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Books to read while you sing along to GUTS

Olivia Rodrigo
Olivia Rodrigo has done it again. GUTS was released on September 8th, and it’s everything we want it to be. A mixture of rock and sad girl pop, the album journeys the impossibility of being a 19 year old girl. In her NYTimes interview about performing “Brutal,” Rodrigo said, “I remember tears welling up in my eyes and being like, this is so powerful. This is what I wanted to see when I was a girl scrolling YouTube when I was 14.”And GUTS is a continuation of this sentiment. The entire album is an ode to every teenage girl. Behind the glitter eyeshadow and lipstick shades are heartache and the confusion of traversing the world of girlhood and womanhood.  

Books for songs from Olivia Rodrigo’s album

So, in honor of this album, I’ve curated a list of book recommendations based on my favorite songs (which was difficult because they’re all so good). 
Let the Right One In” by John Ajvide LindqvistSo, this one’s a little on the nose. But how could I not pick a morally grey, sinister vampire book? This isn’t “Twilight,” so don’t think you’ll come away swooning over this bloodsucker. It is autumn 1981 when inconceivable horror comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenager is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last... revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day.But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door, who has never seen a Rubik’s Cube before but can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night.  May I also recommend “The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires?” Talk about a bloodsucker!
Rouge” by Mona Awad Being a teenage girl inevitably means being self-conscious about your beauty, and “Rouge” by Mona Awad brilliantly depicts the lengths women go through to upkeep their physical appearance. If you read “Bunny,” you’ll already know that Awad is a fan of twisty and sinister plots, and “Rouge” is no different. Belle has been insidiously obsessed with her skin and skincare videos. When her estranged mother, Noelle, mysteriously dies, Belle finds herself back in Southern California, dealing with her mother’s considerable debts and grappling with lingering questions about her death. The stakes escalate when a strange woman in red appears at the funeral, offering a tantalizing clue about her mother’s demise, followed by a cryptic video about a transformative spa experience. With the help of a pair of red shoes, Belle is lured into the barbed embrace of La Maison de Meduse, the same lavish, culty spa to which her mother was devoted. There, Belle discovers the frightening secret behind her (and her mother’s) obsession with the mirror and the great shimmering depths (and demons) that lurk on the other side of the glass.
Boy Parts” by Eliza Clark What’s better than some good old-fashioned revenge? Sometimes, being the better person is hard, especially when you can’t even decipher your feelings. A wild and addictive story, “Boy Parts” fits the chaotic energy of “Get Him Back.”  Exiled from the art world and on sabbatical from her dead-end bar job, Irina obsessively takes explicit photographs of the average-looking men she persuades to model for her, scouted from the streets of Newcastle.But her talent has not gone unnoticed, and Irina is invited to display her work at a fashionable London gallery. It is a chance to revive her career and escape from the rut of drugs, alcohol, and extreme cinema she’s fallen into. Yet the news instead triggers a self-destructive tailspin centered around Irina’s consuming relationship with her best friend and a shy young man from the local supermarket who has attracted her attention. 
MAKING THE BEDThis one hurt. Rodrigo’s pain can be heard in every line of “Making the Bed.” It’s about continually making bad choices and not knowing why. It’s about getting the things you want and still being sad. It’s about life! For this song, I had to go with “Luster” by Raven Leilani, a deliciously heartbreaking book about race, careers, and lust. Edie is stumbling through her twenties, sharing a subpar apartment in Bushwick, clocking in and out of her admin job, and making a series of inappropriate sexual choices. Then she meets Eric, a digital archivist with a family in New Jersey, including an autopsist wife who has agreed to an open marriage... with rules.Edie finds herself unemployed and invited into Eric’s home, though not by Eric. She becomes a hesitant ally to his wife and a de facto role model to his adopted daughter. Edie may be the only Black woman young Akila knows.Raven Leilani’s “Luster” is a portrait of a young woman trying to make sense of her life, hunger, and anger in a tumultuous era. 
To end my list, I had to go with her second single off the album. It’s fun, has a fast beat, and is oh-so relatable. While I could have chosen a number of sad girl books (e.g., “Conversations with Friends” by Sally Rooney), I decided to go off the beaten path. All the Blood We Share” by Camille Bruce is a sinister novel based on the very real family of serial killers in the Old West, The Bloody Benders. At first, the townspeople of Cherryvale welcome the rising medium Kate Bender and her family. Kate’s messages from the Beyond give their tedious dreams hope, and her mother’s potions cure their little ills, for a price. No one knows about their other business, the shortcut to a better life. And why shouldn’t their family prosper? They’re careful. It’s only from those who are marked, those who travel alone and can easily disappear, that the Benders demand their pound of flesh.But even a gifted seer like Kate can make a misstep. Now, as the secrets festering beneath the soil of the family orchard threaten to bring them all to ruin, the Benders must sharpen their craft or vanish themselves.It’s a bad idea, right? 

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