Recommending books based on K-pop songs (or maybe vice versa)

Welcome to me screaming about two of my most favourite things in the world!

It is after I change my blog’s name that I finally decide to talk about music here. Love that for me.

K-pop is something I’ve loved dearly for almost two years at this point. From initially getting into it after listening to BTS’ Boy With Luv in 2019 to listening to countless K-pop artists every single day, the music genre has inevitably become a huge part of my life. The thing about K-pop that I love is the overall relatable and catchy music and the wonderful storytelling through both music videos and lyrics which truly makes them different from other mainstream artists.

I started reading diversely in mid-2020 and have fallen in love with it ever since. Though I’ve been reading ever since I can remember, diverse books have had a huge impact on me because seeing myself and people from all around the world being represented in literature gives me nothing but joy.

So today I am going to mixing both these things and recommending some books based on K-pop songs (or I may be indirectly brainwashing you all to listen to K-pop, no one will ever know 😎)

Like DALLA DALLA by ITZY? Read With Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo!

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With the Fire on High

“You can’t control how people look at you, but you can control how far back you pull your shoulders and how high you lift your chin”

Elizabeth Acevedo, With Fire On High

“There is such little time to care about what others think. I am busy doing what I want to do”

ITZY, Dalla Dalla

DALLA DALLA was an amazing debut with empowering lyrics which left a huge impact on everyone. It explores themes of self love and confidence that reminded me of With Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo which follows Emoni, a teen mom who has to care for her daughter whilst balancing school and work. Emoni has a special thing for cooking and even though there are a lot of rules she has to follow, she isn’t afraid to unleash her talent.

Both the song and the book feel like a letter written personally for you that remind you to be unapologetically yourself and give you a huge hug whenever you need it!

If you like the powerful lyrics and message in ITZY’s DALLA DALLA, you will definitely enjoy With Fire On High!

Like Monster by Irene and Seulgi? Read The Poppy War by R.F Kuang!

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The Poppy War (The Poppy War, #1)

“I don’t hate this madness. I’m having fun. You can’t get out. Don’t run, you’ll get hurt.”

Irene and Seulgi, Monster

β€œWar doesn’t determine who’s right. War determines who remains.”

R.F Kuang, The Poppy War

Even after months of Monster’s release I cannot get enough of it which is exactly my case with The Poppy War. Both of these have a painful yet beautiful element to them so it was only appropriate to match both of them together!

Now that I come to think of it the lyrics “I’m bothering you, making you dream only about me” seem eerily familiar about The Poppy War because that is exactly what this book does.

I feel that you can interpret The Poppy War and Monster with different perspectives which adds to the wonderfulness of both. You can read The Poppy War just like any other fantasy novel but when you dig deeper into the history it is based off, there is a guarantee that you will be left perplexed. The same with Monster β€” a great song to listen to but the stories and movies it is based of will leave you awestruck.

If you enjoyed the bold themes of Monster, you will surely adore The Poppy War too!

Like HOLO by Lee Hi? Read Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

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Starfish

“After countless nights of suffering, I finally get it now. I’m too precious to just sit around and worry”

Lee Hi, HOLO

β€œTired of wishing I were someone else and tired of feeling like everyone expects me to be someone else”

Akemi Dawn Bowman, Starfish

HOLO (Korean for alone) is a gorgeous song with extremely beautiful lyrics which some who struggles with mental health will relate to. Even without reading the song’s lyrics, there is no doubt that you will understand what the song is trying to convey because Lee Hi’s beguile vocals do it all.

Starfish was also a book which helped many, myself included, to heal. Both of these are a huge source of solace which are sure to make you sob and come back for more.

If you liked the comforting lyrics of HOLO, be sure to give Starfish a chance too!

Like Dis-ease by BTS? Read The Weight Of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf

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The Weight of Our Sky

“Everyone has a lot of diseases, I’m confused. Is it that mankind is inherently evil? There more than 400 kinds of mental diseases, but no one really fits into any of these categories”

BTS, Dis-ease

β€œWhen there is so much broken about the world we currently live in, one cracked person is easy enough to excuse or ignore.”

Hanna Alkaf, The Weight Of Our Sky

Dis-ease is a top tier song which takes wordplay to another level. With so many metaphors and a wonderful hidden message (spoiler: it is the normalization of mental health), I would highly recommend you check out this video which breakdowns the entire song to understand it better.

The Weight of Our Sky is also a top tier book which I cannot recommend enough because of the marvellous OCD and anxiety representation in it plus it is also based during the Malaysian riots, another important topic you need to be educated about. (The MC is also a huge music fan!)

If you enjoyed the wonderful implication of mental health conveyed in Dis-ease, The Weight of Our Sky is the book for you!

Like HWAA by (G)-IDLE? Read She Who Became The Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

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She Who Became the Sun (The Radiant Emperor, #1)

“I’ll untangle hann and enjoy spring again. All the memories I’ll burn to ashes from which brilliant flowers bloom.”

(G)-IDLE, HWAA

“It would be the biggest gamble of her life. But if she wanted greatnessβ€”she was going to have to stand up and claim it.”

Shelley Parker-Chan, She Who Became The Sun

The only apt way to describe HWAA and She Who Became The Sun is that both of them are extremely poetic.

(G)-IDLE never disappoint and I can confidently say that She Who Became The Sun won’t either. The writing was just so beautiful and y’all know that I am a sucker for historical fantasies. (Pre-order SWBTS or else πŸ”ͺ)

If you liked HWAA, you are sure to enjoy the lyrical prose of She Who Became The Sun!

