That Was 2020
28 Books To Read Based On The Shows You Binge-Watched This Year
It's always "Netflix and chill" and never "crack open a book and chill."
CBC / Via
everettcollection.com, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
You should read: by Jade Chang The Wangs vs. the World What it's about: Charles Wang, a Chinese immigrant with a cosmetics empire, suddenly finds himself bankrupt and carting his kids — amateur comedian Andrew and fashionista Grace — and their stepmother to his eldest daughter's hideout in New York. Along the way, he'll have to figure out what's more important — keeping his fractured family together or reclaiming his pride back home in China?
Similarities: Riches to rags, dysfunctional family, heartfelt humor
The Umbrella Academy
Netflix / Via
everettcollection.com, Doubleday Books
You should read: by Edgar Cantero Meddling Kids What it's about: The year is 1990 and the Blyton Summer Detective Club (the best teen detectives in their small town) haven't seen each other since their last case in 1977. Now all grown up and dealing with (or, in some cases, not) their individual issues, the gang heads back to Blyton Hills to face the nightmares from their past. But this time, it might not be just a guy in a mask.
Similarities: Dysfunctional gang, ghost friends, supernatural forces
Amazon / Via
everettcollection.com, Tor Books
You should read: by V.E. Schwab Vicious What it's about: College roommates Eli and Victor share an interest in artificial superpowers and when these brilliant minds turn their theory into reality, things don't go as planned. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison to find his friend-turned-foe, who has dedicated his life to eradicated all of the superpowered people he created. A story of two powerful men fueled by betrayal and revenge — with a little comic-book action thrown in.
Similarities: Superheroes gone bad, revenge, betrayed friendships
HBO, Crown Publishing
You should read: by Haylen Beck Lost You What it's about: For the first time since her husband's split, Libby decides to take her young son Ethan on vacation. When Ethan wanders out of view in the large resort, Libby panics, frenzied, because she hasn't told anyone the full story of what happened when Ethan was born. Hotel security discovers Ethan holding the hand of a woman, and when the police questions who she is and why she has Ethan, the woman claims to be his mother. The problem? Each woman claims she is the rightful mother. Similarities: Whodunit, unreliable narrator, motherhood
More reading: 15 Thrillers To Read If You Breezed Right Through The Undoing
The Haunting of Bly Manor
Netflix / Via
everettcollection.com, Del Rey
You should read: by Silvia Moreno-Garcia Mexican Gothic What it's about: Set in 1950s Mexico, glamorous debutante Noemí sets off for the countryside house of High Place, where her cousin has just married a mysterious Englishman and is convinced her new home will be her doom. Noemí finds High Place both terrifying and alluring and with the help of the family's youngest son, she sets about unearthing the home's dark secrets.
Similarities: Different time period, spooky house, creepy mystery
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Nickelodeon / Via
everettcollection.com, Henry Holt Company
You should read: by Tomi Adeyemi Children of Blood and Bone What it's about: Magic in Orïsha has been wiped out, but Zélie still remembers when people could control fire, water, and even bone. With magic gone, the cruel king was able to wipe out the maji, including Zélie's mother. But now Zélie finds herself the only person able to bring magic back to her land, so with the help of her brother and a rebellious princess, she sets off to avenge her mother — and her people. Similarities: Elemental magic, tragic villain, long journey
More reading: Reveal Your Avatar: The Last Airbender Opinions And Get A YA Book Recommendation
Netflix / Via
everettcollection.com, Delacorte Press
You should read: by E. Lockhart We Were Liars What it's about: The Sinclair family spends every summer together on their private island, but eldest grandchild Cadence knows this "happy family" is just a facade. When she's fifteen, Cadence suffers a head injury, loses all memories of the summer, and doesn't return to the island for two years. When she does, she finds that her closest cousins — "The Liars" — act strangely around her and a dark family secret looms over her head. But as Cadence regains her memories of that summer, she'll find that they reveal a life-shattering truth.
