Staff Picks: Our Favorite Shows Paired with 13 Books

November 11 2021
Share Staff Picks: Our Favorite Shows Paired with 13 Books

If you’re anything like us, you’ve been spending this fall curled up on the couch with either a good book or a well-loved Netflix subscription. Cozy season is the prime time for those of us who love to read and watch everything out there! The only downside to this avid media consumption is when that show you’ve just binged for the last three days is over before you’re ready to let it go. Fortunately, we’ve got some amazing book recommendations, based on your favorite show or movie, that are sure to keep the magic alive!

Looker
by Laura Sims

You

Jordyn’s Pick: So, you finished watching YOU and are looking for something to read? Of course you are. Interest in books like this are what makes you, you. Ok, but seriously, if you just finished watching Netflix’s You (based on the books by Caroline Kepnes) and are itching for more stream-of-consciousness stories from an obsessive and unreliable narrator, check out LOOKER by Laura Sims. This book is so intense it’s easy to fly through the pages and finish it in one sitting. The narrator notices her neighbor, the actress, and becomes increasingly interested (fixated, really) on the actress’s life while her own is falling apart. The book spirals quickly and you will be drawn right into the narrator’s obsession.

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Looker
Laura Sims

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The Night She Disappeared
by Lisa Jewell

Mare of Easttown

Emily’s Pick: I’m so glad I was able to watch Mare of Easttown week by week; it was one of those shows where everyone had their theories on who the killer was, which made it so fun to discuss. Even Stephen King got in on the action on Twitter. For an equally character-driven thriller where the whodunnit possibilities seem endless, check out THE NIGHT SHE DISAPPEARED, where Lisa Jewell has outdone herself! It follows a mystery writer-turned-amateur-detective (hello Kate Winslet!) new to the England suburb, who is determined to crack a year-old cold case of missing teen mother Tallulah. The story also hops to the past, following the perspectives of Tallulah, as she’s getting ready for a night out with her controlling boyfriend, and Tallulah’s mother, distraught and determined to uncover the truth. By the last few chapters, you’ll be pulling up the ole whiteboard, wiping off the faded Mare of Easttown clues and replacing them with this puzzle of a mystery.

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The Night She Disappeared
Lisa Jewell

“I love all Lisa’s books, but The Night She Disappeared is her best thriller yet.” —Harlan Coben, New York Times bestselling author of Win

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone and The Family Upstairs comes another riveting work of “gloriously twisted” (Marie Claire) psychological suspense about a web of people whose lives are forever changed in the wake of a young couple’s disappearance.

On a beautiful summer night in a charming English suburb, a young woman and her boyfriend disappear after partying at the massive country estate of a new college friend.

One year later, a writer moves into a cottage on the edge of the woods that border the same estate. Known locally as the Dark Place, the dense forest is the writer’s favorite area for long walks and it’s on one such walk that she stumbles upon a mysterious note that simply reads, “DIG HERE.”

Could this be a clue towards what has happened to the missing young couple? And what exactly is buried in this haunted ground?

With her signature “rich, dark, and intricately twisted” (Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author) prose, Lisa Jewell has crafted a dazzling work of suspense that will keep on the edge of your seat until the final page.

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The Rose Code
by Kate Quinn

The Bletchley Circle

Kaitie’s Pick: You may have heard of Bletchley Park when Duchess Kate Middleton visited to trace the footsteps of her grandmother, but Kate Quinn’s latest novel THE ROSE CODE brought us inside a fictional retelling of the war efforts and the women of Bletchley Park. Even more important, I think, is what their lives looked like after the war. A fifty-year gag order, and the threat of being declared insane, kept them from telling their stories until very recently. That’s where the PBS Series The Bletchley Circle comes in, telling the story of four seemingly ordinary women who have returned to their normal lives after the war. 

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The Rose Code
Kate Quinn

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A History of Wild Places
by Shea Ernshaw

Midnight Mass

Jordyn’s Pick: At its core, Midnight Mass is about a small community of people being pulled together by a charismatic leader while a few levelheaded people are trying to find the edges of reality and decipher what’s really going on. A HISTORY OF WILD PLACES has all the same elements: a community of people cut off from the rest of the world, a magnetic leader that seems unreliable, and a few people trying to pull themselves out of the fog long enough to uncover the secrets around them. This atmospheric novel is perfect for anyone looking to read books set in a reality that has some sinister, and potentially supernatural elements.

