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Missing Cousin Greg? Read These 7 High-Stakes Books for Succession Fans

by  | May 21
Cousin Greg and Tom talking

HBO’s hit TV series Succession revolves around media mogul Logan Roy as his deteriorating health, combined with pressure from stakeholders, forces him to cede (some) control of his multi-billion dollar company, Waystar Royco, to one of his adult children. With its themes of narcissism, manipulation, corporate greed, and hopelessness, I often wonder: Why in the world do I like this show so much?? I’m not a fan of rich, self-centered characters, and I’m allergic to words like “private equity.” I don’t think I’ll ever know the answer, but for anyone else who’s equally mystified by their fascination with the Roy family, check out which books I think each character would love to read. The books all have the same high stakes and compelling narratives as Succession, and—as we all eagerly await Season 3—make for some good, absorbing reads.

Washington's End

Washington's End

by Jonathan Horn

Logan Roy

Although Logan would probably be more likely to compare himself to Andrew Jackson or Richard Nixon than to George Washington, I also think he’d be scouring all sources for some answers on how to gracefully handle his last few years in power. Fittingly, this biography covers the first U.S. president’s forgotten years after he exited office, a period when Washington wanted nothing more than to surrender power, but it proved more difficult than anticipated as his successors and military kept pulling him back in. Logan is dealing with much different elements—namely that of incompetent children, his emerging senility, and various crises relating to his company’s stock price—but I think he’d find Washington’s own predicament a much-needed reminder that all leaders must eventually hand over the reins.

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Good and Mad

Good and Mad

by Rebecca Traister

Shiv Roy

Logan Roy’s only daughter, Shiv, is easily the smartest of the bunch—although equally as ruthless. And she can definitely hold her own against all the power-hungry, misogynistic men in her world. However, the lengths she has to go to prove herself are ridiculous and enraging. I’m sure she’d find solace in Rebecca Traister’s heavy-hitting exploration into how women’s anger has fueled political movements and evolved throughout history. From marching suffragettes to the #metoo catalyst, this book provides so many examples of just how powerful women are when we speak up and fully unleash our fury.

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Kochland

Kochland

by Christopher Leonard

Kendall Roy

Wading—somewhat feebly—through lies, backstabs, and murder, the second-oldest Roy son and heir-apparent, Kendall, evolves to become downright villainous in order to win control over his father’s company. If Kendall continues on this path, I think he might enjoy Kochland, which compiles seven years of Christopher Leonard’s investigative reporting into the infamous private Koch family, and how its influence has infiltrated a terrifying amount of American life: elections, workers, education, etc, etc. Kendall might especially appreciate the intense battles for control of the company among the Koch Brothers, and he could also pick up some tips from Charles and David on how to run the company his father started, which would come in handy if he’s ever given control of it. Fans of Succession will enjoy this book as well, for its enlightening, albeit enraging, insight into the power of private corporations and the breathtakingly high stakes involved.

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The Institute

The Institute

by Stephen King

Roman Roy

Roman, the youngest Roy sibling, has an odd relationship to torture, so of course I had to pair him with The Institute, Stephen King’s brilliant novel on themes of authoritarian injustices and psychological horror. It follows a bunch of kids who are taken from their families and locked up in the titular institute, where sinister adults attempt to extract their charges’ special powers, such as telepathy. Roman would relate because he also considers himself trapped in a way, and he’s deluded enough to presume he has special powers of his own. It’s difficult to predict whether Roman would be rooting for the kids to escape from their hellish torture chamber, or instead for them to succumb to the power of the Institute and its terrifying Director Mrs. Sigsby. Actually, Roman himself probably wouldn’t be able to parse his complex emotions on this issue—but either way, I bet this gripping read would keep him so deeply entrenched that he wouldn’t have a chance to blow up any more rockets—at least for a while.

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Ask for More

Ask for More

by Alexandra Carter

Tom & Cousin Greg

Tom has no clue what he’s doing, having only made his way up to COO of the Roy family business because of his relationship with Shiv. His cringeworthy scenes with the adorably naive colleague Cousin Greg are honestly some of my favorite parts of the show. If these two started their own book club, I would join it in a heartbeat. I think their first choice to read together should be Ask For More by Alexandra Carter. I mean, they’re two rich white men, so they’re already pretty good at asking for more—but where this book could come in handy for them is by actually teaching them how to get what they ask for, by providing them with much better tactics to use than the blackmail, extortion, and water bottle fights they so love. The trick is that the book is less about saying “yes” and more about asking the right questions (ones that establish shared values and transparency), and learning to navigate relationships more effectively. Discussing these tips over a cheese plate could help Cousin Greg and Tom better communicate with business partners and with each other.

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Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

by David W. Blight

Connor Roy

Am I forgetting anyone? Oh that’s right, Connor, the oldest brother. Whelp, I’m not entirely sure if he can read, but if he’s going to be running for president (even if he has absolutely no chance of winning), I think he should pick up a copy of David W. Blight’s Frederick Douglass. Because anyone who runs for president should know about Frederick Douglass—one of the most important African Americans of the nineteenth century, whose speeches and writings greatly influenced the abolitionist movement and reconstruction era.

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Offerings

Offerings

by Michael ByungJu Kim

Rhea Jarrell

Although it’s rare to encounter a “likable” character in Succession, Rhea Jarrell is one that I actually find myself admiring. As CEO of her own family’s corporation, which rivals Waystar Royco, she is both smart and has slightly better morals than the Roy family. I think she’d find a kindred spirit in Dae Joon, the Harvard-educated Wall Street banker in Offerings. He attained his impressive career at the expense of his familial obligations as a firstborn Korean son, but when the 1997 Asian financial crisis hits, Dae Joon is forced to make even more tough decisions that’ll either affect his family in Seoul or his impressive high-stakes career. Similarly, Rhea finds herself torn between family and fortune—at least more so than any other character in Succession. Again, why do I like this show so much?!

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Emily Lewis is a marketing associate at Simon & Schuster who loves every book genre but has a soft spot for sci-fi/fantasy. She recently moved to NYC from Chicago a month before quarantine and will enjoy crossing things off her NYC bucket list…eventually. For now, she enjoys playing guitar, board games, and chilling with cats. Find her on Instagram at @emlewis22.