Been meaning to write this post for ages. Ever since the meme appeared in my inbox from The Well-Thumbed Reader (I miss your posts, Mikaela) I’ve thought about it and finally gathered enough reading resources and hours of Netflix viewing under my belt to create my list. Rather than name a bunch of shows I’ve started, (I don’t watch nearly as much as required for the meme) I focused on popular shows and books to read if you want more.
*Recommendations sourced from NoveList, Penguin Random House, Electric Lit, GoodReads and my own collection.
I must admit and apologize? that I may not be of the generational demographic for most Netflix watchers. Both film and series are acclaimed and popular, but, with the exception of one, probably don’t reflect current tv trends.
The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society (NR)“In 1946, writer Juliet Ashton finds inspiration for her next book in her correspondence with a native of Guernsey, who tells her about the Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Society, a book club born as an alibi during German occupation.”-Novelist
The new Netflix movie is a feast for the eyes due to the scenic locales, period details and good-looking cast. Also a virtual Downton Abbey reunion featuring four actors from the series, including Jessica Brown-Findlay! (femme crush) Somewhat predictable, but a lovely heartwarming story with more depth than a Hallmark special. I recommend it and the original book which toured the book club rounds years ago. The epistolary format successfully creates an intimacy to it’s multiple character perspectives.
For similar tales of strong, likeable female characters whose lives are changed through chance correspondence, I recommend:
Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson
“A touching epistolary novel about an English farmer’s wife and a museum curator who may be in for an unexpected second act.”-NoveList
Brand spanking new and to the top of my tbr pile. My library’s assistant director recommends it too, which means I kind of have to read it now.
84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
An actual nonfiction epistolary account detailing, “What started as a request for an out-of-print book evolved into a 20-year friendship between Helene Hanff, a freelance writer living in New York, and Frank Doel, a used-book dealer and war survivor in London.”-NoveList
The readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
“Once you let a book into your life, the most unexpected things can happen…
Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds that Amy’s funeral has just ended. Luckily, the townspeople are happy to look after their bewildered tourist—even if they don’t understand her peculiar need for books. Marooned in a farm town that’s almost beyond repair, Sara starts a bookstore in honor of her friend’s memory.”-Goodreads
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
“The stories of a small Cape Cod postmistress and an American radio reporter stationed in London collide on the eve of the United States’s entrance into World War II, a meeting that is shaped by a broken promise to deliver a letter.”-NoveList. Like Guernsey, it’s an account of the way WWII affected those not in the center of the fighting. Despite mixed reviews, I’ve added to my tbr.
Shifting from melting-your-heart to misogyny; The Handmaid’s Tale aired on Hulu, not Netflix, but it was engrossing, cinematic and wildly popular, besides it’s my blog post so I’m including it.
The Handmaid’s Tale (TV-MA)“A religion-based autocracy has taken over most of the United States, renaming the country Gilead, where women are second-class citizens. Anyone trying to escape is punished. One such person is June, who is captured while trying to escape with her husband and child and is sentenced to be a handmaid, bearing children for childless government officials. As a handmaid, June is renamed Offred. This is her story.” -Penguin Random House
Down for more dystopian drama?Vox by Christina Dalcher
“On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than one hundred words per day, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial. This can’t happen here. Not in America. Not to her. This is just the beginning. Soon women are not permitted to hold jobs. Girls are not taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words each day, but now women have only one hundred to make themselves heard. For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.” -Penguin Random House
Vox is receiving literary buzz and one cannot hear of it without mention of The Handmaid’s Tale as certain inspiration. However, no read-alikes list should be given w/o at least one additional Atwood book, her writing is captivating and atmospheric while sharp and cutting. Oryx and Crake comes up often, but any Atwood will do.
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
“Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human. In search of answers, he embarks on a journey through the lush wilderness that was once a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride.” – Penguin Random HouseStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
“An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.”-Penguin Random House. Station Eleven calls to me every day from the shelf, soon…soon.
The Passage by Justin Cronin
“An epic and gripping tale of catastrophe and survival, The Passage is the story of Amy—abandoned by her mother at the age of six, pursued and then imprisoned by the shadowy figures behind a government experiment of apocalyptic proportions.” -Penguin Random House. Reading it, I was thoroughly immersed and creeped out. Don’t sleep on it though, The Passage is a Fox tv series, coming soon.Honorable mention to The Power by Naomi Alderman reviewed here. The power to control is flipped to females rather than the patriarchy, but the impacts on gender roles are just as disturbing.
Drowning in female-suppressing dystopian fiction? Need a more optimistic and pee-one’s-britches comical view of the future? Then look no further than Grace and Frankie. I love this show fiercely and because it’s new season premieres in January, months earlier than the others on this list, you best get to bingeing now.
