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Marathon watching has been around since 2003 and since it has become a household term. We’ve all done it. After a long day or on a lazy Saturday or way too late into the night despite a morning meeting, one episode ends, and we click “next” before Netflix can even do it for us.
It seems like each week, there’s another show everyone is raving about. Our to-be-watched lists just keep growing and growing. And, I don’t know about you, but I’m not immune to peer pressure when it comes to TV. I want to be in the know, all the time. I’m even falling asleep with a show still playing in the background.
It’s no surprise authors have turned to the TV-writing business too. Whether it’s to explore new genres or to make enough money to keep afloat (most authors don’t make nearly as much as people think), more and more of your favorite shows have a novelist in their writer’s room. As a book lover, I love that authors are branching out. So much talent, in so many places.
If you’re a fan of sitcoms, sci-fi weirdness, and dramas alike, keep reading! Check out the list of TV shows below to find books by their author-writers to add to your TBR.
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Whether you’re more an Alexis or a Stevie, Schitt’s Creek has something for everyone. It’s funny, it’s heartwarming, and it’s so quotable! If you’re walking around the house humming “A Little Bit Alexis” or saying “Ew, David” to every minor inconvenience, you’ve surely encountered Zoe Whittall’s writing. Hungry for more? Try her book, The Best Kind of People!
The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall
When George Woodbury, a beloved teacher, is accused of sexual misconduct with his students, his life and family are thrown into chaos. His daughter, a student at the same school, is outcast. His son comes to his father’s defense. His wife rockets between denial and anger as the people they called neighbors and friends turn against them. The Best Kind of People explores what happens to a family when their world turns upside-down, revealing cracks in their idyllic appearance.
If sci-fi is your jam, Westworld has undoubtedly been in your viewing history. This artificial intelligence western collision is always a surprise, with thought-provoking questions about humanity and emotion just under the surface. And they’ve got a novelist behind the scenes too!
Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu
In Interior Chinatown, the story of Willis Wu, a Taiwanese man who seems himself more as “Generic Asian Man,” collides with a procedural cop show to explore immigration and assimilation. It’s part screenplay, part humor, part an exploration of tropes often thrust on Asian actors, like Generic Asian Man #1 or Kung Fu Guy. It delves into how actors, and people in general, get trapped into tropes they feel they have to conform to, and what happens when they want something outside those borders.
Set in Los Angeles in the 1980s, Snowfall depicts the impact of the first crack epidemic on the city. While some characters capitalize on the financial potential, others get caught in the crossfire. Walter Mosley, an American novelist most known for his crime fiction, is a writer and an executive producer on the show.
The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley
Ninety-year-old Ptolemy Grey is isolated from the rest of the world. His only connection, his grandnephew, was recently killed in a drive-by shooting. He lives like a hermit, unable to let anyone in. When he meets Robyn, his niece’s landlord, she pushes him to get back out into the world, to try new things, and to reflect on his life thus far. This novel explores aging, memory, and the way we depend on people to care for, and challenge us, all of our lives.
For all you horror fans out there, Channel Zero is sure to scratch that creepy itch. This Syfy anthology TV series is something new every time, each series based on popular creepypastas. Writer Nick Antosca is behind it all. He’s writer, showrunner, and executive producer all at the same time. Want more creepy in your life? Pick up one of his novels to keep the scares going!
Midnight Picnic by Nick Antosca
Bram lives above a bar and has an on/off relationship with one of his neighbors. His life is fine, if a bit mundane. That is, until one of Bram’s neighbors hands him a bundle of bones on morning. A child’s bones. And that’s where Midnight Picnic begins. The bones, Bram soon learns, belong to 6-year-old Adam, who has wrongs to settle. This weird, surreal, off-kilter ghost story centers on right and wrong, life and death, and the spaces between these dichotomies. You’ll be creeped out, but unable to tear your eyes away.
HBO’s The Deuce is set in New York City in the 1970s and ’80s during the Golden Age of Porn, the legalization and rise of the porn market. The show portrays different aspects of the industry and time with corruption, drugs, and real estate all impact the emerging industry. Amongst the incredible writing team is Megan Abbott, five-time Edgar Award–winning novelist.
