I’m not a huge Taylor Swift person. Some of her music is alright–especially her older stuff–but she isn’t really my jam most of the time. That said, when I saw there was a book tag going around, inspired by her new album, Lover, with tons of prompts based on character love stories (and a few other topics), I knew I had to get in on it. So I stole this from the lovely dinipandareads (go check out her answers as well!) and am happy to show off my own list now!
I FORGOT THAT YOU EXISTED: A book from your childhood that you don’t remember anything about
♪ it isn’t love, it isn’t hate, it’s just indifference ♪
When I was in elementary school, I won our school’s Young Authors Contest. As a prize, I got to go to this “conference” with kids from other schools and some published authors to basically talk/learn about writing. It was pretty cool. One of the things we got while there was a signed book by one of the authors there. The book when I was in 5th grade was Rosa, Sola. I know it was historical fiction, and I definitely read it, and I’ve reread the blurb, but…don’t really remember much about it.
CRUEL SUMMER: The worst book you’ve read this summer
♪ it’s blue, the feeling I’ve got and it’s… it’s a cruel summer ♪
I went into Again, But Better expecting to enjoy it–maybe not to LOVE it, but to find a cute, quirky story about reinventing yourself. Unfortunately, this one really didn’t deliver, and I was more than annoyed with it by the end. My review of it turned into something closer to a rant; you can read it on Goodreads here.
LOVER: A bookish relationship that’s perfect exactly the way it is
♪ can we always be this close forever and ever ♪
Oh boy, this is a tough one. I am notorious for finding parts of character relationships that seem potentially toxic or hard to believe. But I guess I’ll go with Vin and Elend from Mistborn. They start off with just a little infatuation, but over the course of the series, their relationship becomes such a good and healthy one–the two push each other to be their best, take care of each other when need be, and above all, trust each other with anything and everything. It isn’t all cutesy, but it is definitely love.
THE MAN: A book with a badass female main character
♪ if I was a man, then I’d be the man ♪
There really is only one correct response to this one: Nevernight, featuring the indomitable Mia Corvere. The girl literally doesn’t feel fear most of the time because her shadowy not-cat companion feeds on it. You can’t get more badass than that. But I will give some honorable mentions to Inej Ghafa from Six of Crows, Vin from Mistborn, and Kateri from Tiger Queen.
THE ARCHER: A book with great character development
♪ I see right through me ♪
The development of Ari throughout Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is beautiful, as he comes to terms with his cultural identity, his family history, and his own sexuality.
I THINK HE KNOWS: Your fictional crush
♪ he got my heartbeat skipping down 16th Avenue ♪
This is a tough call, because there are the fictional boys I love but know would be bad choices for me, and then there are the boys who would make genuinely good boyfriends. For the former, my heart belongs to the twisted-yet-brilliant Kaz Brekker (man, I love morally gray characters with tragic pasts, especially when they’re also geniuses). But for the latter…Nick Young, from Crazy Rich Asians. Not because he’s phenomenally wealthy–though not having to worry about money is definitely a perk–or even because he is super smart and a total sweetheart. What really won me over about him is how well he deals with his best friend Colin’s mental illness. As someone who has a history of mental health difficulties, having someone who was sensitive, attentive, understanding, and supportive through both the highs and the lows is super important. For that, Nicky really takes the cake.
MISS AMERICANA & THE HEARTBREAK PRINCE: A book set in high school
♪ waving homecoming queens, marching band playing, I’m lost in the lights ♪
Earlier this year, I won a copy of The Exact Opposite of Okay in a Goodreads giveaway. Let me tell you, that book was fantastic. Equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking, about a feminist, sex-positive aspiring comedienne named Izzy who finds herself caught up in a sea of rumors and internet-based slut shaming for a choice she made (and totally didn’t regret) at a party. It’s contemporary, highly readable, and so important and relevant today. Bonus points because it also addresses the problem with Nice Guys™.
PAPER RINGS: A book with a happy ending
♪ I like shiny things, but I’d marry you with paper rings ♪
Red, White & Royal Blue was an unexpected favorite of mine this year. The love story in it is so cute, and the ending is one full of hope for a better future, both for the main characters and for the world (especially the queer community) as a whole.
CORNELIA STREET: A setting you’ll never forget
♪ “I rent a place on Cornelia Street,” I say casually in the car ♪
Is it a cop-out to say Hogwarts? Because that castle is one I will never forget, from the assorted paintings to the wild staircases to the locations of classrooms and common rooms to the layout of the Grand Hall. The Harry Potter series was a huge part of my childhood, and I will never forget the school at the center of it all.
