Share The Mary Tyler Moore TBR: 8 Books with Awesome Women to Feed Your Inner Mary Richards

The Mary Tyler Moore TBR: 8 Books with Awesome Women to Feed Your Inner Mary Richards

Erin Madison is an assistant marketing manager at Simon & Schuster. She adores historical fiction, has a secret love for dark stories, and devours great YA. (A short list of her favorite authors includes Emma Donoghue, Lisa See, George Saunders, Reyna Grande, Jeannette Walls, Scott Westerfeld, David Levithan, Libba Bray, Laurie Halse Anderson, Robin Wasserman, and Courtney Summers.) In her free time, she writes LGBTQ+ YA novels. You can find out more about her writing, the books she loves, and her black cat on Twitter @ErinWrites93.

On September 19, 1970, the world was first introduced to The Mary Tyler Moore Show, a half hour sitcom that would go on to receive twenty-nine Primetime Emmy Awards, inspire two spin-off shows, break barriers with its strong, unmarried female lead, and become the golden standard for writing complex, quality comedic television. We’re celebrating its 50th anniversary by recommending some of our favorite books, nonfiction and fiction, that fans of the show will definitely want to add to their TBR lists. 


Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted
by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

If you want to know more about the creation of this iconic show, you have to read this book. Jennifer Keishin Armstrong presents an engaging behind-the-scenes look at the making of the classic and groundbreaking TV show that defined the sitcom genre and revolutionized the way women were portrayed on television, as experienced by its producers, writers, and cast. 

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Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted
Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

In this “fast-paced and charming…absorbing cultural history” (Publishers Weekly), Jennifer Keishin Armstrong presents an engaging behind-the-scenes look at the making of a classic and groundbreaking TV show that defined the sitcom genre and revolutionized the way women were portrayed on television, as experienced by its producers, writers, and cast.

When writer-producers James L. Brooks and Allan Burns dreamed up an edgy show about a divorced woman with a career, the CBS executives they pitched replied: “American audiences won’t tolerate divorce in a series’ lead any more than they will tolerate Jews, people with mustaches, and people who live in New York.”

Forty years later, The Mary Tyler Moore Show is one of the most beloved and recognizable television shows of all time. It was an inspiration to a generation of women who wanted to have it all in an era when everything seemed possible.

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong’s Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted tells the stories behind the making of this popular classic, introducing the groundbreaking female writers who lent real-life stories to their TV scripts; the men who created the indelible characters; the lone woman network executive who cast the legendary ensemble—and advocated for this provocative show—and the colorful cast of actors who made it all work. James L. Brooks, Grant Tinker, Allan Burns, Valerie Harper, Cloris Leachman, Betty White, Gavin MacLeod, Ed Asner, Ted Knight, Georgia Engel—they all came together to make a show that changed women’s lives and television itself. Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted is the tale of how they did it.

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Mrs. Everything
by Jennifer Weiner

If you love re-watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show for its remarkable inclusion of issues like equal pay for women, pre-marital sex, and homosexuality in 1970s America, MRS. EVERYTHING is the perfect novel for you. In this instant New York Times bestseller and “multigenerational narrative that’s nothing short of brilliant” (People), two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present are explored as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a quickly evolving world. 

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Mrs. Everything
Jennifer Weiner

In this instant New York Times bestseller and “multigenerational narrative that’s nothing short of brilliant” (People), two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present are explored as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world from #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Weiner.

Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.

Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.

But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?

In “her most sprawling and intensely personal novel to date” (Entertainment Weekly), Jennifer Weiner tells a “simply unputdownable” (Good Housekeeping) story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?

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I, Rhoda
by Valerie Harper

This is the heartwarming memoir of beloved television actress Valerie Harper, best known for her role as Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and on Rhoda. It’s the next book you definitely need to pick up if you want a powerful story about an actress who, while virtually unknown when she was cast as Rhoda, went on to fight for equal rights alongside Gloria Steinheim and Bella Abzug and won four Emmys and a Golden Globe. 

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I, Rhoda
Valerie Harper

The heartwarming memoir of beloved television actress Valerie Harper, best known for her role as Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and on Rhoda.

