Popular TV shows of 2020 paired with books

Have you been binge-watching as much as we have this year? Don’t let it cut into your reading - here are some TV show-book matches made in heaven.


For fans of The Queen’s Gambit:

Try… The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung

From childhood, Katherine knows she is different, and that her parents are not who they seem to be. As an adult she embarks on a quest to conquer the Riemann hypothesis - the greatest unsolved mathematical problem of her time. She turns to a theorem with a mysterious history that holds both the lock and key to her identity, and to secrets long buried during World War II.

A historical setting, a woman struggling to take her place in a male-dominated field, and a murky family history make this the perfect choice for anyone who enjoyed The Queen’s Gambit.


For fans of Normal People:

Try… Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

For an immersive and intimate portrait of a relationship unravelling, please look no further than this Australian debut set in London and Oxford. Martha looks back on her marriage to Patrick, from when they met as teenagers through to the inevitable disintegration of their relationship. A warm and witty novel that also explores Martha’s mental illness and her close-knit bohemian family, Sorrow and Bliss takes some tough subject matter and injects it with warmth, honesty and humour.

You can find plenty more picks for Sally Rooney lovers here.


For fans of I May Destroy You:

Try… Luster by Raven Leilani

Michaela Coel is a force to be reckoned with, as a director, actor and screenwriter, and in 2020 her format-busting I May Destroy You blew everyone away. Luster is a debut that also follows a young, creative Black woman navigating sexual and racial politics, at work and in her personal life. Edie is a painter who is messing up at her lowly publishing job and hooking up with the wrong men. Then she finds herself drawn in a relationship with Eric, a White, middle-aged man with a suburban family, a sort-of open marriage and an adopted Black daughter. Our reviewer Kim said it best: ‘This is a funny, juicy and bleak novel about work, sex, survival and being young.’

If you’re keen to read something Australian with a similar feel, then we also recommend I May Destroy You fans read Jessie Tu’s A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing.


For fans of Tiger King:

Try… Loose Units by Paul F. Verhoeven

For more truth-is-stranger-than-fiction crime stories, turn to this goldmine of funny, shocking and dark tales. Paul Verhoeven’s father, John, spent his long police career in Sydney in the 1980s embroiled in some of the seediest and scariest situations imaginable. Artsy, sensitive Paul can’t understand why he’s so different to his dad. One day, John offers Paul the chance of a lifetime: he’ll spill his guts, on tape, and try to get to the bottom of their differences.

Loose Units contains all the crimes, car chases, and brushes with death and violence that you could want. Follow up with more stories in Electric Blue.


For fans of Emily in Paris:

Try… Munkey Diaries by Jane Birkin

If Emily in Paris barely scratched the surface of your fascination with Paris and French culture, pick up the diaries of iconic actor, singer, songwriter and model Jane Birkin. English Jane attained international fame with her decade-long musical and personal relationship with Serge Gainsbourg, and her work as an actress in British and French cinema, including Blow-Up, Death on the Nile and Evil under the Sun. This first volume of her diaries starts with her teen years, and recreates the flamboyant era of Swinging London and Saint-Germain-des-Pres in the 1970s, and the dramas of her tumultuous relationship with Gainsbourg.

If you’re a teen Emily in Paris fan, then we highly recommend Kate O'Donnell’s YA novel about an Australian teenager’s exchange year in France: This One is Ours.


For fans of The Last Dance:

Try… Basketball (and Other Things) by Shea Serrano & Arturo Torres

If The Last Dance wasn’t enough basketball to satisfy you, or concentrated too much on Michael Jordan for your tastes, then this illustrated deep dive takes readers through the most pivotal and ridiculous fan disputes in basketball history, providing arguments and answers to basketball’s greatest questions. Which years was Kobe at his best? Who had the greatest dunk of all time? Which version of Michael Jordan was the best Michael Jordan? An entertaining and witty romp through basketball’s greatest moments, what-ifs, stories, and legends.

If you’d love to delve more into local basketball, then read about 20 accomplished Australian players in Matt Logue’s Hoop Dreams Down Under.


For fans of The Mandalorian:

Try… Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang

AD2201. A century ago, the Martian colonies fought for independence and cut ties with Earth. The two planets followed very different economic and political trajectories (broadly, one capitalist, the other a utopian blend of communism and capitalism), viewing each other with suspicion. Now a group of Martian ambassadors return from Earth, accompanied by a delegation of Terrans, but almost immediately old enmities erupt. Luoying, one of the returning Martians, is trapped in the middle of ideological warfare and forced to ask hard questions about her family history.

This is a fascinating first novel from the author of the Hugo Award-winning novelette ‘Folding Beijing'.


For fans of Feel Good:

Try… Cherry Beach by Laura McPhee-Browne

Inseparable best friends Hetty and Ness leave Melbourne to live abroad for the first time. Hetty is charming and captivating, the life of the party. Ness is a wallflower, hopelessly in love with her. In Toronto, Hetty disappears into barkeeping work and a whirlwind nightlife, while Ness drifts aimlessly. But when Ness meets Faith one day in the art gallery, an intense affair develops. At last her life starts to make some sense - right as Hetty’s starts to spectacularly and tragically fall apart.

Friendship and desire, self-discovery in the messy twenties, drugs and bad choices - if you loved comedian and writer Mae Martin’s star turn in Feel Good, then you will appreciate this tender and assured debut novel.

Sorrow and Bliss

Sorrow and Bliss

Meg Mason

$32.99Buy now

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