Similarities: Family secrets, close friend group, island setting
Netflix, Simon & Schuster
You should read: by Andrew Morton Diana: Her True Story in Her Own Words What it's about: Morton's thorough and dishy biography — written with Diana's cooperation and input — was a huge sensation when it came out in 1992, offering an up-close-and-personal account of Diana's life and experience with the royal family. The 25th anniversary edition is updated with new information pulled from Morton's records.
Similarities: Princess Diana, scandals and secrets
Dash & Lily
Netflix, Roaring Press
You should read: by Kristina Forest Now That I've Found You What it's about: Evie Jones is Hollywood's next big star at just 18 years old — until she's blacklisted by a close friend. To save her career, Evie plans to make a public appearance with America's most beloved actress: her grandma Gigi, aka the Evelyn Conaway. But a huge problem arises: Days before the appearance, Gigi disappears. Evie enlists the help of a cute musician named Milo Williams, and together they venture across New York City in search of Gigi, meeting adventure and romance along the way. Similarities: New York, adventure, mystery
More reading: 15 Young Adult Rom-Coms Every Dash & Lily Fan Should Check Out
Never Have I Ever
Netflix / Via
everettcollection.com, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
You should read: by Emily X.R. Pan The Astonishing Color of After What it's about: When Leigh's mother dies by suicide, her grief over not being there — and instead having her first kiss — convinces her that her mother has come back as a bird. Meanwhile, her father, who is white, takes Leigh to meet her maternal grandparents in Taiwan for the first time to experience her mother's roots. There, Leigh will have to come to terms with her grief, her identity, and her relationships.
Similarities: Loss of a parent, racial identity, teen love
Netflix / Via
You should read: by Scott Lynch The Lies of Locke Lamora What it's about: Locke has been an orphan since he can remember, but he uses his cleverness, thievery skills, and mastery of disguise to survive on the streets. He soon joins a crew known as "The Gentleman Bastards," and becomes one of the city's most famous (and mysterious) conmen. But when Locke and his gang become tangled up in a plot to overthrow the ruthless leader of Camorr's seedy underworld, he'll have to use all his skills to play the game — or die trying.
Similarities: Elaborate heists, lovable criminals, unexpected deaths
The Good Place
Colleen Hayes / NBC, Quill Tree Books
You should read: by Adam Silvera They Both Die at the End What it's about: In a world where you get a call the day you're going to die, Mateo and Rufus have both received their Death-Casts on the same day. Both unsure how to spend their last day, they turn to an app called Last Friend, which matches them together. Although they come from very different backgrounds, they discover that it's possible to live an entire lifetime in just one day with the right person.
Similarities Unique take on death, cute romance, whimsical
Selena: The Series
You should read: by Chris Pérez To Selena, With Love What it's about: It is nearly impossible to completely translate the shining star that was Selena onto the screen. She was a phenomenon. She is a legend. But to her husband, Chris Pérez, she was his greatest love and best friend. To Selena, with Love is Pérez’s account of his relationship with the iconic Tejano music superstar. The memoir covers everything from the moment Pérez began working with the Quintanillas on a Coca-Cola jingle to the moment Abraham Quintanilla threatened to disband the group if Pérez and Selena kept dating — and everything in between. These are the moments no biopic can truly capture. (Recommended by Zoraida Córdova) Similarities Selena!
More reading: Read These Books After Binging Selena: The Series
Anne With an E
Netflix / Via
everettcollection.com, Europa Editions
You should read: by Elena Ferrante My Brilliant Friend What it's about: This book weaves the beauty of the Italian countryside with the nostalgia of young female friendship. Elena and Lila grow up together in a small village, bonding over their hatred of the rude school bully. As they face challenges like family poverty, access to school, and — of course — crushes on boys, the girls and their love for each other face the many challenges thrown at them by society.
