An illustration of the Harry's House album cover.

Like This Song? Try This Book! – ‘Harry’s House’ Edition

To prolong the experience of your favorite song from the musician's third solo studio album, give these books a try.
June 22, 2022
16 mins read

Though the demographics of book lovers and Harry Styles fans might not seem to have much overlap, the two groups have at least a single trait in common: a longing for more. Much like a reader desperate for one last chapter, fans of Styles’ music can’t get enough of the, as reviewer and fan Olivia Horn calls it, “balance between aloofness and earnestness [that] is something of a Harry Styles specialty.” In the wake of the artist’s recent album “Harry’s House,” this shared longing between otherwise separate groups is greater than ever. So, whether you’re a fan looking for more music, a reader looking for more story, or perhaps a mix of the two, here are some book recommendations based off your favorite track from “Harry’s House.”

“Music For a Sushi Restaurant” → “The Sun Is Also a Star” by Nicola Yoon 

Fans of opening track “Music for a Sushi Restaurant” should check out 2016 novel “The Sun Is Also a Star” by bestselling author Nicola Yoon. This young adult (YA) novel follows characters Natasha and Daniel, two first-generation American teenagers whose lives cross paths for one dramatic day in New York City. Neither teen is looking for love, but when the universe is determined to push two people together, they have no choice but to let it happen.

Though an upbeat aesthetic links “Music for a Sushi Restaurant” to Yoon’s novel, it is Styles’ lyrics that make the true connection: In the song’s bridge, Styles says, “If the stars were edible / And our hearts were never full / Could we live for just a taste?” In addition to some convenient star imagery, these lyrics express a desire for love to fill an empty heart, something both Natasha and David face. Listeners experiencing a similar longing, yet who still crave a lighthearted life, will fall in love with “The Sun Is Also a Star.”

“Late Night Talking” → “One Last Stop” by Casey McQuiston

Moving forward with the lighthearted openers of “Harry’s House,” fans of Styles’ second track, “Late Night Talking,” should pick up Casey McQuiston’s sophomore novel, “One Last Stop.” Published in 2021, this romantic comedy follows self-proclaimed cynic August after her move to New York City. She expects the worst from the city, but when fate intervenes, August can’t help but fall in love with her new life — and Jane, the mysteriously cute girl on the Q train. With a queer cast of characters and supernatural mystery that is sure to keep you on your toes, what’s not to love?

If McQuiston’s novel were adapted for the screen, “Late Night Talking” would play during its best montage moments. Lyrics such as “It’s only been a couple of days and I miss you” and “Now you’re in my life / I can’t get you off my mind” encapsulate the immediate and all-encompassing connection between August and Jane. Listeners who long for their own relationship that is as consuming as it is cute will find the next best thing in “One Last Stop.”

“Grapejuice” → “Looking for Alaska” by John Green 

If you’re a fan of retro-feeling track three, “Grapejuice,John Green’s debut novel, “Looking for Alaska,” might be your next best read. The 2006 novel follows 18-year-old Miles Halter and his friends at Culver Creek, a boarding school that is more like summer camp than actual high school. With Alaska Young as ringleader, the friends wreak havoc on Culver Creek, creating a blissfully uncomfortable atmosphere while smoking stolen cigarettes and pulling off elaborate pranks.

More than just Alaska’s preference for peach-flavored wine links Green’s novel to “Grapejuice”: Both song and story feature a mellow narrative that is both intoxicating and a little unsettling. In true bildungsroman fashion, much of the novel focuses on self-reflection, a theme directly represented in Styles’ lyrics: “I pay for it more than I did back then.” Listeners intrigued by the idea of living through a “before” and an “after” will find their thoughts reflected in the modern classic “Looking for Alaska.”

“As It Was” → “History Is All You Left Me” by Adam Silvera

Fans of the lead single “As It Was” should check out “History Is All You Left Me” by Adam Silvera. This YA novel was released in 2018 and follows teenage Griffin in the wake of his ex-boyfriend and true love Theo’s death. While the rest of the world moves on in the months following his death, Griffin is still stuck in the past, desperate to remember a time before the worst happened.

