Books to Film to Books by Rebecca Howard

I recently spoke with a library customer who wanted to read something similar to the film War of the Roses.  We learned that the 1989 film was based on a 1981 novel of the same title by Warren Adler.  While we didn’t have this particular title in our collection, we did have a couple of other novels by Adler that sounded similar in tone and subject matter.  I also suggested Model Home by Eric Puchner and This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper.  This was a really fun readers’ advisory question that taught me a lot about how people describe what they want to read.  It may be through a television show or movie that you understand how much you enjoy darkly humorous storylines or quirky, offbeat humor.

Here are a few of my favorite television shows along with some books that I think are good read-alike suggestions:

Mad Men
Reasons I love it: Smart writing; historical detail; flawed, complex characters; satirical and darkly humorous 
Suggested titles: 
The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan (seriously, Betty Draper:  READ THIS BOOK)
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
Little Children by Tom Perrota
The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady by Elizabeth Stuckney-French
The Good Girls’ Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace by Lynn Povich (Peggy, this one’s for you.)  

Modern Family
Reasons I love it:  Sharp and clever writing; quirky characters; embracing of families in all their zany, messy, wonderful arrangements
Suggested titles:
The Family Man by Elinor Lipman
About a Boy by Nick Hornby
How to Talk to a Widower by Jonathan Tropper
Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon

The Good Wife
Reasons  I love it:  Strong female characters, political and legal subject matter, focus on personal choices
Suggested titles:
The Ten Year Nap and The Wife by Meg Wolizter
While I was Gone by Sue Miller
Run by Ann Patchett
American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

What are some additional TV show/book pairings that you might suggest? 



You might also like the YA novels I Hunt Killers and Game by Barry Lyga. The main character was raised to be a serial killer by his father, but uses his knowledge to hunt other murderers instead.

I'm hooked on Dexter because of the complex characters, and the fact that a serial killer (albeit, one who only murders serial killers who deserve it!) is the sympathetic protagonist.  The TV series was based on the novels by Jeffry Lindsay.  Other books that give us compelling, though homicidal, protagonists are The Secret History, by Donna Tartt, and the Ripley books by Patricia Highsmith.

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