Share 10 Books to Read Based on the TV Shows You’ve Been Binge-Watching in Quarantine

10 Books to Read Based on the TV Shows You’ve Been Binge-Watching in Quarantine

Sarah Jane Abbott is an associate editor for Paula Wiseman Books and Beach Lane Books, imprints of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.  She grew up having NANCY DREW books read to her by her father, and is now an avid reader of mystery, thriller, and horror, along with everything from literary fiction to poetry to personal essays.  She graduated from Bucknell University with a degree in English and a concentration in creative writing.  Sarah Jane is an advocate of quasi-destructive book love—her best-loved volumes are highlighted, scribbled in, dog-eared, and wavy from being dropped in the bath tub.  

If you’re like me, during self-quarantine, you’ve been spending a lot of time binge-watching and not as much time reading as you’d meant to. To help us get back on track with our reading goals, here are some recommendations based on what you’ve been binge-watching, to ease the transition from screen to page. 


Ask Again, Yes
by Mary Beth Keane

If you’re watching: Little Fires Everywhere  This novel about heartbreak, redemption, and the daily intimacies of marriage will appeal to fans of the screen adaptation of Little Fires Everywhere. Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope are rookie NYPD cops who live next door to each other in the suburbs. Francis’s wife Lena’s loneliness and Brian’s wife Anne’s instability lead to explosive events that will link the families through generations, when their children fall in love. 

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Ask Again, Yes
Mary Beth Keane

One of the most beloved novels of the year, the 2019 Tonight Show Summer Reads pick and “magnificent” (NPR) New York Times bestseller offers “profound insights about blame, forgiveness, and abiding love” (People) about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the friendship between their children, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness.

Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens behind closed doors in both houses—the loneliness of Francis’s wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne, sets the stage for the explosive events to come.

“A beautiful novel, bursting at the seams with empathy” (Elle), Ask Again, Yes is a deeply affecting and “smartly told” (Entertainment Weekly) exploration of the lifelong friendship and love that blossoms between Kate Gleeson and Peter Stanhope, born six months apart. One shocking night their loyalties are divided, and their bond will be tested again and again over the next forty years. Heartbreaking and redemptive, Ask Again, Yes is a gorgeous portrait of a relationship haunted by echoes from the past, yet marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace.

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Disobedience
by Naomi Alderman

If you’re watching: Unorthodox  If you loved watching the Netflix series, you’ve probably already read the memoir it is based on. If you’re looking for your next read, dig into this novel about love, faith, and what people are willing to sacrifice for what they believe in. Ronit is a photographer living in New York City who learns that her father, a rabbi, has died. She returns to the Orthodox Jewish community where she grew up and reunites with Esti, an intimate childhood friend who is now married to Dovid, an admired rabbi. But as the truth about Ronit and Esti’s relationship comes to light and old flames are rekindled, the consequences are explosive. 

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Disobedience
Naomi Alderman

*NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE, STARRING RACHEL WEISZ AND RACHEL MCADAMS

*AUTHOR OF ONE OF PRESIDENT OBAMA’S FAVORITE READS OF 2017

When a young photographer living in New York learns that her estranged father, a well-respected rabbi, has died, she can no longer run away from the truth, and soon sets out for the Orthodox Jewish community in London where she grew up.

Back for the first time in years, Ronit can feel the disapproving eyes of the community. Especially those of her beloved cousin, Dovid, her father’s favorite student and now an admired rabbi himself, and Esti, who was once her only ally in youthful rebelliousness. Now Esti is married to Dovid, and Ronit is shocked by how different they both seem, and how much greater the gulf between them is.

But when old flames reignite and the shocking truth about Ronit and Esti’s relationship is revealed, the past and present converge in this award-winning and critically acclaimed novel about the universality of love and faith, and the strength and sacrifice it takes to fight for what you believe in—even when it means disobedience.

