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8 Books Matched to My Favorite Reality TV Competition Shows

by  | July 10
Photo from the Masked Singer TV show

There’s just something about reality shows that draws me in and does not let me go until the season finale. Whether it’s the spirit of competition, an intriguing premise that I need to see play out, or an unforgettable cast, nine times out of ten if I start a new TV show, it is a reality series.

If you’re a fan of reality shows like me, this list is the definitive guide for what to add to your TBR based on your favorite show. Whether you’ve just gotten hooked on a new TV series or just finished one and are now looking for a book to fill the reality show-shaped void in your heart, here are eight must-reads—perfect companions to your favorite shows!

Follow Me

Follow Me

by Kathleen Barber

The Circle

The Circle is next on my to-watch list because of its focus on presentation through social media, and because my friend highly touted the show after he watched it all in two days. On The Circle, contestants are isolated in individual apartments and can only talk to one another via an app that allows them to portray themselves in any fashion they’d like. Contestants then rate one another, with the highest contestants becoming “Influencers,” while the lowest rated are eliminated.

Similar to The Circle, Kathleen Barber’s Follow Me focuses on social media curation through Audrey, an Instagram influencer with hundreds of thousands of followers. However, Follow Me takes on a thrilling twist when one of Audrey’s followers is no longer content to follow her life from a distance, and seeks to make her his and his alone.

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Little Beach Street Bakery

Little Beach Street Bakery

by Jenny Colgan

The Great British Bake Off

It’s no secret that The Great British Bake Off has developed a devout following. Its endless charm and the miraculous baked goods the competitors put forth make Bake Off as irresistible as Paul’s bread lion from Season 6.

If you’re looking to recreate the delight of Bake Off without making a cookie chandelier, Jenny Colgan’s Little Beach Street Bakery is the perfect cozy British read. Heartbroken after her failed relationship, Polly Waterford ends up on the Cornish coast and turns to baking to distract herself from her troubles. Soon, Polly’s hobby becomes her passion, and she begins to find hope for the future as her recipes evolve. An added bonus: Little Beach Street Bakery includes seven recipes!

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Into the Jungle

Into the Jungle

by Erica Ferencik

Survivor

Survivor in my household is practically a religion; every Wednesday during this past epic season, we would make pizza and eat it as the drama unfolded. What makes Survivor so popular and memorable (it just finished its 40th season!) is its constant ability to evolve, as well as the psychological thrills it delivers.

Erica Ferencik’s Into the Jungle is very much the Survivor of books. This suspenseful story centers around Lily Bushwold, who follows her newfound love, Omar, into the Bolivian jungle after his nephew is killed by a jaguar. From anacondas and giant spiders to poachers and missionaries, Lily’s navigation of the jungle provides ever-greater challenges—and her quest to survive will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

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Perfect Tunes

Perfect Tunes

by Emily Gould

The Masked Singer

Elaborate costumes and extravagant performances have made The Masked Singer one of the most iconic contemporary escapist television shows. In addition to these spectacular features, the element that keeps viewers coming back to The Masked Singer is mystery, as fans try to guess who’s beneath the Fox or the Monster mask.

Perfect Tunes by Emily Gould ties together the music and intrigue that make The Masked Singer reverberate with audiences. In this novel, Marie, the teenage daughter of former musician Laura, begins to ask questions about her father that Laura does not want to answer, since she seeks to block out her past. Although Laura attempts to shut out thoughts of what could have been, Marie, as well as Laura’s friend-turned-musician, give Laura hope that she could still make her dreams a reality.

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The Little Book of Feng Shui

The Little Book of Feng Shui

by Katina Z Jones

Interior Design Masters

One show that I have watched and rewatched this year is Interior Design Masters, a British program which pits ten amateur interior designers against each other for the opportunity to win a major design contract. What I especially enjoy about this show is its ability to educate its viewers about interior design not just in the home, but in spaces such as hotels, hair salons, restaurants, and even university dorms.

Interior Design Masters also does an excellent job of showing viewers that design can, and should, go above and beyond aesthetics. Katina Z. Jones explores this idea by discussing feng shui, the practice of creating a balanced, harmonious environment. In The Little Book of Feng Shui, Jones provides advice on how to best achieve harmony in any space—from utilizing specific colors to rearranging furniture.

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Dear Emmie Blue

Dear Emmie Blue

by Lia Louis

Love Is Blind

As soon as I heard the premise for Love Is Blind, I jumped on the bandwagon real fast, finishing the show in a matter of days. Love Is Blind is one of those shows where I was amazed at every turn, from proposals mere days after a couple met and wedding day drama to the tell-all cast reunion.

If you have been as much of a fan as I was of Love Is Blind’s sheer unpredictability, then Dear Emmie Blue is the book for you! Emmie has her future vested on Lucas, a boy who found a note she sent via balloon 14 years ago when she was a teen. Now she is convinced Lucas will ask her to marry him, and has all but neglected her life outside their relationship. However, Emmie soon realizes that life (and love) never go exactly according to plan.…

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The Women in Black

The Women in Black

by Madeleine St John

Project Runway

While new fashion shows have been cropping up left and right, Project Runway is the legendary original, its status cemented by iconic catchphrases (“Thank you Mood!”) and memorable challenges (remember the unconventional materials one?). Project Runway’s staying power and the fashion shows that have recently emerged illustrate how fashion must captivate audiences.

Fashion’s power to bring people together is explored in Madeleine St John’s The Women in Black. This uplifting novel follows Patty, Fay, Magda, and Lisa, four women working at Goode’s department store. The quad become close as they sell ladies’ dresses during the busy summer season, with their friendship ultimately changing one another’s lives for the better.

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The Well-Gardened Mind

The Well-Gardened Mind

by Sue Stuart-Smith

The Big Flower Fight

The Big Flower Fight, also known as my latest binge watch, is a British competition show on Netflix where florists, artists, and designers compete to create the most showstopping floral installations. The memorable cast and their unbelievable talent, as well as the abundance of knowledge the show provides, have made me want to learn more about gardening.

Lucky for me, Sue Stuart-Smith’s The Well-Gardened Mind is the exact complement I need! A psychiatrist and gardener, Stuart-Smith makes a compelling case for how gardening is advantageous in promoting mental health, and uses historical examples and case studies to make her point. If you’re as inspired by the contestants’ green thumbs on The Big Flower Fight as I am, The Well-Gardened Mind is the perfect book to add to your TBR!

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Sharon Van Meter is a Marketing Assistant with Simon & Schuster, and enjoys reading historical nonfiction, "the classics," and dystopian science fiction. She is passionate about history, social justice, and stand-up comedy, and in her free time enjoys writing, baking, and cultivating her Pinterest boards. Sharon also has a large collection of novelty socks.