Taylor Swift pulled a Beyoncé as she dropped her eighth studio album, folklore, on July 24, sans her signature gimmick. The “indie” record garnered rave reviews from critics and fans alike, and it’s full of Easter eggs and hidden messages as usual. But aside from being known for her drama-filled, intriguing songs, there’s a side to Swift that many people don’t know: she’s a bookworm as well. In fact, she has been vocal in sharing the books she liked through interviews.
Although it’s good to know that Swift reads just like the rest of us, it’s disappointing to find out that she hasn’t been paying attention to authors of color. There is a dearth of diversity in this list culled from what she has shared about her reading habits throughout the years.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
When the film adaptation of Green’s best-selling young adult book, The Fault in Our Stars, was being planned in 2014, he himself posted a comment on Tumblr that he was listening to 1989. This comment was reposted by Swift, declaring that Green is her favorite author.
Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
But I assume that her situation worsened when Swift declared that she liked Conversations with Friends.
In this day and age where racial injustice can feel like a crime, it’s a shame that at age 30 she isn’t reading more great works from Black people and non-Black people of color. Swift needs to start reading diversely. “You need to be actively antiracist, whether that’s donating, protesting, or just reading up,” according to this opinion piece on Boston Globe. The donating and protesting parts may have already been done, but reading up is also important.
As the world denounced anti-Blackness in the wake of George Floyd’s death, anti-racist reading lists became suddenly popular. They might not be a surefire way to change one’s views overnight, but they provide a good starting point. Let’s not underestimate the power of art in influencing people and society. I’m not saying that Swift is racist, but maybe by reading diversely, she might better examine racial inequality and her white privilege. You know, a little bit of character development and growth as a musician.
I think it’s time for her to subscribe to a reading list on issues of race. If you care about Swift (as I do), please encourage her to read diversely. As the biggest pop star in the world—some even go as far as claiming she “is the music industry”—she has the responsibility to influence her fan base. I know it might be too much to ask of entertainers, but she already has a political stance. And if she’s doing this, then she might as well do it right.