YA Friday: Red (Taylor’s Version)

Red (Taylor’s Version) is the second rerecorded album by Taylor Swift, which she created to regain ownership of her music. It features 30 tracks, including rerecorded versions of every song from the deluxe edition of Red as well as a ten-minute demo version of fan-favorite track “All Too Well,” which was previously unreleased.

Upon announcing the release of the rerecorded album Swift said:

"I’ve always said that the world is a different place for the heartbroken. It moves on a different axis, at a different speed. Time skips backwards and forwards fleetingly. The heartbroken might go through thousands of micro-emotions a day trying to figure out how to get through it without picking up the phone to hear that old familiar voice. In the land of heartbreak, moments of strength, indepen-dence, and devil-may-care rebellion are intricately woven together with grief, paralyzing vulnerability and hopelessness. Imagining your future might always take you on a detour back to the past. And this is all to say, that the next album I’ll be releasing is my version of Red.

Musically and lyrically, Red resembled a heartbroken person. It was all over the place, a fractured mosaic of feelings that somehow all fit together in the end. Happy, free, confused, lonely, devastated, euphoric, wild, and tortured by memories past. Like trying on pieces of a new life, I went into the studio and experimented with different sounds and collaborators. And I’m not sure if it was pouring my thoughts into this album, hearing thousands of your voices sing the lyrics back to me in passionate solidarity, or if it was simply time, but something was healed along the way.

Sometimes you need to talk it over (over and over and over) for it to ever really be… over. Like your friend who calls you in the middle of the night going on and on about their ex, I just couldn’t stop writing."

1. State Of Grace (Taylor's Version)

“State of Grace (Taylor’s Version)” is an energetic rock anthem that portrays “the feeling of falling in love in an epic way”. Taylor likens the purity of this new love to the religious concept of a “state of grace”, a condition of being “free from mortal sin” where someone becomes “God-like, notably through mercy and love”. Swift said, "There’s a line in the song that says ‘Love is a ruthless game, unless you play it good and right’.

That’s kind of like a warning, for the rest of the record. This is what’s going to happen if you don’t play this right. This is what could happen if you do. It almost serves as the perfect kind of warning label for the rest of the record. As soon as you hear that song, there are two ways this could go, you could be good to people, or you could not play fair, and both the outcomes are reflected on the record."

The State of Grace, book cover

The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas

"Sometimes I feel like everyone else was handed a copy of the rules for life and mine got lost.”

Grace is autistic and has her own way of looking at the world. She's got a horse and a best friend who understands her, and that's pretty much all she needs. But when Grace kisses Gabe and things start to change at home, the world doesn't make much sense to her anymore.

Suddenly everything threatens to fall apart, and it's up to Grace to fix it on her own.

2. Red (Taylor's Version)

Using a series of similes and metaphors, Taylor’s re-recording of 2012’s “Red” sees her picturing the red-tinged pain, passion, and all-around powerful pangs of emotion associated with a previous relationship. Swift said, "This relationship that I had that was, like, the worst thing ever and the best thing ever at the same time. I was writing this song and I was thinking about correlating the colors to the different feelings I went through. You have the great part of red, like the red emotions that are daring and bold and passion and love and affection. And then you have on the other side of the spectrum, jealousy and anger and frustration and ‘you didn’t call me back’ and ‘I need space.’"

The Lovely Reckless, book cover

The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia

Seventeen-year-old Frankie Devereux would do anything to forget the past. Haunted by the memory of her boyfriend’s death, she lives her life by one dangerous rule: Nothing matters. At least, that’s what Frankie tells herself after a reckless mistake forces her to leave her privileged life in the Heights to move in with her dad—an undercover cop. She transfers to a public high school in the Downs, where fistfights don’t faze anyone and illegal street racing is more popular than football.

Marco Leone is the fastest street racer in the Downs. Tough, sexy, and hypnotic, he makes it impossible for Frankie to ignore him—and how he makes her feel. But the risks Marco takes for his family could have devastating consequences for them both. When Frankie discovers his secret, she has to make a choice. Will she let the pain of the past determine her future? Or will she risk what little she has left to follow her heart?

3. Treacherous (Taylor's Version)

‘Treacherous’ is the third track on Taylor Swift’s “emotional rollercoaster” album, Red (Taylor’s version). The song describes falling in love as dangerous and erratic, but so tempting that you decide to jump in anyway. Head first, fearless.

On The Edge, book cover

On The Edge by Allison van Diepen

Maddie Diaz never should have taken that shortcut through the park. If she hadn't, she wouldn't have seen two members of the Reyes gang attacking a homeless man. Now, as the only witness, she knows there’s a target on her back.

