What To Read Next, Based On Your Favorite Modern Musical
Musicals are a classic genre in Hollywood, but until recently modern moviegoers have been turned off by musicals like Singin' in the Rain and Funny Face, which are just a tad too quaint — a bit too "golly gee," if you will — to relate to. But that's all changed in recent years. With the insane success of Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton and the Oscar-winning pop culture phenom La La Land, more and more people are joining the musical fandom.
And, as we all know, once something becomes an obsession it can be hard not to look for more. While some beloved musicals are turning into films (we're looking at you Wicked) still others have remained on stage or screen only... and reblogging countless Tumblr gif-sets can only do so much to satiate your appetite for more. But where else is there to turn? Books, of course.
The nine picks below all correspond to a modern musical; they share similar themes, characters with similar motivations, and plots with similar storylines. While they don't come with soundtracks (sadly, though we recommend listening to the movie soundtrack as you read) they will give you similar feels as your favorite showstoppers. So are you more a La La Land or a Pitch Perfect? Find your perfect book below.
1. Love 'La La Land'? Read 'Someday, Someday Maybe' by Lauren Graham
What The Book Is About: Franny Banks is a struggling actress in New York City, with just six months left of the three-year deadline she gave herself to succeed. She lives in Brooklyn with two roommates — Jane, her best friend from college, and Dan, a sci-fi writer, who is very definitely not boyfriend material — and is struggling with her feelings for a suspiciously charming guy in her acting class. It's hard to tell if she'll run out of time or money first, but either way, failure would mean facing the fact that she has absolutely no skills to make it in the real world.
Why You'll Like It: Though one is set in L.A. and the other in New York, you'd be hard pressed not to find similarities between La La Land and Someday, Someday Maybe. In fact, Franny and Mia are practically the same person: both desperate to see their dreams of being an actress realized while working dead-end jobs and dealing with other's expectations.
Unexpected romantic feelings between Franny and her struggling writer roommate Dan definitely mirror Mia's feelings for struggling musician Sebastian. And both stories, at their hearts, are about love for a city, and the pain and joy of pursuing your passion.
2. Love 'Wicked'? Read 'Dorothy Must Die' by Danielle Paige
What The Book Is About: Amy Gumm, a high school student living in Kansas, has a dismal life, bullied at school for her snarky demeanor, and her mother is a neglectful alcoholic and addict. After a falling out with her mother, Amy's trailer is caught in a tornado and transported to the Land of Oz.
There she learns Oz has been conquered by Dorothy Gale, now a power-hungry self-proclaimed princess and dictator. Soon she is recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, who train her to go on the ultimate mission: kill Dorothy and free Oz.
Why You'll Like It: Though these stories do take very different tangents, they both start with the Oz story we all know and love and turn it on its head. Neither shy away from exploring the much darker sides of the beloved tale, and delve into questions of power, friendship, romance, and the price we pay to change our lives.
3. Love 'Hamilton'? Read 'The League Of American Traitor's' by Matthew Landis
What The Book Is About: When 17 year-old Jasper is approached at the funeral of his deadbeat father by a man claiming to be an associate of his deceased parents, he’s thrust into a world of secrets tied to America’s history — and he’s right at the heart of it.
First, Jasper finds out he is the sole surviving descendant of Benedict Arnold, the most notorious traitor in American history. Then he learns that his father’s death was no accident. Jasper is at the center of a war that has been going on for centuries, in which the descendants of the heroes and traitors of the American Revolution still duel to the death for the sake of their honor. His only hope to escape his dangerous fate? Take up the research his father was pursuing at the time of his death, to clear Arnold’s name.
The book is due out August 8, 2017.
Why You'll Like It: Rightly being billed as National Treasure meets Hamilton, this book takes a controversial historical figure from Revolutionary America and gives it an undeniably modern sensibility. Whether Hamilton was your first foray into American history or you've always been interested in learning more about our founding fathers, Landis's book will give you the punchy, suspenseful dose of our nation's past you've been desperate for.
4. Love 'Hair'? Read 'Three Day Summer' by Sarvenaz Tash
What The Book Is About: Michael is unsure about most things. Go to college? Enlist in the military? Break up with his girlfriend? He is living for the moment and all he wants is a few days at the biggest concert of the summer. Cora lives in the town hosting the music festival. She's volunteering in the medical tent, always trying to be good, but there is something in the air at this concert that makes her want to push her own boundaries.
When Michael and Cora meet, sparks fly, and all the things songs are written about come true. And all the while, three days of the most epic summer await them.
Why You'll Like It: The freewheeling spirit of the '60s is alive and well in both Hair and Three Day Summer, but both also delve into the darker side of the summer of music, peace and love: the effect of the draft on young men's lives, a growing drug epidemic, violent war protests and conservative outcry against women's rights and more open sexuality.
