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.