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Americanah
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

If you’re watching: Normal People  Fans of the series Normal People who have already read the book it is based on should pick up a copy of this novel about the search for identity, race and belonging, and reigniting old passions. Ifemelu and Obinze are young lovers who each departed military-ruled Nigeria for new lives. Ifemelu heads to America, where she finds success at university but must grapple with what it means to be Black for the first time. Obinze meant to join her, but after 9/11, that option is closed to him and he moves to London. When the two meet again fifteen years later, they explore their feelings for each other and for their home country. 

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Americanah
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This powerful story of race and gender is centered on Ifemelu, a brilliant and self-assured young woman who departs military-ruled Nigeria for an American university where, for the first time, she is forced to grapple with her identity as a black woman. Ifemelu faces difficult choices and challenges, suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships, and eventually achieves success as the writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. Fearless and gripping, Americanah is a richly told story set in today’s globalized world.

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Barbary Station
by R. E. Stearns

If you’re watching: Star Trek Voyager  My quarantine binge has been Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: The Next Generation. I love the exploration and discovery and the fascinating moral and ethical quandaries. There are many Star Trek books to dig into, but I’d also recommend this novel of adventure and survival on a space station. Adda and Iridian are engineers who can’t find work, so they hijack a spaceship to join the notorious pirates who live on the deep space Barbary Station. But when they arrive they discover that the pirates are hiding in a makeshift base from a murderous AI intent on killing all station residents. To earn their place on the pirate crew, Adda and Iridian must find a way to destroy the AI. 

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Barbary Station
R. E. Stearns

Two engineers hijack a spaceship to join some space pirates—only to discover the pirates are hiding from a malevolent AI. Now they have to outwit the AI if they want to join the pirate crew—and survive long enough to enjoy it.

Adda and Iridian are newly minted engineers, but aren’t able to find any work in a solar system ruined by economic collapse after an interplanetary war. Desperate for employment, they hijack a colony ship and plan to join a famed pirate crew living in luxury at Barbary Station, an abandoned shipbreaking station in deep space.

But when they arrive there, nothing is as expected. The pirates aren’t living in luxury—they’re hiding in a makeshift base welded onto the station’s exterior hull. The artificial intelligence controlling the station’s security system has gone mad, trying to kill all station residents and shooting down any ship that attempts to leave—so there’s no way out.

Adda and Iridian have one chance to earn a place on the pirate crew: destroy the artificial intelligence. The last engineer who went up against the AI met an untimely end, and the pirates are taking bets on how the newcomers will die. But Adda and Iridian plan to beat the odds.

There’s a glorious future in piracy…if only they can survive long enough.

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The Falcon Thief
by Joshua Hammer

If you’re watching: Tiger King  It seems like so long ago that all anyone could talk about was the bizarre, horrifying, engrossing phenomenon that was Tiger King. If you’re still thinking about it, pick up this true-crime adventure of obsession, smuggling, and wildlife conservation. Jeffrey Lendrum is a reckless, arrogant, globe-trotting wildlife smuggler who has spent two decades capturing endangered peregrine falcons worth millions of dollars. Wildlife crime detective Andy McWilliam is determined to apprehend him and protect the threatened species. 

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The Falcon Thief
Joshua Hammer

A rollicking true-crime adventure about a rogue who trades in rare birds and their eggs—and the wildlife detective determined to stop him.

On May 3, 2010, an Irish national named Jeffrey Lendrum was apprehended at Britain’s Birmingham International Airport with a suspicious parcel strapped to his stomach. Inside were fourteen rare peregrine falcon eggs snatched from a remote cliffside in Wales.

So begins a tale almost too bizarre to believe, following the parallel lives of a globe-trotting smuggler who spent two decades capturing endangered raptors worth millions of dollars as race champions—and Detective Andy McWilliam of the United Kingdom’s National Wildlife Crime Unit, who’s hell bent on protecting the world’s birds of prey.