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A History of Wild Places
Shea Ernshaw

“What a wonderful rabbit hole to fall down.” —Erika Swyler, author of Light from Other Stars and The Book of Speculation

“A terrifying and timely book.” —Erica Ferencik, bestselling author of The River at Night and Into the Jungle

“As spine-chilling as it is beautifully crafted.” —Ruth Emmie Lang, author of Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance

The New York Times bestselling author of The Wicked Deep weaves a richly atmospheric adult debut following three residents of a secluded, seemingly peaceful commune as they investigate the disappearances of two outsiders.

Travis Wren has an unusual talent for locating missing people. Hired by families as a last resort, he requires only a single object to find the person who has vanished. When he takes on the case of Maggie St. James—a well-known author of dark, macabre children’s books—he’s led to a place many believed to be only a legend.

Called Pastoral, this reclusive community was founded in the 1970s by like-minded people searching for a simpler way of life. By all accounts, the commune shouldn’t exist anymore and soon after Travis stumbles upon it…he disappears. Just like Maggie St. James.

Years later, Theo, a lifelong member of Pastoral, discovers Travis’s abandoned truck beyond the border of the community. No one is allowed in or out, not when there’s a risk of bringing a disease—rot—into Pastoral. Unraveling the mystery of what happened reveals secrets that Theo, his wife, Calla, and her sister, Bee, keep from one another. Secrets that prove their perfect, isolated world isn’t as safe as they believed—and that darkness takes many forms.

Hauntingly beautiful, hypnotic, and bewitching, A History of Wild Places is a story about fairy tales, our fear of the dark, and losing yourself within the wilderness of your mind.

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Anxious People
by Fredrik Backman

Ted Lasso

Emily’s Pick: Ted Lasso is great and all, but they should’ve really thought about renaming the show Ted, Keeley, Rebecca, Roy, et al. since every character makes this show the delight that it is. I love how each character grows in their compassion towards others and themselves, not just inspired by Ted, but changed and inspired by each other. That’s one of my favorite things about Fredrik Backman’s writing style—his ability to create characters that slowly seep their way into your heart and leave you changed. Since ANXIOUS PEOPLE includes a cast of eight characters held hostage at an open house by a bank robber, Backman’s masterful characterizations are put on grand display. This intriguing locked-room drama of strangers from all walks of life holds the perfect blend of connection, thrill, and comfort that is exactly what pulled me into Ted Lasso.

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Anxious People
Fredrik Backman

An instant #1 New York Times bestseller, the new novel from the author of A Man Called Ove is a “quirky, big-hearted novel….Wry, wise and often laugh-out-loud funny, it’s a wholly original story that delivers pure pleasure” (People).

Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can’t fix their own marriage. There’s a wealthy bank director who has been too busy to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can’t seem to agree on anything. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment’s only bathroom, and you’ve got the worst group of hostages in the world.

Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises, these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.

Proving once again that Backman is “a master of writing delightful, insightful, soulful, character-driven narratives” (USA TODAY), Anxious People “captures the messy essence of being human….It’s clever and affecting, as likely to make you laugh out loud as it is to make you cry” (The Washington Post). This “endlessly entertaining mood-booster” (Real Simple) is proof that the enduring power of friendship, forgiveness, and hope can save us—even in the most anxious of times.

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The Long Walk
by Stephen King

Squid Game

Justin’s Pick: Part of the excitement and dread of watching a show like Squid Game is slowly coming to terms with the fact that not all of your favorite characters are going to make it to the end. You know the rules of the game and you understand that the odds are in nobody’s favor, but you still can’t help but have your heart ripped out of your chest when your fave “buys their ticket.” That slow deflating of hope and macabre curiosity to see who’s left standing by the end is the exact experience of reading Stephen King's THE LONG WALK. Unlike Squid Game, this harrowing novel takes place in a dystopian society, where a hundred teenage boys are randomly selected to put on their best pair of sneakers and participate in an annual walking contest—with life-or-death stakes. King so meticulously parcels out information about the boys and the unforgiving, militarized world around them, that you can’t help but follow the trail of bread crumbs until you’re walking right alongside the contenders. If you tore through Squid Game in no time, as most of the world did, then King has you right in his crosshairs for another round of deadly games.

