Why Taylor Swift Needs to Read Diverse Books

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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 Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins

I’m sure you read these books back when they were popular in the last decade, and Swift is not an exception.

Aside from reading the books herself, she also contributed to the soundtrack of the movie adaptation with “Eyes Open” and “Safe and Sound.”

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.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

In the press conference for the book’s movie adaptation, Swift revealed that she had read the novel in 5th grade.

A couple or so decades later, she starred as the character Rosemary in the film.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

In a now-deleted press release from her former record label Big Machine, she said that this modern classic by Lee inspired her with her songwriting process.

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

It seems like Swift has a thing for contemporary work. In fact, her steamy track “So It Goes…” from Reputation was reportedly spiced up by a line from Vonnegut’s nonlinear book.

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

Rooney is struggling enough with newfound fame for her widely acclaimed novel Normal People.

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.

Swift once said that she needs “to be on the right side of history.” The least she could do is educate herself so that she may avoid making cultural and racial faux pas (like this one.)