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WHAT TO READ BASED ON YOUR FAVORITE “SOUR” SONG

Let’s face it, we’re all not-so-patiently waiting for Olivia Rodrigo to drop her next album so we can sing and sob our hearts out yet again to one of her magical ballads or pop anthems. The SOUR era was definitely one for the books, so here is a list of romance books you should read based on your favorite song from the album to maybe tide you over for the time being.  

“brutal” – “Today Tonight Tomorrow” by Rachel Lynn Solomon

If you’re looking for a book that brings the teen angst and chaotic energy that matches the vibe of “brutal”, look no further than “Today Tonight Tomorrow” by Rachel Lynn Solomon. It’s an academic rivals/enemies to lovers story of two competing valedictorians, Rowan Roth and Neil McNair.

The book has Rowan and Neil working at odds with each other in a game of “Howl,” a combination of assassins and a scavenger hunt, with the rest of the senior class. Rowan and Neil have to deal with the struggles of fake friends, insecurities, anxiety, transitioning from high school to college and even driving problems, all while falling in love. Or maybe they’ve been in love this whole time? Running throughout the city, deciphering clues, dodging obstacles, and reconciling their differences, it’s brutal out here for our love interests. 

“traitor” – “The Viscount Who Loved Me” by Julia Quinn

The song “traitor” most certainly belongs to everyone’s favorite Bridgerton couple, Kate and Anthony, from “The Viscount Who Loved Me“. Arguably the best in the whole series, according to fans, this book perfectly matches the feelings of betrayal in “traitor”. 

Anthony, the eldest of the Bridgerton bunch, is set on marrying Edwina Sheffield (Sharma in the Netflix show) but ends up falling for her older sister. Their whole love affair is filled with stolen glances and secret late-night meetings, but as Kate finds herself falling deeper into love, Anthony is hesitant to call it off with Edwina. While Kate and Anthony are having all these moments together, he’s also having them with her sister. 

“drivers license” – “The Cheat Sheet” by Sarah Adams

If you’re an original (OG) Olivia stan and your favorite is “drivers license,” try “The Cheat Sheet” by Sarah Adams for the vibes of “drivers license” if it had a happy ending. I know, it kind of defeats the purpose, but come on, it’s a rom-com. Plus, if you like friends to lovers, fake dating or sports romance, this book is for you. 

Bree is a ballerina and Nate plays for the NFL. They met in high school and became attached to the hip, but parted ways after Bree got in a car accident that ruined her dreams of becoming a professional dancer. Just like in the song, Nate and Bree have always talked about their dreams and all the things they would do together in the future. They always planned to have each other in their lives because they said forever, but they ended up alone doing their separate things. However, they have since reconciled and are best friends again who have recently started a fake dating relationship to handle a public relations (PR) disaster. And you know how that story goes. 

“1 step forward, 3 steps back” – “The Summer I Turned Pretty” by Jenny Han

If your favorite song on the album is “1 step forward, 3 steps back,” (1sf3sb) the ultimate testament to toxic relationships, then The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han is the book for you. The Amazon Prime adaptation took summer 2022 by storm, so if you haven’t read it already, you definitely should. 

1sf3sb was on the playlist for the very first episode, and it perfectly describes Belly and Conrad’s relationship. In the books and the show, every time that Belly, our favorite lovestruck 16-year-old girl, thinks she’s made some progress in getting closer to Conrad, something happens where he closes up and re-establishes that distance between them. Belly seems to be constantly preoccupied with what Conrad thinks of her, and most of the time, it feels like he isn’t reciprocating. They’re stuck at different points in their relationship, and one step forward just brings them 3 steps back. 

“deja vu” – “Every Summer” After by Carley Fortune

Fifth track “deja vu” is a second chance romance song if I’ve ever heard one. If you need a book that’s full of reminiscing about an ex and thinking back on all their history together, you have to pick up “Every Summer After” by Carley Fortune. 

Persephone and Sam met as kids in a small summer town, fell in love, had a fallout and didn’t speak to each other for over 10 years. Then, they meet again one summer and are determined to right their wrongs, all with new people and new partners, in their lives. The alternating timeline storytelling between their summers as kids and how they are reconnecting now as 30-something-year-olds fits perfectly with the concept of deja vu. 

