Quarantine has taught me that there are two things I love to do when I can’t travel: read and binge Netflix shows. Preferably with a large amount of take-out sushi in front of me.
Sound about right?
If you’re looking for the perfect book to compliment your latest Netflix obsession (or, vice versa, if you want a show that goes with a favourite book), check out my paired picks below!
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Somebody Feed Phil/Save Me the Plums
I love watching food shows on Netflix. I’m a fan of Ugly Delicious, Nadiya’s Time to Eat, Street Food, Great British Bake Off and more! But my favourite is Somebody Feed Phil. This show combines delicious food with beautiful places around the world and the most dorky and sweet host. This show is wholesome, lovely and will make you drool. Which is exactly how I felt about Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichl. This is one of a few memoirs from Ruth, documenting her time as Editor in Chief at Gourmet. Like Phil, Ruth loves food and had a very different approach to it than her magazine predecessors.
Queer Eye/Tiny Beautiful Things
If you haven’t watched the Netflix reboot of Queer Eye, you need to. I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t love this show. It’s funny, heartwarming and wise all at once – exactly like my book pick, Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. You may know Cheryl Strayed from her memoir, Wild, but I actually prefer this book much more. Tiny Beautiful Things is an advice column from when Cheryl used to be a media personality named Sugar that people would write to for advice. Sometimes the stories are heartbreaking, but Cheryl’s advice is always so considerate and wise. Each chapter is like a warm hug, which is how I feel after an episode of Queer Eye!
Riverdale/The Margot Affair
Full disclosure: I’ve seen about 1.5 episodes of Riverdale. But my understanding is that it’s an angsty teen show that’s got romance and a weird supernatural element that sometimes goes too far. It’s not my kind of show, which is probably why I’m recommending a book I also didn’t love, The Margot Affair. The Margot Affair is about a 17 year old, Margot, who is navigating school and a tricky relationship with her parents, as she’s part of her dad’s secret second family. There’s a lot of emotions and weird relationships, as well as a little supernatural scene, which sounds like Riverdale to me!
Money Heist/Catch and Kill
Money Heist is a Spanish drama about a group of thieves who want to pull off the biggest heist of all time. While I don’t read very many heist books, I do think Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow would be a great accompaniment to this show. Why? Because the shit Harvey Weinstein and his team pulled off to cover up his crimes feels like the biggest heist of all time. Ronan’s book is captivating, infuriating and impossible to put down. You get to go along on the journalism hunt with him as he pulls back layer upon layer of deceit meant to protect predators in Hollywood.
Waco/The Road to Jonestown
This was an easy pairing. If you’re into cults, you’ll want to read this incredibly comprehensive book by Jeff Guinn, The Road to Jonestown. Like the Branch Davidians at Waco, Jonestown also ended in a stand-off with military/police and a mass suicide (spoilers, but I assume you knew!). The Road to Jonestown is the complete story of how Jim Jones created his cult and built his compound in the jungles of Guyana. It’s a pretty thick book, but true crime and cult enthusiasts will appreciate the detail.
Sweet Magnolias/The Flatshare
Sweet Magnolias was a highlight of quarantine for me. I remember binging it while I baked in my kitchen and everything felt light and happy for a moment. This show is about three ladies in the south, their relationships and their businesses; it is sweet and just a little bit cheesy. Which is how I would describe The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary. This romance is super cute (there is a lot of flirting via sticky notes involved!) and has that happy ending feeling that Sweet Magnolias offers. While The Flatshare is set in London and not the American south, you still get the feeling that you’re somewhere different (that is, if you’re not from London!).
Love is Blind/The Unhoneymooners
I will admit that I binged all of Love is Blind in about three days back when quarantine first started. It is total trash but I was hooked and couldn’t stop watching. I even started listening to a Love is Blind podcast after the show. I think this show pairs perfectly with The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren. The Unhoneymooners is a romantic comedy with a enemies-to-lovers trope. Like the cast of Love is Blind, in this book two people who don’t really know each other get sent off to a romantic island where they’re forced to be a couple. And then they have to come back to the real world and see if their relationship works. It’s a little cheesy, just like the show, but a lot of fun too!
Unsolved Mysteries/American Predator
If you’re a true crime fan like me, then you’ve watched a lot of shows on Netflix to help fuel your obsession. You’ve watched Mindhunter, Making a Murderer, Abducted in Plain Sight, and both the Zac Efron and the documentary version of the Ted Bundy story. Unsolved Mysteries is just one more Netflix show to add to your arsenal. Of course, most of these shows could easily be paired up with their book inspiration; Mindhunter the Netflix series is based off the book Mindhunter by John Douglas (which I highly recommend!). But I wanted to be a little more creative, and so I’m recommending American Predator by Maureen Callahan. I read this book late last year and couldn’t put it down. It’s captivating and you feel like you’re solving the mystery right alongside detectives.
Floor is Lava/Wow, No Thank You
Floor is Lava is that game we all played as kids where the floor turned to lava and you had to make your way across the room without stepping on the floor. Only now it’s adults and it’s much funnier when they fall. Is this a dumb precise for a show? Absolutely! But sometimes you just need to laugh. And that’s exactly what you’ll get with Wow, No Thank You, the latest book by Samantha Irby. This essay collection is hilarious. I listened to it on audiobook (read by the author!) and was often chuckling out loud. I think I’m insulting Samantha a little by pairing her smart writing with this silly show, but I think she’d let it slide.
Selling Sunset/The Gifted School
I was late to the game with Selling Sunset, only watching it in mid-August. But you better believe I binged the whole thing – all three seasons – in just a couple of days. Something about rich people and real estate is irresistible to me, and the millions of others who watched too. It reminded me a lot of The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger. This book tells the story of a community where a new gifted school is opening, and what the parents do to try and one up each other to get their kids in. Like Selling Sunset, it’s about rich adults competing over things that feel a little unrelatable to the rest of us, but that provides the drama that sucks us in.
Ozark/Nine Perfect Strangers
Ozark is a family drama about crime and money. I haven’t started the series myself but everyone I know who watched it is totally addicted. I’m not sure it’s my kind of show, but I can understand the appeal. Which is kind of how I felt about Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty (best known as the author of Big Little Lies). This is a character driven book with lots of complex relationships and family drama. It’s also a psychological thriller, and despite not loving the book, I couldn’t put it down once the plot started to pick up.
Parks and Recreation/Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Parks and Recreation was one of our biggest binges this summer. We started from season one and watched all the way through to season seven, including the Zoom reunion. I love this show because it’s funny, light-hearted and full of quirky characters. Which is the same feeling I got after reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Eleanor Oliphant is certainly a quirky character, but like Leslie Knope, you can’t help but root for her even when she starts to irritate you. This was one of my favourite books I read last year and I highly recommend this sweet, quirky and well-written piece of fiction.
Find your next great read here!
What do you think of my picks? I’d love to know what you’re binging on Netflix these days. Let me know in the comments and I can try and give you a book recommendation to go with it!
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