The 20 Best Books I’ve Read in 2020

This crazy, insane, bizarre year is finally almost over. And as you well know by now, I’ve coped with that time and everything I was dealing with by reading more and more books. Between purchasing books I was looking forward to or reviewing new ARCs (courtesy of NetGalley), I read so many new books that I can barely fit them on my bookshelves and much less count how many of them I completed during lockdown. While it’d be way too long of a post to recap each new book I read, I narrowed it down to the top 20 (get it, 20 in 20??). So, keep reading for the best books I’ve read in this freaking insane year, and hopefully, at least one of them gives you TBR inspiration when you need it.

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

Ever since I read this ARC and then purchased a print edition after its pub day, I’ve been hooked. It may be my penchant, err fine, obsession for all things Bachelor Nation and reality TV, but this book was so intriguing about the behind the scenes of such a production. It also stars a plus-size, body-positive lead, which is such a new change for adult fiction, and a long time coming one at that. This book was so refreshing, endearing, honest, authentic, sweeping, and fun. Hey, it was even a five-star read from me! I just couldn’t put it down and absolutely adored it. 

The book followed plus-size fashion blogger Bea Schumacher, who becomes the new show lead of the hit Main Squeeze reality show after her tweets and blog post about the show’s lack of diversity goes viral. And after a major breakup that left her reeling, this is the perfect chance to get over that and up her brand all at once. While she claims she’s only here to promote better beauty messages and not to fall in love, things get complicated when she meets some dashing, charming suitors who may help her find the real-life HEA she didn’t know she was missing. This book is funny and witty; equal parts empowering, glamorous, and indulgent. It’s very juicy, and was I just so intrigued and hooked.

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Beach Read by Emily Henry

Everyone was talking about this book this summer, and for good reason, because it’s so darn cute and impactful that I just devoured it in mere days. Here, romance writer January Andrews and acclaimed literary fiction author Augustus Everett are living in neighboring beach houses for the summer, both broke and suffering from writer’s block. One evening, the two opposites place a bet that they can each write something different: Augustus will pen a story with a happily ever after, while January must take a stab at the next Great American Novel. The plan is for each of them to finish their book and for no one to fall in love. She takes him on inspirational field trips worthy of a rom-com, and he takes her to investigate some backwoods death cult. While embarking on these field trips and sending inspirational ‘beat that writer’s block’ notes from their respective windows, it’s obvious that the only place they want to be is with one another.

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You Have a Match by Emma Lord

This was another five-star read that I just couldn’t get enough of, and just made me positively sob. It’s set at a summer camp, and I adored all of the different activities and friendships (Savvy, Mickey, Finn, and Leo know there’s nothing like camp besties, and now I just wanna call my BW sisters!) because it reminded me of my best days as a BW girl and how those days at camp with my fellow camp sisters were some of my all-time favorite memories. Overall, I’m not quite sure how to put this book into words. It’s more than a teen romance, more than a summer camp adventure, more than a familial drama, more than a story of friendship and sisterhood, more than a comedy, and more than a deep, emotional novel. It’s a book in a class all its own and had me captivated until I read that very last word on the final page.

Seriously, I can’t imagine not having read You Have a Match, and in a way, it’s made me feel closer to my late grandfather, who’s my own version of the character Poppy. And after every single page, it’s clear this book rightfully deserves this five-star rating and a coveted place on my must-buy TBR list once it’s published. Here, we follow 16-year-old Abby, who in a bet with best friend Connie, takes a DNA test to find out her ancestries along with their other best pal, Leo. So, the DNA test revealed that Abby has a secret full sister, Savannah, who’s an 18-year-old Instagram star. The two are polar opposites to their cores but want to get to know each other. To figure things out and get to know each other, Savvy invites her new sister to attend the camp where she’ll be a junior counselor. Then, there’s also a precious slow-burn romance between Abby and her best friend and neighbor, Leo. This book is just so much fun and I actually cannot put it down, staying up way too late in two nights just to finish it. Then, we get so much juicy drama and a big family secret that overshadows romance for a bit, and things escalate that make me actually want to ship Abby and Leo at screaming and squealing levels, because that definitely happened. Things get super heartwrenching, and gut-punching emotional that I’m legitimately in tears when it’s revealed all their grandfather did for the girls.

