The 25 Best Books to Read Based on Your Favorite TV Shows
Your latest TV obsession has just ended, so drop the remote and pick up one of these book recommendations based on must-see TV
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Books for TV fans
Who among us hasn’t experienced the crush of a TV show hangover? You know the deal: You obsess over a fantastic new show, binge the entire thing and then—poof!—it’s over, and you have to wait an entire year for the next season. (Or in the case of a limited series, there won’t even be a next season.) But don’t fear. There’s an equally exciting national pastime that will suck you right in: reading! With that in mind, we present 25 book recommendations based on TV shows.
With everything from romance novels, mystery books, fantasy books, feminist books and maybe even some future best books of all time (or at least the best books of 2022), there’s sure to be one on the list that you won’t be able to put down. (You know, just like you couldn’t stop watching “just one more episode.”) So drop the remote and get ready to turn some pages!
If you love: This Is Us
You’ll want to read: The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith
Fans of NBC’s family drama were distraught when it ended on May 24 after six seasons. The story of married couple Rebecca and Jack (Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia) focused on the current lives of their three children and how the loss of their father when they were young profoundly affected them. (That’s not a spoiler! The first episode reveals that Ventimiglia’s character died when the kids were 17.) This is where The Unsinkable Greta James by noted female author Jennifer E. Smith will fill a void. Released in March 2022, it tells the tale of Greta James, a musician whose mother—and best friend—suddenly dies. Greta struggles deeply with the loss and wonders if she’ll ever be able to sing again, but after agreeing to go on an Alaskan cruise with her somewhat estranged father, she rediscovers the man she grew apart from years ago—and she finds an unlikely new friend and romantic partner. Like This Is Us, Greta James proves that there is life after loss.
If you love: Hacks
You’ll want to read: The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman by Julietta Henderson
HBO’s award-winning dramedy tells the tale of a very unlikely pairing: an aging comedian (obviously modeled after the late Joan Rivers) and a self-centered millennial comedy writer who is forced by her agent to help the comedian punch up her act. Who knew they would have so much to teach each other? Julietta Henderson’s debut novel, published in February 2022, is equally charming and heart-warming. The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman follows 12-year-old Norman, a wannabe stand-up comic, as he chases his dreams in honor of his late best friend. The only problem: Norman isn’t very funny. Told from the perspective of both Norman and his single mother, the book (like Hacks) is less about jokes and more about friendship and finding hope.
If you love: Bridgerton
You’ll want to read: Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore
Sure, the obvious choice for books like Bridgerton would be the Bridgertons series—the Netflix period drama is based on the romantic historical fiction books by Julia Quinn. But why not read about other upper-class Brits in the 1800s who are also dealing with Jane Austen–worthy levels of drama and affairs of the heart? In Evie Dunmore’s 2019 historical fiction novel, Bringing Down the Duke, the poor but brilliant Annabelle, a local vicar’s daughter, gets a scholarship to college on the basis that she help promote the woman’s suffrage movement. She decides to try and convince an obstinate and high-powered duke to get on the “right side of history.” Though their social standings do not match whatsoever, just like with Daphne Bridgerton and Simon Basset, their chemistry is undeniable. And here’s what we know about season 3 of Bridgerton so far based on the books.
If you love: WeCrashed
You’ll want to read: The Escape Room by Megan Goldin
WeCrashed tells the story of the epic rise and fall of the company WeWork, focusing mainly on its enigmatic founder, Adam Neumann, and his wife, Rebekah. The drama gives viewers a sneak peek into the start-up’s unique corporate culture, which included plenty of parties, booze and corporate retreats. Megan Goldin’s chilling thriller offers a glimpse into a similar corporate culture, albeit this time it’s fiction. Set in the ruthless, power-hungry world of a Wall Street investment firm, The Escape Room, published in 2019, zeroes in on a group of colleagues working together to solve clues in order to escape from an elevator. What’s supposed to be a fun, team-building exercise takes a super-dark turn when horrible secrets are revealed. In WeCrashed, the founders ended up tanking the company but making out with a hefty payout. In The Escape Room, the players might not even make it out alive.