But when the Reyes jump her on the street, Maddie is protected by a second gang and their secretive leader, Lobo, who is determined to take down the Reyes himself. Lobo is mysterious and passionate, and Maddie begins to fall for him. But when they live this close to the edge, can their love survive?

4. I Knew You Were Trouble (Taylor's Version)

The song, lyrically, talks about falling in love with somebody while knowing that he is not good for you. Many of Taylor’s fans assume that the song is about John Mayer, Taylor’s ex who dated her when she was at the age of 19. Swift said, "It’s a song about kind of being frustrated with yourself because you have your heart broken and you knew when you first saw that person you saw all these red flags and you just went for it anyway. So, shame on me."

Counting Down With You, book cover

Counting Down With You by Tashie Bhuiyan

Karina Ahmed has a plan. Keep her head down, get through high school without a fuss, and follow her parents’ rules—even if it means sacrificing her dreams. When her parents go abroad to Bangladesh for four weeks, Karina expects some peace and quiet. Instead, one simple lie unravels everything.

Karina is my girlfriend.

Tutoring the school’s resident bad boy was already crossing a line. Pretending to date him? Out of the question. But Ace Clyde does everything right—he brings her coffee in the mornings, impresses her friends without trying, and even promises to buy her a dozen books (a week) if she goes along with his fake-dating facade. Though Karina agrees, she can’t help but start counting down the days until her parents come back.

T-minus twenty-eight days until everything returns to normal—but what if Karina no longer wants it to?

5. All Too Well (Taylor's Version)

“All Too Well” is the fifth track of the album and one of the most emotional songs of Taylor’s whole discography. In the song, Taylor tries to move on after a hard, emotional, passionate love and break-up, while remembering the best and worst memories of her relationship with her ex-boyfriend, who was rumored to be actor Jake Gyllenhaal. Swift said, "The song “All Too Well” was the first song I wrote for this record, actually. It kept coming back to me, because it told a story so well, in such a full way. It starts with meeting someone, and all the details about that innocent beginning and it follows the story all the way to the bitter end. It’s a really emotional song, because it does show you why loss is so painful: Because it was once good, and you can remember it."

Breathless, book cover

Breathless by Jennifer Niven

Before: With graduation on the horizon, budding writer Claudine Henry is making plans: college in the fall, become a famous author, and maybe--finally--have sex. She doesn't even need to be in love. Then her dad drops a bombshell: he's leaving Claude's mother. Suddenly, Claude's entire world feels like a lie, and her future anything but under control.

After: Claude's mom whisks them away to the last place Claude could imagine nursing a broken heart: a remote, mosquito-infested island off the coast of Georgia. But then Jeremiah Crew happens. Miah is a local trail guide with a passion for photography--and a past he doesn't like to talk about. He's brash and enigmatic, and even more infuriatingly, he's the only one who seems to see Claude for who she wants to be. So when Claude decides to sleep with Miah, she tells herself it's just sex, nothing more. There's not enough time to fall in love, especially if it means putting her already broken heart at risk.

6. 22 (Taylor's Version)

Lyrically, the song is about having fun with your friends and celebrating turning 22. The song was inspired by some of Taylor’s friends, "I wrote that about my friends, like finally I’ve got this amazing group of girlfriends and we tell each other everything, we’re together all the time. And I think that was kind of the marker of me being 22, like having all these friends and there’s all these question marks in your life, but the one thing that you have is that you have each other."

Fresh, book cover

Fresh by Margot Wood

Some students enter their freshman year of college knowing exactly what they want to do with their lives. Elliot McHugh is not one of those people. But picking a major is the last thing on Elliot’s mind when she’s too busy experiencing all that college has to offer—from dancing all night at off-campus parties, to testing her RA Rose’s patience, to making new friends, to having the best sex one can have on a twin-sized dorm room bed. But she may not be ready for the fallout when reality hits. When the sex she’s having isn’t that great. When finals creep up and smack her right in the face. Or when her roommate’s boyfriend turns out to be the biggest a-hole. Elliot may make epic mistakes, but if she’s honest with herself (and with you, dear reader), she may just find the person she wants to be. And maybe even fall in love in the process . . . Well, maybe.