Read the Book starting January 12


The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

So, in all honesty, I had seen this contemporary romance on bookstore shelves for a while now but had no real pull to pick it up. Then, I saw something on Instagram about the movie starring Lucy Hale, who side note is the perfect casting for main character Lucy. Seeing that inspired me to check out the summary for this enemies-to-lovers romance, which had me hooked. I pretty much immediately Amazon’d a copy to my front door. And boy, am I glad because I couldn’t put this fun, engaging read down. Here, Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman are rival executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. When news of a promotion is on the table, their hating game ramps up a notch as their daily battles hit a fever pitch. However, all this tension between the two has reached its fever pitch too and they discover maybe they don’t hate each other after all. It’s such a fun E2L romance read that I cannot wait to see play out on the big screen.

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Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn

After devouring the Netflix adaptation, I knew I had to check out the book. And guess what, it definitely lives up to the holiday and bookish goodness of the TV series. This is definitely the best of all three of the books in the D&L series, but they are all great with such a fun, dreamy meet-cute premise and gah, it’s beyond adorable. Here, when Lily is all alone for the holiday, her brother helps to create a scavenger puzzle in a red Moleskine, to be left at The Strand. Which, side note, this is like all I want in my serious lack of a love life, just saying. So, a surly teen Dash finds the book and accepts its dares. Soon, they start trading dares, hopes, dreams, and desires all over New York City, oh and feelings too. It’s beyond cute, every bit as adorable as the show, and gives me all the fun butterflies while reading.

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Heiress Apparently by Diana Ma

This was an unexpected five-star read that I still can’t stop thinking about because I just want to read it again. It’s like Crazy Rich Asians meets American Royals, and since I loved both books, this was obviously a must. And every part of this lives up to that hype. It’s a coming-home story and one of pursuing her dreams. Once aspiring actress Gemma meets her doppelganger cousin when she arrives in China to film her first movie, she discovers a long-held family secret. The book is full of drama, secrets, dreams coming true, and it’s so captivating and engaging. It’s more than just a YA story, it is so rich and wow, I loved it. Every single page, chapter, and character. 

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The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

From the first moment I heard Shonda Rhimes was producing a TV series based on this juicy AF book series, I knew it was something I needed. But naturally, I had to read the books first. So, I started with this first one and was so hooked that I had to quickly order Anthony’s and Colin’s sequels soon after. If this Netflix is every bit as witty, indulgent, fun, and romantic as this book then it’s sure to be a winner. Here, we start with Simon and Daphne’s story. Daff is hoping to secure a suitable prospect by the end of this Season, someone who isn’t as horrendous as Nigel Berbrooke. Meanwhile, Simon, the Duke of Hastings, wants to avoid all the marriage-minded society mothers parading their daughters around him. So, they hatch a scheme to enter a fake courtship to boost her profile slash eligibility, and lower his. But, of course, fake dating only opens the door to real feelings. This quick read got me more into the historical genre and this series, and it’s just so fun, grandiose, salacious, and romantic.

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Meet You in the Middle by Devon Daniels

I’ve actually read my digital ARC some four times in completion already, and then just its sweeping HEA an additional 2-3 times when I want to feel that level of comfort all over again. This romance novel is just that cute yet grounded. A slow-burn can be hard to feel connected to, but Kate and Ben’s quick-witted, feisty, and playful banter makes it delicious. That, and you can’t keep me from a good enemies-to-lovers book starring these two congressional aides from opposite sides of the aisle and the office building; that makes the inevitable romance so much more earned and justified by the time the HEA does happen. I just can’t wait to order a physical copy, so I can read this story an additional ten more times.