Grace and Frankie (TV-MA)Starring legendary actresses, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. “For as long as they can recall, Grace and Frankie have been rivals. Their one-upmanship comes crashing to a halt, however, when they learn that their husbands have fallen in love with each other and want to get married. As everything around the ladies is coming apart, the only thing they can rely on is each other.” -Netflix synopsis
It was a heck of a challenge to find novels with feisty females over fifty, even trickier over 70, which drove me harder to include it.Two Old Women by Velma Wallis
“Based on an Athabascan Indian legend passed along for many generations from mothers to daughters of the upper Yukon River Valley in Alaska, this is the suspenseful, shocking, ultimately inspirational tale of two old women abandoned by their tribe during a brutal winter famine.
Though these women have been known to complain more than contribute, they now must either survive on their own or die trying.” -Electric Lit
Florence Gordon by Brian Morton
A wise and entertaining novel about a woman who has lived life on her own terms for seventy-five defiant and determined years, only to find herself suddenly thrust to the center of her family’s various catastrophes. -Electric LitBreaking Out of Bedlam by Leslie Larson
“Cora Sledge is horrified when her children, who doubt her ability to take care of herself, plot to remove her from her home. So what if her house is a shambles? Who cares when she last changed her clothes? If an eighty-two-year-old widow wants to live on junk food, pills, and cigarettes, hasn’t she earned the right? When her kids force her into The Palisades, an assisted living facility, Cora takes to her bed, planning to die as soon as possible. But life isn’t finished with her yet, not by a long shot.” -Goodreads
This one goes out to fans of the episode where Grace and Frankie bust out of their forced assisted living community. The ensuing shenanigans are hilariously delivered with that ring of truth and relatability that’s a hallmark of the show.
Clock Dance by Anne Tyler
“Willa Drake gets a second act when she steps in to care for a nine-year-old in a complicated situation. Character driven fiction and a sweeping storyline. As strong female characters in literature go, Willa will never make the top 100, but her transformation—rendered by Tyler in an offhand manner as quiet as her heroine—takes more guts, given Willa’s compliant nature…when she decides at 61 to live a life that makes her happy, that’s a quiet revolution.” -Nexttribe.com
Did you think I was going to skip Stranger Things? Then let me remind you, I’m obsessed and shall fulfill my fandom for another 10 months before season 3 premieres.
Stranger Things (TV-14)“1983, Indiana. A young boy vanishes into thin air. As friends, family, and local police search for answers, they are drawn into an extraordinary mystery involving top-secret government experiments, terrifying supernatural forces, and one very strange little girl.” -Netflix synopsis
It by Stephen King
“In classic King style, a group of kids band together against the common threat of a creepy clown. The parallels with the Hawkins gang are clear. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, the Duffer brothers said the 1986 book was the single greatest source of inspiration for the Netflix show.” -Time.com
Reading It as a high school senior caused some sleepless nights, but as an adult I enjoyed the graphic novel, Cycle of the Werewolf, more. Both were made into worthy 80s tv and film versions, some might remember Corey Haim rocking 80s flair in Silver Bullet.
Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King; illustrations by Berni Wrightson.
The isolated Maine village of Tarker Mills is terrorized by the horrifying bloodthirsty creature stalking its inhabitants at the time of the full moon. It’s up to only one young believer in a tricked out wheelchair and his teen sister to stop the evil lurking among them.
Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
“1990, a reunion of old friends who decide to complete some unfinished business in the resort town where they spent their summers as kids. While pitting good against evil, Cantero pays homage to H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, the bumbling but resourceful gang in Scooby-Doo (yes, there are four kids and a dog), and a full range of road trip, haunted house, and reclusive wizard tropes. This gripping escapade (with touches of quirky humor) will have you rooting for the sympathetic, well-drawn kids — now adults — as your knuckles all turn white.” -NoveList
Paper Girls, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang Matthew Wilson
“In the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time. Suburban drama and otherworldly mysteries collide in this smash-hit series about nostalgia, first jobs and the last days of childhood.” -Penguin Random House
Heck yeah! Why haven’t I read this graphic novel yet?
If you are reading, you are tagged for Netflix and Book Recs. I’m midway through Peaky Blinders and would love to read similarly plotted books. Almost finished with Outlander season 3, too (feel a little meh this season). I’m always excited to learn which tv series and books are capturing my friends’ attention, feel free to share in the comments.
Great entry! I definitely added some of these to the ‘ol Tbr. I love 84 Charring Cross. I also VERY much love Guernsey as a book and the movie was so nice. I watched it last weekend and it filled the Downton hole in my heart.
I also agree with your other viewing assessments. Handmaid’s- I have to pace myself (bad dreams happen if we watch to many too close together- lol), Stranger Things- can’t praise it enough, G&F are so great.
We have been mostly viewing exclusively on Netflix lately and are enjoying: The Good Place, (movie) The Commitments, and Sense8 was a fave, and are looking forward to Ozark coming back!