If you love: Stranger Things
You’ll want to read: My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
Fans of ’80s sci-fi and horror can’t get enough of this Netflix series, which follows a group of kids and a few of their adult allies as they battle the evil that lives in their small town. While the show has certainly been embraced by the young adult crowd, it’s fun for all ages. (But beware: The current season is pretty gory!) My Best Friend’s Exorcism has the same throwback vibes (it’s also set in the late ’80s) and a vintage-looking cover to boot. Published in 2017, the book tells the story of two best friends who are navigating high school life together—the good, the bad and the complications that come with the territory of being a teenage girl. When an evening of swimming goes wrong, teens have to work together to combat evil, or in this case, the devil himself.
If you love: The Flight Attendant
You’ll want to read: Hostage by Clare Mackintosh
While The Flight Attendant doesn’t necessarily always take place on an airplane, it does follow the life of a first-class international flight attendant who meets a handsome stranger on one of her flights, drunkenly spends the night with him and wakes up only to find him brutally murdered. She knows in her heart she didn’t commit the crime, but her alcoholism has her wondering exactly what happened—and she does her best to find out on her own. If you’re a fan of the series, Clare Mackintosh’s high-stakes Hostage, published in March 2022, should definitely be on your list of most-anticipated books. It takes place entirely on an airplane from London to Sydney, which still has 20 hours to go when flight attendant Mina receives a note telling her to do exactly as instructed—or else her daughter and husband will die. Mina is faced with a terrible choice: save the people she loves or several hundred strangers.
If you love: Yellowjackets
You’ll want to read: The Island by Adrian McKinty
Think of Showtime’s suspenseful series Yellowjackets as Lost meets Castaway meets The Beach—except all the characters are high school girls, whose plane crashes in the wilderness while they’re on their way to a soccer tournament. The survivors have to band together to try and stay alive, but food is scarce, and something evil lurks where they crashed, causing them to slowly lose their minds and turn on one another. While you wait for season two, get lost in The Island by Adrian McKinty, which came out in May 2022. A newly blended family is on a working vacation on a remote Australian island. They’re doing their best to bond when their attempt at a unique adventure (without cellphones or the internet) goes incredibly wrong and they find themselves fleeing from a group of very unwelcoming locals. As in Yellowjackets, in this perfect beach read the only way to make it out alive is to stick together.
If you love: Grace and Frankie
You’ll want to read: The Big Finish by Brooke Fossey
Who says getting older isn’t fun—or, in the case of Grace and Frankie, funny? This hit Netflix series stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as single older women who become friends after their husbands left them for each other. Though the two women are incompatible at first, they end up navigating their family lives, love lives and careers together. By the time the series ended this past March, Grace and Frankie were more than friends; they were family. The Big Finish also pairs up two unlikely pals. In this feel-good novel from 2021, an 88-year-old man named Duffy and the young granddaughter of his nursing home roommate end up on an adventure that includes motorcycling, hitchhiking and bar hopping. Like Grace and Frankie, this heart-warming tale looks at aging as not a death sentence but a chance to be who you are without regrets.
If you love: Pachinko
You’ll want to read: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
When it comes to book recommendations based on TV shows, it can be fun to read something similar—but not identical—to your favorite series. But sometimes a TV show is based on such a remarkable book that you’d miss out by reaching for a different read. That’s the case for this Apple TV+ series, which is based on Min Jin Lee’s bestselling, National Book Award–nominated 2017 novel of the same name. Pachinko follows several generations of one Korean family, from the 1930s to the 1980s, and all their trials and tribulations, from living under Japanese rule in an annexed Korea to being poorly treated as immigrants in Japan. It all starts with Sunja and her secret romance with a fellow Korean, who has assimilated and now works for the Japanese Yakuza. She becomes pregnant but marries another before emigrating to Japan and doing her best to survive and raise a family through war, poverty and pain. This moving saga will touch your heart and leave you richer for having read it.
