11 Books to Read If You Can’t Stop Listening to Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘SOUR’

Even though I’m a millennial and not a cool Gen Z’er, I’ve still been listening to Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album, “SOUR” ever since it dropped earlier this spring. What can I say? Music that slaps, slaps; no reasoning necessary. Just like my posts on here that gave you personalized book recommendations based on Taylor Swift’s “folklore” and “evermore” albums, I’ve decided to do that for Rodrigo’s newly released album, too. Just like those two previous posts, I combed through each song off the album for core messages, lyrics, themes, and stories to see if any reminded me of some of my favorite books. So, keep reading for an assortment of book recommendations based on each “SOUR” track.

Writer’s Note: In case you were wondering how  I put this post together, know that I was meticulous in my choices. Much like my “evermore” and “folklore” recommendations, I listened to each track while simultaneously studying the lyrics. From there, I went to both my digital and physical bookshelves, my Storygraph already-read list, where I aimed to search for at least one book I’ve read that at least somewhat fits the song’s lyrics or stories. Now, of course, not all are perfect matches, since they are both original works. But, I tried to pull books with a similar plotline, character, love story, or something quite similar to one another.

If You Like: “brutal”

Try: Tiny Pretty Things by Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra

This song has such an angsty feel, plus lines about insecurities, exploitation, and even “I’m so sick of 17. Where’s my f*cking teenage dream?” From the moment I first listened to it, I felt my eyes drift over to my Tiny Pretty Things copy. This book follows a gaggle of girls at their prestigious ballet school in New York, who would do anything to be the star, no matter how dark. These girls are willing to play dirty to tear their competition down, which reminds me of the grit and angst in the song. Plus, much of the song is Olivia being insecure which I can see bits of Bette, June, and Gigi coming out.

Here, I’ll show you:

I feel like no one wants me (Gigi being the new girl at school)
And I hate the way I’m perceived (June, totally June)
I only have two real friends (Gigi, but also June)
And lately, I’m a nervous wreck (June!)
‘Cause I love people I don’t like (Bette)
And I hate every song I write (All three with all their insecurities)
And I’m not cool and I’m not smart (Again, all three with all their insecurities)

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “traitor”

Try: Heartbreak for Hire by Sonia Hartl

The twist, oh, the twist! When I listened to this track, I thought of that giant twist about halfway through. In this enemies-to-lovers story full of witty banter,  twentysomething Brinkley works at “Heartbreak for Hire,” a Chicago-based company that helps women take back their power and get revenge on the men that jilted them. This undercover gig helps her earn enough money to eventually open her own gallery, while still getting her frustrations out on her ex and helping to empower other women. When her boss reveals her plans to hire male employees, she questions whether or not she’s in the right field. She learns her former target Mark, with who she had a brief flirtation, is hired to work on her team. As she trains him, they get closer and she falls for the nerdy professor. Yet, the big twist comes when she realizes he’s ********** [potential spoiler has been redacted]. And because of that, he’s sort of a traitor to her and the company alike. Sure, he didn’t cheat, but this book was full of their “twisted games” and betrayal that hurt her.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “drivers license”

Try: One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

From the first stanza, I kept going back to Bea and her ex slash old crush, Ray. From the lines, “I got my driver’s license last week just like we always talked about ’cause you were so excited for me to finally drive up to your house,” I felt a similar tone to where Bea was at trying to move forward after all the things Ray always said to her about them. But then, “today I drove through the suburbs, crying ’cause you weren’t around” because he was with that blonde girl his fiancee. The whole book is built around the premise of Bea coping with her broken heart that Ray smashed into a million tiny pieces, which is pure Olivia to me. Plus, the line about insecurity and “how could I ever love someone else” is totally where Bea’s head is at. 100 percent.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “1 step forward, 3 steps back”

Try: Hot Mess by Emily Belden

While Allie was dealing with an addict ex-boyfriend that leads her in different directions, that push-and-pull gave me a similar vibe to this track. With the lines, “And maybe in some masochistic way, I couldn’t find it all exciting like which lover will I get today? Will you walk me to the door or send me home crying” that really reminded me of the beginning of this book, where some days Benji is this talented genius who’s head-over-heels in love with her or the tortured addict who walked out on her. Benji definitely “got [her] f*cked up in the head” this entire book. The back-and-forth of this read does show how she ends up doubting if she can run a restaurant after he bails and their “one step forward and three steps back” relationship that has her so confused. Allie meet Olivia and Olivia meet Allie, you girls have a lot in common.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “deja vu”