7. I Almost Do (Taylor's Version)

On the re-recording of the breakup ballad “I Almost Do,” Taylor sings of the distance and now non-existent communication between her and her ex. Longing to speak to him, but unable to do so in fear of the ramifications, “I Almost Do” shows Taylor speculating about his thoughts and life, all the while hoping that he’s doing the same. Taylor explained it's "a song I wrote about the conflict that you feel when you want to take someone back, and you want to give it another try, but you know you can’t. I think I needed to write this song in order to not call that person actually."

Lucky Caller, book cover

Lucky Caller by Emma Mills

When Nina decides to take a radio broadcasting class her senior year, she expects it to be a walk in the park. Instead, it’s a complete disaster.

The members of Nina's haphazardly formed radio team have approximately nothing in common. And to maximize the awkwardness her group includes Jamie, a childhood friend she'd hoped to basically avoid for the rest of her life.

The show is a mess, internet rumors threaten to bring the wrath of two fandoms down on their heads, and to top it all off Nina's family is on the brink of some major upheaval.

Everything feels like it's spiraling out of control―but maybe control is overrated?

8. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together (Taylor's Version)

Taylor Swift refuses to continue an on-and-off relationship with her boyfriend and declares, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”.

Never Ever Getting Back Together, book cover

Never Ever Getting Back Together by Sophie Gonzales

It’s been two years since Maya's ex-boyfriend cheated on her, and she still can’t escape him: his sister married the crown prince of a minor European country and he captured hearts as her charming younger brother. If the world only knew the real Jordy, the manipulative liar who broke Maya’s heart.

Skye Kaplan was always cautious with her heart until Jordy said all the right things and earned her trust. Now his face is all over the media and Skye is still wondering why he stopped calling.

When Maya and Skye are invited to star on the reality dating show Second-Chance Romance, they’re whisked away to a beautiful mansion—along with four more of Jordy’s exes— to compete for his affections while the whole world watches. Skye wonders if she and Jordy can recapture the spark she knows they had, but Maya has other plans: exposing Jordy and getting revenge. As they navigate the competition, Skye and Maya discover that their real happily ever after is nothing they could have scripted.

9. Stay Stay Stay (Taylor's Version)

Lyrically, this song finds Swift imagining what and how would be if she were in a great, stable, healthy relationship. Once she finds him, she will be wishing him to stay, as she has waited for true love all her life. "The song “Stay Stay Stay” is a song that I wrote based on what I’ve seen of real relationships, where it’s not perfect, there are moments where you’re just so sick of that person and you get into a stupid fight, and it’s still worth it to stay in it, because there’s something about it that you can’t live without. In the bridge, it says “I’d like to hang out with you for my whole life”, and I think that’s probably the key to finding the one, is you just want to hang out with them forever."

The Heartbreak Bakery, book cover

The Heartbreak Bakery by A.R. Capetta

“What’s done is done.”
Unless, of course, it was done by my brownies. Then it’s getting

Syd (no pronouns, please) has always dealt with big, hard-to-talk-about things by baking. Being dumped is no different, except now Syd is baking at the Proud Muffin, a queer bakery and community space in Austin. And everyone who eats Syd’s breakup brownies . . . breaks up. Even Vin and Alec, who own the Proud Muffin. And their breakup might take the bakery down with it. Being dumped is one thing; causing ripples of queer heartbreak through the community is another. But the cute bike delivery person, Harley (he or they, check the pronoun pin, it’s probably on the messenger bag), believes Syd about the magic baking. And Harley believes Syd’s magical baking can fix things, too—one recipe at a time.

10. The Last Time (Taylor's Version) [feat. Gary Lightbody]

Lyrically, “The Last Time” tells the story of a couple on which the girl is fed up with her lover’s promises about them. From the other side, the boy tries to convince her to come back together with him. "This was a song that I wrote about something I had been going through. I picture a door and, on the outside of the door, standing outside in the cold, there’s this guy who’s left his girlfriend over and over again and comes back and asks for a second chance over and over and over again. On the other side of the door, you have this girl standing there with tears in her eyes, wondering how she could possibly turn him away when she loves him this much, but she can’t get hurt again. It’s both of these people swearing that this would be the last time. She’s swearing it’s the last time she’s going to take him back, he’s swearing it’s the last time he’s going to leave her and hurt her."

The Year We Fell Apart, book cover

The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin

Few things come as naturally to Harper as epic mistakes. In the past year, she was kicked off the swim team, earned a reputation as Carson High’s easiest hook-up, and officially became the black sheep of her family. But her worst mistake was destroying her relationship with her best friend, Declan.

Now, after two semesters of silence, Declan is home from boarding school for the summer. Everything about him is different—he’s taller, stronger…more handsome. Harper has changed, too, especially in the wake of her mom’s cancer diagnosis.