On Hulu, 11.22.63 is so good, and I started Rise recently. I have been wanting to check out Outlander, tried Peaky but didn’t get into it.
I have noticed, in general, we tend to watch most dark or demented shows. lol I am interested in other people’s recommendations for some light hearted, feel-good options! -R
Guernsey was v. charming. For Handmaid’s Tale I said almost the same thing to Shel, only emotionally stable enough for one at a time, but compulsively watchable.
You guys are so cute the way you watch series together, we have our few, GoT, ST, Great British Baking, but we have diverging interests for most things, ie, the Handmaid’s tale, the Crown, etc.
The Good place has been recommended so many times, I’ll have to start that one, I don’t think I’ve heard of Sense8, I’ll check it out and The Commitments is in my to watch list. I realize I can do dark stuff but for the winter months I need more lighthearted fare, I usually go back to shows from childhood, Family Ties, Cheers, or Arrested Development.
I’ll have to do a Book Recs part II, bc there are a couple I forgot–I liked a british drama Marchella with an unreliable narrator-it was creepy and don’t even get me started on that Catholic School, priest abuse one-nightmares!
Anyway, looking forward to seeing you soon for more book chat<3
I love this post! I always find after I’ve watched a new show (particularly something genre-based) and enjoyed it, I want to hang around in that world for a while longer, which is exactly where these book recommendations fit in. 🙂 Clearly love all the Stranger Thangs and Stephen King (never read Werewolf or seen it, but did I ever tell you about my EPIC crush on Corey Haim when I was a kid? Just the hugest crush ever, he was the cutest thing to 11-year-old me. Although if we’re having a Corey-off, I will go with Corey Feldman any day, present life circumstances notwithstanding. This is a bit sad, but a friend of mine many years ago (you know, when he was still alive) kept running into Corey Haim in her mom’s condo building in downtown Toronto – he lived there with his mom. She said he was always polite and friendly and still very, very cute, but he’d just sit in the lobby in PJ pants all day long doing…not much.) Hmm, think I might need to watch The Lost Boys now. Possibly License to Drive. But never Dream a Little Dream, because it sucked. Aw, poor Coreys. Now I feel all sad. Sorry. 😦
I’m currently in a real Stephen King place, working my way through Christine, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to read (or watch!) It – and man, have I tried. I’ve tried at least three times. But I come to that eight-page domestic violence scene between grown-up Beverly and her husband/business partner and I tap out every time – it is SO gratuitous and unnecessarily violent. I feel about It the way I feel about Shakespeare’s (or maybe it’s NOT his) Titus Andronicus – the ugly, hyper violent ramblings of a young man still enthralled by blood and boobies. Ah, yes, Sandra, but tell us how you really feel! I dunno, I will ride the Stephen King train straight through until the very final stop of my life, but I’m leaving It firmly behind on the station platform.
Are you watching Castle Rock? I think it’s on Hulu – we bought it off Apple TV. It’s very good, exceptionally Kingsian (that’s good, since he’s an executive producer) and I love the little easter eggs and whatnot dotted throughout the show (repeated references to things not staying dead, lots of badness at Shawshank, a girl named Jackie Torrence whose real name is Sarah, but she took the name Jackie in “honour” of her late uncle, Jack, who supposedly flipped out at some resort and tried to kill his whole family, but her parents won’t discuss it with her, so she took his name just to piss them off!) but it’s kind of going off the rails towards the end of the season. Did you ever watch Lost? It’s by the same people who did Lost and The Leftovers, and all three shows suffer from the same problem – an endless pile-on of mysteries that are never, ever resolved with any satisfaction. I’m sort of in love with Bill Skarsgard, though (Pennywise in the new It movies) – he’s got a huge role in Castle Rock, and I think I could just sit there and watch his big, hurt eyes and cut glass cheekbones all. day. long. He’s also 28 and I’m a pervy old lady!
I love the way this comment led to a dissertation on The Coreys, made me lol.
You would enjoy Cycle of Werewolf, its scary and fun. Also the movie is steeped in classic 80s style.
Ugh, so I read It when I was 18ish and liked it, tbh I don’t remember the abuse part, but there was a “method” used to somehow inexplicably defeat the monster that completely objectified Bev. I’ve never forgotten how it made me cringe, for it was not only disturbing, but lazy writing. I think SK had a childhood fetish he wanted to realize. Anyway, it tainted my appreciation of the book. Also, sorry, but Tim Curry is THE only IT clown to me:p
We’ve just arrived at our destination and don’t have time to go on, so I’ll chat up the Coreys later, but fair warning…I low-key loved Dream a little Dream.