Read the Book starting February 2

 


Pretending by Holly Bourne

From page one, narrator April is snarky, relatable, witty, and I just love this tone and language. It’s so relatable and fun that I just want to keep reading because April feels so honest and real. She’s vulnerable and genuine, making a stellar protagonist and I’m so invested in her journey and story. Now, April, at the beginning, hasn’t exactly had the best luck with dating, and she’d fed up with that. So, she’s after revenge on any guy that’s hurt any girl and made them worthless. She sets out to make a new dating profile and date (or catfish) men as Gretel, the girl in her head that she thinks men want and is the complete opposite of the real her. This way she can break their hearts like they so often do to her. She matches with Joshua, and their first date is super cute, except that she’s pretending to be someone else. But, this experiment is helping the real her because April is becoming more confident and not overanalyzing every little detail, but of course, she starts to see they are quite compatible even though she’s admitted that he’s not good-looking, not bad-looking, and not a good kisser.

All in all, this book is witty and captivating, and I can’t put it down; I have to keep reading.  I loved this read because I get it, everything April feels, and it’s real, authentic yet still frothy, light, and fun that keeps you turning the pages. So many women’s fiction nowadays revolve around a man or romance, and getting a man to fall in love with a girl, her needing or wanting love. And it’s refreshing to see that this book isn’t that because love and relationships are real, raw, and messy, just like life really is. 

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Shine by Jessica Jung

I’d heard a lot about this next read before I even picked it up off the YA shelf. Sure, the summary was intriguing: All about a teenaged K-pop trainee eager to live her dream and make it into a band. Oh, and the shiny love story with a fellow K-pop star didn’t hurt. But, in all honesty, I didn’t know what to expect when I’d actually start reading it, and OMG, this YA debut novel delivers! It was absolutely precious and a book I just couldn’t put down.

Here, seventeen-year-old Korean-American Rachel Kim loves K-pop and would do just about anything to be chosen for a group and live her dreams. Six years ago, she’s recruited by Korean label DB Entertainment as a trainee where the rules are clear. Train and practice all the time. Be perfect. Don’t date. At first, the rules seem like no-brainers, but soon enough, Rachel realizes all the dark scandals of the controlling industry and the pressure to constantly be perfect, and she questions everything and if she has what it takes to shine and be the star. Plus, once she captures the attention of DB golden boy, K-pop superstar, Jason Lee, the rules get increasingly difficult to mindlessly follow. He’s the label’s big star, has the voice of an angel that blends in perfect harmony with hers, is flirty and charming, and only seems to have eyes for her. This book pulls the veil back on the glamorous, picture-perfect world of K-pop and K-pop girl groups, which is so interesting to get this behind-the-scenes viewpoint, plus an empowering protagonist, amazing sets, and a sweet-as-doughnuts teen romance.

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Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan

The second I first learned that Kevin Kwan was coming out with his first new book since the worldwide phenomenon that is the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, I was stoked. Here, we get a brand-new tale of a young woman torn between two men: her influential WASPy fiancé and George Zao, the man her family’s tried to keep away from her since she was a teenager. This book was so indulging and deliciously decadent that I just couldn’t put it down and had to devour it in a single setting.

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Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

Sittenfeld’s newest novel reimagines Hillary Clinton’s life and political career stemming from one question, “What if she hadn’t married Bill Clinton?” The fact that this compelling novel was based upon one of my feminist heroes and was authored by one of my favorite authors, I was initially drawn to this book. Then once I started it, I just couldn’t put it down! The beginning feels a bit like Hillary Clinton’s biography, but that just proves how well researched it was on Sittenfeld’s part. Then, you get into her fictionalized portrayal of relationships, career What Ifs, and more.

