Taylor Swift is a gifted songwriter. It’s easy to immerse in the world she creates in her songs because they feel like real stories—and some are indeed real—so it only seems fitting that I match the 18 tracks of her latest album (Lover) with various romance books.
And with no further ado…
Track 1: I Forgot That You Existed
Book Match: Pucked Off
I’m taking the song title quite literally here as Lance Romero forgets the existence of childhood ‘friend’, Poppy. At some point the feeling of ‘indifference’ is true but of course, it couldn’t stay that way forever. (Review)
Track 2: Cruel Summer
Book Match: Double Standards
Cruel Summer is a song all about that passionate but chaotic summer love affair and Taylor may just be singing about ‘Double Standards‘ by Judith McNaught. Lauren (the heroine of the book) falls hard and falls fast for enigmatic Nick but at a great cost to her heart.
The verse that cemented this track for Double Standards is, “For whatever it’s worth, I love you. Ain’t that the worst thing you ever heard? He looks up, grinning like a devil.” Grinning like a devil is such a Nick thing to do.
And just to drive home the point, here are more verses that pertain to certain parts of the book (warning SPOILER):
Fever dream high in the quiet of the night
You know that I caught it (Lauren’s first time to fall in love)
Bad, bad boy, shiny toy with a price
You know that I bought it (He’s a bad boy and he comes with a price, alright. He broke her heart taking with him her v-card.)
Killing me slow, out the window
I’m always waiting for you to be waiting below (Lauren’s eager to know him but the more she knows, the more her heart breaks; she sees the kind of life he lives, the women he sees.)
Devils roll the dice, angels roll their eyes
What doesn’t kill me makes me want you more (But Lauren didn’t care and allowed herself to be wooed.)
And it’s new, the shape of your body (Nick is her first lover)
It’s blue, the feeling I’ve got
No rules in breakable heaven
It’s a cruel summer (But after their first night, Nick sent her away and didn’t contact her again. It was apparently a one-night stand. A cruel summer indeed.)
I’m drunk in the back of the car
And I cried like a baby coming home from the bar
Said, “I’m fine,” but it wasn’t true (She was devastated especially after seeing his photos with a girl rumored to be a lover.)
I don’t wanna keep secrets just to keep you (But Lauren has her secrets too)
And I scream, “For whatever it’s worth
I love you, ain’t that the worst thing you ever heard?”
He looks up, grinning like a devil
(Nick would certainly grin like a devil after hearing such a confession from her).
Track 3: Lover
Book Match: Love in the Afternoon
Lover is an extremely romantic and sentimental track reserved for the best of books and I finally came to the decision that, “Love in the Afternoon” (Lisa Kleypas) deserves that distinction.
Just like the song, Love in the Afternoon makes you feel like falling in love is worth it, worth all the pain and the happiness both.
Taylor singing about “Can I go where you go? Can we always be this close forever and ever?” is how Beatrix and Christopher’s long distance relationship can be summed up to: Christopher’s longing to be with Beatrix and Beatrix’s hope that her subterfuge will not come between them.
“I’ve loved you three summers now, honey, but I want ’em all” is Beatrix harboring secret feelings for Christopher since they started exchanging letters to the time he finally came home.
But what’s even more amazing is how this line perfectly describes the couple, “My heart’s been borrowed and yours has been blue.” Beatrix had to act like someone else in a letter (borrowed) and Christopher was lonely because of war (blue).
Taking this into account, Lover really does seem like a song for Beatrix and Christopher.
Track 4: The Man
Book Match: Devil in Spring
The Man is one of Taylor’s most controversial tracks and what better book to match it with than “Devil in Spring“—another Lisa Kleypas entry—with a heroine that is just as controversial.
Pandora disdains the absolute patriarchal society of the 19th century that it has become an obstacle to her marriage. She does not want to marry because she does not want any man, even her husband, to have control over her money and business.
She hates how women are treated like they are inferior to men and she’s vocal about it.
“I’m so sick of running as fast as I can, wondering if I’d get there quicker if I was a man..”
As a woman of her time, owning a business is hard. The process takes longer but Pandora shouldered on and didn’t let the men intimidate her.