“good 4 u” – “Funny You Should Ask” by Elissa Sussman

If your favorite is Olivia’s award-winning song of the summer “good 4 u,” “Funny You Should Ask” is your bet. This selection is maybe not as on the nose as others on this list, but it definitely still nails the sarcastic well-wishing. 

Based on a Chris Evans interview – and if that’s not enough to convince you I don’t know what is – the book tells the story of Chani and Gabe who met through an interview, as a reporter and a big-time Hollywood star. They spend the weekend together, and when it comes out, everyone is wondering if something transpired between them, launching the article to mainstream success. While both their careers are taking off, it seems like Gabe has moved on, unaffected and Chani is stuck saying “good for you”. 

“enough for you” – “People We Meet on Vacation” by Emily Henry

If you’re looking for a book that matches the hard-hitting, too relatable lines of “enough for you,” then pick up “People We Meet on Vacation”. Even if this song isn’t your favorite, still pick it up because everyone should read an Emily Henry book at least once. 

“People We Meet on Vacation” is about Poppy and Alex who met at college and became incredibly close friends. They frequently go on vacation together, first starting out as cheap getaways and then becoming paid vacations when Poppy became a travel writer. Throughout the years, they fall for each other but they split up due to an awkward misunderstanding. However, Poppy is determined to do whatever she can to rekindle their friendship because all Poppy ever wanted was to be enough for Alex, the person he could count on and the one he could love. 

“happier” – “Love and Other Words” by Christina Lauren

If your favorite song on SOUR is the sweet yet melancholic “happier,” then add “Love and Other Words” to your To Be Read (TBR) list. It’s yet another second chance romance, friends to strangers to lovers story (if you couldn’t tell, I’m a big fan.)

Set in the Bay Area, “Love and Other Words” is about Macy and Elliot (a Cal alum!). They met and fell in love at her dad’s vacation home, but parted ways when he broke her heart. When they cross paths 11 years later, they re-enter each other’s lives as new people and Macy finds herself comparing everything to their once epic love. Macy and Elliot wish that the other is happier but not as happy as when they were together. 

“jealousy, jealousy” – “Better Than The Movies” by Lynn Painter

If your go-to SOUR song is “jealousy, jealousy,” the teen anthem of comparing yourself to others, then try “Better Than The Movies”, though this might be just a bit of a stretch. 

This book centers around Liz, a romcom-obsessed high schooler with unattainable ideas of love, and Wes, her annoying next-door neighbor. In order to get the attention of a guy she’s had a crush on for years, Liz tries to make herself a whole new person with the help of Wes. She ends up constantly comparing herself to other girls, the girls he would like and wish she was more like them. Blinded by this “jealousy, jealousy,” will she realize that she’s falling for the wrong person?

“favorite crime” – “A Pho Love Story” by Loan Le

If your favorite crime is listening to “favorite crime” on repeat more times than is legally allowed, then “A Pho Love Story” by Loan Le is perfect for you. It’s also incidentally my favorite song on the album and one of my all-time favorite books. 

The book is about Linh and Bao whose families own rival pho restaurants across the street from each other. Underneath their parents’ noses, they come to know each other during a project for the school newspaper, helping the other find their passion and overcome family expectations along the way. In their star-crossed lovers arc, falling in love with each other was Linh and Bao’s “favorite crime”. 

“hope ur ok” – “Some Girls Do” by Jennifer Dugan

If you save the best for last with “hope ur ok,” I truly hope you are okay because this song pulls at the heartstrings. “Some Girls Do” by Jennifer Dugan is hoping someone flourishes and finds love despite unfortunate circumstances. 

The book tells the story of Morgan, who was expelled from her private school after coming out, and Ruby, who is still closeted because of her mother’s homophobia. Morgan is a track athlete who is confident in her sexuality while Ruby is a popular pageant girl who is still trying to figure it out. At different points in their lives, the audience can’t help but hope that their relationship will be okay and that Ruby will find her wings.

Kayla is a sophomore at UC Berkeley intending to major in English and minor in Education and Public Policy. In her free time, she loves to read a good paperback novel and write random short stories in her notes app. She also has an unhealthy obsession with ice cream, binging Netflix shows, and anything fantasy. Though originally from Los Angeles, Kayla is excited to be in the Bay Area and write about Berkeley life!