard, they never imagine what comes next. One fire. Two murders. Three drowning bodies. One suspect . . . one stalker. This is a summer they won’t survive.
Inspired by The Picture of Dorian Gray, this sexy psychological thriller explores the intersections of love, art, danger, and power.
I’m pretty sure I was listening to this song while reading the ARC of this book. “Doom Days” has a reference to The Picture of Dorian Gray (“But how’d y’all look so perfect? / You must have some portraits in the attic”), and She’s Too Pretty to Burn was inspired by The Picture of Dorian Gray. I think the “When I watch the world burn, / All I think about is you” lines also really fit the atmosphere of this book too.
“Ya’aburnee” by Halsey
I think we could live forever
In each other’s faces ’cause I
Always see my youth in you
And if we don’t live forever
Maybe one day we’ll trade places
Darling, you will bury me
Before I bury you
rep: biracial (Algerian, French) protagonist, bisexual biracial (Filipino, Spanish) protagonist, ownvoices Indian (Tamil) protagonist, Jewish protagonist, mlm biracial (Haitian, French) main character; (biracial (Filipino, Indian) author)
Returning to the dark and glamorous 19th century world of her New York Times instant bestseller, The Gilded Wolves, Roshani Chokshi dazzles us with the final riveting tale as full of mystery and danger as ever.
In love they breathed. In destiny they believed. In the end, will divinity be their demise?
After Séverin’s seeming betrayal, the crew is fractured. Armed with only a handful of hints, Enrique, Laila, Hypnos and Zofia must find their way through the snarled, haunted waterways of Venice, Italy to locate Séverin.
Meanwhile, Séverin must balance the deranged whims of the Patriarch of the Fallen House and discover the location of a temple beneath a plague island where the Divine Lyre can be played and all that he desires will come to pass.
With only ten days until Laila expires, the crew will face plague pits and deadly masquerades, unearthly songs and the shining steps of a temple whose powers might offer divinity itself…but at a price they may not be willing to pay.
This is a tad bit spoiler-y, I suppose, so I’ll try to talk vaguely but yeah Séverin and Laila’s ending…When I first read the lyrics to this song, I immediately thought of them. The album’s release was also around the release of The Bronzed Beasts too, I think? But yeah, every time I listen to this song, I think of them…
“You asked for this” by Halsey
I want my cake on a silver platter
I want a fistful in my hands
I want a beautiful boy’s despondent laughter
I want to ruin all my plans
I want a fist around my throat
I want to cry so hard I choke
But I want everything I asked for
rep: East Asian-coded protagonist, bisexual brown side character, lesbian side character; (Chinese-American author)
cw: self-harm in a ritual/magical context, body horror
[ out July 26, 2022 ]
A darkly enchanting fantasy debut about a morally gray witch, a cursed prince, and a prophecy that ignites their fate-twisted destinies—perfect for fans of The Cruel Prince and Serpent & Dove.
Violet is a prophet and a liar, influencing the royal court with her cleverly phrased—and not always true—divinations. Honesty is for suckers, like the oh-so-not charming Prince Cyrus, who plans to strip Violet of her official role once he’s crowned at the end of the summer—unless Violet does something about it.
But when the king asks her to falsely prophesy Cyrus’s love story for an upcoming ball, Violet awakens a dreaded curse, one that will end in either damnation or salvation for the kingdom—all depending on the prince’s choice of future bride. Violet faces her own choice: Seize an opportunity to gain control of her own destiny, no matter the cost, or give in to the ill-fated attraction that’s growing between her and Cyrus.
Violet’s wits may protect her in the cutthroat court, but they can’t change her fate. And as the boundary between hatred and love grows ever thinner with the prince, Violet must untangle a wicked web of deceit in order to save herself and the kingdom—or doom them all.
I’ll talk more about this track when I post my playlist for this book (in July!), but I think when the album came out, I saw the author tweet that this was a Violet song? And then I got to read an ARC and immediately agreed. The title “You asked for this” pretty much sums up Violet and the complexity of her character, how she has to deal with the consequences of things that she’s wanted for so long.
Do you associate any songs with certain books?