It’s so cute, interesting, feisty, and fierce at the same time, I honestly couldn’t stop reading. Sittenfeld’s portrayal of Hillary is everything a young Miranda wanted to be and to see that woman can be strong and powerful without the help of a man was inspiring. This book is like the empowering twist of history we’ve needed and yearned for since 2016, and I’m so glad to have read it.

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Act Like a Lady by the Ladygang

The hosts and besties behind the “LadyGang” podcast wrote this advice-filled, self-help, and humorous guidebook about what it means to be a woman in the twenty-first century. It’s a fun yet relatable book of essays that’ll inspire just about any girl to rise up and be a powerful force to be reckoned with. From taking on lessons with dating, friendship, career, self-confidence, and more, it’s all the message we all need to hear more. It’s empowering as heck and something most women should have in their arsenal to remember. These pearls of wisdom make a perfect coffee table book for any millennial apartment. You can read this in a day, you can read it again and again because it’s evergreen, it’s timely, it’s what you just need to hear every once and a while. 

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Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli

A close runner-up is her cowritten Yes No Maybe So novel, but this ARC just bewitched my soul as a reader. The summary sounded so intriguing and fun on its own when I first saw it. Also,  as a former theater kid and current theater nerd slash fangirl, this plot seemed right up my alley.

Here, best friends Kate and Anderson do literally everything together, even share communal crushes that don’t go anywhere. But when they both have huge, deep crushes on their theatre camp friend Matt, who just so happens to be new in school, everything goes crazy. This quick, one-sitting read is so easy to get sucked into from seeing Kate’s confidence grow, watching things with her brother’s best friend Noah blossom, and seeing her relationship with Anderson evolve as they all get older. It’s so much fun, and so cute for a YA novel, and like, eep, I definitely, actually, audibly squealed at one part. Bravo, Ms. Albertalli, you’ve done it again.

Read the Book starting April 20


Four Days of You and Me by Miranda Kenneally

As I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve been reading other books by Miranda Kenneally for years, so drawn to the strong characterizations, friendships, and of course HEA and love stories. And her latest YA novel has not disappointed me. It’s teeming with dramatics, yet feels grounded and relatable, and I love it no matter how many times I restart it.

It’s so juicy yet grounded, I absolutely love it. From the very beginning, I just want to know all the gossip and I couldn’t stop reading; I needed to find out what happened next. The book takes place across Lulu’s four years of high school, based around the class trips at the end of the year, which somehow always brought her and Alex closer and closer. Of course, not all was revealed during the present timeline, the book seamlessly wove in flashbacks to fill in the missing gaps of Alex and Lu’s love story. It’s absolutely adorable and so easy to get sucked into.

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The Fangirl’s Guide to the Universe by Sam Maggs

This handbook for geek girls is so much fun!! It’s a fun, uplifting guidebook is for all the unapologetic fangirls out there, no matter what you stan. This book is for the fangirls and guys that are living their best stan lives passionately and free.

Author Sam Maggs writes from her own fangirl experience, which makes the book all the more realistic. With her first-person essays and lists, the book is chock full of empowering and informative language, plus fun, cute illustrations and graphics. It’s all about finding your geek tribe and then embracing this weird, wonderful geek life. Then, Maggs also interviews some of the top geek girls who use fandom in their careers, which is so cool to see their takes on the fandom world. All in all, it’s all about embracing your inner fangirl loud and proud, which I love to see it. Fangirls unite, it’s time to suit up and change the universe!

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Together, Apart by Erin A. Craig

This was everything I’ve needed to stay sane and happy during lockdown. Nine acclaimed, witty, and popular YA authors did what they do best and wrote short stories starring diverse and complex teens facing the pandemic, lockdown, and adorable first love stories. Each story was equally compelling and told a complete story with an interesting protagonist who learns that love always finds its way. The characters and storylines are all relatable, endearing, and engaging which makes the story so much fun, authentic, and beyond precious.