There is a certain permanence to both time and death — that is, they have a way of pulling people apart. Though Silvera’s novel and Styles’ song tell different stories, lyrics such as “In this world, it’s just us / You know it’s not the same as it was” demonstrate that permanence in any context is devastating. Listeners who appreciate the emotional duplicity and short-but-sweet heartbreak of “As It Was” will find the same in this LGBTQ+ story.

“Daylight” → “Again, but Better” by Christine Riccio

Returning to the normally upbeat narrative of “Harry’s House,” fans of “Daylight” should pick up “Again, but Better,” BookTube sensation Christine Riccio’s debut novel. This 2019 release pitched as the quintessential study-abroad story opens with 20-year-old student Shane and her life-changing semester in London. Though elements of family pressure, self-discovery, and a little bit of magic weave their way through Riccio’s novel, at its heart this is a story of first love.

In addition to some well-placed travel references, “Daylight” captures the recklessness of young love perfectly. Much like Styles’ lyrics, “Dip you in honey so I could be sticking to you,” Shane, who has never been in a real relationship, is ready to devote her life to love the moment it knocks on her door. Listeners with similar passions will find all their hopeless-romantic dreams come to life in “Again, but Better.”

“Little Freak” → “Normal People” by Sally Rooney

Perhaps the most deceptively heartbreaking song on the album, “Little Freak” pairs well with 2020 novel “Normal People” by Sally Rooney. Set across the pond in Ireland, the book follows the evolving love story of Marianne and Connell as they grow up together through secondary school and college. In this tragic will-they-won’t-they romance, Rooney doesn’t shy away from themes of class, inexperience and abuse.

Character Marianne is often painted as a Jezebel — she is shameless in sharing her opinions as well as her body and is considered morally unrestrained for it — yet, Connell still loves her. Like “Little Freak” lyrics “I’m not worried about where you are / Or who you will go home to / I’m just thinkin’ about you,” judgeless love dominates these narratives. Listeners touched by such acts of unconditional affection will surely love “Normal People.”

“Matilda” → “The Butterfly Garden” by Dot Hutchinson

In the same gut-wrenching vein, fans of track seven, “Matilda,” should pick up the hidden gem “The Butterfly Garden” by Dot Hutchison. Despite its deceptive name, this 2016 thriller is no walk in the park: Following a young group of girls kidnapped and transformed into a serial killer’s personal “butterflies,” the novel finds that these kids endure more than just lifelike butterfly wings tattooed on their backs. The novel is not a light read, but with themes of assault, independence and found family, it is an important one.

Despite the horror faced by these victims, threads of hope and healing still weave their way through Hutchison’s novel. Much like Styles’ lyrics “But I know that a piece of you’s dead inside / You showed me a power that is strong enough to bring sun to the darkest days,” these girls are as resilient as they are broken. Listeners who understand difficult childhoods and are drawn to recovery stories will find solace in “The Butterfly Garden.”

“Cinema” → “The Unhoneymooners” by Christina Lauren

On a happier note, fans of the groovy “Cinema” should check out Christina Lauren’s 2019 release, “The Unhoneymooners.” This romance novel follows Olive Torres who, after an unlucky seafood incident at her sister’s wedding, must take a non-refundable Maui honeymoon with Ethan Thomas, the annoyingly attractive best man who just happens to be her personal nemesis. With a fake dating scenario and a real romance that will keep readers on the edge of their seats, this book is the perfect upbeat read.

If the heartwarming romance of Christina Lauren’s novel wasn’t enough, an even greater treat lies in its enemies-to-lovers trope. Headstrong Olive wants nothing to do with Ethan, yet despite their best efforts, their shared chemistry is undeniable — much like “Cinema” lyrics, “It’s you / And I’m not getting’ over it / Darling, is it cool / If I’m stubborn when it comes to this?” Listeners engrossed by the tension of an unwanted romance will love the passionate collision of “The Unhoneymooners.”

“Daydreaming” → “Never Always Sometimes” by Adi Alsaid

Next on the “Harry’s House” roster is the whimsical ninth track, “Daydreaming,” whose fans might like novel “Never Always Sometimes” by Adi Alsaid. In this 2016 YA romance, childhood best friends Dave and Julia are determined to get the most out of high school, even if it means breaking their own rules —including never falling in love with your best friend. Despite being under 300 pages long, this story still manages to pack a punch that will resonate with readers.

