I love Taylor Swift. I am not going to lie. I am a full on adult and I just love her.
I even liked her when there was that whole Kardashian “scandal”. Not sorry. I will never side with the Kardashians over Swift, I don’t care how many bitchy recordings they have of her! Not gonna happen!
I think most people would agree that Swift’s music is generally upbeat, catchy and fun. It might not be your absolute favorite music, but you probably won’t switch the station either. Unless you’re like a total metalhead or something, but even then…
Folklore is different. Swift wrote and performed the album in isolation during the Coronavirus lockdown (collaborations were done remotely). I find the whole thing to be inspiring, the music and the story behind it. She made this incredible and gorgeous album in isolation.
Do you know what I did in isolation? I went for long walks and ate bread.
Anyway, the album tells a beautiful and cohesive story. It’s empowering and inspirational if melancholy. The music is natural and soothing, featuring little more than guitar, piano and Swift’s voice.
As I was listening to the album, I kept imagining some of these incredible books that I have read. I decided to compile a list to share with everyone. I paired sample lyrics with the summaries of the books, so you could get a sense of the vibe and see how they go together.
These are the books you should read if you love Folklore!
Circe by Madeline Miller
When you are young, they assume you know nothing
I knew you'd haunt all of my what-ifs
The smell of smoke would hang around this long
'Cause I knew everything when I was young
I knew I'd curse you for the longest time
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.
Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.
But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.
Follow this link for a No Spoiler Book Review of Circe.
Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Last Great American Dynasty
There goes the last great American dynasty
Who knows, if she never showed up, what could've been
There goes the maddest woman this town has ever seen
She had a marvelous time ruining everything
Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life.
When she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One by Amanda Lovelace
I think I've seen this film before
And I didn't like the ending
You're not my homeland anymore
So what am I defending now?
You were my town, now I'm in exile, seein' you out
I think I've seen this film before
The witch: supernaturally powerful, inscrutably independent, and now—indestructible. These moving, relatable poems encourage resilience and embolden women to take control of their own stories. Enemies try to judge, oppress, and marginalize her, but the witch doesn’t burn in this one.
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
And you wanna scream
Don't call me "kid," don't call me "baby"
Look at this godforsaken mess that you made me
You showed me colors you know I can't see with anyone else
Don't call me "kid," don't call me "baby"
Look at this idiotic fool that you made me
You taught me a secret language I can't speak with anyone else
Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.
2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.
2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?
Follow this link for a No Spoiler Book Review of My Dark Vanessa.
The Power by Naomi Alderman
Does a scorpion sting when fighting back?
They strike to kill, and you know I will
And there's nothing like a mad woman
What a shame she went mad
No one likes a mad woman
You made her like that
In The Power the world is a recognisable place: there's a rich Nigerian kid who lounges around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But something vital has changed, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power - they can cause agonising pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.
Summaries from Goodreads
You probably sensed a theme with these books, they all feature strong female lead characters. All of whom are more powerful than they realize. Mostly witches.
I think you’ll find any of the above books to be excellent Folklore companions. They all embody some aspect of the album, weather it’s the actual lyrics or something harder to define.
If I had to choose one book from this list for all fans of Folklore, it would be Circe. It’s a gorgeous mythological retelling of the first witch’s immortal life. It’s lyrical and pleasantly languid. It’s earthy and organic, like Folklore.
By now I’m sure that everyone has listened to Folklore at least once (probably thrice). What were your impressions when you were listening to it?
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