Track 5: The Archer
Book Match: Beard in Mind
A self-deprecating heroine, Shelley from Beard in Mind is definitely ‘The Archer’ in this particular song. She’s always in a combative mode that people’s impression after meeting her is to stay away.
“Combat, I’m ready for combat
Easy they come, easy they go”
She’s aloof and she’s got a sharp tongue that turns people off. This made her think she’s not lovable. But for all her faults, Shelley is a victim too.
“I’ve been the archer, I’ve been the prey.”
Who could ever leave me, darling
But who could stay?”
But one person finally pierced through her shield and saw her.
“I see right through me
Who could stay?
You could stay”
Track 6: I Think He Knows
Book Match: Life As We Know It
I Think He Knows sounds as flirty as its lyrics. It’s no math that a sexy contemporary book should be its counterpart. Nothing matches better than “Life As We Know It” (JD Hollyfield)—a book that sizzles with sexual tension but breaks bubble with hilarious scenarios.
“Wanna see what’s under that attitude like
I want you, bless my soul
And I ain’t gotta tell him, I think he knows”
Track 7: Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince
Book Match: Paradise
Taylor explains in an interview that this track is a metaphor to America’s current political climate but the lyrics are still fundamentally a love story.
The general mood of Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince is a feeling of doom. From the deep bass to the haunting melody, it certainly feels like a tragic love affair. And if we’re talking about tragic, Paradise (Judith McNaught) comes to mind.
Meredith Bancroft and Matthew Farrell’s love stood the test of time and intervening family member before they got their happily ever after.
Maredith is the quintessential Americana, born with a silver spoon, blonde and gorgeous. Matthew is The Heartbreak Prince (more like a king actually), poor but devilishly handsome, engaging in affairs and leaving a slew of admirers in his wake.
“It’s you and me, that’s my whole world
They whisper in the hallway, “She’s a bad, bad girl”
Meredith and Matthew engage in an affair that shook Meredith’s carefully sheltered world. Suddenly, she’s a ‘bad girl’ in her father’s eyes.
“Voted most likely to run away with you” is especially fitting because Meredith almost did.
“And I don’t want you to (Go), I don’t really wanna (Fight)
‘Cause nobody’s gonna (Win), just thought you should know
And I’ll never let you (Go) ’cause I know this is a (Fight)
That someday we’re gonna (Win)
The bridge is an accurate summation of the book’s ending.
Track 8: Paper Rings
Book Match: The Allure of Dean Harper
The wine is cold
Like the shoulder that I gave you in the street
Cat and mouse for a month or two or three
Now I wake up in the night and watch you breathe
The verse above pretty much describes the progression of Lily Black and dean Harper’s relationship. They started as enemies, decided to be friends and ultimately became lovers.
Track 9: Cornelia Street
Book Match: A Crack in Everything
Cornelia Street sings of hope in a seemingly delicate relationship that is new but built on a foundation of love that is powerful, like a distinction between a first love and a great love.
“We were a fresh page on the desk. Filling in the blanks as we go” is Evelyn and Dylan navigating young love while caught up in different dreams for their future.
“And I hope I never lose you, hope it never ends” is the feeling Evelyn gets as graduation gets nearer and nearer. Will they lose each other? Will their love end? You have to read to find out.
Track 10: Death by a Thousand Cuts
Book Match: Fallen Too Far
At first listen you’d think Death by a Thousand Cuts is a fun song—the happy melody makes sure of that—but upon examination of the lyrics, you’d find that DBATC is actually a break up song.
Just like Fallen Too Far’s (Abbi Glines) pastel cover art, you’d think the story is fluff but upon reading, you’d discover that it’s actually quite angsty and in the end, the couple do break up.
Saying goodbye is death by a thousand cuts
Flashbacks waking me up
I get drunk, but it’s not enough
’Cause the morning comes and you’re not my baby
This couldn’t be any more true for Blaire who finds herself alone and heartbroken, memories of the boy she loved haunting her dreams.
Tryna find a part of me that you didn’t touch
My body, my love, my trust (It’s death by a thousand cuts)
Gave you so much, but it wasn’t enough
Those four lines hit hard as Blaire gave her all only to be dropped in the end.