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The Long Walk
Stephen King

In this #1 national bestseller, “master storyteller” (Houston Chronicle) Stephen King, writing as Richard Bachman, tells the tale of the contestants of a grueling walking competition where there can only be one winner—the one that survives.

“I give my congratulations to the winner among your number, and my acknowledgements of valor to the losers.”

Against the wishes of his mother, sixteen-year-old Ray Garraty is about to compete in the annual grueling match of stamina and wits known as The Long Walk. One hundred boys must keep a steady pace of four miles per hour without ever stopping...with the winner being awarded “The Prize”—anything he wants for the rest of his life. But, as part of this national tournament that sweeps through a dystopian America year after year, there are some harsh rules that Garraty and ninety-nine others must adhere to in order to beat out the rest. There is no finish line—the winner is the last man standing. Contestants cannot receive any outside aid whatsoever. Slow down under the speed limit and you’re given a warning. Three warnings and you’re out of the game—permanently....

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Sadie
by Courtney Summers

Only Murders in the Building

Heather’s Pick: If you’d told me a few months ago that I’d be hooked on a show starring Steve Martin, Selena Gomez, and Martin Short as true crime–obsessed podcasters on a mission to solve crimes in their Upper West Side apartment complex, I’d have laughed. But that show is Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building, and it really is terrific, in large part because of the oddly and unexpectedly charming dynamic between its three very different lead actors. Since the first season has concluded and we have months to, uh, kill before we’ll get new episodes, I recommend turning to Courtney Summers’s SADIE for another murder mystery explored through a podcast. While this novel—about a girl who goes missing while searching for her sister’s killer—isn’t as darkly humorous as Only Murders, its heroine, Sadie, will earn a place in your heart right alongside Mabel, Charles-Haden, and Oliver. Oh, and you’ll be just as desperate to talk about the ending . . .

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Sadie
Courtney Summers

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It Happened One Summer
by Tessa Bailey

Schitt’s Creek

Kaitie’s Pick: Still looking for something to give you all the Alexis Rose feelings? Trust me, you’re going to want to pick up IT HAPPENED ONE SUMMER by Tessa Bailey. When Piper is cut off from her wealthy stepfather and sent to the small town of Westport, Washington, she struggles to adapt to this new way of life. As we all watched Alexis grow and discover her true calling, so too will Piper—finding love along the way. With Tessa’s signature wit, and a whole lot of steam, this rom-com will make you wonder where to find a grumpy fisherman of your own. 

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It Happened One Summer
Tessa Bailey

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The Inheritance Games
by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Knives Out

Kaitie’s Pick: I don’t know about you, but when Knives Out hit screens in 2019, I immediately needed more—more of the story and more Chris Evans in sweaters, if we’re being honest. While we’re waiting for the next installment, though, Jennifer Lynn Barnes has delivered an incredible series that has all the same vibes. When a billionaire leaves his entire estate to a veritable stranger, she must unravel his final puzzle to discover the answer to the question keeping her up at night: “Why me?” THE INHERITANCE GAMES is filled with deadly stakes, thrilling twists, and juicy secrets—perfect for fans of Knives Out.

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The Inheritance Games
Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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Billy Summers
by Stephen King

Barry

Sharon’s Pick: I have a simple philosophy when it comes to television and movies: cast Bill Hader in anything and I’m sure to watch it. So, when Barry, arguably his most ambitious creative endeavor yet, graced television screens in 2018, I was more than eager to dive in. Barry centers on Barry Berkman, a former Marine turned hitman, who decides to enroll in acting classes, and soon begins the messy process of attempting to leave his hitman profession behind him in favor of pursuing acting. While the show is a dark comedy, it also exquisitely explores the philosophical reckoning that comes with Barry trying to reconcile his dark past.

Similar to Barry, Stephen King’s newest novel features an antihero in the role of the main character. Billy Summers is a hitman who’ll only do the job if the target is a truly bad guy. Before he can leave the profession for good, Billy must complete one more mission. If you love the quandaries and morally dubious actions featured in Barry, BILLY SUMMERS is a must to add to your TBR.