DEATH BY A THOUSAND CUTS: A book that broke your heart
♪ I can’t pretend that it’s okay when it’s not ♪
Flowers for Algernon. The last line gets me every time. It isn’t a book that breaks my heart romantically, but the ending is so profoundly moving and deeply sad, I find myself internally crying every time I finish it.
LONDON BOY: A setting that plays a big role in the story
♪ show me a gray sky, a rainy cab ride ♪
Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian takes place in 1989 in New York City, during the height of the AIDS crisis. This city was hit especially hard, and the book focuses on three teens–two gay, one straight with a gay uncle–as they navigate the tricky waters of sexuality, romance, family, friendship, and so much more, while engaging in protests with ACT UP and trying to make the most of their remaining time in high school. The music of Madonna also plays a huge role in the book, which further heightens the significance of the setting in both time (near the 90s) and place (USA).
SOON YOU’LL GET BETTER: A book that made you cry
♪ what am I supposed to do if there’s no you? ♪
Trick question: I’ve never cried from a book (because I’m apparently heartless), even when they make me so incredibly sad that I feel like crying. The same goes for movies and TV shows, and I have only cried at one musical ever: a small independent one called Seven Ways to Sunday. So…I don’t have a good answer for this one. If you need the saddest a book has ever made me, see my previous comment on Flowers for Algernon.
FALSE GOD: A book with a well-written sexy scene
♪ I know heaven’s a thing, I go there when you touch me, honey ♪
Y’all, I have nothing against sex, but because I’m not really into it myself, I can’t stand most sex scenes. Unless they actually contribute to the plot or character development, they’re not appealing to me. But I guess, if I had to choose one…I know I’ve already listed Nevernight for another answer, but this time, it is truly the best answer. The sex scenes between Mia and Tric are so well done. Yeah, there’s the actual sex part, but more importantly, those scenes show two hardened, cynical people learning to let down their guard and trust someone else and maybe have some actual feelings. Bonus points because they really make an obvious point of consenting before they do anything. Affirmative consent is super important and often overlooked in fiction.
YOU NEED TO CALM DOWN: A book featuring an LGBT romance
♪ shade never made anybody less gay ♪
On a Sunbeam, by Tillie Walden! This space epic/romance/graphic novel features not one, but TWO f/f couples, plus another major character who is nonbinary. It is sweet and gorgeously illustrated and really I could gush about this one all day.
AFTERGLOW: A great second chance romance
♪ why’d I have to break what I love so much? ♪
Nina and Matthias, in the Six of Crows duology. From two wildly different backgrounds that should have made them automatically enemies, the two fell in love, only for one bad decision to shatter everything. But when they join the ragtag crew to carry out Kaz Brekker’s impossible heist, the two come to realize that misunderstandings can’t really stop true love.
ME!: Your All-time favourite book
♪ I promise that you’ll never find another like me ♪
I refuse to answer this. Some top candidates include Harry Potter, Jane Eyre, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and anything written by Brandon Sanderson.
IT’S NICE TO HAVE A FRIEND: Your favourite friends-to-lovers book
♪ something gave you the nerve to touch my hand ♪
I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver was another unexpected favorite for me this year. Featuring a nonbinary main character who realizes they might be falling for their best friend at a new high school, this book is jam-packed with self-discovery, heartbreaking choices, and plenty of absolutely adorable moments.
DAYLIGHT: A book with a positive message
♪ you gotta step into the daylight and let it go ♪
I may be a sucker for books that emotionally devastate me, but sometimes I like some more uplifting stuff, especially when it’s nonfiction. Factfulness did a spectacular job of this, explaining how, even though there are a lot of things wrong in the world, and despite the fact that the media likes to paint a doom-and-gloom picture of the world, data shows that things overall are getting better in MANY areas. He emphasizes that saying things are improving doesn’t mean we don’t have any more to do, but rather that we need to keep doing what we are doing and develop even better ways to keep spurring more positive change.
Now, for my part! I tag Yolanda at Past Midnight, Susan at Novel Lives, Candyce at The Book Dutchesses, Amanda at Literary Weaponry, Books Are 42…and you, dear reader, if I haven’t tagged you but you still would like to participate!
Have you read any of these? Got any of them on your TBR? Let me know in the comments!