When writing songs, the BTS members draw inspiration from their personal experiences, but they have also been known to dabble in fiction. Here are 8 books to add to your reading list that either inspired a BTS song or were referenced in the lyrics.
1. Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart by James R. Doty
This non-fiction memoir is about the lessons the author learned from Ruth, a woman he met in a magic shop, who taught him how to open his heart and inspired him to become a neurosurgeon.
This book ties into “Magic Shop”, a song produced by Jungkook for Love Yourself: Tear. This song asks fans to open their hearts when they are hurt and lets them know that they are not alone.
Ever since BTS referenced this Into the Magic Shop, it’s sales have soared!
The author even reached out via Twitter, to thank BTS for using his book as inspiration.
@BTS_twt @jamesrdotymd @N2themagicshop #intothemagicshop @BBMAs thank you for using my book as #inspiration 방탄소년단의 새 음반 LOVE YOURSELF 轉 'Tear' 에 중요한 모티브를 제공한 서적인 < 닥터 도티의 삶을 바꾸는 마술 가게 (원제 Into The Magicshop)>
— James R. Doty, M.D. (@jamesrdotymd) May 21, 2018
2. Demian by Hermann Hesse
So far, BTS have only officially confirmed a few literary connections that have directly influenced their music. Demian is, perhaps, the most well-known one. This 1919 novel follows a boy who fluctuates between the “world of light” and the “world of illusion”.
Demian played a key role in the album WINGS. Everything elements from the novel have weaved their way into jacket photos, songs lyrics, and even music videos, like the WINGS comeback trailer, “Boy Meets Evil”.
Demian‘s influence may be most noticeable in BTS’s “Blood, Sweat, & Tears”, which explores themes of duality and the interdependence of good and evil, just like the novel does.
3. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
RM has recommended several of this author’s books to fans over the years, so it’s no surprise Kafka on the Shore has slipped into BTS’s song “Butterfly”.
This complex 2002 novel follows a runaway teenage boy and an old man who can talk to cats as it oscillates between reality and dreams. BTS’s song “Butterfly” directly references the book with these lines: “I don’t know if this is reality or a dream / My Kafka on the shore / Don’t go to those woods over there”.
4. “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin
This 1973 short story is about a utopic town with a dark secret: a child must live in misery in exchange for the town’s happiness. Once the townspeople find out the truth, many accept it as a necessary evil and keep living in Omelas. The other walk away, and no one knows where they go.
“Spring Day” from BTS’s You Never Walk Alone album alludes to this in its music video by including a neon “Omelas” sign. Furthermore, many fans believe that Jungkook is “child” in this video, while the other members are “the ones who walk away”.
5. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
Like Khafa on the Shore this dystopian novel delves into a world where dreams and fantasy collide. The story takes place in Tokyo in the year 1Q84, a fictionalized 1984 that is in parallel with the “real” one.
1Q84 is another Haruki Murakami book that RM has recommended to fans and it loosely ties into the Love Yourself: Her‘s hidden track. “I see ocean,l see desert/ I see the world
Everything, same thing/ Different name”.
6. The Owl Service by Alan Garner
This 1967 fantasy novel is about a pair of step-siblings who discover plates in their home that have flowery patterns that can turn into magical owls when traces onto paper. As the kids uncover the mystery of the owl service, they become trapped within a local legend, playing roles in a tragic story that has repeated itself for generations.
Fans began to make connections to this classic novel after spotting the words “owl service” in one of the jacket photos for BTS’s You Never Walk Alone album.
The Owl Service characters are stuck in a never-ending cycle, much like BTS is in their interconnecting music video plotlines that began with “I NEED U”.
7. “The Pied Piper”
This fable tells the story of a pied piper who pipes the village free of rats, then calls away the village’s children with his music when the villagers refuse to pay him for his work.
In the song “Pied Piper”, BTS play the role of the pied piper, inviting listeners to escape their everyday lives by listening to their music.
8. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Jimin‘s solo, “Serendipity” is believed to have been inspired by this 1943 French novella. In the story, the titular character falls in love with a rose, but he does not know how to show his love for her.
In “Serendipity”, Jimin is the little prince. He sings about his love for his own “rose”, while surrounded by whimsical space imagery that reflects the novella’s setting.