There’s one about a cute pizza delivery boy who gives the new girl in town a free book and cake; one where a girl is desperate to impress her crush on TikTok; two dog walkers getting closer; a new boy in town who can’t stop thinking about the girl next door; an enemies-to-lovers sitch from across apartment balconies; an unexpected romance that stems from a fortune reading and a take-out order; a flirty exchange that begins over two balcony herb gardens, a roommate enemies-to-lovers journey; and a mask-making entrepreneur and her famous crush. There’s something for every romance fan, and it’s just absolutely adorable and heart-melting. They are all so freaking cute in their own way between the love stories and the HEAs. It was something to make me smile during such a freaking hard time.

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Dearly by Margaret Atwood

In this brand-new book of poetry from acclaimed author Margaret Atwood, there’s an assortment of compelling and impactful poems, each that tells a story full of compelling language. These poems aim to make you think, feel, dream, desire, yearn — basically all of the feels.

Each poem effortlessly flows from one to the next and the book is impeccably organized, where I can see how poems and stories are related to each other with its seamless, well-positioned transitions. The tones and points of view are very realistic to the modern world, and while most are less doe-eyed optimistic, it skews on the darker side. There’s definitely a motif of sisterhood and women sticking together in their fight for survival, forgiveness, love, and strength. The poems have such rich language and captivating word choice that tells complex stories that capture the readers due to strong symbols and metaphors.

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The Trouble With Hating You by Sajni Patel

Seriously, re-reading this gave me all of the zings and goosebumps, even more than the first time. Like, every time I read this, and Jay and Liya realize their feelings, I swear, I can feel my heart beating so loud. This romance read is sweeping, romantic, and adorable. It’s hard to resist.

This novel lives up to that and is 100 percent adorable and totally squeal-worthy. I love how independent our protagonist Liya is and how cute Jay is as he’s head over heels in love with her, even when she tried to push him away. Their love story feels so real, authentic, and earned as these two people break past their boundaries to eventually find love and acceptance. The book starts where headstrong engineer Liya walks out the door of a dinner party set up with an eligible bachelor whom her folks are trying to marry her off to. It’s a shock to both of them when Liya keeps spotting her one-time suitor around town, and it’s Jay. Jay has everything right on paper, but after Liya’s behavior during that first meeting, he’s embarrassed and infuriated to see her. Although, that tension is too much to resist in this second chance love story.

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The Boys’ Club by Erica Katz

I was intrigued from the get-go while reading thanks to its relatable language that feels like you are in the main character’s head. It reads very quickly and is really intriguing. In this women’s fiction novel, high-achieving Alex Vogel accepts a job at a prestigious law firm in NYC as she soon finds herself seduced by the firm’s promise of glory, money, and powerful energy. She finds herself succeeding in the hyper-competitive Mergers & Acquisitions division and neglecting what we originally thought was a settled, happy personal life. Soon, a scandal rocks her corporate world and reveals the dark reality at the firm, she soon understands all the ways women are told to act to succeed and she cannot stand idly by anymore.

The book is less about romance or friendship but more about a woman’s drive to succeed on her own terms yet play by the “boys club” rules of the legal profession to get there. You aren’t rooting for Alex and a partner but rather her succeeding at shattering the glass ceiling for future female attorneys to come. It’s inspiring and empowering to see that as the primary theme of the story.

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17 Books to Read Based on Your Favorite Songs From Taylor Swift’s ‘folklore’

As I previously mentioned, I’ve basically been listening to Taylor Swift’s “folklore” and “evermore” on repeat all lockdown long. There’s something so special about these albums from its pretty melodies, lyrics that really tell a story, and the catchiness of literally every single song. And since each song tells such specific stories, I couldn’t help but think that many of the “folklore” songs remind me of some of my favorite books, just as “evermore” did. So, just like Mamma Mia, here we go again! Keep reading for all sorts of my personal book recommendations based on each track off of “folklore.”