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Billy Summers
Stephen King

From legendary storyteller and #1 bestseller Stephen King, whose “restless imagination is a power that cannot be contained,” (The New York Times Book Review) comes a thrilling new novel about a good guy in a bad job.

Billy Summers is a man in a room with a gun. He’s a killer for hire and the best in the business. But he’ll do the job only if the target is a truly bad guy. And now Billy wants out. But first there is one last hit. Billy is among the best snipers in the world, a decorated Iraq war vet, a Houdini when it comes to vanishing after the job is done. So what could possibly go wrong?

How about everything.

This spectacular can’t-put-it-down novel is part war story, part love letter to small town America and the people who live there, and it features one of the most compelling and surprising duos in King fiction, who set out to avenge the crimes of an extraordinarily evil man. It’s about love, luck, fate, and a complex hero with one last shot at redemption.

You won’t put this story down, and you won’t forget Billy.

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The Radleys
by Matt Haig

What We Do in the Shadows

Sharon’s Pick: By far my best 2021 television discovery has been What We Do in the Shadows. I never could have imagined a television show could reflect my sense of humor precisely, but there have been several episodes which have caused me to laugh to the point of tears. What We Do in the Shadows is a mockumentary-style series that follows a group of four vampires and a vampire’s familiar living in Staten Island, New York, and their attempts to coexist among humans.

For those looking for a book that puts a comedic twist on supernatural themes, look no further than THE RADLEYS by Matt Haig. Similarly to What We Do in the Shadows, THE RADLEYS features a vampire family attempting to blend into their suburban surroundings. Parents Peter and Helen have chosen to abstain from the vampiric life in order to give their children a sense of normalcy. When daughter Clara is driven to commit an act of violence one night, the Radleys must confront their vampiric roots before their family falls apart.

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The Radleys
Matt Haig

From the bestselling author of The Midnight Library, an “irresistible...full of clever turns, darkly hilarious spins...Even if you're suffering from vampire fatigue...The Radleys is a fun, fresh contribution to the genre” (Associated Press).

Just about everyone knows a family like the Radleys. Many of us grew up next door to one. They are a modern family, averagely content, averagely dysfunctional, living in a staid and quiet suburban English town. Peter is an overworked doctor whose wife, Helen, has become increasingly remote and uncommunicative. Rowan, their teenage son, is being bullied at school, and their anemic daughter, Clara, has recently become a vegan. They are typical, that is, save for one devastating exception: Peter and Helen are vampires and have—for seventeen years—been abstaining by choice from a life of chasing blood in the hope that their children could live normal lives.

One night, Clara finds herself driven to commit a shocking—and disturbingly satisfying—act of violence, and her parents are forced to explain their history of shadows and lies. A police investigation is launched that uncovers a richness of vampire history heretofore unknown to the general public. And when the malevolent and alluring Uncle Will, a practicing vampire, arrives to throw the police off Clara’s trail, he winds up throwing the whole house into temptation and turmoil and unleashing a host of dark secrets that threaten the Radleys’ marriage.

The Radleys is a moving, thrilling, and radiant domestic novel that explores with daring the lengths a parent will go to protect a child, what it costs you to deny your identity, the undeniable appeal of sin, and the everlasting, iridescent bonds of family love. Read it and ask what we grow into when we grow up, and what we gain—and lose—when we deny our appetites.

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By Ash Davidson | November 29, 2021

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Follow Me
by Kathleen Barber

The Circle

Sharon’s Pick: The Circle has everything I am looking for in a reality competition show: intense strategizing and psychological gameplay reminiscent of Survivor, a colorful cast of characters, and a premise that causes moral and philosophical discussion, in this case around the nature of social media, what you present to the world, and anonymity (also bonus for the aesthetically pleasing apartments they provide the contestants).

Kathleen Barber’s FOLLOW ME dives deep into the ethical quandaries surrounding social media that The Circle brings to light, as the book follows Audrey Miller, an influencer with hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers. When Audrey moves to Washington, D.C., and begins her new job at the Smithsonian, she settles in and broadcasts her life changes to her fan base. Unbeknownst to her, the move has brought her closer to a fan who is not content with merely following her on social media—he wants Audrey to be his and his alone.