If you love: Succession
You’ll want to read: House on Fire by Joseph Finder
Ever wonder how the one percent lives? The HBO series follows the insanely wealthy family of media mogul Logan Roy and his four children, who are all fighting for control of the company once their dad retires—although one of them goes rogue and decides to dish dirty details on the corporation, much to the chagrin of the rest of the family. Like Succession, Joseph Finder’s 2020 thriller House on Fire will scratch your billionaires-behaving-badly itch: The daughter of a wealthy pharmaceutical executive hires private investigator Nick Heller to help her expose her father’s company for knowingly marketing an addictive opioid that ends up killing thousands of consumers. But helping the whistleblower take down such a rich and protected corporation proves much harder, and far more dangerous, than Nick could have ever predicted. House on Fire is sure to put you in a book hangover just like your favorite show did.
If you love: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
You’ll want to read: Last Summer at the Golden Hotel by Elyssa Friedland
Take a trip to the “Borscht Belt” with Elyssa Friedland’s latest novel, which was high on the list of great summer reads when it came out in 2021. The story takes place in a resort area of the Catskills, where Miriam “Midge” Maisel takes her show during the second season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. (The area was a popular destination for Jewish families to spend their summers from the 1920s through the 1960s, and the hotels were loaded with entertainers—real-life comics like Milton Berle and Jerry Lewis got their start in the Catskills.) Last Summer at the Golden Hotel follows two families who own a once-prosperous resort together and now must decide whether or not to sell it. Like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, the story packs plenty of family drama and, of course, comedy.
If you love: Mare of Easttown
You’ll want to read: Runner by Tracy Clark
In the gripping HBO series Mare of Easttown, actress Kate Winslet shines as a tough-as-nails small-town homicide cop from Chester County, Pennsylvania, who’s investigating the murder of a local teen. The bingeable mystery series will leave you thirsty for more twists and turns, and for that there’s the 2021 thriller Runner. Crime fans will liken Tracy Clark’s heroine, Cass Rains, to Mare: She’s a former homicide cop turned private investigator who’s on the hunt for 15-year-old Ramona, who has run away from her foster home in Chicago in the dead of winter. Just like in Easttown, drugs play a role in the lives of the characters (Mare’s son was a heroin addict, as is Ramona’s biological mother). As Cass hits the streets to find out what happened to Ramona, she discovers the teen is harboring dark secrets—the kind that plenty of people would kill her to keep.
If you love: You
You’ll want to read: Look Closer by David Ellis
The psychological thriller series You, which follows the story of Joe, a mild-seeming bookstore owner who is also a serial killer, is based on fiction books by author Caroline Kepnes. The You series is certainly worth a read, but if you’re looking for a brand-new thriller, check out Look Closer by David Ellis, which came out in July 2022. The tale, which has been described as “one part Gone Girl, one part Girl on the Train,” follows a wealthy Chicago couple who, from the outside, have a nice, normal marriage and two nice, normal jobs. Internally, however, they keep terrible secrets and nothing is as it seems. When a socialite is found murdered, their stories begin to unravel—and it turns out that one of them might also be a killer.
If you love: Only Murders in the Building
You’ll want to read: The Maid by Nita Prose
This delightfully quirky show stars real-life best friends Steve Martin and Martin Short as two neighbors who try to solve a murder that takes place in their fancy Upper West Side building. Along with their equally quirky pal and fellow neighbor, played by Selena Gomez, they decide to make a podcast out of what they discover as they investigate the case—along with a star-studded cast. In Nita Prose’s charming murder mystery, The Maid, protagonist Molly is just as quirky as Gomez’s character and is doing her best to navigate life as a 25-year-old hotel maid. When she discovers a wealthy guest dead in his bed, the police decide she must have done it, which means Molly and her pals have to solve the murder on their own—before it’s too late. The heartwarming book resonated with armchair detectives: It was published in January 2022 and quickly topped the New York Times bestseller list.