Like Celebrity by IU? Read You Should See Me In Crown by Leah Johnson

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You Should See Me in a Crown

“Don’t forget among the cloudy dark, you’re a star painted with a left hand. Can’t you see how beautiful a true uniqueness can be?”

IU, Celebrity

β€œI never needed this race or a hashtag or the king to be a queen. I was born royalty. All I had to do was pick up my crown.”

Leah Johnson, You Should See Me In A Crown

Both Celebrity and You Should See Me In A Crown have very similar tones. IU takes about feeling like an “outsider” in the industry which perfectly relates to Liz, the main character in You Should Me In A Crown, who feels the same way, being one of the only queer black girls in her school.

When I heard Celebrity, the lyrics immediately reminded me of You Should See Me In A Crown so I did not think twice about pairing these two!

If you enjoyed IU’s bright vocals and clever lyrism in Celebrity, don’t forget to read You Should See Me In A Crown as well!

Like Our Summer by Tomorrow X Together? Read We Are Not Free by Traci Chee

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We Are Not Free

“Wherever we are, whatever season it is, if we’re together, it feels like summer.”

TXT, Our Summer

β€œWe are not free. But we are not alone.”

Traci Chee, We Are Not Free

Will I ever not talk about We Are Not Free in a book list? The answer is no because this book is extremely underappreciated just like TXT’s b-side tracks.

Yes, We Are Not Free is a sad book but is also hopeful which is the reason I decided to pair it with TXT’s Our Summer, a song that says it can be summer (happiness) everyday when you have people who love and appreciate you around you. As We Are Not Free is set during world war two in the Japanese incarnation camps in America where the characters, even though struggling due to prejudice against them are still enjoying the joys of teenage and life in general.

If you liked Our Summer’s upbeat and assuring tone, you should definitely pick up We Are Not Free!

Like Cry For Me by Twice? Read Cinderella Is Dead by Kaylnn Bayron

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Cinderella Is Dead

“I want you to cry, cry for me. Just like I cried, cry for me. Make your rain fall, cry for me”

Twice, Cry For Me

β€œThe fact that you try to flatter me when I have a blade at your neck makes me want to slit your throat and spare the world your ignorance.”

Kalynn Bayron, Cinderella is Dead

Both of these songs give off a badass women with knives energy for some reason and I am all here for it. Apart from the similar tones, the book cover of Cinderella Is Dead and the Cry For Me also have somewhat of a similar aesthetic.

Cinderella is Dead is a brilliant feminist retelling of Cinderella which was one of my favourite reads of last year so it only felt right to pair it with a Song Of The Year material song that is Cry For Me.

If you loved Twice’s stunning vocals and lyrics in Cry For Me, grab a copy of Cinderella Is Dead as soon as possible!

Like Maria by HwaSa? Read Full Disclosure by Camryn Garret

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Full Disclosure

“Maria, Maria. These are words for you It’s a shining night. Don’t bother me. Oh Maria, they’re words for you. Why are you struggling? You’re already beautiful.”

Hwasa, Maria

β€œWe continue living our lives and fighting the fight. You can’t just let people control you with their hate. You keep living, Simone.”

Camryn Garrett, Full Disclosure

Maria is a gripping song which is indirectly addressed from Hwasa to herself, Maria being her Christian name. Hwasa is usually a target of hate from the general Korean population and netizens as well because she doesn’t fit the set Korean beauty standard (and also because these people are lowkey intimidated by this woman’s talent)

Full disclosure is a book about a HIV positive teen who has to deal with the stigma around HIV in the community which was very gripping for being a book under 300 pages and I would highly recommend you read it!

If you enjoy the bold themes of self-acceptance in Maria, you should surely check out Full Disclosure!

Like Gashina by Sunmi? Read A Curse Of Roses by Diana Pinguicha

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A Curse of Roses

“Everyone wants my scent, but only you don’t know, like a fool. Are you sure you’re not crazy?”

Sunmi, Gashina

β€œOf all the people who found me, you were the only one I wanted to leave with, the only one I could see myself staying with. And I will, for as long as you want me.”

Diana Pinguicha, A Curse of Roses

Sunmi is one of the most versatile soloists in the industry and she never fails to release a new bop every single time which also has the Sunmi feel to it.

A Curse of roses was an amazing historical fantasy based on a Portuguese legend with a f/f relationship which is honestly everything you need in a book.

The prose of the book and the lyrics of the song were also very flowy and gorgeous which left me captivated.

If you enjoyed Gashina’s valiant lyrics and vocals, A Curse Of Roses is a must read for you!


What are your favourite K-Pop songs? Spot any favourite books or songs on this list? Let me know in the comments!

30 thoughts on “Recommending books based on K-pop songs (or maybe vice versa)

  1. I looove how you wrote a post recommending a book based on Kpop songs. I recently got into Kpop late last year and I’m still discovering so many new artists. Right now my favourite is Astro :) I’ll definitely be checking out these book & song recos!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. for some reason, this post wasn’t appearing in my reader, which is very? weird?? omgg hwaa and swbts together are so iconic, i can definitely see them together! i’m so excited to read swbts (which i know will not disappoint)!! i really need to listen to these other artists and their songs, thank you for the recs πŸ₯ΊπŸ’–

    Liked by 1 person

    1. omg that is so weird idk what is up with wordpress 😭😭 hwaa & swbts are definitely the definition of iconic! i know you enjoy she who became the sun because that is a masterpiece of a book! i adore all the artists mentioned and i hope you too! 😎✨

      Liked by 1 person

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