Writer’s Note: In case you were wondering how on earth I put this, and its sister post together, I was meticulous in my choices. I listened to each track while simultaneously studying the lyrics. From there, I went to my digital and physical bookshelves, plus my Goodreads read list, and aimed to search for at least one book I’ve read that at least somewhat fits the song’s lyrics or stories. Now, not all are perfect matches, of course, since they are both original works. But, I tried to pull books with a similar plotline, character, love story. Something quite similar to one another. And that’s what we have here.

If You Like: “the 1”

Try: The Code for Love and Heartbreak by Jillian Cantor

If this song was set in high school, it would perfectly describe how I envisioned this YA read. Where, in the song, the main character is pining for their crush who doesn’t notice them, hell, that’s basically George about Emma. Then, Emma’s coding club project is a matchmaking app that goes awry because none of the couples last, which reminded me of the part of the song about wishing for love and their crush to fall for them despite the real couples not having a chance. Also, Emma just wants to do “cool shit” AKA make a rockstar app and find her niche in life and at school. The parallels just fit so well.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “cardigan”

Try: Hot Mess by Emily Belden

Now, this one took a bit of imagination to put together. The song is all about looking back on an old, messy relationship. So, as I looked back at my bookshelf to find a comparative option, my eyes flitted over Emily Belden’s debut novel. I imagine this song would be representative of main character Allie some five-ten years in the future looking back at that messy AF relationship with reckless Benji and the hell she put herself through to open his restaurant she invested in, while he ran off in a drunken haze with another woman.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song

 


If You Like: “the last great american dynasty”

Try: Heiress Apparently by Diana Ma

OK, this was an easy one considering it’s all about an outrageous, fabulously wealthy family’s life and their crazy shit. I went with this first book in the “Daughters of the Dynasty” series, because, technically this family is something like that. Plus, the song starts with Rebecca arriving into town on the train and the book picks up with Gemma arriving in Beijing via plane to film a movie despite getting mistaken for massive influencer and her newly found cousin Alyssa. There are so many family secrets and drama, and it just fits this song so very well.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song

 


If You Like: “exile”

Try: Once And For All by Sarah Dessen

The whole “I think I’ve seen this film before and I didn’t like the ending” part was my main inspiration. With that line, I think of someone looking at someone and knowing what’s going to happen, understanding fully it won’t be good. That reminded me of Louna at her part-time job at her mom’s wedding planning business in the latest Sarah Dessen book. She’s so cynical about romance that it affects her perspective in front of clients after watching years of poorly behaved weddings. Then, the “I can see you starin’, honey” line reminds me of how new hire Ambrose would always show up at her side at each event, like he’s always there and around, and she “didn’t even see the signs.”

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “my tears ricochet”

Try: The Night We Met by Zoë Folbigg

For one of the most emotional songs, I knew I needed one of the books that left me reeling. For a song that speaks about ashes, how the lover will love ’em till their dying day, and how the day they leave is the worst day of their life, yea that reminded me of this ARC I recently finished. Here, this vulnerable women’s fiction novel follows young mum Olivia on hospice, dying of cancer, as her husband (who’s been so scared to give up) writes the story of their romance to tell their young daughters. Even though it predictably ends tragically for her, the epilogue aims to put a meaningful, optimistic spin on this unexplainably sad moment and show how they’ll always love Olivia as they move forward because she accomplished so much she loved in her short life. And that reminds me of this song.

Read the Book starting February 11 | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “mirrorball”

Try: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

The chorus of this song says “When no one is around, my dear, you’ll find me on my tallest tiptoes. Spinning in my highest heels, love, shining just for you.” And, I swear, if that doesn’t directly relate to HRH Prince Henry and Alex then I give up!! It tracks so well since most of their relationship is in secret and in private. But, also it fits since Henry really helps Alex learn who he is because they see each other like they are looking through a crystal ball.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song

 


If You Like: “seven”