While Declan wants nothing to do with Harper, he’s still Declan, her Declan, and the only person she wants to talk to about what’s really going on. But he’s also the one person she’s lost the right to seek comfort from.

As their mutual friends and shared histories draw them together again, Harper and Declan must decide which parts of their past are still salvageable, and which parts they’ll have to let go of once and for all.

11. Holy Ground (Taylor's Version)

Lyrically, this song finds Swift looking back on a past relationship that didn’t last and receive the best ending, but realizing, even if short-lived, it was good for the memories and learnings they have shared.

Chasing After Knight, book cover

Chasing After Knight by Heather Buchta

High school senior Alexa Brooks had it all figured out. Study hard, nail the extracurriculars, stay focused, and life would follow the carefully crafted plan. The problem is this plan was designed for one thing: making her forget all about her once-best-friend, former-potential-boyfriend, Carson Knight. Four years ago, he was the boy who always made her laugh, the boy she loved, and the boy she mistakenly and very publicly betrayed. Oh, and he was also the boy who grew up to become a heartthrob A-list actor, named Cayden McKnight.

An innocent-enough school assignment suddenly brings Cayden to the forefront of Alexa's mind, and her celebrity-crazed best friend Lindsey discovers the old connection. Convinced that his Hollywood bad boy image is the direct result of Alexa and Carson's fallout, Lindsey convinces Alexa to find Carson and reconcile, but reaching an A-list movie star is not as easy as it used to be when he was the kid Alexa called every night before bed. Unable to apologize in person but determined to somehow right her wrongs, Alexa goes on a quest to remake Cayden's image, doing good deeds in his name. But nothing is as it seems in Hollywood, and even when she's able to finally face Cayden McKnight in person, Alexa can't break through to the Carson she once knew. Is it really too late to make amends?

12. Sad Beautiful Tragic (Taylor's Version)

Lyrically, the song discusses a break-up, the ending of a “sad, tragic, beautiful” love affair, and the feelings that come after it.

Also, Taylor told Billboard:

"‘Sad Beautiful Tragic’ is really close to my heart. I remember it was after a show and I was on the bus thinking about this relationship that ended months and months before. The feeling wasn’t sadness and anger or those things anymore. It was wistful loss. And so I just got my guitar and I hit on the fact that I was thinking in terms of rhyming; I rhymed magic with tragic, changed a few things and ended it with what a sad beautiful tragic love affair. I wanted to tell the story in terms of a cloudy recollection of what went wrong. It’s kind of the murky gray, looking back on something you can’t change or get back."

All The Bright Places, book cover

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

13. The Lucky One (Taylor's Version)

In this song, Taylor Swift reflects on her fears and the challenges that come with fame. The song, inspired by other people's stories, explores her anxiety about getting caught up in the industry and feeling lonely and misunderstood despite appearing lucky. Swift expresses her greatest fear of losing the fun and turning fame into a scary place. Dealing with fame involves different coping mechanisms like venting to friends, playing the piano until late hours, watching TV, or seeking solace in conversations with her mother. Despite the constant scrutiny and trade-offs, Swift believes that the opportunity to perform on stage and share her songs makes it all worthwhile, even amidst the fear.

Somewhere Only We Know, book cover

Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo

10:00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest K-pop star on the scene, and she's just performed her hit song "Heartbeat" in Hong Kong to thousands of adoring fans. She's about to debut on The Tonight Show in America, hopefully a breakout performance for her career. But right now? She's in her fancy hotel, trying to fall asleep but dying for a hamburger.

11:00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid job that he keeps secret from his parents. On his way out of the hotel, he runs into a girl wearing slippers, a girl who is single-mindedly determined to find a hamburger. She looks kind of familiar. She's very cute. He's maybe curious.

12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same.

14. Everything Has Changed (Taylor's Version) [feat. Ed Sheeran]

This song is a collaborative effort written by Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran. Swift proposed recording it as a duet to capture the shared experience of two individuals who, upon seeing each other, perceive a transformative shift in their world.

Late to the Party, book cover

Late to the Party by Kelly Quindlen

Seventeen is nothing like Codi Teller imagined.

She’s never crashed a party, never stayed out too late. She’s never even been kissed. And it’s not just because she’s gay. It’s because she and her two best friends, Maritza and JaKory, spend more time in her basement watching Netflix than engaging with the outside world.

So when Maritza and JaKory suggest crashing a party, Codi is highly skeptical. Those parties aren’t for kids like them. They’re for cool kids. Straight kids.

