Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events premieres on Netflix this Friday the 13th (naturally). Perhaps you've been re-reading all thirteen of the original books to prepare for the new television show. Or perhaps you've been weeping inconsolably at the thought of having to revisit the dreadful lives of the Baudelaire orphans and their many unsuitable guardians. Either way, you know that this Friday you'll sob your way through that Very Forlorn Drama on Netflix, and you'll need a good book at hand to take your mind off of those orphans and their misery. So here's what you should read when you're done watching A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Of course, not every author can match the wit and emotional distress of Lemony Snicket. But you might want to read one of Snicket's other books. Or perhaps you'd like to pick up a novel by Daniel Handler, who happens to be Mr. Snicket's official representative in all legal, literary, and social matters. Maybe you want to read about orphans with far happier lives, or to discover an entirely new author with a dark humor all their own. So here are a few dreadful, miserable, and all around unfortunate books to read next:
1'Who Could That Be At This Hour?' by Lemony Snicket
All The Wrong Questions is Snicket's series of prequels to A Series of Unfortunate Events. If you enjoyed reading about the uncertainty and woe of the Baudelaire orphans, then you just might enjoy reading about the uncertainty and woe of a young Lemony Snicket. Who Could That Be At This Hour? chronicles young Lemony as he starts his apprenticeship for a mysterious organization in a small town no longer by the sea.
2'Amphigorey' by Edward Gorey
Edward Gorey was clearly a huge influence on A Series of Unfortunate Events. In fact, Daniel Handler likes to think that he played a small part in Edward Gorey's death. Amphigorey is a classic collection of Gorey's grim illustrations and his humorous, morbid tales (which often involve children meeting an untimely demise).
3'Holes' by Louis Sachar
Holes is not quite as dark as A Series of Unfortunate Events, but it is most certainly a chronicle of unfortunate events in a child's life: young Stanley Yelnats is arrested for a crime he didn't commit, and sent away to a juvenile detention camp, where the children are forced to dig holes all day long for no apparent reason. The result is a brilliantly clever mystery, as Stanley uncovers secrets of his own past.
4'My Crowd' by Charles Addams
If you're going to read Gorey, you simply must read Addams. The original Addams Family comics are delightfully dark, even if most of them are only one panel long. Plus, I always thought that there was a faint "Wednesday Addams" feel to all three of the Baudelaire orphans.
5'Breakfast of Champions' by Kurt Vonnegut
If you're looking for a more adult read after spending so much time with nasty, cake-sniffing children, try on Kurt Vonnegut for size. In Breakfast of Champions, aging writer Kilgore Trout discovers that a car dealer in the Midwest has started to believe that his outrageous fiction is actually true. It's a biting satire of American culture, with the sort of dry, meta-fictional humor that would make Snicket proud.
6'Running with Scissors' by Augusten Burroughs
Or, if you want the true account of a terrible childhood, read Running with Scissors. Augusten Burroughs manages to find humor in the story of his own childhood... like that time his mother gave him away to her therapist to raise in Victorian squalor, where the Christmas tree stayed up year-round and children played with electroshock-therapy machines for fun.
7'The Phantom Tollbooth' by Norton Juster
The Phantom Tollbooth is decidedly more magical than A Series of Unfortunate Events, but it is a similarly smart children's book that adults can also enjoy. When Milo, a sharp but often bored child, is whisked off to the Lands Beyond, he must riddle his way through linguistic, mathematical, and logical puzzles to save the kidnapped princesses Rhyme and Reason. Think Lemony Snicket meets Adventure Time.
8'Adverbs' by Daniel Handler
Yes, Daniel Handler (official representative of Lemony Snicket) also writes books for adults. Adverbs is all about love: people falling in love, people falling out of love, and just generally people mucking about with all the different kinds of love that there are. If you'd like to hear Handler's witty take on a more adult subject matter, Adverbs is the book for you.
9'The Mysterious Benedict Society' by Trenton Lee Stewart
Inventive children? Secret societies? Dastardly plots? The Mysterious Benedict Society is a no-brainer for fans of the Baudelaires, Lemony Snicket, or even Count Olaf. Four children must go undercover at a school for the gifted as part of a secret mission, complete with missing parental figures and plans for world domination.
10'Good Omens' by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Good Omens deals much more with angels, demons, and witches than A Series of Unfortunate Events does, but there's no question that it's a masterpiece of darkly comic mystery. If you're looking for something both bleak and funny to follow ASOUE, check out this hilarious take on the apocalypse.