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Feed Your Nostalgia: 5 Books Paired with Classic TV Favorites

by  | February 20

In the golden age of television, I find myself more drawn to revisiting old favorites. Rather than navigate the complexity of loving an anti-hero, I prefer to be comforted by laugh tracks, wholesome family-focused sitcoms, and cozy mysteries. And while I do love rereading classics, there’s nothing more thrilling to me than finding a new book. So behold the perfect combination: new books inspired by old shows.

Kiss the Girls and Make Them Cry

Kiss the Girls and Make Them Cry

by Mary Higgins Clark

Murder, She Wrote

Oh, what I would give to receive a withering look from Jessica Fletcher. I watched so much Murder, She Wrote with my mom as a kid and recently rediscovered the show during a trip to England where it was always on the hotel TV. If you, too, love a female sleuth slash writer, I recommend Kiss the Girls and Make Them Cry by Mary Higgins Clark. In this suspenseful thriller, journalist Gina Kane investigates the shocking death of a young woman who had just given the reporter a major tip about widespread misbehavior of top-tier men at a major television news network. As the company tries to cover up allegations of sexual misconduct—and another female employee winds up dead—Gina digs deeper to uncover the nefarious truth.

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The Lost History of Dreams

The Lost History of Dreams

by Kris Waldherr

The Addams Family

As a millennial woman, my introduction to The Addams Family was via the 1991 movie starring Christina Ricci as Wednesday Addams. (Between The Addams Family, Casper, and Now and Then, Christina Ricci really was my idol.) What I love about watching the 60s TV series is the realization that the Addams are sweet, stable, and wholesome; they completely subvert all expectations of being a morbid, macabre family. This is most prominent in the depiction of Gomez and Morticia’s loving (and dare I say sexy?) relationship. If you’re in the market for a Gothic romance in honor of Gomez and Morticia, try Kris Waldherr’s The Lost History of Dreams. Haunting and suspenseful, this wholly romantic novel follows post-mortem photographer Robert Highstead in 1850s London as he recounts his recently deceased cousin’s ill-fated marriage. Doing so forces him to reckon with his own imperfect marriage and, in turn, compels the reader to confront their own understanding of love.

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The Empty Family

The Empty Family

by Colm Toibin

Frasier

The title of this short story collection by Colm Toibin, The Empty Family, is by no means a commentary on the Crane family of the TV show Frasier. In the pilot episode, psychologist Dr. Frasier Crane has just moved back to Seattle, leaving his young son and ex-wife behind in Boston, and reluctantly invites his somewhat estranged and blue-collar father to move in with him. But as the show moves forward, so does Frasier’s relationships with his family and friends, creating a large and happy family (with all their many idiosyncrasies). Toibin’s gorgeous short story collection, full of master character studies and references to classic literature, could be found on Frasier’s own bookshelf.

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This Tender Land

This Tender Land

by William Kent Krueger

Little House on the Prairie

I’ll be honest here and admit that what I remember most from Little House on the Prairie is the episode where Mary inexplicably wakes up blind, having lost her sight while sleeping. I had recurring nightmares as a child that this would happen to me and it wasn’t until YEARS later that I realized the source of this fear. Now my primary relationship with Little House on the Prairie is catching the last five minutes of an episode before Frasier starts. What I’ve picked up from these short segments, however, is that although the Ingalls family is the primary focus of the series, each episode is more about their community-at-large. The classic Little House series reminds me of the sweeping, big-hearted novel This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger. Set in 1930s Minnesota, This Tender Land follows four young children as they escape the Lincoln School—a school where Native American children are sent to be educated after being forcibly separated from their parents —and search for their own home as they trek to the Mississippi. Along the way they meet a cast of characters who help them find themselves as they find a place to belong.

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Don't Let Me Down

Don't Let Me Down

by Erin Hosier

Roseanne

There’s so much to love about the original Roseanne—it’s quick-witted, the characters are well-developed, and no matter the severity of a conflict or how often everyone ribs each other, there’s never a doubt that this is a family whose members love each other. I particularly enjoy watching Dan navigate the very different relationship he has with each of his daughters. His bond with tomboy Darlene comes more naturally to him whereas he has to try a bit harder to connect with Becky—but with both, you know he’s trying his best. In her powerful and hilarious memoir Don’t Let Me Down, Erin Hosier details her loving yet complicated relationship with her father. New in paperback, this book is a coming-of-age story both Darlene and Becky would appreciate.

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Photo Credit // istock / cdrw73

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