Similarities: Small town setting, young feminism, female friendship
Eli Joshua Ade / HBO, Orbit
You should read: by N.K. Jemisin The City We Became What it's about: Every city has a soul, and a dark, ancient monster has come to steal New York's. This threat — which naturally takes the form of cops — awakens powers in five different New Yorkers, each from a different borough and background, and they must band together to save their city. But with tensions high, will this group of strangers be able to defeat this evil force before it takes over New York and then the world? Similarities: Racial tension, urban fantasy, supernatural enemy
More reading: 15 Books To Read If You're Already Missing Lovecraft Country
Fox / Via
You should read: by Susan Ee Angelfall What it's about: Penryn and her little sister have survived six weeks of an apocalypse caused by fallen angels, until one night they come and take her sister away. Penryn will do anything to save her sister, even if it means recruiting the enemy itself. Raffe, a warrior angel, finds himself hurt and wingless on the streets of Northern California. When Penryn asks for his help, he realizes it might be the perfect chance to get his wings back. Together, they'll have to fight through hoards of monsters and learn to trust each other along the way.
Similarities: Fallen angels, morally gray characters, slow burn romance
HBO, Simon Pulse
You should read: by Tanya Boteju Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens What it's about: When Nima Kumara-Clark finds herself unexpectedly immersed in the drag scene on the other side of town, she doesn't expect to become closer to a self she never knew she could be. This contemporary LGBT YA is about self-discovery, identity, and finding yourself fitting in for the first time.
Similarities: Teen drama, LGBTQ characters, unrequited love, self-exploration
Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Nicole Rivelli /Amazon / Via
everettcollection.com, Atria Books
You should read: by Taylor Jenkins Reid The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo What it's about: It's been decades since infamous Hollywood star Evelyn Hugo has given an interview, but when she personally requests unknown journalist Monique to tell her life story, the young reporter can't say no. As Evelyn recounts her tale of rising to stardom in the 50s, her struggles as a woman in Hollywood, and the truth behind each of her seven marriages, Monique will realize that Evelyn's life was so much more than just words in a tabloid...and just how interconnected the two women are.
Similarities: 1950s/60s setting, successful female career, messy divorces
John P. Johnson / HBO, Crown
You should read: by Micaiah Johnson The Space Between Worlds What it's about: Traveling between universes is finally possible, but there's a catch: you can only visit a world where your counterpart is dead. Luckily for Cara, she has a talent for dying on most worlds, which makes her one of the most successful traversers at her company, the Eldridge Institute. But when one of her other-world selves dies mysteriously, Cara must risk her life — and even more precious job — to find out why. What she discovers will change her whole life and also threaten to reveal a secret of her own.
Similarities: Technology gone wrong, wild west setting, plot twists
Jesse Giddings/The CW, Scholastic Press
You should read: by Leah Johnson You Should See Me in a Crown What it's about: Liz has always felt like an outsider in her wealthy and very white small town in Indiana, but she has a plan to escape by heading to an elite college and becoming a doctor — that is, until her financial aid suddenly falls through. Her last resort is to compete for a scholarship offered to the prom king and queen. This is Liz's worst nightmare, but luckily the new girl in school, Mack, makes the experience bearable...until Liz's feelings for her begin to interfere with the competition.
Similarities: Racism, income inequality, escaping hometown, high school drama
Netflix, Dial Books
You should read: by Gabby Rivera Juliet Takes a Breath What it's about: Juliet Milagros Palante is a self-proclaimed closeted Puerto Rican baby dyke from the Bronx. After she outs herself to her parents and takes an internship across the country with her author idol, Harlowe Brisbane, Juliet is ready to learn from someone she admires. The problem is that as woke as Harlowe thinks she is, her experience erases Juliet's existence. The summer introduces her to an exploration of queer and brown love, and a brand of feminism in which she can see herself. (Recommended by Zoraida Córdova.) Similarities: LGBTQ romance, Latinx protagonist, coming of age
More reading: 13 Books To Read After You Watch Gentefied
Game of Thrones
Helen Sloan / HBO, Dey Rel (Random House)
You should read: by Pierce Brown Red Rising What it's about: Darrow is a member of the lowest caste in his society — a Red — whose survival relies on the work he does to make Mars more habitable for the upper classes. But when he discovers the truth, that other castes live like kings above ground while Reds remain slaves, he joins an uprising as a spy, infiltrating an elite, but brutal, Gold training school where violence means little. Hidden amongst his enemies, Darrow will have to become one of them in order to free his people.