But then Codi stumbles upon one of those cool kids, Ricky, kissing another boy in the dark, and an unexpected friendship is formed. In return for never talking about that kiss, Ricky takes Codi under his wing and draws her into a wild summer filled with late nights, new experiences, and one really cute girl named Lydia.

The only problem? Codi never tells Maritza or JaKory about any of it.

15. Starlight (Taylor's Version)

This song was inspired by a black and white photograph that Taylor Swift stumbled upon. The image depicted two young individuals dancing at a dance, identified as Ethel and Robert Kennedy, at the age of seventeen in 1945. Intrigued by the snapshot, Swift penned a song based solely on her interpretation of the picture, with no prior extensive knowledge about the Kennedys. The song captures the essence of the fun and joy she imagined they must have experienced that night. It wasn't until later, when Rory Kennedy (Ethel's daughter) attended one of Swift's shows, that the singer shared the story behind the song and that Swift could meet Ethel Kennedy herself.

Under a Dancing Star, book cover

Under a Dancing Star by Laura Wood

Bea is an outspoken English girl determined to break with family tradition and pave her own path. After embarrassing her parents at a dinner party designed to find her a husband, Bea is invited to spend an eye-opening summer in Italy with her uncle's artistic bohemian friends. There, she meets Ben, a brilliant artist -- and a brilliant flirt. When sparks fly between them, a challenge is set: can they create the perfect summer romance? There's just one rule: they absolutely, positively cannot fall in love.

16. Begin Again (Taylor's Version)

This song captures the experience of overcoming a breakup while still carrying emotional pain and self-doubt from the failed relationship. It explores the feeling of insecurity and the belief that the relationship highlighted personal flaws. However, as time passes, the song reflects the gradual development of courage and resilience. Eventually, the protagonist decides to venture into the dating scene again, acknowledging the vulnerability that comes with it. The song conveys the realization that a new relationship holds the potential for something extraordinary, despite the past hardships endured. Overall, "Begin Again" depicts moving forward from a toxic relationship and embracing the possibility of a fresh start.

The Truth About Forever, book cover

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

When asked how she is coping with her father's death, invariably seventeen-year-old Macy Queen's answer is "fine," when nothing could be further from the truth. In actuality, she is drowning in grief while maintaining a flawless façade of good grades and unblemished behavior. Though she feels lost when her boyfriend heads to "Brain Camp" for the summer, she finds herself a job with the quirky Wish Catering crew, and meets "sa-woon"-worthy Wes, whose chaotic lifestyle is in direct opposition to her own.

As the two share their stories over the summer, Macy realizes she can no longer keep her feelings on ice. Though it feels like her future ended with her dad's death, Macy's learns that forever is all about beginnings.

17. The Moment I Knew (Taylor's Version)

The song revolves around Taylor's 21st birthday party, which ultimately turned out to be a disappointing and disheartening experience. The lyrics capture the feeling of waiting for someone who never arrives, emphasizing the profound sadness associated with unfulfilled expectations. Despite the personal nature of the song, Swift believed it was essential to share it, as it resonates with the universal sentiment of longing for someone who will never return. The song serves as a relatable portrayal of the painful experience of waiting for someone who will never walk through the door.

Windfall, book cover

Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

Alice has never believed in luck, but that doesn't stop her from rooting for love. After pining for her best friend Teddy for years, she jokingly gifts him a lottery ticket--attached to a note professing her love--on his birthday. Then, the unthinkable happens: he actually wins.

At first, it seems like the luckiest thing on earth. But as Teddy gets swept up by his $140 million windfall and fame and fortune come between them, Alice is forced to consider whether her stroke of good fortune might have been anything but.

She bought a winning lottery ticket. He collected the cash. Will they realize that true love's the real prize?

18. Come Back...Be Here (Taylor's Version)

The song captures the exhilarating feeling of meeting someone new and experiencing an immediate connection, only to have them depart for another location. It delves into the anxiety and uncertainty of wondering how you will have the opportunity to see this person again, expressing the desire and longing for their presence. The lyrics convey the inherent fears and challenges that arise when falling in love, particularly when faced with the obstacle of distance. The song reflects on Taylor's experience of meeting someone who suddenly becomes a long-distance connection.

Just One Year, book cover

Just One Year by Gayle Forman

The companion novel to Just One Day, when he opens his eyes, Willem doesn’t know where in the world he is—Prague or Dubrovnik or back in Amsterdam. All he knows is that he is once again alone, and that he needs to find a girl named Lulu. They shared one magical day in Paris, and something about that day—that girl—makes Willem wonder if they aren’t fated to be together. He travels all over the world, from Mexico to India, hoping to reconnect with her. But as months go by and Lulu remains elusive, Willem starts to question if the hand of fate is as strong as he’d thought. . . .

