Book Recommendations for Television Fans
If you like ‘The Walking Dead,’ ‘Stranger Things,’ ‘Dexter’ or ‘Supergirl,’ we’ve got some books you should check out.
By Ashley Wertz, University of Pittsburgh
It’s easy to get caught up in shows.
You can barely finish one before your friends are suggesting ten more. And then factor in all the non-visual media, and you’re left with a lot of sorting to do. But at least with shows, you can watch one 45-minute episode, decide it’s not your thing and move on. Books, on the other hand, can be tricky. Some take time to develop, especially if they’re part of a series.
Without the visual cues, it might take some a little longer to submerge themselves into the fictional world. So when it comes to finding the right books for certain tastes, looking to shows for inspiration is a good place to start.
1. If You Watch: “The Walking Dead”
Read: “The Chaos Walking Trilogy” by Patrick Ness
Shows and movies that revolve around the end of days have been favorites for the past decade. Each comes with its own set of circumstances concerning the fall of humanity and how to deal with said inconveniences.
“The Walking Dead” is fairly standard in terms of its apocalypse-inducing device—the living dead. And while zombies have a special place in popular culture, the genre tends to get dull pretty quickly if there’s no new twist.
So no, I’m not going to suggest a zombie book. Those are abundant and easy to find. Instead, Patrick Ness takes a new approach to the post-apocalypse genre. In “The Chaos Walking Trilogy,” due to a supposed plague that eliminates only women, the world the reader is introduced to a world that is inhabited only by men. But the contagion leaves the surviving men to never again have another private thought. Everything that one thinks is broadcast to the world, whether spoken or not. The protagonist, Todd, is a young boy who has never known any different. But when he meets a real flesh-and-blood girl, he starts to question why the town he calls home is so secretive about its past.
Like “The Walking Dead,” “Chaos Walking” focuses on how people and their backwards-thinking are really the most dangerous threats there can be. Just a warning, Mayor Prentiss may also give you flashbacks to the Governor.
2. If You Watch: “Stranger Things”
Read: “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline
The year is 2044 and the world is kind of crap. Like, trailers stacked on top of one another hundreds of feet in the air supported by rickety beams kind of crap. So crappy, in fact, that the only true form of fun that exists anymore is the fully immersive virtual reality, the OASIS. And immersive is a bit of an understatement. Many people lives full lives through the game, being that you have to have some pretty serious cash to have a decent life in the world of “Ready Player One.”
The OASIS, due to the creator’s extensive knowledge on the subject, is packed with show, movie and game references from the 80s (ones that Mike and the gang would appreciate). And though the main character, Wade, isn’t trying to find a friend who’s been kidnapped by a monster, he is attempting to locate clues within the OASIS that will lead him to the ultimate prize of fortune and fame. But this isn’t a game of Dungeons and Dragons. People are willing to kill one another to unlock the intricate secrets and puzzles of the OASIS.
Like “Stranger Things,” the book carries a great deal of nostalgia and an interesting, but mostly scary world apart from reality, though you’d probably rather take your chances in the OASIS than the Upside Down.
3. If You Watch: “Dexter”
Read: “I Am Not A Serial Killer” by Dan Wells
John Cleaver and Dexter Morgan have at least one thing in common: They both struggle with the bothersome urge to kill. John is obsessed with serial killers, to a degree even his mortician mother is uncomfortable with. He follows a strict set of rules to literally stop himself from murdering people, and he only keeps one “friend” around for looks. Sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it?
The similarities began to dissipate when police find a body behind the local laundromat, killed by something far from human. This sets off a chain of killings with equally strange circumstances. At first, the grisly murders are a dream come true for John. Nothing ever happens in the sleepy, small town, let alone a murder spree. But there’s something much different about a body in the morgue and a body torn apart by some beast. What begins as a mystery turns into full-blown nightmare.
“I Am Not A Serial Killer” has a similar unsettling tone and the plot twists to match. And if you’re not up for reading, you may as well watch the movie, which happens to be streaming on Netflix.
4. If You Watch: “Supergirl”
Read: “Hawkeye, Volume 1: My Life as a Weapon” by Matt Fraction
If you like watching superhero movies and shows, you probably like comics. Or maybe you’re not sure where to start. The booming superhero television-show trend has treated both DC and Marvel comics well, but the two are vastly different. Marvel’s “Daredevil,” “Luke Cage” and “Jessica Jones” focus on the gritty realism of crime in the less glamorous parts of New York City. And while these shows are successful in their own right, perhaps you’re not one for the doom and gloom of Hell’s Kitchen.
DC’s “Supergirl,” “Arrow” and “The Flash” have been adding some actual light to the superhero show world. Like, it’s not always nighttime and they use more than the colors black and red. “Supergirl” in particular brings a light-hearted angle while maintaining interesting conflict. And if this is your cup of tea, look no further in your comic search than Matt Fraction’s “Hawkeye” (which happens to be Marvel, oh well).
David Aja’s simplistic, yet dynamic art style works wonders alongside Fraction’s hilarious writing. Hawkeye, or Clint Barton, is not super in the radioactive or god-like powers sense of the word. He wields a bow and arrow and is definitely a badass, so he’s more of a low-income Batman. He’s also relatable as hell with his undying love for coffee and dogs. But he’s not the only star of the show. Kate Bishop, also Hawkeye, is just as charming and comical as Barton. Anyone who loves “Supergirl” can appreciate a well-rounded female character when they see one.