Similarities: Epic battles, unexpected deaths, fight for power
Netflix / Via
everttcollection.com, Thomas & Mercer
You should read: by Blake Crouch Pines What it's about: Wayward Pines is your typical small town in Idaho — from the outside. So when Secret Service agent Ethan begins searching the town for missing agents, he's shocked to wake up from an accident with no ID and no phone. Although the people seem friendly, mysterious electric fences surround the town and he finds himself unable to contact anyone back home. As his investigation unearths more questions than answers, Ethan realizes this town is more dangerous than it appeared.
Similarities: Complex mystery, spooky town, unsettling vibe
The Great British Baking Show
Netflix / Via
You should read: by Jenny Colgan Little Beach Street Bakery What it's about: Heartbroken, Polly retreats to the sleepy seaside town of Polbearne where she distracts herself with bread baking. But what starts as a hobby becomes something so much more as Polly throws herself, and her emotions, into her recipes, some of which use honey supplied by the local (and cute) beekeeper. Soon Polly has a brand new life — one in which she is truly happy.
Similarities: Baking, cozy feelings, British
Emily in Paris
Netflix / Via
everettcollection.com, Balzer + Bray
You should read: by Katie Cotugno 9 Days and 9 Nights What it's about: Molly is finally happy, in love with her new boyfriend, Ian, and setting off a romantic tour of Europe. But at their first stop in London, they run right into Molly's ex, Gabe, and his new girlfriend. When Ian, unbeknownst about the exes' past, invites the couple to Ireland with them, Molly can't bring herself to tell the truth — so she agrees. Now she has to spend nine days and nights with her ex and her boyfriend. What could go wrong?
Similarities: Americans abroad, love triangles, light and fun
Netflix / Via
everettcollection.com, Delacorte Press
You should read: by Karen M. McManus One of Us Is Lying What it's about: One Monday afternoon at Bayview High, five very different students walk into detention...but only four walk out alive. When it's discovered that the dead student, Simon, was not only murdered, but had planned to release juicy secrets about his fellow detention-mates, they become the prime suspects. But what really happened that fateful day? And how far will they go to protect their secrets?
Similarities: Murder mystery, high school drama, deadly secrets
Julie and the Phantoms
Netflix / Via
everettcollection.com, Swoon Reads
You should read: by Aiden Thomas Cemetery Boys What it's about: Yadriel's parents refuse to accept his gender identity, so to prove himself to his family, he — and his BFF Maritza — use his brujo magic to summon the ghost of his recently murdered cousin and set him free. But something goes wrong and Yadriel's ghost ends up being Julian, the school's bad boy and freshly-turned-ghostie. Julian wants to find out what happened to him, and Yadriel wants him gone, so they set off to solve the case. But as these two work together, they find that neither of them is ready for Julian to leave this world.
Similarities: Family drama, teenage coming-of-age, paranormal romance
The Queen's Gambit
You should read: by Shan Sa The Girl Who Played Go What it's about: In 1930s Japanese-occupied Manchuria, a teenage girl tries to avoid romantic and sexual entanglements by spending her time playing the game of go with strangers in the public park, but one of her frequent opponents can't help being drawn to her — and he happens to be a Japanese soldier in disguise.
Similarities: Games of strategy, coming of age, 20th century, strong young women protagonists