19. Girl At Home (Taylor's Version)

In the song, Taylor Swift candidly expresses her experiences and emotions regarding a situation where a guy who had a girlfriend was flirting with her. She reflects on her reaction to this situation, feeling disgusted at the guy's behavior and empathizing with the girlfriend's perspective. Taylor puts herself in the girlfriend's shoes and contemplates how, in the past, she might have been flattered by someone's attention. However, after going through the pain of being cheated on, she has grown wiser and developed a stronger stance against such behavior.

Taylor Swift has completely revamped the instrumentation and production of the song. The original piece had a different sound, but this new version adopts an upbeat electro-pop style reminiscent of her pop tracks from the album "1989."

The Jasmine Project, book cover

The Jasmine Project by Meredith Ireland

Jasmine Yap’s life is great. Well, it’s okay. She’s about to move in with her long-time boyfriend, Paul, before starting a nursing program at community college—all of which she mostly wants. But her stable world is turned upside down when she catches Paul cheating. To her giant, overprotective family, Paul’s loss is their golden ticket to showing Jasmine that she deserves much more. The only problem is, Jasmine refuses to meet anyone new.

But…what if the family set up a situation where she wouldn’t have to know? A secret Jasmine Project.

The plan is simple: use Jasmine’s graduation party as an opportunity for her to meet the most eligible teen bachelors in Orlando. There’s no pressure for Jasmine to choose anyone, of course, but the family hopes their meticulously curated choices will show Jasmine how she should be treated. And maybe one will win her heart.

But with the family fighting for their favorites, bachelors going rogue, and Paul wanting her back, the Jasmine Project may not end in love but total, heartbreaking disaster.

20. State of Grace (Acoustic Version) [Taylor's Version]

The acoustic version of the album's first song that Taylor Swift wrote about the initial stages of falling in love. She reflects on the various possibilities and paths a romantic relationship could take.

Slingshot, book cover

Slingshot by Mercedes Helnwein

Grace Welles had resigned herself to the particular loneliness of being fifteen and stuck at a third-tier boarding school in the swamps of Florida, when she accidentally saves the new kid in her class from being beat up. With a single aim of a slingshot, the monotonous mathematics of her life are obliterated forever…because now there is this boy she never asked for. Wade Scholfield.

With Wade, Grace discovers a new way to exist. School rules are optional, life is bizarrely perfect, and conversations about wormholes can lead to make-out sessions that disrupt any logical stream of thoughts.

So why does Grace crush Wade’s heart into a million tiny pieces? And what are her options when she finally realizes that 1. The universe doesn’t revolve around her, and 2. Wade has been hiding a dark secret. Is Grace the only person unhinged enough to save him?

21. Ronan (Taylor's Version)

Swift wrote “Ronan” about a three-year-old boy named Ronan Thompson, who died of neuroblastoma after an eight-month battle in 2011. Ronan’s mother, Maya Thompson, who gets credit as a co-writer on the song, wrote about Ronan’s journey and the progression of his illness on a blog called Rockstar Ronan, which she now uses to write letters to Ronan about her life and his siblings.

The Silence That Binds Us, book cover

The Silence That Binds Us by Joanna Ho

Maybelline Chen isn't the Chinese Taiwanese American daughter her mother expects her to be. May prefers hoodies over dresses and wants to become a writer. When asked, her mom can't come up with one specific reason for why she's proud of her only daughter. May's beloved brother, Danny, on the other hand, has just been admitted to Princeton. But Danny secretly struggles with depression, and when he dies by suicide, May's world is shattered.

In the aftermath, racist accusations are hurled against May's parents for putting too much "pressure" on him. May's father tells her to keep her head down. Instead, May challenges these ugly stereotypes through her writing. Yet the consequences of speaking out run much deeper than anyone could foresee. Who gets to tell our stories, and who gets silenced? It's up to May to take back the narrative.

22. Better Man (Taylor's Version) [From The Vault]

A cut from the original 2012 Red album and recorded by the band Little Big Town, the song captures the feeling of getting out of a toxic, perhaps abusive, relationship and accepting the sorrow that follows the breakup.

Always Forever Maybe, book cover

Always Forever Maybe by Anica Mrose Rissi

When Betts meets Aiden at the candy store where she works, their connection is like a sugar rush to the heart. Betts already knows the two of them are infinite. Inevitable. Destined to become an us.

