Book recs based on your favorite TV shows
- Next1 of 9Glo
- Previous Next2 of 9Scribner; FX Network/Photofest
- Previous Next3 of 9Random House; HBO/Photofest
- Previous Next4 of 9Vintage; AMC
- Previous Next5 of 9Free Press; HBO/Photofest
- Previous Next6 of 9Plume; ABC/Photofest
- Previous Next7 of 9Farrar, Straus and Giroux; FX/Photofest
- Previous Next8 of 9Penguin Classics; ABC/CHRIS HOLLO
- Previous Next9 of 9Vintage; Showtime Networks
TV Guide1 of 9
If you're counting down the days until Mad Men's season premiere or are already mourning the end of Girls season 3, it might be time to hit the books. Author and The Millions writer Edan Lepucki shares her reading recommendations based on your favorite shows. Hey, who said TV wasn't literary?
Under Cover2 of 9
In the FX series The Americans, Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys play Soviet KGB spies posing as married Americans, adding a domestic, intimate twist to the same old, same old political thriller. For another look at family life in the Cold War era, check out Jennifer Gilmore's Something Red, about the Washington, D.C.-based Goldsteins, who experience myriad personal struggles as 1979 slips into 1980: It's the end of disco; the women's movement is at its zenith; and the war on communism is just revving up. Let the suspenseful novel add dimension to your experience of the TV show.
Fantasy Find3 of 9
Fans of HBO's slick and addictive Game of Thrones have probably already read George R.R. Martin's books, from which the television series was adapted. But if you want to dive into a different fantasy, try Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness, a young adult series with knights, magic, sex and intrigue. In the first novel, Alanna: The First Adventure, Alanna pretends to be her twin brother so that she can learn the art of battle. Meanwhile, her brother, Thom, disguises himself as a girl so that he can learn magic at a convent. Like Game of Thrones, these books are riveting and fun.
Going Retro4 of 9
Pour yourself a stiff one, put on a well-tailored dress and prepare for Mad Men's forthcoming seventh season by reading The Stories of John Cheever. As Cheever says of the book in his preface: "Here is the last generation of chain smokers who woke the world in the morning with their coughing, who used to get stoned at cocktail parties and … who were truly nostalgic for love and happiness …" It's the prose version of Don Draper, Pete Campbell, and company.
Hard Times5 of 9
Hannah Horvath, Lena Dunham's alter-ego on Girls, makes poor choices: about men, about jobs, about … pretty much everything. Her search for meaning and direction is funny and heartbreaking, and you cringe because if you aren't that girl now, perhaps you once were. Emily Gould's essay collection And the Heart Says Whatever could be the book (or is it e-book?) that Hannah will one day write. Like Girls, the book depicts with brutal honesty all the inanity, beauty and pain of youth.
Family Fun6 of 9
Gay dads, a May-December romance, and a high-strung soccer mom and her former college-cheerleader husband. Oh, and don't forget those nutty kids! Modern Family renders the complications of family with wit and charm. Jonathan Tropper's This Is Where I Leave You does that as well, with a bit of heartbreak thrown in, too. In this raw and comic novel, the estranged Foxman clan get together to mourn the family patriarch. Meanwhile, son Judd grapples with the demise of his marriage: His wife is sleeping with his radio shock-jock boss. Chaos and hilarity ensue.
Man Troubles7 of 9
Louis C.K., with his sad-sack schtick, dick jokes and the candid way he describes parenting, just might be the greatest living comic. His FX show Louie is refreshingly strange, by turns funny and tragic and disconcerting, sometimes all at once. Sam Lipsyte's novel The Ask also concerns a middle-age white guy in New York. Lipsyte's anti-hero used to work in the development office of a "third-tier" college, until he was fired. This book is hilarious and dark, and the prose is gorgeous, too. Plus, it's got a big-chested character named Vargina. Yep, you read that right: Vargina.
Music to Our Ears8 of 9
It's hard not to love ABC's musical drama series starring Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere as country music stars: It's got beautiful people, it's got songs, it's got twang, love and feuding. There's something grand and earnest about it that feels old-fashioned, in the best possible way. If you want that same mix of romance, politics, coming-of-age, and family drama, then try George Eliot's 19th-century masterpiece Middlemarch, which is wise, beautiful and juicy, and as readable as Nashville is watchable.
Security Check9 of 9
If Showtime's award-winning Homeland has you in its thrall and waiting anxiously for the next season, consider passing the time with Lawrence Wright's The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. The engaging, accessible nonfiction book charts the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and recounts the intelligence failures in the lead-up to the September 11 attacks. By the time Homeland returns for season 4, you'll be informed and ready to follow Carrie Mathison wherever she needs to go in her war on terror.
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