Books

8 Books Marianne & Connell Read In 'Normal People,' For Those Wanting More

Enda Bowe/Hulu

By now, you've probably already heard of Normal People: the new series from Hulu and BBC Three, based on Sally Rooney's hit 2018 novel of the same name. Normal People centers on Connell and Marianne, two young adults who grow up in the same small town of Sligo, Ireland. He's a working-class jock, and secret book nerd, whereas she's the standoffish daughter of a rich solicitor. As high schoolers, the two embark on a secret romance that's fueled by their love of literature, academia, and mutual intellect.

Though the two never put a "label" on their relationship, they're unable to stay away from each other. Marianne and Connell both attend Trinity after graduation, and continue to criss-cross each others lives for years to come. As Rooney describes it, “[They're like] two little plants sharing the same plot of soil, growing around one another, contorting to make room, taking certain unlikely positions.”

The series is comprised of 12 short-and-sweet episodes that are easy to consume over just a few evenings. So if you've already gone ahead and finished the series — but are still thirsty for more of these horny Irish teens — why don't you take a page out of Marianne and Connell's book? By reading a few of their beloved literary masterpieces.

To get you started, here are 8 of the books Marianne and Connell read in Normal People:

The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

One of the earliest conversations Connell and Marianne have onscreen concerns Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook, which follows a young writer as she tries to pull several of her diaries together into one cohesive volume. Fans may be able to draw parallels between this novel and the trajectory of Connell's own writing career.

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Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go follows three people raised in a mysterious boarding school, who learn that they are all clones, born to one day provide their organs to the wealthy. Ten years after a cruel comment splits the trio up, they find themselves together once more, under radically different circumstances.

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Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe

Most of the books mentioned in Normal People are part of Connell's English courses, including this one. Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders is an 18th-century account of one woman's life, through all its highs and lows. Born in a prison, Moll eventually becomes something of a con artist, in a career that includes both fraud and outright theft. When she's eventually imprisoned in her birthplace, she sets out on a path toward redemption.

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Emma by Jane Austen

Another of Connell's course texts, Jane Austen's Emma is the first book he seems comfortable talking about in college. The eponymous heroine of this Regency romance swears she will never marry, and instead busies herself by making matches among her rich friends. But when one match goes horribly awry, Emma is forced to re-assess her methods, as well as her own plans for the future.

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Fanny by Marcel Pagnol

Books are everywhere in Normal People, and that means they're often on display in the background. Although it's usually difficult to make out exactly which books are on what shelves, the audience gets a clear view of a few texts in some key scenes. Connell owns a copy of Marcel Pagnol's play, Fanny, which concerns a young woman who wants desperately to be with the man she loves, but can't bring herself to tell him so.

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Temples of Delight by Barbara Trapido

Another title in Connell's possession, Barbara Trapido's Temples of Delight follows two young girls, one of whom leads the other into a new world of literary delights and oddball scenarios. It's a bit upbeat, overall, but it makes a wonderful pairing to Rooney's brooding novel.

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The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara, edited by Donald Allen

Although The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara isn't mentioned or seen directly in Normal People, Connell does give Marianne a book of O'Hara's poems for her birthday. We can't be sure which one it is, so we've included the National Book Award-winning poet's entire oeuvre, just to be safe.

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"In the Waiting Room" by Elizabeth Bishop

Connell and Marianne's English teacher reads from this poem in the first episode of Normal People. The tightly wrought panic of Elizabeth Bishop's verses set the tone for Connell and Marianne's own anxieties about growing up and growing apart.

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