Books to associate with HARRY’S HOUSE by Harry Styles
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Since its release in May, Harry’s house has been a staple in our living room. The record cover leans on a wooden “Now Playing” display, and I continue to watch Harry Styles in an upside-down room, deep in thought. The sparsely decorated space draws attention to what is there: the bouquet of tulips, the yellow lamp, the plated egg. Bibliophile through and through, I can’t help wondering, Need some books to snuggle up on that comfy loveseat?
For an exclusive Styles profile via Better homes and gardens in anticipation of the superstar’s latest album, Lou Stoppard so aptly gushed, “Styles, it’s teddy bears on your teenage bed, perfect handwriting on thank you cards, flowers picked on Sunday mornings, puppies running on freshly cut grass, grandma’s favorite homemade cake.”
Oh, how I’ve been wanting to read and listen lately. Too much time has passed since I sat down with song lyrics and studied an album from start to finish. (If you have time to spare, absolutely unwind hours like this.) Filled with the urge to merge everything with literature, I’ve compiled a list of song and book pairings inspired by Harry’s house. Please read and sing and dance to the tracks and books that move me.
Books to associate Harry’s house
Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay & “Music For a Sushi Restaurant”
The great trumpet of the opening song evokes joy and breathlessness. Featuring Styles’ album dedication — “For All My Friends.” Merci je t’aime.” — leading, I revisited Gay’s third collection. In the titular and penultimate poem, which spans 12 pages, the poet writes, “and thank you for what to l ‘inside my friends / love bursts like a roadside throng of goldenrod / shining into the world…’ Through long stretches, the music appears from brass to Nina Simone in Destiny’s Child. Above Styles’ friendship celebration, I found Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote from Naturewhich also held me by Gay’s beautiful book full of gardens.
Emergency Contact by Mary HK Choi & “Late Night Talking”
This jubilant song focuses on a sweetness of love, the distant sharing of the big and seemingly tiny parts of the day with another. This engagement in conversation filled my head with the romantic pink cover of Choi’s tender novel. It stars 18-year-old Penny, an aspiring writer, and 21-year-old Sam, an aspiring filmmaker, who meet at an Austin coffeehouse. Do you know how sometimes lovers dress the same way? These loyal Chucks givers dress the same – in black suits and high tops – at first glance. Soon the two find themselves in a clandestine relationship that happens (mostly) over the phone, texting into the night.
The Space Between the Worlds of Micaiah Johnson and “As It Was”
Gravity, hands and worlds in the first single from Harry’s house catapulted my brainwaves to Johnson’s captivating debut novel. Originally from Ashtown, Cara becomes a “traversary” and travels the multiverse. In the 373 worlds where her doppelgangers have died, Cara gathers data for the extremely wealthy Eldridge Institute in Wiley City to assess. Dell, Cara’s “manager”, assists her on her travels from Earth Zero, and let me say a telling sentence about their chemistry: “We’re orbiting planets, pulling each other as sure as gravity.”
The Thirty Names of the Night by Zeyn Joukhadar & “Daylight”
The looping image of a bird, blue, flying towards someone in this whimsical ballad spreads a smile across my face. In Joukhadar’s powerful novel, birds also play a prominent role, from common birds to unidentified birds. Aquatints of birds, ornithologists and sweet affections like “little wing” spice up this story exploring community, discovery and desire. An excerpt that invites readers to birdwatch: “Tonight you came to me like a bird, and I couldn’t tell the difference between you and the most sacred of lost things.”
The Boy with a Bird in His Chest by Emme Lund & “Little Freak”
This thoughtful song rips a wild solo out of my heartstrings. Every time the chorus hits my ears, my chest does things. Meditating on crushes, curiosity and loneliness, Lund’s first thought-provoking novel has a similar effect. My mind revolves around words and why they can hurt. Because of the finch named Gail in Owen’s chest, the “Army of Acronyms” dubs him a “terror”, and Owen spends much of his young life in hiding. Since the end of the last page, I have constantly wondered how dear Owen was, and I know that I will return to this beautiful portrait, love it as fiercely and frequently as the formative stories of my youth.
Space Struck by Paige Lewis & “Daydreaming”
The album filled with love songs led me to this first extraordinary collection filled with love poems. Both seem in love and seek nature, play and wonder. Just look at these thrilling lines from “Pavlov was a priest’s son”: “I want to find / you a peach so ripe that even your breath / would bruise it.” With a penchant for titles, Lewis impresses me. They send me swirling in awe and guide me through – like Styles’ dreamy number – Daydreams. Some examples: “Last Night I Dreamed I Made Myself” and “My Dear Wolfish Dreamboat, Stand Still”.
Alexandra Chang’s Days of Distraction and “Keep Driving”
It started with cars. This moving song got me thinking about books, including road trips. But the repetition of a question, repeated in the title of Styles, and the lyrical lists reminded me of the episodic nature of this introspective novel. Reflecting on change, intimacy, and uncertainty, it follows a writer in her twenties as she ponders, for her longtime love, a life beyond their little yellow house in San Francisco. Like “Keep Driving,” Chang’s prose picks up surprisingly: “In bed, we talk about the future. We might stay. We might go to New York. So what . . . But if . . . How about… We get excited and exhausted with assumptions.
I kissed Shara Wheeler from Casey McQuiston & “Satellite”
This engrossing novel is set in False Beach, Alabama, and my days revolved around McQuiston’s young adult debut until I finished it. In a school elevator, Shara Wheeler kisses Chloe, her rival for valedictorian. At the ball, Shara disappears before receiving her crown but not before planting a trail of clues on pink stationery. Chloe and other smoochees Rory, Shara’s neighbor, and Smith, Shara’s boyfriend, set out to find her. The lonely wait, pull and circular motion of this catchy, dance-inducing tune encouraged that bond, and Chloe, who moved south from Los Angeles with her mothers, has big-city vibes too.
‘Cause I wouldn’t skip a song on the Harry’s house album, I can’t skip one here. Every track lodged in my head or escaped my buzzing lips, and that calls for more matchmaking. On side A, the flowers, the company and the bright day of “Grapejuice” make me reach The Hurting Kind of Ada Limón. If “Matilda” cracks your fancy, consider picking up Mia McKenzie’s Skye Falling, which examines painful pasts, found families, and happiness.
And moving on to the B-side, the desire, inquiry and vulnerability of “Cinema” summons the sparkling new connection of Olga and Matteo in Xochitl Gonzalez’s Olga Dies Dreaming. “Boyfriends” evokes the support and honesty of true blue friendships, like those of Daphne Palasi Andreades’ Brown Girls. Do you like the album’s closing song, “Love Of My Life”? Perhaps slip Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, translated by Edith Grossman, into your tote bag.
Of course, these matches represent my reading preferences, my brain’s unique associations, and my current mood. Endless possibilities exist. Lovers of music and books, which titles would you associate?
For more music book pairings, check out these books matching Taylor Swift songs Lover and a list of albums inspired by literature.