Though ultimately a successful love story, much of this novel surrounds an unrequited love. Dave has dreamed of loving Julia forever, something Styles mirrors in his song: “So give me all of your love, give me something to dream about.” Though their relationship is defined by its high school setting, listeners of any age will relate to the teenage love story of “Never Always Sometimes.”

“Keep Driving” → “What We Lose” by Zinzi Clemmons

Fans of late-album favorite “Keep Driving” should check out Zinzi Clemmons’ debut novel, “What We Lose.” Named best book of the year in 2017 by over a dozen magazines, this novel follows protagonist Thandi from childhood well into her adult years. In addition to its fragmented story structure and striking prose, the novel drives home powerful explorations into topics of motherhood, race, lost love and more topics that will stay with readers long after the final chapter.

Thandi learns many lessons throughout the novel, though readers learn only one: Life can be beautiful, but it can also be broken, and often, it will be both. Styles asks in “Keep Driving,” “A small concern with how the engine sounds / We held darkness in withheld clouds / I would ask, ‘Should we just keep driving?’” Despite the struggles life throws her way, Thandi has no choice but to keep driving. Listeners who feel the same will find validation in “What We Lose.”

“Satellite” → “Of Fire and Stars” by Audrey Coulthurst  

Fans of another late-album favorite, “Satellite,” should pick up “Of Fire and Stars” by Audrey Coulthurst. This 2018 YA fantasy tells the story of Princesses Denna and Mare, two girls that share more differences than just their kingdoms. Denna is set to marry Mare’s brother, but when the girls’ friendship grows into something more, Denna is at risk to lose control of more than just her hidden magic.

Much like the feeling of forbidden love, Styles’ 11th track captures the airy feeling of adoration. With lyrics like “Spinnin’ out waitin’ for ya to pull me in” and “Wishin’ I could be there for ya,” it’s clear that both story and song tell narratives of pining. Listeners looking for more of this intoxicatingly lovely feeling with a sapphic twist will find all that and more in “Of Fire and Stars.”

“Boyfriends” → “It Ends With Us” by Colleen Hoover

Fans of the heartbreaking song “Boyfriends” might also like BookTok sensation Colleen Hoover’s 2016 novel, “It Ends With Us.” After watching her father abuse her mother for years growing up, 23-year-old Lily is determined to never let herself go through the same thing. But when her perfect boyfriend’s anger gets the better of him one too many times, Lily finds herself right where she promised herself she’d never be.

Breaking the cycle of abuse is easier said than done, and, until you’ve lived through it, it’s nearly impossible to understand why someone won’t “just leave.” Becoming trapped is practically inevitable, similar to Styles’ lyrics, “You / Love a fool who knows just how to get under your skin” and “He starts secretly drinking / It gets hard to know what he’s thinking.” Listeners who can relate to such never-ending cycles (because let’s admit, there are many) will relate to Lily’s experiences in “It Ends With Us.”

“Love of My Life” → “Clockwork Angel” by Cassandra Clare

Arriving at the final (and perhaps most underrated) track on “Harry’s House,” fans of “Love of My Life” should check out “Clockwork Angel” by Cassandra Clare. In the first installment of the “Infernal Devices” series, characters Tessa, Will, and Jem roam the streets of 19th century London in search of mechanical monsters. With a well-written love triangle and a puzzling mystery, this 2010 novel hooks readers from the very first chapter.

Beyond just the eerie atmosphere matching the story’s setting, sentiments of cursed love present in “Love of My Life” are similarly reflected in the novel’s tragic love triangle. Lyrics such as “I take you with me every time I go away” and “Maybe you don’t know what’s lost till you find it” represent all sides of this complicated situation between friends. Listeners who relate to the sorrow of missed opportunities will connect with the romantic misery of “Clockwork Angel.”

Aunna Beranek, Columbia College Chicago

Writer Profile

Aunna Beranek

Columbia College Chicago
English, Minor in Creative Writing (Fiction Concentration)

An aspiring writer and editor trying to figure out how to build a career out of crying in the dark over fictional characters.

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