5. Love 'Something Rotten'? Read 'Saving Hamlet' by Molly Booth
What The Book Is About: Emma Allen couldn’t be more excited to be the assistant stage manager for the drama club’s production of Hamlet. But soon after school starts, everything goes haywire. Then one night after rehearsal, Emma falls through the stage’s trap door… landing in the Globe Theater.
It’s 1601, and with her pixie cut, everyone thinks Emma’s a boy — even Shakespeare himself. Dropped into the middle of the original production of Hamlet, Emma gamely plays her role as backstage assistant. But the Globe’s Hamlet has its own problems, and once Emma starts traveling back and forth through time, things get really confusing. In which reality does she belong? And can she possibly save two epic, tragic productions before time runs out?
Why You'll Like It: If re-imagining the "realities" of Shakespeare's career and getting an inside look behind the writing and staging of plays during that time is your cup of tea, then Saving Hamlet is definitely for you. As equally outlandish and unexpected as Something Rotten, with a modern-day high school twist, you'll wish this book came with a rock 'n' soundtrack, too.
6. Love 'In The Heights'? Read 'The Education Of Margot Sanchez' by Lilliam Rivera
What The Book Is About: After “borrowing” her father's credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot Sanchez suddenly finds herself working as an indentured servant in her family’s struggling grocery store to pay off her debts. Margot can feel her carefully cultivated prep school reputation slipping through her fingers, and she’s willing to do anything to get out of this punishment.
Her invitation to the ultimate beach party is within reach and she has no intention of letting her family’s drama or Moises — the admittedly good looking but outspoken boy from the neighborhood — keep her from her goal
Why You'll Like It: Lilliam Rivera's book explores many of the same themes as Lin-Manuel Miranda's first musical. It is set in a primarily Latinx and black neighborhood in New York City, centering on a family that owns a small business. Gentrification is changing the way the community lives, both for the better and worse. There is a semi-forbidden romance between Margot and a neighborhood boy (think Heights' Benny and Nina) as well as many similarities between Margot and Heights' Vanessa: both young women who are desperate to get out of their neighborhood while grappling with their roots and a sense of duty to their own.
7. Love 'Pitch Perfect'? Read 'Noteworthy' by Riley Redgate
What The Book Is About: Jordan Sun is hopeful that this will be the year she finally gets cast in the school musical at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. But when she gets shut out for the third straight year she’s forced to consider nontraditional options.
A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite, and all male, a cappella octet. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for. With her secret growing heavier every day, Jordan pushes beyond gender norms to confront what it means to be a girl (and a guy) in a male-dominated society, and — most importantly — what it means to be herself.
Why You'll Like It: Well, it's about a capella, so if you love that aspect of Pitch Perfect, you'll definitely love Noteworthy. But beyond that the two also explores many similar themes: what it means to be an outsider, the struggle to realize creative dreams as women in a field that deliberately celebrates and raises up its male participants, and women deciding to take their destinies into their own hands. You'll get the same girl power feels and laugh out loud moments, too.
8. Love 'Galavant?' Read 'My Lady Jane' by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows
What The Book Is About: This "historical fiction" novel takes a look at the life of Lady Jane Grey... or, at least, her life the way it should have gone. At 16, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger (who is also a part-time horse. Yes, horse) and is caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England.
Why You'll Like It: Both are set during medieval times, though they take many hilarious liberties with actual history. If you love the outlandish Monty Python-esque humor employed in Galavant, then My Lady Jane will have you laughing out loud, too.
Omniscient narrators take things to a whole other level of hilarity when they add in modern references (similarly employed in Galavant), and you'll swoon just as much for the fellas in Jane's world as you do for the dashing hero Galavant.
9. Love '9 to 5'? Read 'The Assistants' by Camille Perri
What The Book Is About: Tina Fontana is the hapless 30-year-old executive assistant to Robert Barlow, the all-powerful and commanding CEO of Titan Corp., a multinational media conglomerate. She’s excellent at her job and beloved by her boss — but after six years of making his reservations and pouring his drinks, she’s bored and broke. When a technical error with Robert’s expense report presents Tina with the opportunity to pay off the entire balance of her student loan debt, she struggles with the decision. She’s always played by the rules. But it’s such a relatively small amount of money for the Titan Corporation — and for her it would be a life-changer...
Why You'll Like It: Because watching (and reading) about smart, capable, ambitious women fighting back against the sexism and patriarchy that keeps them from advancing in their lives careers is always a good time. You'll root for Tina and her co-workers the same way you do for Violet and hers, with the added dose of millennial relatability.