Julie and the Phantoms Songs as Book Recs
In case you haven’t talked to me/read my blog/gone on any of my social medias lately: I’m obsessed with Julie and the Phantoms
And as I was humming one of the songs from the soundtrack—as I do almost constantly right now because it’s all I want to listen to—and thinking about writing my September wrap up, I though to myself “Hm, how could I come up with an excuse to yell about jatp on my blog more?” and then it struck me: book recs for each Julie and the Phantoms songs.
I figure this way I can keep the post interesting to those of y’all you haven’t watched jatp and are here for the bookish content, while still being able to talk about this amazing show! And who knows, maybe I’ll even convince a few of y’all to watch it too >;)
Now Or Never – Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
“Keep dreaming like we’ll live forever/But live it like it’s now or never”
Okay look I had to fit this book in somewhere because I’m obsessed with it and also because like . . . ghosts, anyone? I honestly think anyone who likes Julie and the Phantoms would like Cemetery Boys!! But also this song feels very fitting somehow, maybe because of the sense of urgency running through the book that feels very “now or never”. I also think this really suits the way Yadriel decides to seize his life into his own hands!! And of course, as like in the show, the ghosty irony of these lyrics is certainly not lost on me
Wake Up – Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
“And I use the pain ’cause it’s part of me/And I’m ready to power through it/Gonna find the strength, find the melody/’Cause you showed me how to do it/Get up, get out, relight that spark”
This is a song about standing up and fighting even when the people you relied on for support are no longer there, and although the situation in the show vs in this book are very different, I think that same core theme runs strong through both of them. In the show, Julie has to find her voice again after losing her mother; in Labyrinth Lost, Alex has to embrace her magic in order to save her family. Both are such beautiful narratives that I absolutely adore ❤
Bright – Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee
“Together I think that we can make it/Come on, let’s run/And rise through the night, you and I/We will fight to shine together”
Again with the themes of finding your power when you feel weak, and learning how to stand up and fight—but unlike with Wake Up, where it focuses on finding the power within yourself, this one feels focused on finding the power within your friendships. And for that, what could possibly be more fitting than Not Your Sidekick? One of the things I really love about this book is Jess realizing that she deserves relationships where they make each other stronger, and stops fighting so much for the approval of people who don’t see her worth. She also has to take a lot of risks and make a lot of leaps of faith, putting the trust in herself and her friends, which I feel is another theme of this song.
This Band Is Back (Reggie’s Jam) – Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde
“Can you? (Yes, we can)/Can you hear me? (Loud and clear!)“
I debated skipping this song, since there isn’t a lot of substance to it, but then I realized I should use a short, sweet, silly book to match! Just like this song, Queens of Geek was utterly adorkable and put a huge smile on my face. It’s been years since I read it, but I still remember how much fun it was, and it was also such a quick read! It’s the perfect book to read on the beach or to get you out of a reading slump (which, coincidentally, fits with this song perfectly, seeing as it’s sung on a beach.
And being dead could arguably count as a music slump of sorts, so one could even say it’s them getting out of a slump)
Wow – What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter
“We the bomb, chain react/Blow their minds and watch them/Woah, woah, woah, woah”
I struggled a lot to come up with a book for this one, because ultimately the books that actually fit this energy and the books I like . . . don’t really have a lot of crossover. Finally I settled on What I Like About You, because it features a popular book blogger, and this song us sung by the popular girl at school. Yeah, it’s a stretch, but I didn’t know what else to put here. Also I suppose there is the fact that Carrie (the girl who sings this) is deeply unlikeable, and while Halle (the main character of What I Like About You) is a lot more likeable than Carrie, she’s definitely far from perfect and she will have you screaming at the book in frustration at least once or twice.
Flying Solo – Spellhacker by M.K. England
“My life, my life would be real low, zero, flying solo without you”
This song is such an ode to friendship and it makes me so 🥺 relatedly, Spellhacker is such a friendship-oriented book! Diz loves her friends so much, and you can feel the ache in her chest every time she thinks about them leaving her behind. The friends in this book are really more family than anything, and that’s what Julie and Flynn feel like as well. Anyways now I’m getting emotional over how much I love (1) this song, (2) this book, and (3) my amazing friends 🥺🥺
I Got the Music – This Is What It Feels Like by Rebecca Barrow
“Ain’t gonna fight it cause it’s useless/I can’t get this music out of my head/It’s like the beat is taking over”
I didn’t even stop to consider another book for this one. I Got the Music is the big number signifying that Julie’s passion for music is really, truly back, and This Is What It Feels Like is a book about friends finding each other again and reforming their old band to enter a music contest—what could possibly be more fitting? Both the song and the book are so much fun, and yet also have powerful themes of finding a home in music again.