The Falcon Thief whisks readers from the volcanoes of Patagonia to Zimbabwe’s Matobo National Park, and from the frigid tundra near the Arctic Circle to luxurious aviaries in the deserts of Dubai, all in pursuit of a man who is reckless, arrogant, and gripped by a destructive compulsion to make the most beautiful creatures in nature his own. It’s a story that’s part true-crime narrative, part epic adventure—and wholly unputdownable until the very last page.

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Where All Light Tends to Go
by David Joy

If you’re watching: Ozark  Jacob McNeely has dropped out of high school to work for his father, who runs a methodically organized meth ring that operates free from detection thanks to bribery of local authorities. Jacob’s only joy is his first love, Maggie. But when he makes a fatal mistake, his world is upended and he has to decide whether to stay and make things right with his father or escape with Maggie, leaving the only life he has ever known. 

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Where All Light Tends to Go
David Joy

After reuniting with his childhood sweetheart, Jacob NcNeely is desperate to escape his dead-end life and his cruel father in Cashiers, North Carolina. In a place where blood is thicker than water and hope takes a back seat to fate, Jacob wonders if he can muster the strength to leave.

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When Dimple Met Rishi
by Sandhya Menon

If you’re watching: Never Have I Ever  Dimple Shah has it all figured out: she is escaping from her mamma’s obsession with finding her the “Ideal Indian Husband” and spending the summer at a program for aspiring web developers. Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic who doesn’t mind his parents arranging a match for him and is excited to meet the woman they’ve chosen: Dimple. Dimple initially has no interest in associating with Rishi at all, but when opposites clash, love can blossom in unexpected ways. 

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When Dimple Met Rishi
Sandhya Menon

A New York Times bestseller

An NPR Best Book of 2017
A Buzzfeed Best YA Book of 2017
A Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of 2017
A School Library Journal Best Young Adult Book of 2017
A Bustle Best YA Novel of 2017
A PopSugar Best Young Adult Novel of 2017
A Book Riot Best Book of 2017
A Paste Magazine Best Young Adult Novel of 2017

“Utterly charming.” —Mindy Kaling
“Effervescent.” —Chicago Tribune
“Full of warm characters and sweet romance.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Get ready to fall in love with Dimple Shah and Rishi Patel.” —HelloGiggles

The rom-com everyone’s talking about! Eleanor & Park meets Bollywood in this hilarious and heartfelt novel about two Indian-American teens whose parents conspire to arrange their marriage.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

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Bloodsucking Fiends
by Christopher Moore

If you’re watching: What We Do in the Shadows  Taika Watiti’s hilarious, wonderfully strange comedy about a group of vampire roommates living in Staten Island is a great match for this offbeat, farcical novel about Jody, who never asked to be a vampire, but when she wakes up in a Dumpster with superhuman strength and a thirst for blood, she realizes the decision has been made for her. As she transitions from her nine-to-five life to nocturnal life, she meets C. Thomas Flood, a vampire who has been the night clerk at a San Francisco Safeway. Their afterlives will never be the same.  

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Bloodsucking Fiends
Christopher Moore

Jody never asked to become a vampire. But when she wakes up under an alley Dumpster with a badly burned arm, an aching back, superhuman strength, and a distinctly Nosferatuan thirst, she realizes the decision has been made for her.

Making the transition from the nine-to-five grind to an eternity of nocturnal prowlings is going to take some doing, however, and that's where C. Thomas Flood fits in. A would-be Kerouac from Incontinence, Indiana, Tommy (to his friends) is biding his time night-clerking and frozen-turkey bowling in a San Francisco Safeway. But all that changes when a beautiful undead redhead walks through the door...and proceeds to rock Tommy's life—and afterlife—in ways he never thought possible.

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Tough Love
by Susan Rice

If you’re watching: Becoming  If you have experienced the joy of the Becoming documentary on Netflix and read the intimate memoir it is based on, you should meet Susan Rice, national security adviser to President Obama and US ambassador to the United Nations. In her powerful, fascinating memoir, she charts her journey from growing up in Washington, DC, where a family legacy of immigrants and the descendants of slaves meant high expectations for achievement, to becoming one of the nation’s youngest assistant secretaries of state and one of Obama’s trusted advisers. She offers a candid inside account of events that have shaped the United States over three decades. 