But I’ll be alright, it’s just a thousand cuts
Heartbroken she may be, she’ll survive because she has to.
Track 11: London Boy
Book Match: Anna and the French Kiss
Etienne is the best London Boy, sorry folks. No once can dethrone him.
Track 12: Soon You’ll Get Better
Book Match: A Thousand Boy Kisses
This one’s a no-brainer and does not even need an explanation. Just like how the track wounds, A Thousand Boy Kisses will too but in the end, it will heal as well.
Track 13: False God
Book Match: Ricochet
False God has that dark, sexual undertone. It’s almost illicit in the way Taylor used religious metaphors for an amorous affair and Ricochet (Sandra Brown) is nothing but illicit. It tells of a forbidden love between two people.
I still do it for you, babe
They all warned us about times like this
They say the road gets hard and you get lost
When you’re led by blind faith, blind faith
Blind Faith is how I will describe Duncan’s complicated feelings for Elise.
The altar is my hips
Even if it’s a false god
We’d still worship this love
“Altar is my hips” is blatantly sexual. Duncan and Elise knew that what they’re doing is somewhat wrong but they still do it anyway (“We’d still worship this love”).
Track 14: You Need To Calm Down
Book Match: Bully
You know how it is. The bully in this book definitely needs to calm down.
Track 15: Afterglow
Book Match: More Than Forever
In this case, it’s Cameron singing these groveling lyrics to Lucy who he wronged.
Fighting with a true love is boxing with no gloves
Chemistry ’til it blows up, ’til there’s no us
Why’d I have to break what I love so much?
It’s on your face, and I’m to blame, I need to say
I’m the one who burned us down
But it’s not what I meant
Sorry that I hurt you
I don’t wanna do, I don’t wanna do this to you
I don’t wanna lose, I don’t wanna lose this with you
I need to say, hey, it’s all me, just don’t go
For what he did, he needs to do more than groveling though. (review)
Track 16: ME!
Book Match: Red Queen
Mare Barrow from Red Queen (Victoria Aveyard) is a hypocritical, narcissistic character and if she has a song, it’s definitely ME! The lyrics describe her to a tee.
I know that I’m a handful, baby, uh (you don’t say)
I know I never think before I jump (yes you don’t)
And you’re the kind of guy the ladies want (hmm hmm)
I know that I went psycho
on the phone (sometimes yes)
I never leave well enough alone (correct)
And trouble’s gonna follow where I go (correct again)
I know I tend to make it about me (always!)
I know you never get just what you see (yes you have so many fcking secrets)
But for all her faults, Mare does have redeeming qualities.
But one of these things is not like the others
Like a rainbow with all of the colors
Baby doll, when it comes to a
I promise that you’ll never find another like ME
She’s courageous. I’ll give her that.
Track 17: It’s Nice to Have a Friend
Book Match: By Your Side
A song about friendship that blossomed into love. Kasie West’s “By Your Side” is an apt book counterpart.
Autumn and Dax find themselves stuck in a library and as they spend time together, they get to know each other better and eventually form a special friendship.
Sun sinks down, no curfew
20 questions, we tell the truth
You’ve been stressed out lately, yeah, me too
Something gave you the nerve
To touch my hand
Track 18: Daylight
Book Match: The Goal
My love was as cruel as the cities I lived in
Everyone looked worse in the light.
There are so many lines that I’ve crossed unforgiven
If Daylight was a book character, she’d be Sabrina (The Goal). Sabrina doesn’t do relationships—only flings—and she has many layers no one cared to unravel.
Threw out our cloaks and our daggers because it’s morning now
It’s brighter now, now
That is until she meets Tucker who has the patience and understanding of.. well, a rare man. Tucker shows her what true love is . Suddenly, all the walls she put up are down. Suddenly she’s in love. And it was the most glorious thing.
I don’t wanna look at anything else now that I saw you
And I don’t wanna think of anything else now that I thought of you
I’ve been sleeping so long in a 20-year dark night
And now I see daylight
I once believed love would be (Burning red)
But it’s golden
Like daylight, like daylight
That concludes the book match. Have you listened to the album? Do you have other books in mind for the tracks? By the way, this post is inspired by Penguin Teen.