At one point in my life, I think I probably could have turned any subject into a treatise on the Coreys! But woah, are we having a “gauntlet thrown” moment here over Dream a Little Dream?! Although I must say, I haven’t seen it in an absolute eternity; it may not be as bad as I remember it (sorry, just not one of my Corey faves, although they are both SO CUTE in Dream a Little Dream – love that middle class punk look they’ve got going on.)
Ugh, It…it would seem everyone has a least favourite favourite scene. I know exactly the one you’re talking about – gang-on circle jerk, yes? Like, cripes almighty, King, you don’t need to be so puerile.
Yes they were cute in a dorky rebel way, see comment below this one.
Ugh, a circle jerk would be ridiculous, but I wish that was it. They performed the full monty shebang and at least a paragraph was dedicated to how well-endowed one of the 11 year olds was for Bev to handle. I’m no prude, but I also don’t want to read about a pre-teen gan-style orgy. Just why?
Dear lord! Well, that’s how spotty my memory is on this stop-and-starter for me, because I thought we had a sex-adjacent situation, not a pre-teen gang bang one. Sweet frosting-covered donuts, man, you just can’t help yourself sometimes, can you? I feel this way about Kevin Smith, another auteur (could we call Kev Smith an auteur?) I’ve loved my whole life – he is his own greatest enemy (see Zach and Miri, the sweetest, raunchiest, most adorably realistic love story you’ll ever see nearly undone by one 30 second scene of such juvenile grossness, I want to hoof him in the nuts for ruining my love buzz straight through the screen (you know, if Silent Bob had actually showed up in that one, which he didn’t, so I don’t even know what I’m talking about! The man loves his rubber poop monsters, I don’t know what to say.)
Auteur may be a stretch, no offense Kev. I recently saw him on a game show and his appearance was starkly different. He had a heart attack which I hadn’t heard about. I wonder if that wake-up call will decrease his juvenile tendencies or increase because f it, life is short.
My nickname stuck around age 15 when Jay and Silent Bob were having their moment and when I’d tell it, someone would inevitably ask Where’s Silent Bob?
He looks so different! And I know I don’t know the guy from a hole in the wall in the really real world, but I’m so proud of him – go, Kev. I used to listen to his first podcast with his producing partner, Scott Mosier, years ago, and he was such a gifted storyteller. I mean, the man can barely shut up to save his life, but he’s such an engaging speaker.
I totally would have been one of those dinks asking you were Silent Bob was. My best friend in high school invited her Swedish cousin to come stay with her for a bit circa 1995 or so, and the girl’s name was Bieserka – she hated it so much, and by extension me, but I COULD NOT stop singing Jay’s death metal Berserker song from Clerks at her every time I saw her…like, what an asshole (talking about myself!)
HA, yes, well done! A great, epically entertaining friend of ours recorded Truck Beserker in one of those recordable photo frames for a friend and it was the funniest shit to be a party to.
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I want to watch Castle Rock, but we don’t have Hulu. I’ll have to wait till it releases to the library on DVD like the rest of the schmoes. The easter eggs sound fun. The Coen bros. did that in the Fargo series, it was cool. And Lost was THE show for years for me-I was obsessed until the final season when it floundered, who was your fave character?
Hey no need for gauntlets. I KNOW Dream a lil Dream is bad. But I was still obsessed, even with Feldman in his Michael Jackson phase (he never left that actually, did you see his performance on the Today Show a couple years ago? Hideous, I felt so bad for the guy)
Anyway, it was one of those trippy, didn’t quite make sense movies about outccasts with a great soundtrack. Can’t forger Rock On my Michael Damien! How they roped legendary Jason Robards into doing it is beyond me, but I remember thinking it was a sweet story.
Anytime you wanna reminisce bout the Coreys, I’m here:)
NOT PENNY’S BOAT was my favourite, sniff.
And I DID see that, um, event on the Today Show, and it was so cringe-worthy, I nearly gave myself a hernia trying to turn it off. I too genuinely felt sorry for the guy – probably not the intended effect. 😦
Charlie, of course. My apologies we may have had this convo before, lol!
We *might* have? I’m really not sure! Besides, you’re allowed – I’m the one who keeps asking (and asking and asking) if you used to watch Buffy. 😉
Sniff, Charlie, such a scruffy little screw-up. Who was your favourite character? I also liked Vincent the dog. And Rose and Bernard, until they just sort of disappeared one day. Hee hee, and the grifter couple who were buried alive. I remember that people LOATHED that episode, but I thought it was so great.
Sayid was my favorite, although his backstory was more convoluted and negative than nearly everyone’s. Charlie’s story was bittersweet and Desmond’s too (+ that accent). Victor was great, a loyal friend to the end.
Oh, that unfortunate couple, that was chilling, but an effective episode. Btw, my husband favored John Locke, the island through his eyes was interesting.
still haven’t watched Buffy:/
I actually hear it’s due for a revamp, pun intended.
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pun acknowledged, lol!