Try: Four Days of You and Me by Miranda Kenneally

The whole premise of this book gives off serious déjà vu, truly. The whole concept is that it follows the same couple on the same day (and end-of-school-year trip) each year for the four years they are in high school. Whether Lulu and Alex are together or apart, the book mimics the same day.  Then, there’s the line, “So when you gonna tell her that we did that, too? She thinks it’s special, but it’s all reused. That was our place, I found it first,” which to me goes back to Lulu spotting her ex Alex at Six Flags with his new girl giving her a Jolly Rancher candy, just like he used to gave to Lulu between classes. So much tracks. So much.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “good 4 u”

Try: Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon

Just focused on the very beginning of the book, it does somewhat resemble this angsty AF song. The whole premise is that the one who broke your heart has completely moved on when you are still a mess. That reminds me of the post-Vegas hookup between Annika and Hudson when they disappear from each other’s life. Then, he reappears in her office building and is a total work success while she’s struggling. The lines “Well, good for you, you look happy and healthy … Good for you, you’re doin’ great out there without me” seems to fit that for me. Especially as Olivia continues on, “Well, good for you, I guess you’re gettin’ everything you want. You bought a new car and your career’s really takin’ off. It’s like we never even happened.” Then, from the flip side, once we learn about the purpose of Hudson’s app: This song applies to that too.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “enough for you”

Try: Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella

This song reminded me of Matt and Ava once they returned from their whirlwind vacation/writer’s retreat. After they returned home to London, they discovered they were quite different and she “tried so hard to be everything that you liked” even if it wasn’t true to herself. She stayed in his modern apartment with his slobby roommates, slept on his uncomfortable bed, rarely went to her own house, let his parents drone on and on about his ex who’s so much better than her. The line about “I wore makeup when we dated ’cause I thought you’d like me more if I looked like the other prom queens I know that you loved before” and “maybe I’m just not as interesting as the girls you had before” really stood out to me about that part involving her insecurity about his ex-girlfriend. She tried to change herself so much just to be enough for this man she loved, which was just like what Olivia sang about.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “happier”

Try: You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

While this wasn’t an exact match, something about this book stuck out to me while I listened to “happier” and read through the lyrics. The whole concept of the book is that Naomi and Nick are unhappily engaged and searching for a way out, without getting stuck with the massive wedding bill. As they try to get the other to back out first and start in on their childish pranks back-and-forth, I felt the chorus sort of captured Naomi’s mindset as she realized one day he will marry the societally accepted woman that his mom would love and she’d be alone or with some fling. So, the lyrics of “Oh, I hope you’re happy, but not like how you were with me. I’m selfish, I know, I can’t let you go” kind of reminded me of that, where she knows they aren’t right for one another at this point yet can’t seem to walk away first. Plus, their whole cat-and-mouse games reminded me of the part of the song that goes, “So find someone great but don’t find no one better. I hope you’re happy, but don’t be happier.” Just as heartbreaking!

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “jealousy, jealousy”

Try: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

This was another song I just couldn’t quite find the right book recommendation that matched. Before I landed on Dumplin, I was stuck on the lyrics about confidence versus insecurity especially in terms of looks and relating to the whole body positivity movement. I saw the lines “I kinda wanna throw my phone across the room ’cause all I see are girls too good to be true with paper-white teeth and perfect bodies. Wish I didn’t care,” “But it feels like that weight is on my back and I can’t let it go,” and “Comparison is killin’ me slowly. I think, I think too much” and thought about Will’s struggles with her body images, not believing a boy like Bo could want her as she was or that she could enter or win the beauty pageant.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “favorite crime”

Try: Lore by Alexandra Bracken

While I definitely clocked the song relating to a romantic couple, I thought Lore related to the same story just not in a romantic way. I compared this track’s message to the twist after Lore decided to bind her fate to her so-called mentor in an attempt to save the world. If you listen to the lines “Know that I loved you so bad, I let you treat me like that. I was your willing accomplice, honey” or “And I watched as you fled the scene, doe-eyed as you buried me,” I saw a similarity to how she blindly decided to follow her mentor of sorts, Athena. Then, there’s the part about “you used me as an alibi” and how “I crossed my heart as you crossed the line,” which definitely could be the soundtrack to that big twist/reveal scene.