Valerie Harper was an unknown actress when she won the groundbreaking role of Rhoda Morgenstern, Mary Tyler Moore’s lovable and self-deprecating on-screen best friend. Bold and hilarious, the native New Yorker and struggling working girl was unlucky in love and insecure about her weight—in other words, every woman’s best friend.

Harper represented a self-reliant new identity for women of the 1970s. She fought for equal rights alongside feminists Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug; and her incredible showbiz journey, which began on Broadway with Lucille Ball and Jackie Gleason, led her to four Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe.

Harper is upbeat and funny, and her inspiring life story is laced with triumphs and transformative obstacles. This beloved actress’s incredible pluck, indomitable spirit, and warm and generous heart have touched our lives and kept us entertained for decades.

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Queenie
by Candice Carty-Williams

In the show, Mary Richards moves to Minneapolis after a broken engagement, finding herself a job as an associate producer for the fictional television station WJM’s six o’clock news. For fans of the show who were particularly entranced by the story of a single woman finding herself, we recommend picking up QUEENIE. It is a disarmingly honest, boldly political, and truly inclusive novel that explores what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world. 

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All the Single Ladies
by Rebecca Traister

When it was first released, The Mary Tyler Moore Show was groundbreaking with its representation of a single woman focused on her career. Now, fifty years later, single women play a larger role in America than ever. In thisNew York Times bestselling investigation, Rebecca Traister examines the sexual, economic, and emotional lives of present-day women and explores how, historically, when women were given options beyond early marriage, the results were massive social change—temperance, abolition, secondary education, and more.  

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All the Single Ladies
Rebecca Traister

For your feminist friends

Rebecca Traister offers a comprehensive study of the power of independent women in America through the fascinating history of unmarried women and their lasting, radical effect on the nation.

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MENTIONED IN:

The Mary Tyler Moore TBR: 8 Books with Awesome Women to Feed Your Inner Mary Richards

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Almost Famous Women
by Megan Mayhew Bergman

From a prizewinning, beloved young author, this is a provocative collection that explores the lives of colorful, intrepid women in history. From the cross-dressing Standard Oil heiress Joe Carstairs to the first integrated, all-girl swing band, this collection shares the stories of various women pushing the limits of society. 

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Almost Famous Women
Megan Mayhew Bergman

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MENTIONED IN:

The Mary Tyler Moore TBR: 8 Books with Awesome Women to Feed Your Inner Mary Richards

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The Boston Girl
by Anita Diamant

This is another novel that celebrates a strong young woman coming-of-age in an evolving world and dreaming of not only love but college and a career. While the novel takes place in the early 20th Century, long before Mary Richards every appeared on television, it gives a fascinating look at another generation of women finding their often-less-traditional places in an evolving America.  

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The Boston Girl
Anita Diamant

Girl Crazy: 15 Literary Ladies You’ll Want to Know

Here’s a party game for you: Can you name a “girl” book? Of course you got GONE GIRL and THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, but there are lots of other girl books that you’ll want to add to your reading list. Whether you like thrillers, literary fiction, or history, these “girls” all have one thing in common—they are compulsively readable.

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MENTIONED IN:

The Mary Tyler Moore TBR: 8 Books with Awesome Women to Feed Your Inner Mary Richards

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Here We Go Again: My Life in Television
by Betty White

In this memoir from the beloved actress who played Sue Ann Nivens, Mary Richards’ adversary, Betty White shares her experiences during her first five decades on television—as irreverent and irresistible as the beloved actress herself—filled “with inspiring cheerfulness” (The New York Times).  

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Here We Go Again: My Life in Television
Betty White

Here We Go Again is a behind-the-scenes look at Betty’s career from her start on radio to her first show, Hollywood on Television, to several iterations of The Betty White Show, and much, much more. Packed with wonderful anecdotes about famous personalities and friendships, stories of Betty’s off-screen life, and the comedienne’s trademark humor, this deliciously entertaining book will give readers an entrée into Betty’s fascinating life, confirming yet again why we can’t get enough of this funny lady.

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MENTIONED IN:

The Mary Tyler Moore TBR: 8 Books with Awesome Women to Feed Your Inner Mary Richards

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