Although the two may seem like natural enemies, the truth is, television and reading are a match made in bibliophile heaven. Not only are some of the best shows based on or inspired by literature, but whenever you turn on the tube you can be sure to find excellent book recommendations from your favorite TV characters. As any true bookworm knows, the best people, even fictional ones, are readers.
I was only 10 years old when Gilmore Girls premiered, but within the first few minutes of the pilot, I was hooked. Sure, I was drawn to show's humor, its unique portrayal of the mother-daughter relationship, and the handsome love interest it presented, but what drew me in the most was Gilmore Girls unabashed love for literature. Like me, Rory had a fondness for books that transcended the average reader. Finally, I can remember myself thinking, a TV character like me!
Since that fateful viewing all those years ago, I have found myself constantly on the lookout for bookworms on TV. As it turns out, they aren't that hard to find, either. From Lucas Scott, the brooding bookworm on One Tree Hill, to Leslie Knope, my fictional feminist idol Parks and Recreation, there are dozens of amazing bookworms on television just waiting to recommend your next favorite read.
From classic novels you should have already read by now to contemporary collections you soon will, here are 25 book recommendations from your favorite TV character that should be on your reading list.
'Ghost World' by Daniel Clowes, as recommended by Lisa Simpson from 'The Simpsons'
Lisa Simpson has been reading a massive amount of books since the premiere of The Simpsons in 1989. Over the last nearly 30 years, the young brainiac has read everything from classics like Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar and Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome to Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections and the entire Harry Potter series, but one of her best and most unique recommendations is Daniel Clowes's iconic graphic novel, Ghost World.
'The Namesake' by Jhumpa Lahiri, as recommended by Rory Gilmore from 'Gilmore Girls'
From The Year of Magical Thinking and Beloved to Anna Karenina and The Bell Jar, what didn't the famously bookish Rory Gilmore recommend? Nearly every episode of Gilmore Girls, and its reboot on Netflix, features a new title to add to your own TBR. One of my personal favorites: Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake, but if you want to be as well-read as the Star Hallows golden child, you have to check out the ultimate Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge.
'Breakfast of Champions' by Kurt Vonnegut, as Recommended by Daria Morgendorffer from 'Daria'
If you want a rich reading list, just turn to Daria Morgendorffer's personal library, which features tons classic American literature like Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Moby Dick by Herman Melville, and Walden by Henry David Thoreau. Out of all of her recommendations, my personal favorite, and perhaps an unexpected one considering Daria's penchant for the dark material, is Kurt Vonnegut's hilarious satire Breakfast of Champions, but the weirdness of the book is right up her alley.
'Little Women' by Louisa May Alcott, as Recommended by Alex Dunphy from 'Modern Family'
Ever since viewers first met her as a young, studious child, Alex Dunphy has been known to have her head stuck permanently in a book. While she is typically seen studying for one test or another, Alex does enjoy reading for fun. As she tells her cousin Lily, one of her favorite books is Little Women.
'The Narrative of John Smith' by Arthur Conan Doyle, as recommended by Spencer Reid from 'Criminal Minds'
Considering he can read 20,000 words a minute and has an eidetic memory, Spencer Reid of Criminal Minds could probably recommend more books than you could read in a lifetime. While the ultimate bookworm likely loves literally hundreds of novels, his favorite is The Narrative of John Smith, a book he carries around with him at all times.
'The Mysteries of Udolpho' by Ann Radcliffe, as recommended by Catherine Morland from 'Northanger Abbey'
Northanger Abbey has been adapted into many things, but in each iteration, one thing remains the same: Catherine loves books, maybe even a little too much. In the PBS series, she talks about The Mysteries of Udolpho, Ann Radcliffe's famous Gothic novel, and the way it "over excites her" just might inspire you to pick up a copy of your own.
'Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret' by Judy Blume, as recommended by James "Sawyer" Ford from 'Lost'
If you watched Lost, you know that Sawyer's reading list is vast, especially since he was stranded on an island. It included everything from A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle and Watership Down by Richard Adams, to Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. The most unexpected, and perhaps the best, book the macho man read was the classic coming-of-age novel, Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume.