Try: Eyes On Me by Rachel Harris

To me, this song focused on being scared to try something new, and that’s Lily Bailey to a tee. Here, valedictorian Lily gets so stressed out that her dad forces her to take salsa dance classes for fun. Of course, she needs a partner. So, enter popular jock Stone Torres who steps in to help at his mom’s dance studio. When her dad offers him extra cash to be Lily’s permanent dance partner, he can hardly refuse. They spend more and more time together and create a beautiful love story, err, dance together.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song

 


If You Like: “august”

Try: Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe by Sarah Mlynowski

This song completes the teenage love triangle story off the album, with Sam becoming the “august” girl in her story, and it just fits so well. So, the “august” girl is the summer fling, who will be nothing more than a good time, hidden from anyone even when real feelings develop on her end. Here, in this book, Sam spends her summer (already perfect timing!) as a camp counselor missing her boyfriend. Meanwhile, Gavin is also missing his girlfriend for the summer. So, the strike up an inevitable friendship bond commiserating, however, that quickly turns into a bona fide summer fling “twisting up in bedsheets” through the duration of camp. Then, when their S.O.’s show up at the camp’s visiting day, she realizes her boyfriend isn’t her future and maybe Gavin is, however, he’s still stuck on his girlfriend because he was never Sam’s. Just like “august.”

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “this is me trying”

Try: Pretending by Holly Bourne

This song definitely fits April very well. In the song, our narrator is tired of her current life and just trying to move forward, feeling regretful about her past and wasting her potential. This reminds me of April in this novel, as she was tired of heartbreak and ghosting, so she wanted to try something new and be someone that people and guys would like because obviously, her real potential isn’t doing her any favors. So, she’s just trying to see if this brings her vengeance or confidence. And the chorus where the narrator reveals her intentions rings familiar to the moment Joshua finds out the truth about “Gretal.”

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “illicit affairs”

Try: Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory

It’s a song about a clandestine romance, so that reminded me of the newest Jasmine Guillory book. Here, lawyer Olivia strikes up a relationship with popular senator, and eligible bachelor, Max. But, since his career is in the public eye, they hide things. It’s quite similar to the song, except he uses a baseball cap and not a hoodie to shield his face! Their chance meeting soon sparks a whirlwind affair and relationship with plenty of heat, passion, and emotions. After concealing everything, like “they don’t even exist,” she realizes this hiding a part of her life isn’t what she wants.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “invisible string”

Try: The Recipe Box by Viola Shipman

This beautiful track is all about the invisible little things that tie people together, much like these recipes that literally connect Sam’s family ties.  Here, we follow Sam, a busy sous chef for a hot New York bakery, Her life isn’t going as she planned, so she returns home to her small Michigan town to take inventory of her family’s orchard and pie shop. There, she discovers secrets and memories of her family, one recipe at a time in the heirloom recipe box. Through this family heirloom, she realizes hidden truths about her family and feels so much closer to her mom, grandmother, and so on.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “mad woman”

Try: The Boys’ Club by Erica Katz

This song is all about a woman’s twisted life, all about “striking to kill” and “getting more crazy when you call me crazy,” “mouthing f*ck you forever instead of smiling,” and how “no one likes a mad woman, you made her like that.” Much like that haunting tone, I thought of this upcoming, thrilling novel and main character Alex, a woman trying to rise through the male-dominated field of Mergers and Acquisitions and all the misogynistic crap she deals with on the daily, plus how that shapes her career and life. The book is less about romance or friendship but more about a woman’s drive to succeed on her own terms yet play by the “boys club” rules of the legal profession to get there. You aren’t rooting for Alex and a partner but rather her succeeding at shattering the glass ceiling for future female attorneys to come. It’s inspiring and empowering to see that as the primary theme of the story, and that reminds me of this track.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “epiphany”