If you love: Virgin River
You’ll want to read: Beachside Beginnings by Sheila Roberts
The small-town romantic drama Virgin River was a big hit for Netflix, thanks to charming nurse practitioner Mel Monroe, who moves to the California town to start over after her husband dies in a car crash. Mel soon finds herself embroiled in endless drama with the locals, especially bar owner Jack. Beachside Beginnings, published in 2020, has a similar vibe in that it tells the tale of Moira, a woman who finally gets the courage to leave her abusive boyfriend and starts over in a small town on the waterfront. She finds joy in the close-knit community of Moonlight Harbor, including a possible new love interest, which is complicated by the fact that her new friend is also crushing on the same guy. When you’re done, find more great romance reads by browsing our list of the best Colleen Hoover books. And stay tuned for Virgin River‘s season 5 premiere.
If you love: The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window
You’ll want to read: The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager
The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window is, for all intents and purposes, a spoof on the novels that feature an alcoholic protagonist who witnesses a neighbor’s murder only to have everyone assume she was just drunk. Still, it’s truly enjoyable, as that book genre often is, and The House Across the Lake provides just what you need if you’re craving a similar murder mystery. The novel, which was released in June 2022, centers on Casey Fletcher, a widowed actress who spends some time in a remote cabin in Vermont and passes the days drinking and spying on her neighbors through binoculars. At first, her neighbors seem to have the perfect marriage, but then the wife goes missing. All signs point to the husband as the obvious killer in this whodunit, but the plot turns out to be a lot twistier than that!
If you love: Never Have I Ever
You’ll want to read: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Technically speaking, this charming feel-good show from creator Mindy Kaling is for the teen set—it follows Devi, the awkward daughter of Indian immigrants, as she deals with friendship woes, school drama and a love triangle in her Southern California high school while also balancing her mother’s expectation that she honor Indian traditions. Like Devi, Dimple, the heroine of Sandhya Menon’s 2017 young-adult novel, chafes at tradition. When Dimple Met Rishi opens with its protagonist grappling with the idea of being forced into an arranged marriage (a plotline that also makes an appearance in Never Have I Ever). Dimple has no interest in settling down with a nice Indian husband, despite her mother’s wishes. Instead, she wants to focus on her career as a web developer. The twist: One of the students in the summer tech program she’s attending is the boy her parents think would be her ideal match.
If you love: Yellowstone
You’ll want to read: The Me I Used to Be by Jennifer Ryan
If you love the Paramount Network’s modern Western drama, Yellowstone, which follows a family of Montana ranchers and their continual conflicts with both the bordering Indian reservation and land developers who want to take parts of the property, you’ll want to dive right in to this suspenseful novel. Published in 2019, The Me I Used to Be focuses on Evangeline, who has spent time in jail for a crime she didn’t commit and, upon getting out, finds that her now-dead father has left the family’s ranch firmly in her care. As she fights to keep the property in the family (and contends with her bitter brothers), she tries to figure out who actually committed the crime that she took the fall for.
If you love: The Mandalorian
You’ll want to read: Star Wars Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston
The first-ever TV show set in the Star Wars universe, The Mandalorian takes place five years after the events in Return of the Jedi. In the show, Pedro Pascal plays a lone bounty hunter who does whatever it takes to protect “the child” (aka Baby Yoda). Fans of this spinoff will devour another: E.K. Johnston’s 2016 young adult novel Star Wars Ahsoka, which centers on a character who appeared in the animated Star Wars: Clone Wars series. The book reveals what happened to Ahsoka Tano after she left the Jedi Order. Considering Ahsoka makes an appearance in season two of The Mandalorian, this is the perfect complement to your favorite Star Wars show. (And you’ll definitely want to read it before the spinoff series, Ahsoka.)
