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Listen to Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department, Then Read These Books

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A new Taylor Swift album is always a big event on the internet, including fans carefully reading into every line for hidden meaning — a little like close reading poetry. But while Swifties have celebrated Taylor Swift’s lyricism from the beginning, no album invites comparisons to literature quite like The Tortured Poets Department, if just for the title.

The Tortured Poets Department album cover

Already, outlets have been putting together reading lists to pair with each song on the album — poetry, prose, and nonfiction alike. Pick your favorite track, and you can easily collect a reading list to keep you in that same state of mind. Here are just a few to get you started.

Book Recommendations for Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department:

“Fortnight” (Featuring Post Malone)

cover of Time is a Mother by Ocean Vuong

Time Is a Mother by Ocean Vuong

Barnes and Noble says, “In this deeply personal collection, Ocean Vuong (On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous) reflects on life and love, grief and time, in lyrical writing keeps us reaching for his work over and over again.”

“I Can Do It With a Broken Heart”

Devotions cover

Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver by Mary Oliver

Barnes & Noble says, “Required reading for anyone looking to join The Tortured Poets Department, from one of our most renowned and beloved poets. In her essential collection, Mary Oliver’s poems span her incredible career and encourage us to embrace the unknown and find beauty in the world around us.”

“The Tortured Poets Department”

All Fours cover

All Fours by Miranda July

People says, “When an artist of some renown decides to take a solo cross-country road trip, her husband and child are happy to let her go. But she only makes it a short ways from home before she finds a totally different kind of adventure. Atmospheric, sexy and totally unexpected.”

“Down Bad”

Trust Exercise cover

Trust Exercise by Susan Choi

People says, “Students at a performing arts high school in the 1980s obsessively strive to be the best in music, academics, but especially theater. When two of them fall in love, it sets off a topsy-turvy chain of events that wouldn’t be out of place in one of Taylor’s own tracks. Maybe she’ll take on this story next?”

“How Did It End?”

cover of Rouge

Rouge by Mona Awad

People says, “This dark and twisted take on the beauty industry and our obsession with appearances takes the line “We were blind to unforeseen circumstances” to sinister new depths. We won’t spoil the ending, but this is another one that works a little too well with this track.”

You can find more book recommendations based on your favorite track on Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department at People and Barnes & Noble.

Find more news and stories of interest from the book world in Breaking in Books.