Try: Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer

This was a trickier prompt to fill, but instead, I focused on a certain stanza. The lyrics are: “But you dream of some epiphany. Just one single glimpse of relief to make some sense of what you’ve seen.” This seemed especially fitting considering Pru’s new superpower “she can’t speak about.” Don’t you think? Here, Quint and Prudence are biology lab partners sophomore year, and she’s been so annoyed with him over his lateness and unwillingness to contribute to their final project. Plus, after a nasty bump on her head at karaoke night, Prudence now has some magical, mystical power to enact karma on random people, both good and bad. She can magically give off “instant karma” when people do something as an immediate reaction, like if someone litters, talks rudely about her twin brother, or helps take care of wounded sea animals.  All this karmic justice gives her such a power trip, juxtaposed with spending more time with Quint at the center to teach her about his world and other perspectives in this book.

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If You Like: “betty”

Try: The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

The third part of Swift’s “folklore” teen love triangle follows James’ perspective who tries to do everything to win Betty back after breaking her heart and his summer fling in “august.” This seriously reminded me of Samson Lima from Alisha Rai’s first “Modern Love” book, and especially how this book was all about Samson attempting to win back Rhi and give in to her feelings when he always wanted to know more about it because dude was falling deep. Here, we follow empowering and fierce Rhiannon Hunter. She owns and runs a successful Bumble-like dating app, and career is her main, and well only, priority. Occasionally, she engages in brief hookups, like when she matched with the one-photo-only Samson for a night of good fun on the beach. While their dalliance went well and she actually was willing to give him another chance, he ghosted her and she shut off any feelings. The book starts up, months later, when the cynical app founder heads to a tech conference and unexpectedly spots Samson there, on stage, discussing her competitor that he’s now an ambassador for. Turns out, Samson still has eyes for Rhi. A temporary work truce and friendship soon reveals an intimate bond that is too precious to miss. Like seriously, Samson = James and you cannot convince me of anything else.

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If You Like: “peace”

Try: Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

The following lyrics from this track reminded me so much of Lucy Gray Baird and Coriolanus Snow and their relationship: “Our coming-of-age has come and gone. Suddenly the summer, it’s clear I never had the courage of my convictions as long as danger is near. And it’s just around the corner, darling ’cause it lives in me. No, I could never give you peace.” This section, from Snow’s perspective much like the book, really resonated with me about these two Hunger Games characters and how he couldn’t give her the peace and freedom again once she was chosen as a tribute.

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If You Like: “hoax”

Try: A Spy in the Struggle by Aya de León

This one was one I really struggled to find a recommendation for, pun not intended. I finally went with the concept of a hoax, a mystery, and her leaving “a part of me back in New York” because, hey, that was Yolanda. Here, Yolanda Vance is a junior attorney in Manhattan for a big, fancy corporate law firm, which was under investigation for security fraud, according to the FBI. Instead of shredding papers as her boss asks, she keeps them and becomes a whistleblower for justice. She then joins the FBI as a backup plan because she needs a job after she’s blackballed from corporate law for not shredding the papers. The FBI sends her on an undercover mission with a black extremist activist group in California. As she spends more time with the organization and new friend and college professor Jimmy during the height of the BLM movement, she soon begins to question her values and career, her legality here and ethics, when she realizes she’s on the wrong side of what she wants to be. There’s a bunch of similar aspects to this song, not an exact match, but similar characters and big pictures.

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If You Like: “the lakes”

Try: Beach Read by Emily Henry

This song is all about going to a lake, a romantic and poetic setting, for inspiration. And that’s exactly what lead Augustus and January to their neighboring beach houses. Here, she’s a romance writer who no longer believes in love and he’s an acclaimed novelist who’s stick in a rut. They agree in a summer-long challenge to write what the other does so well to help combat their writer’s block. She takes him on inspirational field trips worthy of a rom-com, and he takes her to investigate some backwoods death cult that’s eerily close to “the lakes where all the poets went to die,” just saying. While embarking on these field trips, sending inspirational ‘beat that writer’s block’ notes from their respective windows, it’s obvious that the only place they want to be is “right here” with one another.

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