'The Great Gatsby' by F. Scott Fitzgerald, as recommended by Lucas Scott on 'One Tree Hill'
Like any good sensitive TV heartthrob, One Tree Hill's Lucas Scott had a library as appealing as his six pack abs. Not only did the character eventually write his own novels, but Lucas frequently gave friends books to read, including The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and The Call of the Wild by Jack London. The only problem? The dude constantly folded his paperbacks in half! I still cringe thinking about it.
'Twilight' by Stephanie Meyers, as recommended by Donna Meagle from 'Parks and Recreation'
Parks and Recreation's Donna Meagle is unapologetic about her love for her Mercedes-Benz, her Treat Yo Self tradition, and any books with vampires, werewolves, monsters, zombies, or any other paranormal romances. Her ultimate favorite: Twilight. Like you, she too has imagined what it would be like to be swept into a whirlwind romance with Robert Pattinson.
'Critique of Pure Reason' by Immanuel Kant, as recommended by Chidi from 'The Good Place'
If you like philosophy, you'll love Chidi's reading list, straight out of the library of The Good Place. It features titles from all the greats, including Plato, Aristotle, David Hume, Michel Foucault, and many others. Because his favorite thinker is Immanuel Kant, though, we'd be remiss without mentioning Critique of Pure Reason.
'The Shining' by Stephen King, as recommended by Joey Tribbiani from 'Friends'
You might not think of this Friends character as a typical bookworm, but Joey was known to love a good read. Although Little Women moved him to tears — who doesn't cry when Beth dies? — Joey's favorite novel is The Shining. Does anyone else put scary books in the freezer, or is it just this loveable bibliophile?
'Freedom' by Jonathan Franzen, as recommended by Leslie Knope from 'Parks and Recreation'
'World's End' by T.C. Boyle, as recommended by Ted Mosby from 'How I Met Your Mother'
Throughout its nine season run, HIMYM dropped a lot of hints that Ted and his future wife, Tracy, were meant to be. There was the yellow umbrella, the driving gloves, and the singing breakfast foods, but one of the greatest hints was actually a book. Both Ted and the future mother of his children liked T.C. Boyle's classic saga, World's End, and that is proof enough of true love for this literary lover.
'The Spy Who Came In From The Cold' by John Le Carré, as recommended by Don Draper from 'Mad Med'
He might not have been a great husband or a stellar father, but Mad Men's Don Draper was great at recommended a quality read. The ad executive could often me found sipping scotch and reading titles such as The Chrysanthemum and the Sword by Ruth Benedict, Exodus by Leon Uris, and The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe. The most fitting recommendation to come from the man who was anything but what he appeared is The Spy Who Came In From The Cold by John Le Carré, a thrilling suspense novel.
'The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay' by Michael Chabon, as recommended by Seth Cohen from 'The O.C.'
From the first episode of The O.C., it was obvious that the cute but geeky Seth Cohen had a serious obsession with comic books — heck, he even went on to create one aptly titled Atomic County. Beyond his favorite superhero stories, though, Seth also recommended The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay to not one but *two* of his love interests. Now that is a bookworm with serious game.
'Of Human Bondage' by W. Somerset Maugham, as recommended by Boyd Crowder from 'Justified'
It is probably unsurprising Justified's Boyd Crowder, the born again messiah, likes to read the Bible, but it isn't the only book he recommends. He quotes science fiction icon Isaac Asimov, and is even seen reading Of Human Bondage, W. Somerset Maugham's classic, semi-autobiographical story about one orphan boy's journey to adulthood.
'The Globe Illustrated Shakespeare: The Complete Works Annotated' by William Shakespeare, as recommended by Jean-Luc Picard from 'Star Trek: The Next Generation'
He may be a futuristic dude, but Jean-Luc Picard prefers to read the classics. In every episode of Star Trek, the captain's copy of The Globe Illustrated Shakespeare: The Complete Works can be seen open to a different page. If there is one thing we know about libraries in space, it's that Shakespeare never goes out of style.