If you love: The Umbrella Academy
You’ll want to read: Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory
The TV adaptation of the comic book series The Umbrella Academy revolves around a ragtag group of superhero siblings, all of whom were adopted at birth by billionaire Reginald Hargreeves, who puts them to work fighting crime. When Hargreeves winds up dead, they reunite at his funeral to figure out why he died—and then have to band together to protect the world from a global apocalypse. For the same eccentric family fun and superpowered adventures, check out Spoonbenders, the 2017 novel by Daryl Gregory. It follows a once-extraordinary family blessed with superpowers that gets a chance at redemption when the CIA comes calling. With wry humor, Gregory crafts a wonderfully weird family drama that’ll keep you flipping pages.
If you love: The Haunting of Bly Manor
You’ll want to read: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
A gorgeous estate. A babysitting gig. And something spooky settling behind the scenes. Sounds like Netflix’s hit horror series The Haunting of Bly Manor, but we’re talking about your next favorite novel. Ruth Ware, queen of the page-turning thriller, takes on another British manor full of secrets in her 2019 novel The Turn of the Key. At first, Rowan Caine can’t believe her luck: She’s just landed a job babysitting for a rich family in a gorgeous estate in the Scottish Highlands. But she quickly feels unsettled—she’s being watched, and the perfect family is not at all what it seems. When one of the children dies in her care, she’s arrested. Through a series of letters she writes from jail, readers learn the truth of what really happened. Pick this for your next book club read, and make sure your book club discussion questions include this: When did you finally realize what was going on?
If you love: The Bachelor
You’ll want to read: The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun
Look, the world is stressful, and sometimes all you want to do is chill out with a lighthearted romp that doesn’t invoke fear or politics. Here’s where The Charm Offensive comes in. This 2021 LGBTQ book tells the tale of a producer on a show just like The Bachelor, who crafts perfect love stories for television to sell to the public. There’s just one problem: The new leading man isn’t the Prince Charming the network was expecting—instead, he’s stiff and awkward. But as the two get to know each other, they form a friendship that begs the question: Was their leading man awkward because he’s not being true to who he really is? And will he allow himself to find true love with a man instead of choosing from 20 beautiful women on TV?
If you love: The White Lotus
You’ll want to read: Meet Me in Paradise by Libby Hubscher
While HBO’s hilarious dark drama was an ensemble of various families and hotel guests at the exclusive White Lotus hotel in Hawaii, the central theme was clear: letting go of who you usually are back home and rediscovering who you were meant to be—the you who only emerges on vacation. In Libby Hubscher’s Meet Me in Paradise, which came out in 2021, the depressed and unadventurous Marin agrees to join her sister on a trip to the tropical island of Saba, despite her reservations. When her sister misses the flight, Marin finds herself exploring the island with a man she met on the plane, and she also ends up finding herself.
If you love: The Thing About Pam
You’ll want to read: The Lies I Tell by Julie Clark
Renee Zellweger wowed audiences with her changed appearance on this limited series, which told the real-life story of Pam Hupp and her involvement in the murder of her best friend, Betsy Faria. At first, Faria’s husband was charged with the crime, but his conviction was overturned, and it became clear that Pam wasn’t telling the truth about what happened. As for book recommendations based on TV shows like this one, you might be expecting a true-crime book. But we’d wager Julie Clark’s twisty 2022 mystery will scratch the itch. In The Lies I Tell, Meg Williams is a con artist who changes her identity with each new town she inhabits, fooling everyone around her in order to get what she wants. But one woman can’t forget the con artist who destroyed her life, and she’s been waiting 10 years to get her revenge.
If you love: Normal People
You’ll want to read: Beautiful World, Where Are You? by Sally Rooney
Fans can’t get enough of Normal People, a Hulu TV show that tells of the complicated friendship and love affair between Marianne and Connell, who meet in high school and date on and off as they graduate and go to college. The show is based on the bestselling novel by Sally Rooney, and Rooney’s latest novel, 2021’s Beautiful World, is familiar in that it charts the dramas and relationships of two best friends and the two men in their lives. This time, though, the characters are in their late 20s and early 30s, and instead of navigating high school and college, they’re trying to figure out survival in the real world, as real adults.
Looking for more books to add on to your to-be-read list? Here are some go-to book recommendations from our avid readers.