Betts has only ever kept one secret from her best friend, Jo, but suddenly there’s a long list of things she won’t tell her, things Jo wouldn’t understand because Jo doesn’t see how good Aiden is for Betts. She finds him needy. Possessive. Controlling.

She’s wrong. With a love like this, nothing else matters.

23. Nothing New (Taylor's Version) [From The Vault] [feat. Phoebe Bridgers]

A previously cut track that includes Phoebe Bridgers's voice, it's about being scared of aging and things changing and losing what you have.

Breathe and Count Back From Ten, book cover

Breathe and Count Back From Ten by Natalia Sylvester

Verónica has had many surgeries to manage her disability. The best form of rehabilitation is swimming, so she spends hours in the pool, but not just to strengthen her body. Her Florida town is home to Mermaid Cove, a kitschy underwater attraction where professional mermaids perform in giant tanks . . . and Verónica wants to audition. But her conservative Peruvian parents would never go for it. And they definitely would never let her be with Alex, her cute new neighbor. She decides it’s time to seize control of her life, but her plans come crashing down when she learns her parents have been hiding the truth from her—the truth about her own body.

24. Babe (Taylor's Version) [From The Vault]

This is a song co-written by Taylor Swift and Pat Monahan of Train and primarily explores the aftermath of a failed romance. In 2018, Taylor gifted the song to the band Sugarland, who released their own version.

Small Town Hearts, book cover

Small Town Hearts by Lillie Vale

Rule #1 - Never fall for a summer boy.

Fresh out of high school, Babe Vogel should be thrilled to have the whole summer at her fingertips. She loves living in her lighthouse home in the sleepy Maine beach town of Oar’s Rest and being a barista at the Busy Bean, but she’s totally freaking out about how her life will change when her two best friends go to college in the fall. And when a reckless kiss causes all three of them to break up, she may lose them a lot sooner. On top of that, her ex-girlfriend is back in town, bringing with her a slew of memories, both good and bad.

And then there’s Levi Keller, the cute artist who’s spending all his free time at the coffee shop where she works. Levi’s from out of town, and even though Babe knows better than to fall for a tourist who will leave when summer ends, she can’t stop herself from wanting to know him. Can Babe keep her distance, or will she break the one rule she’s always had - to never fall for a summer boy?

25. Message In A Bottle (Taylor's Version) [From The Vault]

This song is Swift's admission of fascination and admiration for a new potential lover. Although frightening, this new infatuation carries with it hopes of being true love.

This Is What Happy Looks Like, book cover

This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O'Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.

Then Graham finds out that Ellie's Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?

26. I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor's Version) [From The Vault] [feat. Chris Stapleton]

In this song, Taylor Swift confronts her ex, possibly Jake Gyllenhaal, expressing her anger and disappointment. The song blames the lover for leaving for superficial reasons, such as differences in background and upbringing.

In the music video, Swift appears as the ex's vision on his wedding day, symbolizing his lingering thoughts about her. The video, co-written and produced by Blake Lively, features various easter eggs and stars Miles Teller and his real-life wife, Keleigh Sperry.

The Rest of the Story, book cover

The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

Emma Saylor doesn’t remember a lot about her mother, who died when she was ten. But she does remember the stories her mom told her about the big lake that went on forever, with cold, clear water and mossy trees at the edges.

Now it’s just Emma and her dad, and life is good, if a little predictable…until Emma is unexpectedly sent to spend the summer with her mother’s family—her grandmother and cousins she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl.

When Emma arrives at North Lake, she realizes there are actually two very different communities there. Her mother grew up in working-class North Lake, while her dad spent summers in the wealthier Lake North resort. The more time Emma spends there, the more it starts to feel like she is divided into two people as well. To her father, she is Emma. But to her new family, she is Saylor, the name her mother always called her.

Then there’s Roo, the boy who was her very best friend when she was little. Roo holds the key to her family’s history, and slowly, he helps her put the pieces together about her past. It’s hard not to get caught up in the magic of North Lake—and Saylor finds herself falling under Roo’s spell as well.

For Saylor, it’s like a whole new world is opening up to her. But when it’s time to go back home, which side of her will win out?

27. Forever Winter (Taylor's Version) [From The Vault]

In this passionate winter ballad, Taylor sings of her constant worry and stress over her friend's actions. Noting the miscommunication in their relationship and speaking of the disrupted mental health they endure daily.

Darius the Great Is Not Okay, book cover

Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Darius doesn't think he'll ever be enough, in America or in Iran.