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Tough Love
Susan Rice

Susan E. Rice—National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama and US Ambassador to the United Nations—reveals her powerful story with unflinching candor in this New York Times bestseller.

Mother, wife, scholar, diplomat, and fierce champion of American interests and values, Susan Rice powerfully connects the personal and the professional. Taught early, with tough love, how to compete and excel as an African American woman in settings where people of color are few, Susan now shares the wisdom she learned along the way in this “personal and honest…ode to public service” (NPR).

Laying bare the family struggles that shaped her early life she also examines the ancestral legacies that influenced her. Rice’s elders—immigrants on one side and descendants of slaves on the other—encouraged each generation to rise. And rise they did, in uniform and in the pulpit, as educators, community leaders, and public servants.

Susan too rose rapidly. She served throughout the Clinton administration, becoming one of the nation’s youngest assistant secretaries of state and, later, one of President Obama’s most trusted advisors.

Rice provides an insider’s account of some of the most complex issues confronting the United States over three decades, from “Black Hawk Down” in Somalia to the genocide in Rwanda, and from conflicts in Libya and Syria to the Ebola epidemic, a secret channel to Iran, and the opening to Cuba during the Obama years.

With unmatched insight and characteristic bluntness, she reveals previously untold stories behind recent national security challenges, including confrontations with Russia and China, the war against ISIS, the fallout from Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks, the US response to Russian interference in the 2016 election, and the surreal transition to the Trump administration.

Although you might think you know Susan Rice—whose name became synonymous with Benghazi following her Sunday news show appearances after the deadly 2012 terrorist attacks in Libya—now, through these pages, you truly will know her for the first time. “An astute, analytical take on recent American political history,” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) Tough Love makes an urgent appeal to the American public to bridge our dangerous domestic divides in order to preserve our democracy and sustain our global leadership.

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Cake
by Alysa Levene

If you’re watching: The Great British Baking Show  My main source of comfort viewing is this delightful British baking competition, in which contestants are kind, supportive, and funny as they whip up delicious desserts and pies. If the show’s occasional feature on the history and cultural significance of a baked good fascinates you, pick up this joyful celebration of the history and evolution of cake. It traces the journey of the perennial favorite from a small village in Wessex in 878 AD to the development of favorites like fruit cake, cupcakes, and birthday cake. It even touches on our beloved TV baking competitions. 

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Cake
Alysa Levene

Cake can evoke thoughts of home, comfort someone at a time of grief or celebrate a birth or new love.  It is a maker of memories, a marker of identities, and delicious!

It was the year 878 A.D., and a man claimed sanctuary in a small village home in Wessex. To the surprise of the villager, the man was not a passing vagabond but Alfred, King of the Anglo-Saxons. The village homemaker was happy to hide him from the marauding Danes, provided he keep an eye on the cake she had baking in the oven. Preoccupied with how to re-take his kingdom, Alfred let the cake burn, and the incident passed into folklore forever.

From these seemingly ignoble beginnings, not only was Alfred able to reclaim his spot in history, but the humble villager's cake has become a part of world culture as well. Alysa Levene looks at cakes both ancient and modern, from the fruit cake, to the pound cake, from the ubiquitous birthday cake to the angel food cake, all the way up to competitive baking shows on television and our modern obsession with macaroons and cup cakes.

Along the way, author Alysa Levene shows how cakes are so much more than just a delicious sugar hit, and reflects on how and why cakes became the food to eat in times of celebration.  Cake reflects cultural differences, whether it is the changing role of women in the home, the expansion of global trade, even advances in technology. Entertaining and delightfully informative, Cake: A Slice of History promises to be a witty and joyous celebration of our cultural heritage.

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Photo Credit: Andrey Bukreev/iStock

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