'The Art Of War' by Sun Tzu, as recommended by Stewie Griffin on 'Family Guy'
Perhaps the smartest member of the Griffin family, baby genius Stewie seems to have a particular taste in books: namely, those that can help him take over the world. Among his personal favorites is Sun Tzu's classic The Art Of War, which I imagine the diabolical baby prefers over any bedtime story.
'Angela's Ashes' by Frank McCourt, as recommended by Pam Beasley from 'The Office'
The employees of Dunder Mifflin might not know how to run a smooth office, but they sure do know how to host an epic book club. When the members of the Finer Things Club read Angela's Ashes, they not only discussed the heartbreaking novel, but they did it while wearing costumes and eating themed food. Other epic selections included A Room With a View and Memoirs of a Geisha. Excuse me, is there still room in the club to join, because that is one work group I wouldn't mind being in.
'White Noise' by Don DeLillo, as recommended by Joey Potter from 'Dawson's Creek'
There are several novels referenced in Dawson's Creek, the classic teen drama from the 90s, but there is only one character inspired by literature: Joey Potter, the ultimate girl next door, is famously named after Jo March Little Women. The Louisa May Alcott classic is just one of the many books Joey reads or recommends throughout the series, and perhaps one of the most memorable, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention her love of White Noise. I mean, what other TV character has the power to get a 16-year-old boy to read postmodern literature for fun other than Joey Potter? That is pretty impressive.
'Americanah' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, as recommended by Liza Miller from 'Younger'
TV Land's Younger may be based on a book itself, but that isn't the only reason the Sutton Foster-lead comedy is loaded with literary references ach episode. The show is set in New York's competitive publishing world, and frequently features bestselling books, like Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch and Kathryn Stockett's The Help. Viewers can tune in weekly and find plenty of new titles to add to their TBR list, but at the very top should be Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah, which makes an appearance in fifth episode of the show's first (and best) season.
'Tropic of Cancer' by Henry Miller, as recommended by Jerry Seinfeld from 'Seinfeld'
There are many books mentioned throughout Seinfeld's nine season run on NBC, but there were only one title that had an entire episode devoted to it: Tropic of Cancer. In "The Library," Jerry learns that he has an overdue copy of the library's book he *swears* he returned, when he in fact leant it to his old friend George who lost it as the result of an atomic wedgie gone wrong. If that plotline isn't a ringing endorsement of Henry Miller's sexy classic, I don't know what is.
'Richard Castle's Deadly Storm: A Derrick Storm Mystery' by Brian Michael Bendis and Kelly Sue Deconnick, as recommended by Kate Beckett from 'Castle'
Bear with me, because we are about to get very meta with this next recommendation. ABC's now-cancelled crime-comedy Castle followed the adventures of the show's titular fictional bestselling novelist, and his homicide detective partner, Kate, who just so happened to be one of his biggest fans. Despite the fact the show's author and books started out as nothing more than fiction, there are now *real* tie-in works, including a graphic novel that Kate fawns over in the show. If you still wish Castle was on the air, at least there is plenty of related reading material to fill the void.
'Bridget Jones's Diary' by Helen Fielding, as Recommended by Mindy Lahiri from 'The Mindy Project'
It is no secret Mindy Lahiri prefers TV and movies to the written word, but that doesn't mean she doesn't fall for the occasional book. Not only did the beloved character frequently read novelizations of films like Iron Man, she also loved to get lost in a good romance story like Bridget Jones's Diary. She even gets Danny to read it to her when they are both in the hospital with meningitis. If that doesn't scream swoon-worthy, I don't know what does.
'Fahrenheit 451' by Ray Bradbury, as Recommended by President Jed Bartlet from 'The West Wing'
Despite what Donald Trump would have you believe, presidents (both real and fictional) are well-known bookworms. Jed Bartlet, the commander in chief of Aaron Sorkin's fictional America on The West Wing, frequently quotes from his favorite books and authors, but faithful viewers know one book is especially dear to his heart: Fahrenheit 451. While at his prestigious prep school, the future fictional president wrote an article criticizing his professor's decision to ban the Ray Bradbury classic, a position he defended even in the face of his angry and abusive father. Now that is a true book-lover.