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Follow Me
Kathleen Barber

From the author of Truth Be Told (formerly titled Are You Sleeping)—now an Apple TV series of the same name—comes a cautionary tale of oversharing in the social media age for fans of Jessica Knoll and Caroline Kepnes’s You.

Everyone wants new followers…until they follow you home.

Audrey Miller has an enviable new job at the Smithsonian, a body by reformer Pilates, an apartment door with a broken lock, and hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers to bear witness to it all. Having just moved to Washington, DC, Audrey busies herself impressing her new boss, interacting with her online fan base, and staving off a creepy upstairs neighbor with the help of the only two people she knows in town: an ex-boyfriend she can’t stay away from and a sorority sister with a high-powered job and a mysterious past.

But Audrey’s faulty door may be the least of her security concerns. Unbeknownst to her, her move has brought her within striking distance of someone who’s obsessively followed her social media presence for years—from her first WordPress blog to her most recent Instagram Story. No longer content to simply follow her carefully curated life from a distance, he consults the dark web for advice on how to make Audrey his and his alone. In his quest to win her heart, nothing is off-limits—and nothing is private.

With “compelling, suspenseful” (Liz Nugent) prose, Kathleen Barber’s electrifying new thriller will have you scrambling to cover your webcam and digital footprints.

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MENTIONED IN:

Author Picks: 6 Literary Quotes That Stuck with Me

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By Off the Shelf Staff | November 18, 2021

Close
The Loop
by Jeremy Robert Johnson

Dark and Stranger Things

Emily’s Pick: Dark is basically Stranger Things but with time travel and a lot more murder—so it’s one of my favorites shows I’ve watched this past year. And THE LOOP is the perfect book pairing. Set in an eerie Oregon town, THE LOOP features an evil corporation's science experiment that malfunctions, turning several neighborhood kids into murderous fiends. It's up to another group of teenage misfits to fight the evil biotech corporation and avoid their newly turned psychopathic peers at the same time. Fast-paced and spooky, this a perfect read for fall!

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The Loop
Jeremy Robert Johnson

The year’s most brutal, cinematic thrill ride is also one of its most critically acclaimed novels. Dazed and Confused meets 28 Days Later in this “wickedly entertaining,” (Kirkus Reviews) “volcano of a book” (Nathan Ballingrud, author of Wounds) as a lonely young woman teams up with a group of fellow outcasts to survive the night in a town overcome by a science experiment gone wrong.

A Best Book of the Month for Den of Geek, Omnivoracious, Mystery & Suspense, and Tor.

A Goodreads’ 2020 Readers Choice Nominee for Best Horror, and one of the Best Books of 2020 for The Lineup, Booked, and Unsettling Reads.

Turner Falls is a small tourist town nestled in the hills of central Oregon. When a terrifying outbreak rapidly develops, this idyllic town becomes the epicenter of an epidemic of violence.

The Loop is a “wild and wonderfully scary novel” (Richard Chizmar, author of Gwendy’s Magic Feather) that offers a “hilarious and horrifying” (Brian Keene, author of The Rising) look at what one team of misfits can accomplish as they fight to live through the night.

“[A] harrowing thrill ride of the first order and an uncompromising page-turner, easily securing its spot as one of the best novels of 2020.” —Rue Morgue (featured “Dante’s Pick” Review)

“Like the best of Crichton or Bentley, it is a great beach read, but it is infused with the neon blood of a brave new writer... [A] kind of literary roller coaster. It will take you to thrilling highs and terrifying lows…” —Los Angeles Review of Books

The Loop is the gore-soaked, anxiety-inducing, diabolically funny Richard Linklater/David Cronenberg mashup you never knew you wanted but can’t—or at least shouldn’t—live without.” —The Big Thrill

“Unputdownable...Fans of The Twilight Zone, The X-Files, and Stranger Things will be especially thrilled.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A satisfyingly dark satire of, well, everything...[a] heart-pounding and deeply unsettling tale.” —Booklist

The Loop is a remarkably propulsive novel, cinematic in the best way, with perfectly tuned tension and excellent character choices…a headlong, straightforward pleasure.” —Locus

The Loop is the Cronenberg film we never got.” —Nathan Ballingrud, author of North American Lake Monsters and Wounds

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Photo credit: istock / Tero Vesalainen

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