The Other Side of Hollywood – Vicious by V.E. Schwab
“We got some time to kill/Consider me the pearly gates to your new favorite thrills/We could go make history or you could rest in peace”
This might seem like an unlikely pairing, but truly what better fit is there for one of the most iconic villain songs than a book all about villains? Both of these have such strong ‘fuck it lets seek out power and descend into villainy, care to join me?’ vibes, and I am truly here for it. I also feel like the whole “other side” part is deeply relevant to this book 👀
All Eyes on Me – The Trials of Apollo
“Not tryin’ to brag, brag, but I’m flawless/I’m taking over your playlist/Ain’t perfect but I can’t miss, yeah”
I typically try to stay away from books that are quite this hyped when doing recommendation posts, but . . . honestly how could I choose anything but the Trials of Apollo? Apollo would absolutely sing every single word of this song 100% unironically. The self-centred bragging is just too much his style. It’s sort of delightful to read, in a hilarious sort of way, and this song is the same way.
Finally Free – Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles
“We’re all bright now, what a sight now/Coming out like we’re firеworks/Marching on proud, turn it up loud/Cause now we know what we’rе worth”
Kallia in Where Dreams Descend is quite literally finally free, but that’s not the only part of the song that’s relevant here! The badassery of knowing exactly what you’re worth and being proud of it is also a huge theme of the book, and honestly just like . . . it’s an anthem of freedom, self love, and also just being a badass, and I think that sums up Where Dreams Descend perfectly. And I feel like “I got a spark in me” just fits the whole magic thing pretty well. Also just . . . this song has an energy to it that screams PREFORM ME, and this book is so centred around performance . . . truly it’s a perfect pairing.
Perfect Harmony – The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow
“The truth is finally breaking through/Two worlds collide when I’m with you”
Despite not really liking the couple this song is for, I think it’s one of the most gorgeous songs in the show and I could listen to it forever. And of course, The Sound of Stars is one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read, and I would read it a million times over again. I also just think if you love this sort of love song—a bit cheesy, but also utterly beautiful and heartfelt—I think you would really appreciate the slow, subtle romance in The Sound of Stars. Personally it’s not a romance that did much for me, but it is a beautiful one, and I think that like the one in the show I appreciate how it’s built off of a friendship first. Also the struggle of the two different worlds is . . . deeply relevant lol. Also of course, this is a another song from the show that talks about music with the whole ‘perfect harmony’ thing, and The Sound of Stars is so filled with love for music.
Edge of Great – Music From Another World by Robin Talley
“Running from the past/Tripping on the now/What is lost can be found, it’s obvious”
This song is about being on the brink of something, and so for it I wanted to choose a book with coming of age themes. I actually think it fits Music From Another World on a few levels though—this book is about the queer rights movement in California in the late 70s, and so while on a more personal level the characters are on the brink of adulthood, on a larger scale they’re on the brink of accomplishing incredible things for the queer community. Both the song and the book feel both so hopeful and so triumphant.
Unsaid Emily – History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
“No time for goodbyes/Didn’t get to apologize/Pieces of a clock that lies broken/If I could take us back, if I could just do that/And write in every empty space the words “I love you” in replace”
I want to cry every time I hear this song. It hurts my heart. I’m listening to it now to write this recommendation and low-key tearing up. It’s one of my absolute favourite songs on the show, but also I hate it a bit for making me FEEL THINGS. Anyways really my main recommendation for this song is a box of tissues, but since that’s not a book I’m going to go with History is All You Left Me instead, because guess what? You’ll also need a box of tissues for this book. I cried so hard reading it that my dad was concerned about my emotional wellbeing. Pain aside, the book also has a lot of similar themes as this song. Although the situations are obviously very different, they both focus a lot on grief, complicated relationships with loss, and the things you wish more than anything you hadn’t left unresolved before it was too late. Oh look I’m crying. Anyways go read this book and then sob with me.
You Got Nothing to Lose – Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody
“You know you wanna take a chance and be a little bit bad/Ain’t nothing quite like living on the edge, so get ready to go/I’m chasing down a thrill and lookin’ fit to kill”
This is another iconic villain song, and I simply had to choose this book for it. Although the characters in Ace of Shades are more morally grey than outright villains, the showy feeling everything in this book has fits this incredibly showy song as well. This book has all the shades of bad, from our morally grey main characters, an incredibly complex cast, to some incredibly hatable villains, and this song—ft. the villain trying to lure characters over to his side—feels like it encompasses that quite well. I also find this song quite fascinating because despite being about having nothing to lose, which on the surface sounds accurate, is actually deeply incorrect—they have both nothing to lose and simultaneously everything, despite that not necessarily being obvious, and I think this book fits into that as well.
Stand Tall – You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
“And it’s one, two, three, four times/That I’ll try for one more night/Light a fire in my eyes”
This may seem like an unlikely choice for this song and . . . okay yeah I was struggling with this one, so this might be a bit of a stretch. There’s a lot of songs throughout this show about learning to stand on your own, and I mean I’m here for it because it’s a great theme, but it does make it hard to come up with books for. So instead of focusing on that part, I want to focus on Liz’s (the main character in You Should See Me in a Crown) determination and her refusal to back down. This song is about standing on your own, but it’s also about refusing to give up, and I think that part is a theme of this book. Liz knows exactly what she wants, and when there’s a hurdle in her way she finds a way around it. She struggled sometimes but she never, ever gave up. Sometimes she took it too far, but ultimately it was a really admirable character trait. Even when the world hurt her, she stood tall and carried on. I did also really appreciate though the way she had a strong support system and wasn’t afraid to ask for help. And in a way I feel that that fits the theme of the song too, a bit.