You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
Fifteen-year-old Devon is a gymnastics prodigy with the Olympics on the horizon. Her parents, Katie and Eric Knox, have devoted their lives and energy to making it happen. Then, a death in their little community shocks everyone. Rumors, secrets, and lies emerge in the aftermath. Obsessions and sacrifices for the sake of one goal come into question. It’s part family drama, part murder mystery, and entirely a questioning of what choices parents must make when they have a child talented enough to achieve greatness.
Shonda Rhimes is practically a household name at this point. Shondaland, her production company, has produced shows like Grey’s Anatomy (Rhimes was head writer), Private Practice, How to Get Away with Murder, and Bridgerton amongst many others. She’s incredible! If you want to learn more about her or get a small sneak peak into behind the scenes of Grey’s, pick up her nonfiction book!
Shonda Rhimes is many things: a writer, a producer, a mother. And, an introvert. Which makes it hard when people keep asking her to do interviews or public appearances. Rhimes, though, wanted to change things. She decided to say yes to everything she was asked to do for a year. Everything. Year of Yes is as funny and personal as it is inspirational, a reminder to us all to get out of our comfort zones.
The Wire tackles the drug scene in Baltimore from both a law enforcement and drug dealer dual perspective. It exposes the often-corrupt law enforcement system as it interacts directly with the people it is supposed to be protecting with power and race at the forefront. Many of the show’s writers have novels under their belts and Richard Price is no different.
Lush Life by Richard Price
Eric Cash is an aspiring actor and screenwriter living in New York City. Really, though, he’s a bartender with aspirations that aren’t getting off the ground. Others, like Ike Marcus, seem to be actually going places. Until a senseless crime leaves Ike dead, Eric claiming to be a witness to it all. Price is ruthless with his portrayal of the realities of New York City and the lackluster justice system lurking beneath its shiny surface.
The L Word
The L Word follows the loves of a group of gay women living in Los Angeles and A.M. Homes wrote for the second season. She also has written for Mr. Mercedes and USA’s Falling Water. She is also a novelist and memoirist!
This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes
Middle-aged divorcé Richard Novak is, for the most part, alone. He doesn’t need anyone in his life, just the way he likes it. But, when he winds up in the hospital and a sinkhole opens outside his house, he is thrust back into the land of people. Between donut shop owners and weeping housewives, Richard engages with, and occasionally saves, the people around him and they bring him closer to his family too. With the backdrop of a surreal Los Angeles, this novel explores isolation, engagement, and the importance of vulnerability.
Empire, set in New York City, revolves around the entertainment company, Empire Entertainment, the founder’s family, and the hip hop music scene. It was one of the most watched television Shows on Fox while it aired. Amongst its writing staff is Attica Locke who also wrote on When They See Us and the TV adaptation of Little Fires Everywhere.
Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke
Darren Mathews is a Black Texas Ranger in East Texas, a town with rampant racism permeating everything. When Mathews travels up Highway 59 to Lark after a Black lawyer and a white woman were murdered, he hits this racism head on. Still, he devotes his energy to solving these murders no matter who tries to stop him. This tension-filled crime novel is sure to horrify you as it keeps you glued to its pages.
Amazon Studio’s Transparent is about a Los Angeles family’s reaction after Maura comes out as transgender and journeys through an identity transformation. The show doesn’t only focus on the typical coming-out narratives, but also how Maura navigates being a parent, a partner, a sibling, in the light of becoming her true self.
The Summer of Dead Birds by Ali Liebegott
Grief eventually comes for us all. In the form of a beloved pet, a divorce, a best friend, parents, dead birds, and those we imagine when we close our eyes. Liebegott explores this and more in this in-verse autobiography told through a string of interconnected vignettes. It will leave you thinking about death in its many forms, sure, but also the flip side of that coin, life.
I hope you learned something new about the TV shows we know and love. If you want more content about the collision of books and TV, try this list of ten books that should be TV miniseries or this ranking eight of the best bookish TV shows!