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1st June 2024

Pairing Books With Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department 

To celebrate Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour coming to the UK, we’re here with the perfect book recommendation to match some of our favourite songs!
Pairing Books With Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department 
Credit: The Tortured Poets Department @ Republic Records

Taylor Swift has released her 11th studio album The Tortured Poets Department (TTPD)! Alongside re-recording her masters and performing for three hours straight each night at the Eras Tour, she’s dropped 31 new songs. Her brilliance once again shines through her powerful lyrics, and this new era has Swifties more excited than ever. 

To celebrate Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour coming to the UK, we’re here with the perfect book recommendation to match some of our favourite songs.  

 The Tortured Poets Department – Just Kids by Patti Smith

 The titular track The Tortured Poets Department is full of literary references. Between Dylan Thomas and Patti Smith, it was a hard choice for who would get this spot. Patti Smith’s memoir Just Kids explores her complicated relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe. It’s an honest and moving story on youth, friendship, and love which Swift draws inspiration from on this track. 

 Down Bad – Ghosts by Dolly Alderton

 If you’ve ever been ghosted, you’ll know the pain behind Down Bad. In Ghosts, Alderton covers the brutal reality of ghosting. We get introduced to our protagonist Nina who meets Max. Alderton seems to set us up with all the trapping of a romantic comedy. Then, Max disappears and blocks Nina on everything after he tells her he loves her on the first date. To get back on her feet, Nina must deal with one ghost at a time. Alderton covers life after a heartbreak, and how platonic relationships can fulfil our need for love.  

 So long, London – Atonement by Ian McEwan

Yearning for something lost is familiar to Swift. So long, London associates heartbreak with the city. Just like Swift, Atonement links heartbreak to a place and time. Set in three time periods – 1935 England, World War II in France, and present-day England – McEwan explores how a half-innocent mistake can ruin lives. Narrated by the flawed Briony Tallis, she covers how she falsely accused her sister Cecilia’s boyfriend Robbie of rape. Briony yearns for an “atonement” she’ll never get and a romanticised version of her home, just like Swift in So Long, London. McEwan’s masterpiece covers the intricacies of love, guilt, and forgiveness.  

 The Manuscript – Writers & Lovers by Lily King

 Writing is therapeutic for Swift in The Manuscript. It’s a way for her to testify about the fact love did exist in a relationship even after it ends. Writers and Lovers follows an aspiring writer Casey who processes grief and romance through the process of writing. Casey is miserable in Boston, so she finds herself in writing groups and dating two vastly different men. The novel lingers on the feeling of being dissatisfied with life yet finding yourself in recording life through writing.  

 Fresh Out the Slammer – The Pisces by Mellissa Broder

 Fresh Out the Slammer is a situationship anthem. After spending time in a long-term relationship, Swift sings about the messy beauty of finding new love. The Pisces celebrates similar messiness as our protagonist, Lucy, falls in obsessive love with a merman after a break-up. It’s a super sharp satire with a truly unlikeable female protagonist. Broder’s writing is witty, vivid, and strangely sexy – Swift would most definitely approve.  

 ‘Loml’ – Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors

 Are you the loss or love of my life? Swift asks in Loml breaking down how a relationship can cross the boundaries of love into loss. Cleopatra and Frankenstein explores the fraught on-and-off relationship between Cleo and Frank. This is a story of how loneliness and addiction can drive people apart. Mellors makes you fall in and out of love with her characters as you watch them grow up and become different people. Their marriage is full of the kind of miscommunication that Swift sings about on Loml. 

Read more about our thoughts on Cleopatra and Frankenstein here!

 Clara Bow – The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

 Clara Bow is a touching reflection on celebrity and legacy. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo spans the entirety of Evelyn Hugo’s life and rise to fame. She marries for fame and, sometimes, for love but her biggest love is fellow starlet Celia St. James. Then her life, like Swift and her predecessors, is examined by the writer Monique to understand her legacy. Don’t be put off by the TikTok hype around Taylor Jenkins Reid. Her books are worth reading, and they all link together within the same universe. As Clara Bow follows generations of stars, so does Evelyn Hugo. 

Read more: TikTok made me read it: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The Black Dog – The Secret History by Donna Tartt

As Swift sings, old habits really do die screaming. The Secret History is essential reading for any Tortured Poet. Tartt follows a group of Classics students at a New England college after the death of a classmate. Her vivid prose conjures images of dark halls, wardrobes full of plaid skirts and trench coats, and haunting libraries all while telling a story of the deepest possible betrayal. Matching perfectly with Swift’s new aesthetic, like in The Black Dog, this is a classic dark academia novel. 

Getting Eras Tour Ready? Read some of our recommendations to immerse yourself in TTPD fully. 

Recommending a book for each Taylor Swift era

A ‘Taylor’-made star – Why Taylor Swift means so much to women and girls everywhere

Book references in Taylor Swift’s songs: Lyrical masterpieces

Inside Taylormania: What does it really mean to be a fan of the world’s biggest super-star?

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