Read the Book | Listen To the Song


If You Like: “hope ur ok”

Try: This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens

As I listened to these lyrics, I heard Olivia sing about how she once knew this boy and sort of watched him from afar, wishing he’d just be okay even if they never saw one another again. That sort of reminded me of this book I read as an ARC last year when Quinn and Minnie kept randomly meeting once a year. From the lines “I knew a boy once when I was small. A tow-head blond with eyes of salt,” that reminded me of this read. Plus, even though they “fell out of touch” and didn’t “know if I’ll see you again someday,” they still wanted everything to work out with them each time met and tried to make their day/night better each time they re-met.

 

Read the Book | Listen To the Song

5 One-Sitting Reads That I Haven’t Stopped Thinking About

Hey, it’s me, and as you can guess from this title, I’m still reading a lot. I mean, that’s just me. C’est la vie. The other weekend, I ventured out to Barnes & Noble for a little book buying excursion, because second to reading books, buying them is another super fun hobby. And, I’ve already been reading the heck out of my latest TBR additions.

So, settle back into another edition of Miranda’s Book Nook for even more book recommendations that I’m absolutely obsessing over. (Side note: If only you could see me night after night, reading my latest novel underneath the teeny light of my flashlight. It feels like I’m 9 again, desperate to stay up later just to keep reading my book without getting caught by my parents for staying awake past my bedtime.)

Shine by Jessica Jung

I’d heard a lot about this next read before I even picked it up off the YA shelf, from both TikTok’s #BookTok crew, its NetGalley profile, and the fact that the author was once in one of the biggest K-pop bands of the decade. 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. Plus, my shipper heart was going crazy with everything between Rachel and Jason. Apparently, Jung’s team is adapting this into a film, and I can’t wait to see these rich characters and vivid stories play out on the big screen. Based on what I just read, any film version is sure to be huge, incredible, empowering, and feature one of the cutest teen love stories about two pop stars.

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. What could go wrong? You know, except for the controlling record label. But may I remind you, the book cover includes the phrase, “All’s fair in love and K-pop,” so I’ll just leave that there.

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 (Writer’s note: If you read the book, you’ll get this line) teen romance.

Available: Now


The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

Alisha Rai’s been on my romance radar for a while after I devoured Girl Gone Viral in a single setting. I knew it was the second book in her “Modern Love” series and that her first book in it, this one, was beloved by romance readers, but I suppose I was so preoccupied by everything else on my TBR to pay due diligence to this romance read, and clearly that was a mistake.

When I was book shopping, I found this on the shelf, and everything I loved about Girl Gone Viral came back to me in a flash. I remembered everything I loved about that, and how Rhi and Samson were living out their HEA by then. Now, that her third book in the series, starring the girls’ other roommate Jia, is scheduled for publication early next year, I needed to go back and read this now more than ever.

Here, in the introduction to the series, we start with 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 her chance.

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 is the one-and-only former pro-football player Samson Lima and he still has eyes for Rhi. According to the summary “he won’t fumble their second chance” because, ahem, this dude has it bad for her. A temporary work truce and friendship soon reveals an intimate bond that is too precious to miss. 

Just like Girl Gone Viral, this romance book is witty, playful, fierce, and fun — that I could devour this read in a single sitting, feeling plenty of zings as I did for Jas and Kat. Now, I can’t wait to find out Jia’s love story even more when that’s released to the public.

Available: Now


Recommended For You by Laura Silverman

It’s a bookish romance, y’all! So, if you know me by now, I’m already sold. Quirky book nerd teens, working at a bookshop, set in the small-town South, and enemies to lovers. It’s like this book was made for my bookshelf. Plus, the summary describes this YA novel as “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before meets You’ve Got Mail,” which, like yes, please!

Here, Shoshanna Greenberg is working double shifts over her high school break for the holidays when she’s tasked with training new hire Jake Kantor for the gig. Their rivalry starts small when he seemingly is not listening to her and admitted he’s not a reader. Which, like GASP. Things are heightened when the Once Upon shop owner announces a bonus for the top bookseller this holiday. The ever-competitive Shosh sees this as the perfect chance to flex her skills in her favorite place (the shop!) and earn enough cash to fix her broken-down car. But, Jake also wants the dough for what is such a NJB, sweet reason, and I swear, I’m melting into a pile of goo over here once that reasoning revealed.

