I am aware that this post comes at you rather late. SOUR was a massive release of 2021 and I’m sure everyone and their moms have probably already done a version of this post, where they recommend books based on the album.
But I *am* glad I waited a bit to do this post, as I’ve grown to love the album even more and also to read more books that would fit with these songs.
They say these are the golden years
But I wish I could disappear
Ego crush is so severe
God, it’s brutal out here
For this one, I kept thinking about what books I’ve read where the characters really are *going through it.* And Wild and Crooked immediately came to mind. This one is a dual perspective novel and follows our characters Gus and Kalyn, who strike a friendship without knowing that Kalyn’s dad is responsible for the murder of Gus’ dad. You can imagine things will get uh.. awkward when they find out.
🍃 This book is perfect if you’re interested in: platonic love stories, fleshed out characters, teen and adult angst, Shakespeare and family bonds.
1 STEP FORWARD, 3 STEPS BACK
Never doubted myself so much
Like, am I pretty? Am I fun, boy?
I hate that I give you power over that kind of stuff
Ignore the fact that Olivia Rodrigo says “boy” in the lyrics, because this one is a sapphic teen com recommendation. Love and Other Natural Disasters is much more chaotic and fun than angsty, but I felt like it went with the song as our protagonist Nozomi is so determined to have her crush Willow fall back in love with her, that she starts changing herself too. I appreciated not only how this book offered a twist in the fake-dating trope, but also how it gave Nozomi an amazing character development.
🌁 This book is perfect if you’re interested in: fake dating, messy sapphic love squares, books set in San Francisco, Asian-American rep and complex family dynamics.
Loved you at your worst
But that didn’t matter
It definitely would’ve been easier to talk about romantic relationships for this song, but I wanted to talk about betrayal in the context of a friendship. When Miss Meteor starts, Lita and Chicky are ex-best friends who haven’t talked in months. We don’t really know what drove these two apart, but we do know they will become an unexpected team when Lita decides to run for the local pageant queen contest.
🪐 This book is perfect if you’re interested in: enemies to friends, queer characters, chaotic latinx families, magical realism that looks like sci-fi and self-love.
I’m so sick of myself
I’d rather be, rather be
Anyone, anyone else
So, I have not read this book yet, as it has *just* come out but I wanted to talk about it as I feel like it goes with this song so incredibly well. In No Filter and Other Lies, Kat Sanchez keeps a fake profile where she absolutely thrives, unlike in her real life. However, things will get awkward for Kat once one of her posts goes viral and the person she’s stealing her photos from finds her account.
📸 This book contains: fat and queer rep, messy protagonist & discussions on the impact of social media.
I still see your face in the white cars, front yards
Can’t drive past the places we used to go to
‘Cause I still fuckin’ love you
Angst seriously has a different meaning when it comes to drivers license. This is an anthem for pining, so of course, I had to go with May The Best Man Win. In this YA contemporary, we follow Jeremy and Lukas, who used to date but are now rivals competing for the title of homecoming king. I wouldn’t say this book is for everyone, as the characters are messy and pretty unlikable, but it delivers when it comes to lovers to enemies to lovers.
🏈 This book is perfect if you’re interested in: messy queer characters, autism and trans rep, exes to lovers, high school angst and realistic portrayals of grief.
Oh, I hope you’re happy, but not like how you were with me
I’m selfish, I know, I can’t let you go
So find someone great but don’t find no one better
I hope you’re happy, but don’t be happier
Cue Felix singing these lines to Ezra. Or Ezra singing them to Felix, any way would work. Felix Ever After has amazing pining and a large cast of queer characters, which I love. Like May The Best Man Win, this one is also messy and full on unlikable characters, but it is ultimately the biggest triumph of the story, in showing queer characters as realistic, complex humans.
❤️🩹 This book is perfect if you’re interested in: queer rep, questioning labels, enemies to lovers AND friends to lovers, messy characters and self-love journeys.
A different girl now, but there’s nothing new
(I know you get déjà vu)
It felt fitting to recommend a book about family history repeating itself for a song called déjà vu. While Malibu Rising is about a lot of other things as well, what impacted me the most was the parallel between the lives of Jules and Nina – mother and daughter – who find themselves sacrificing so much of their own lives for the people they love and the misery it brings them.
🏄🏻 This book is perfect if you’re interested in: books set in California, the 80s, famous people, generational stories and complex female characters.
It’s bittersweet to think about the damage that we do
‘Cause I was going down, but I was doing it with you
Yeah, everything we broke, and all the trouble that we made
But I say that I hate you with a smile on my face
While I was not a fan of the romance in An Emotion of Great Delight, there was definitely a layer of forbidden romance that goes along well with “favorite crime”. This book is a very introspective look into mental health issues, more specifically depression, and it can be quite a hard one to swallow. Nonetheless, there are also great discussions on colorism and islamophobia that I wish more people would read.
☔️ This book is perfect if you’re interested in: muslim & mental health rep, forbidden romance, grief stories, complex family dynamics and heartbreaking prose.
ENOUGH FOR YOU
Stupid, emotional, obsessive little me
I knew from the start this is exactly how you’d leave
I really said “SOUR is entirely about romantic relationships but I will avoid books about romance at all costs”. Please Don’t Hug Me is an own-voices story about Erin, who is autistic and writing letters to her brother, whom she’s no longer in contact with. I think these lines will make more sense once you read the book, as Erin definitely sees herself as stupid, emotional and obsessive at times but also grows *so much* throughout the course of the book. Her relationship with her brother is also layered and heartbreaking to read about.
🍩 This book is perfect if you’re interested in: novels written in letters, autistic rep, platonic relationships, messy family dynamics and intense character growth.
HOPE UR OK
Don’t know if I’ll see you again someday
But if you’re out there, I hope that you’re okay
I like the idea of putting Second Chance Summer here, because it ties with this song in two ways: one because it’s a story about grief and saying goodbye, but it’s also a second chance romance. This story is really honest as a portrayal of grief from a teenage perspective and I love how close we feel to all the characters, due to the great writing.
☀️ This book is perfect if you’re interested in: second chance romance, summer reads, stories about grief, family dynamics and great character work.
GOOD 4 U
Remember when you swore to God I was the only person who ever got you?
Well, screw that and screw you
You will never have to hurt the way you know that I do
good 4 u is absolutely a song that Scottie would’ve sang along to loudly and angrily in her car at the beginning of She Drives Me Crazy. This book starts out with Scottie pining over her ex, who broke up with her and is now also the captain of the rival basketball team. Scottie wants so much to make her ex jealous, she’s willing to pay her nemesis to take her on a date, to prove that she has *also* moved on. I love how this book allows Scottie to be messy, but also gives her a great development as she realizes getting over people takes time.
🏀 This book is perfect if you’re interested in: 10 Things I Hate About You, f/f romance, high school shenenigans, supportive families and enemies to lovers.
That’s it, friends! What is your favorite song from SOUR? Have you ever read a book that you feel like could go along with that song? If you have read any of these books, let me know your thoughts in the comments too!