A Guide to Taylor Jenkins Reid

By Ella Maurici

You’d be hard pressed to find a current book-lover who has not heard of Taylor Jenkins Reid. Her eye-popping covers and escapist plots are hard to miss on the bestsellers shelves in most bookshops, libraries, airports and beyond. However, despite the colourful, raised letters adorning her covers – a particular pet peeve of an English teacher I once had – her books should not be cast aside as ‘easy reads’ when considered within the wider literary sphere. Although it is anyway a rather outdated custom to judge a book by its cover, subject matter, or readability, Reid’s books particularly display the importance of the continual acceptance of new works into the literary sphere, allowing them to be considered critically rather than cast aside for not following the particular strictures of classic literature (as English students will know, I am looking at you, Harold Bloom). So, keep on reading to discover what it is that makes Reid’s novels so powerful and for suggestions on going about reading them.

So, keep on reading to discover what it is that makes Reid’s novels so powerful and for suggestions on going about reading them

Despite Taylor Jenkins Reid’s first book Forever Interrupted having been released in 2013, it is her newer books in the, as coined on Tiktok, ‘Mick Rivaverse’ that drew her into the spotlight. Reid’s earlier novels deal with intimate relationships, examining the navigation of love and marriage in the modern world. Although she in fact depicts complex emotions and relationships effortlessly throughout her later novels too. Despite these especially portraying incredibly affluent characters, she does not shy away from the rawness of human emotion. In my opinion, it is this mingling of emotional depth and human connection with the escapism of Hollywood glamour that makes Reid’s later books so popular, setting them on a higher level than those of other similarly popular authors.

So, if you are new to Reid’s novels, this is how I would recommend delving into her literary universe:

Although Reid’s earlier novels are very enjoyable, when diving into her works for the first time, I would recommend starting with The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. This novel about the life of a 20th century Hollywood actress will make you truly heartbroken to discover that the titular character is only fictional. The same can be said for her next novel, Daisy Jones and the Six, which I would recommend reading next. This is my personal favourite of Reid’s novels, following the relationship between a young singer and a band, based on the rise of Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks and it will have you scouring Spotify for concept playlists and wishing you could listen to the songs mentioned. You should then read the dynamic duo of Malibu Rising and Carrie Soto is Back, the latter of which is particularly engaging for any competitive tennis players, before venturing back to Reid’s earlier novels, starting with One True Loves. This way, you will fall in love with her writing style in her later novels, before venturing into the more stripped back, emotionally focussed narratives in the earlier ones. One True Loves, for example, considers the prospect of being in love with two people at once and Maybe in Another Life follows a woman and the two different pathways her life could take depending on the outcome of a single event.

This does not diminish any of the actual literary power of her works

And yes, Reid’s books are popular holiday reads, they make people smile and the stories she tells are often above the level of normal human life. However, this does not diminish any of the actual literary power of her works. Reid is not scared to consider complex ideas in her novels, nor to cross the boundaries of traditional form and genre: Daisy Jones and the Six is written entirely in interview format; Carrie Soto is Back incorporates news articles and interviews to display the treatment of famous women in the press and Maybe in Another Life involves parallel chapters of two alternate outcomes. These few examples are just a taste of Reid’s incredible literary talent. Therefore, I believe that it is important to consider Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novels seriously within the literary sphere and that by the acceptance of such novels into literary discourse, perhaps we can begin to remove some of the scepticism of the literary quality of popular books.

Image: Scarlett Tu

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