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He's about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it's pretty overwhelming—especially when he's also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom's family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.

Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what's going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understands that sometimes, best friends don't have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he's spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline.

Sohrab calls him Darioush—the original Persian version of his name—and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he's Darioush to Sohrab. When it's time to go home to America, he'll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.

28. Run (Taylor's Version) [From The Vault] [feat. Ed Sheeran]

Ed Sheeran provides guest vocals on this song and initially thought it would be the one to make it to the album. Taylor said, "It's a song about the escapism of falling in love and how you don't really care what anyone else says when you feel this way – you just wanna run away with someone. And all the little secrets that you establish with this person, this secret world you create together."

Run, book cover

Run by Kody Keplinger

Bo Dickinson is a girl with a wild reputation, a deadbeat dad, and a mama who’s not exactly sober most of the time. Everyone in town knows the Dickinsons are a bad lot, but Bo doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

Agnes Atwood has never gone on a date, never even stayed out past ten, and never broken any of her parents’ overbearing rules. Rules that are meant to protect their legally blind daughter—protect her from what, Agnes isn’t quite sure.

Despite everything, Bo and Agnes become best friends. And it’s the sort of friendship that runs truer and deeper than anything else.

So when Bo shows up in the middle of the night, with police sirens wailing in the distance, desperate to get out of town, Agnes doesn’t hesitate to take off with her. But running away and not getting caught will require stealing a car, tracking down Bo’s dad, staying ahead of the authorities, and—worst of all—confronting some ugly secrets.

29. The Very First Night (Taylor's Version) [From The Vault]

In this song, Swift reminisces about a past relationship she remembers fondly. Although both are at different parts of their lives, she wishes they could return to when they were together.

What I Thought Was True, book cover

What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Gwen Castle has never so badly wanted to say goodbye to her island home till now: the summer her Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, takes a job there as the local yard boy. He's a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island's summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she'll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen's dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is.

30. All Too Well (10 Minute Version) [Taylor's Version] [From The Vault]

Widely regarded as one of Swift’s best songs, “All Too Well” sees her picking up shards of memories after a gut-wrenching breakup. She jumps through time to reflect on her best and worst memories with her ex, making the listener feel as though they were there with the couple.

Melodically, this version of “All Too Well” is more subdued than the version we hear on the album. This change is evident throughout the song. This version begins with a saccharine melody before building up to a steady drum beat, while the original is heavily backed by guitar.

Lyrically, the songs are also different. This ten-minute version is more vitriolic and bitter, while the album version is bittersweet.

Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me, book cover

Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me by Gae Polisner

Fifteen-year-old JL Markham's life used to be filled with carnival nights and hot summer days spent giggling with her forever best friend Aubrey about their families and boys. Together, they were unstoppable. But they aren't the friends they once were.

With JL's father gone on long-term business, and her mother suffering from dissociative disorder, JL takes solace in the tropical butterflies she raises, and in her new, older boyfriend, Max Gordon. Max may be rough on the outside, but he has the soul of a poet (something Aubrey will never understand). Only, Max is about to graduate, and he's going to hit the road—with or without JL.

JL can't bear being left behind again. But what if devoting herself to Max not only means betraying her parents, but permanently losing the love of her best friend? What becomes of loyalty, when no one is loyal to you?

Eyes Open (Taylor's Version)

On March 16, 2023, Taylor Swift announced that 4 songs would be released at midnight to celebrate the first night of The Eras Tour. One of the songs released was Eyes Open (Taylor’s Version).

This was a song Taylor Swift wrote for the soundtrack of the first The Hunger Games movie. The song is from the perspective of the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, and how the people are watching her every move, and how she should “keep her eyes open” to survive.

The Hunger Games, book cover

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Could you survive on your own in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don't live to see the morning?

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weight survival against humanity and life against love.

Safe & Sound (Taylor's Version) [feat. Joy Williams & John Paul White]

On March 16, 2023, Taylor Swift announced that 4 songs would be released at midnight to celebrate the first night of The Eras Tour. One of the songs released was Safe & Sound (Taylor’s Version).

This song was a duet she did with Joy Williams and John Paul White (formerly known as The Civil Wars) in 2012 for the soundtrack of the first The Hunger Games movie. The song is a lullaby sung by the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, to her younger sister Prim. The lyrics are about keeping Prim safe and protecting her.

Mockingjay, book cover

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

My name is Katniss Everdeen.
Why am I not dead?
I should be dead.

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans—except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay—no matter what the personal cost.

If you enjoy Taylor Swift and YA novels, be sure to check out these other reading lists: