Like This Song? Read That Book! // Pairing Music and Literature (aka my two favorite things) Together

Music and books are two things that I love from the bottom of my heart.

I love each one for the same reasons: they have the special ability to surround you with a thick cloud of emotions, and can simply change your life in a heartbeat.

I know that I couldn’t live without either of these forms of art, and I’m constantly looking for ways to shove my favorites into everyone’s faces… so that’s why I’m here today to pair 8 songs I love with 8 books I love (while I gush about all of them)! 

Before I get started, please use these resources to support the Black community and demand justice for everything that has been going on. Remember to always show your support, even when social justice isn’t “trending.”

Sign Petitions
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– Educate yourself with these resources here or here
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Buy from Black-owned independent bookstores
Stream these videos to donate

Overall: this site has many links including petitions, funds to donate to, organizations to support and more.

Please also use these resources for the Palestine conlict here and here, and for the Yemen crisis here.


Like the song Ribs by Lorde? Read the book Radio Silence by Alice Oseman!

(click the album cover to listen to the song on YouTube, click the book cover to see the book on Goodreads)

“This dream isn’t feeling sweet
We’re reeling through the midnight streets
And I’ve never felt more alone
It feels so scary, getting old”

“You’re the only friend I need
Sharing beds like little kids
Laughing ’til our ribs get tough

But that will never be enough”

(all featured quotes are lyrics from the song)

Lorde is one of my favorite musical artists of all time, and for good reason: her songs are guaranteed to drown you in feelings. If you’ve listened to Ribs, you know that its’ melancholy, nostalgic tone matched with lyrics speaking of the constant fear that arises from getting older are extraordinarily unique.

Radio Silence is a beautiful book that involves many of the same messages! It follows Frances: a girl who has recently graduated from college and isn’t quite sure what she wants to do with her life anymore. She creates strong bonds with many people and together they face the daunting pressure that comes from growing old.

This song and book pair so perfectly that if Radio Silence were to be a movie, I can clearly imagine Ribs playing in the opening credits! (And if you’ve read the book, you know how perfectly the song lyrics featured above fit!)

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Like the song Burned by Grace Vanderwaal? Read the book A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi!

Just the Beginning (Grace VanderWaal album) - Wikipedia A Very Large Expanse of Sea

(click the album cover to listen to the song on YouTube, click the book cover to see the book on Goodreads)

You don’t play with fire
Unless you wanna get burned,
Wanna get burned”

A Very Large Expanse of Sea is a book that I will always love, although I certainly haven’t talked about it enough! I was swept up in its story of Shirin, a Muslim girl who has to deal with constant Islamophobia in the aftermath of 9/11. In fact, I was moved to tears while reading about her journey and the horrifying prejudice and lengths people went to tell her that she wasn’t wanted.

The song that instantly comes to my mind when I think of this book is Grace Vanderwaal’s Burned: her raspy, aching vocals and the thrumming piano powerfully paint a scene similar to Shirin’s struggle. This pairing is mostly based on the overall feeling of the song and book rather than the lyrics, as both are drenched in anger, frustration and despair.Header and Divider (1)

Like the song Crush by Tessa Violet? Read the book A Match Made in Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai!

Bad Ideas (album) - Wikipedia A Match Made in Mehendi

(click the album cover to listen to the song on YouTube, click the book cover to see the book on Goodreads)

And I’m just tryna play it cool now
But that’s not what I wanna do now
And I’m not tryna be with you now, you now”

Tessa Violet’s playful voice and the peppy, upbeat track simply define Crush as the ‘😊’ emoji in song form. You can’t help but smile when listening to this song, especially because the lyrics are so catchy! 

I chose A Match Made In Mehendi to go with this song because they’re are filled with a plethora of adorable, blush-inducing moments. While I had a few problems with the actual story of A Match Made In Mehendi, it fits the vibe of Crush perfectly. In fact, the book follows Simi as she develops a matchmaking app to help make her place in high school and climb the social ladder. (Also, the Indian representation warmed my heart so, so much — anytime chai or samosas were mentioned I just melted!!)

Listening to this song or reading this book just sparks the hopeless romantic in me, and I’m sure that I’m not the only one!

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Like the song Florets by Grace Vanderwaal? Read the book I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn!

Just the Beginning (Grace VanderWaal album) - Wikipedia I Love You So Mochi

(click the album cover to listen to the song on YouTube, click the book cover to see the book on Goodreads)

“I wanna dance in the air
Blowing florets
And just not care about anyone or anything but you and me
So don’t let go of me”

(Yes, we’re featuring another Grace Vanderwaal song because these two just fit perfectly!)

Florets is the kind of song that makes you feel like traveling to a flower field in the middle of nowhere and dancing your heart out. If this song were a color, it would be pastel pink: soft, sweet and the exact shade I imagine those flowers in the field would be! 

And not only does I Love You So Mochi boast pastel pink flowers on its’ cover, but it also fills me with the happiest feelings! This book is all about Kimi and her journey traveling through Japan as she looks for her one true passion. It features lovely family bonds as well as an adorable romance: I can definitely see all the characters having a wholesome, albeit rather spotaneous dance party together. 

♡ You Might Also Like: My Mini Review of I Love You So Mochi

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Like the song Marilyn by Alice Kristiansen? Read the book We Are Okay by Nina LaCour!

Alice Kristiansen - Streetlights Lyrics and Tracklist | Genius We Are Okay

(click the album cover to listen to the song on YouTube, click the book cover to see the book on Goodreads)

“I need you more than I want to
You need me more than you say you do
Tell me now what happens in the end
Tell me now what happens in the end”

At the surface, Marilyn seems like a simple song, but when you take a minute to look at the lyrics, you realize that Alice Kristiansen is singing with a certain sadness in her voice. This reminds me so much of We Are Okay: a contemporary novel that follows Mabel and unfolds layers of her past as the story goes on.

Marilyn and We Are Okay both are filled with longing, sadness, but also curiosity of what will happen next. They also have such a winter-y aesthetic to them that I can’t think of one without being reminded of the other!

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Like the song What If by Rhys Lewis? Read the book What I Carry by Jennifer Longo!

Rhys Lewis - What If What I Carry

(click the album cover to listen to the song on YouTube, click the book cover to see the book on Goodreads)

“But what if, what if we’d held on for longer
And what if, what if breaking made us stronger
Either way I’m contemplating
If there’s a way to get you back”

What I Carry is an underrated gem of a novel; it quickly rose to the title of one of my favorite books of 2020 after I read it, especially after the beautiful characters and strong themes latched onto my heart and ended up staying for a while. This novel follows Muir, a girl aging out of the foster care system, as she finds people she loves for the first time and dares to dream of a family.

Muir’s internal struggle between wanting to only fend for herself and realizing that it’s okay to let people in is perfectly reflected in Rhys Lewis’s song What If — both speak of regret and the quiet power of might-have-beens. While the tone of this song and book can be disheartening at times, both also end with the sparkling promise of hope

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Like the song you should see me in a crown by Billie Eilish? Read the book You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson!

When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? - Wikipedia You Should See Me in a Crown

(click the album cover to listen to the song on YouTube, click the book cover to see the book on Goodreads)

“You should see me in a crown
I’m gonna run this nothing town
Watch me make ’em bow
One by one by, one”

(This pairing is different because I’m pretty sure that the author of You Should See Me In A Crown was inspired by Billie Eilish’s song, but I’m still including it because I’m too excited to talk about both.)

You Should See Me In A Crown (the novel) is a recent favorite of mine, especially because it’s the kind of book that slowly creeps up on you — in the best way possible. I loved the characters’ relationships, how the plot played on common tropes, and most importantly, the main character Liz’s journey in realizing that she was worth so much more than what others tried to tell her.

The song you should see me in a crown is bold, assertive and ebbs of confidence. This pairing is based more on its’ lyrics, though, as they match quite well with the book!

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Like the song Idle Town by Conan Gray? Read the book Famous In A Small Town by Emma Mills!

Sunset Season - Wikipedia Famous in a Small Town

(click the album cover to listen to the song on YouTube, click the book cover to see the book on Goodreads)

“Yeah, I think that we’ll all be okay (In our idle town)
The idle town will stay as it stays (In our idle town)
And everyone I love’s in this place (In our idle town)”

We’re ending these pairings with a soft, comforting song and an even softer, comforting book! I’m sure you all know by now that I always read an Emma Mills contemporary when I’m in need of a pick-me-up: her formula to crafting lovable characters, adorable romances, and beautiful friendships has (almost) never let me down.

I absolutely loved Famous In A Small Town for so many reasons, especially the small-town setting and Sophie’s amazing friend group! The moment I finished it, I realized that it reminded me so much of Conan Gray’s Idle Town. This song features the most gentle, tender melody, and speaks nostalgically of living in, well, an ‘idle town’.

If that doesn’t make it a perfect pairing already, here’s more proof: both the lyrics of the song and the characters in this novel come to the realization that the most important part is that they’re surrounded by everyone they love!


Let's Chat

what are some of your favorite songs? do any songs you know remind you of books? did you agree with any of the song + book pairs i made?

(also, i was trying a semi-different writing style in this post, so let me know what you thought of it!)


62 thoughts on “Like This Song? Read That Book! // Pairing Music and Literature (aka my two favorite things) Together”

  1. I ADORE this post!!! I like to think that I’m a science and math girl, but music and literature are just… so cathartic for me! I actually haven’t heard any of the songs you recced, so I’ll be listening to them today! Lovely post, Ash! ❤❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I GASPED aloud at the first one, because Ribs is the ultimate YA coming of age-type song, and Radio Silence is pretty much my favorite YA coming of age book! I love them both and they fit together perfectly.
    And wow, I just listened to Marilyn for the first time and it fits the mood of We Are Okay so well! I love it!! Yesss to pairing the two “You Should See Me in a Crown”s 😀 I can’t help but hear that song in my head every time I see that book. This is such a fun post, and I love all of your pairings!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ahh i’m so, so glad that you agree with my pairing of Ribs and Radio Silence!! you’re completely right that they both have such a beautiful coming-of-age theme. 😊❤

      i’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed Marilyn as well!! also lmao same, i was so excited when i found out about the book because i love the song. thank you so much!! 💖


  3. I love this! I completely agree about Radio Silence and “Ribs”. I’m currently reading Radio Silence, and I feel like it is Pure Heroine in novel form

    Liked by 1 person

  4. THIS POST IS SO FREAKING COOL AHH I LOVE!! Such a cool and unique and amazing concept.

    LOVE that Lorde recommendation and I wholeheartedly support hehe. I haven’t read any of the others but have recently been obsessed with Conan Gray. Oof he’s so amazing *insert heart eyes*

    I am desperately wanting to read You Should See Me In A Crown and HA love that name and how its similar.


    Liked by 1 person

  5. ribs with radio silence… so good 😭😭 i’ve been listening to lorde again lately after learning a few of her songs on the piano and they’re all so good!! i’m really bad at lyrics so i could never pair songs so well like you do, but the vibes of ribs and radio silence are definitely >>

    and though i didn’t love we are okay when i first read it years ago, i feel like it would love it now, so i definitely have to check out marilyn! the way you described it makes it sound so good 💞 loved this post, ash!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. omg yes i’m so glad you agree!! i love lorde so much and that’s so cool that you’re learning her songs on the piano (i’ve always wanted to play liability but i don’t know piano lmao) aww thank you 🥺🥺❤

      i agree that we are okay isn’t for everyone, but i hope you enjoy it if you’re able to read it now!! and yes i can’t wait for you to listen to marilyn!! thank you so much, may 💖💖

      Liked by 1 person

  6. your posts are so creative omg i love

    first of all, i love 1). ribs 2). lorde 3). radio silence so imagine my surprise when i put it together and it’s SO ACCURATE. makes me want reread that book while listening to ribs on repeat.

    i just listened to marilyn and it fits the mood of we are okay so well!! i was a lil sad potato when i first read the book and the vibes match *chef’s kiss*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. omg thank you ahhh!!!! 🥺🥺

      and YES to those three things!!! ribs, lorde and radio silence are all so amazing and i’m so glad you like my pairing!! also yesss marilyn is such an underrated song and you’re so right that the vibes completely match with we are okay!!! thank youu 💖💖

      Liked by 1 person

  7. […] ash @ starlight strands (under 500) has been blogging for longer than that (so maybe this won’t count – i’m not sure ://) but her new blog, starlight strands, was created quite recently! i love reading all her posts – which are just so unique and fun. ash is so lovely and i would really recommend giving her blog a follow ❤ […]

    Liked by 1 person

  8. as someone who loves both ribs and radio silence: i agree COMPLETELY. i loved how radio silence talked about the pressure of growing up and, particularly, going to college and following the “traditional” path of life.

    i will definitely be checking out burned as i really liked a very large expanse of sea. and seeing idle town makes me really happy: it’s one of my favorites by conan and i am super excited to finally read famous in a small town.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. i’m so happy you agree with ribs + radio silence!! yesss, radio silence addressed so many important themes and it will always be close to my heart. 🥺

      i hope you love burned, it’s such a beautiful song!! (ugh yes, a very large expanse of sea was AMAZING) yes to conan gray!! i hope you enjoy famous in a small town as well 💖💖

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Ash what a brilliant idea, pairing music and books is just plain genius 💕 I feel like when I’m listening to music I can definitely imagine a lot of characters from books sometimes singing the songs (is that weird?!) because the lyrics just apply to them you know ☺️ I definitely love music but I go through stages of listening to it lots and then just not at all 🤭 For me, I have to be in the mood for it but I have a playlist for every single mood it’s insane! I’m sorry for going radio silent *hehe pardon the pun* I feel like I really let my blogging notifications slip and it sucks! ☹️ Anyways amazing post Ash and you’re my first post I’ve read coming back and I wouldn’t have it any other way! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. awww amber thank you!!! 😭😭❤ haha that’s so fun, i don’t think i’ve ever done that before but i totally get what you mean. also omg!! i thought i was the only one who went through phases of listening to music all the time and then just taking a break haha, so it’s crazy to see that someone else does it too! yesss i love making mood playlists!

      lmaooo the pun 😅😅 but it’s totally fine!! i’m very glad to see that you’re back, you deserved the break! and excuse me you’re too kind, ily 🥺💖💖

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Of course Ash!! ☺️ It really is! No you’re not, I think I’m in the stage of just not listening at all?! I listened to hours of music the last few weeks when I was getting the bus to my new school (eek!) but at the moment I either listen to some Lori beats or enjoy the silence in the few moments I’m home alone 😂 They’re the best!

        I know right, my puns are superior 😆 Yes I’m definitely back now, I’m hoping to write a chapter of KIP today and draft an award post so we’re going to slay! Awh ily2.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I really like this post, Ash! It’s clear you put a lot of thought into pairing these books and songs. The song ‘Burned’ by Grace Vanderwaal is great, and so are ‘Moonlight’ and ‘So Much More Than This’! Oh — there’s a book I really want to read with an amazing title: A Phoenix First Must Burn. Now, if I know you at all Ash, I think you’ll like it 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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