Soon, they’re neck and neck for the top seller honor and we get such a delish enemies to lovers trope for these two teens. Sure, she may despise him for actually working hard or not being a hardcore book nerd, but he’s like a Netflix teen movie BF type of cute and a fellow Jew, so like she’s smitten. As their competition ramps up, these two grow closer and closer and that spark burns bright. This YA romance was so cute and so pure, I can’t stop smiling now that I finished it.

Available: Now


Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory

OK, give me any Jasmine Guillory romance and I’m fairly certain that I can polish it off in a day and feel all the feels. And her latest novel is no exception.

Her initial romance book, The Wedding Date, first introduced us to Alexa Monroe when she met her now-hubby (in The Wedding Party) Drew. Now, it’s Alexa’s older sister’s turn. Olivia Monroe has just returned to the West Coast, and LA, in particular, to start her own law firm with dating being the last thing on her mind. However, one of her first days in town, she meets and strikes up a conversation with a cute, funny, and witty stranger named Max in a hotel bar. After spending the entire night flirting, she discovers the man she was flirtatiously discussing cake with, was the handsome junior senator Max Powell. Cut to weeks later, when she shows up at a fundraiser he’s speaking at, only now, he can actually ask her name and where she works because this dude’s got it bad and hasn’t been able to get her out of his head.

To get her attention and ask her out, this man sent her a freaking CAKE to her office along with his personal phone number on a note. I’d like to point out, if any prospective suitors are reading this blog, take note because you’d definitely get my attention with baked goods, and specifically, cake. So, yea, I’m liking Max already. This chance meeting soon sparks a whirlwind affair and relationship with plenty of heat, passion, and emotions. She’s caught off-guard that he, a U.S. Senator, is sweet, funny, and honest, and not just another privileged, rich white guy as she first thought. Due to his job in the spotlight, they start dating in secret full of clandestine excursions and random disguises to conceal their identities. However, once they are ready to go public with their love, the media scrutiny is a lot considering he’s one of LA and DC’s Most Eligible Bachelors and her rocky past. While they have such a strong connection, Olivia has to figure out if this life is what she really wants and if their love can survive the rocky media storm. 

OMG, this steamy romance read was absolutely adorable and had me rooting for these two from the jump and that HEA/epilogue made me squeal. Also, we got to check in with Alexa and Drew post-HEA, which that type of thing always warms my heart as a reader. Plus, considering the fact that many of Guillory’s books occur in the same universe with some of the same characters, I wouldn’t be opposed to a new book following Max’s roommate Wes falling in love in DC, and maybe even, we’d get a check-in from Max and Olivia there. Just saying, I’d buy that.

Available: Now


When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon 

I just finished reading an ARC of the author’s latest adult romance novel, Make Up Break Up, (be on the lookout for that review coming soon) and adored that read so much, that I immediately went to look up her other works because I was so captivated by that romance. So, I read this summary and was instantly intrigued by the premise.

Here, 18-year-old Dimple Shah is ready for a break from her overbearing family and their quest for her to meet and marry her future Ideal Indian Husband. Her first taste of freedom is at a pre-college summer program for aspiring web developers, her dream summer opportunity and future career. Turns out, her folks were in cahoots were their old pals and Rishi Patel’s parents to set up an arrangement for their two kids. The hitch he knows the truth and she does not. Rishi, oh sweet and pure Rishi, he’s a hopeless romantic and believes in fate and kismet about these two. And well, Dimple does not and, in fact, only sees all the ways they are fundamentally different and incompatible. But what happens when they are paired up for the program’s main assignment and they start to realize all the ways that maybe this is meant to be?

Now, this was a good and captivating read that I was sucked into and just couldn’t put down. That being said, however, something about Rishi just… I don’t know… he just tried way, way, way too hard and that freaked me out, let alone Dimple, and gah, I just wanted him to slow down. Once he did and they later embrace both their authentic selves, we do get a smile-worthy, cute yet predictable HEA to conclude this cute, sweet YA novel.

Available: Now