More Imagined Books Like Snow Falling from Jane the Virgin
Simon & Schuster this week published Snow Falling, the romance novel written by the titular protagonist of the CW series Jane the Virgin. It got us thinking about other books imagined up in pop culture: campaign memoirs in shows like Veep, infamous YA series from movies like Young Adult, and so much more. Read on for the fictional books we wish we could read from 40 movies and TV shows.
J.B. Fletcher's mystery novel collection, Murder, She Wrote
Angela Lansbury’s mystery writer and amateur detective Jessica Fletcher built 12 seasons of TV out of crime-solving. More than 40 of her books, authored under the name J.B. Fletcher were mentioned across the series, including one that was made into a film and another into a stage play. She’s certainly among the most prolific writers on this list.
God Hates Us All by Hank Moody, Californication
When we meet David Duchovny’s Hank Moody in Californication, he’s a boozy, troubled, womanizing novelist suffering from writer’s block. His most recent book, God Hates Us All, has been adapted into a horrifically watered-down TV movie. His other books, South of Heaven and Seasons in the Abyss, are also named after Slayer albums, which should give you an idea of what kind of novelist he is.
Carrie Bradshaw's book, Sex and the City
Carrie Bradshaw’s many seasons worth of newspaper columns and Vogue articles culminate, infamously, in a book that shares the series’ name. She obsesses over the reception to it, at one point even zeroing in on a “review” by the New York Times‘ Michiko Kakutani.
Descent by Noah Solloway, The Affair
Noah Solloway is a teacher when Showtime’s The Affair begins, but by the end of season 2, he’s an enormously successful novelist, parleying with the New York literary elite and giving readings at cozy bookstores. His debut Descent was so hot that his publicist told him Jonathan Franzen was begging to meet him. (Was he, though?)
Laurie Garvey's unpublished tell-all, The Leftovers
After being consumed by the Guilty Remnant cult in season 1 of The Leftovers, Laurie Garvey spends season 2 counseling similar survivors while contemplating whether to publish a provocative exposé she’d spent months working on. The book looks destined for hit status until a meeting with publishers goes (very) badly.
Some New Beginnings by Selina Meyer, Veep
After deciding to run for president in season 2, Selina Meyer is on a Hard Choices-esque book tour when the new year of Veep begins. It’s meant as a launching pad for her presidential campaign, but she doesn’t think much of the book and quickly comes to resent having to tour for it.
One Trick Pony by Diane Nguyen, BoJack Horseman
You may have forgotten that Diane Nguyen entered BoJack Horseman’s orbit when he contacted her about ghostwriting his memoir. They spend much of the first season going back and forth, as she tries to make sense of his painful history and volatile personality. When she finishes, he’s infuriated by her portrait of him; he fires her after she leaks an excerpt to BuzzFeed, but later gives her his blessing to publish it. (Fun fact: It ended up winning a Golden Globe without being made into a movie!)
Congratulations, You're Dying by Jimmy Shive-Overly, You're the Worst
You know that self-involved novelist who hangs out at local bookstores, trying to get people to buy his own book? That’s Jimmy Shive-Overly. His debut, Congratulations, You’re Dying, was followed by a long dry period, which is where we begin in You’re the Worst. Naturally, Jimmy decides to follow it up with something sexier — “the first truly literary erotic novel since Portnoy’s Complaint,” as he puts it.
Amber Madison's tell-all, The Good Wife
Amber Madison — the woman Peter Florrick slept with, the scandal from which the series began — is a minor character in The Good Wife, but her pending “tell-all” makes up a significant plot point early in the series. She even teases it with Chelsea Handler, forcing Alicia to once again withstand a public humiliation.
Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America by Leslie Knope, Parks and Recreation
Leslie Knope’s love letter to the town she gave so much to throughout Parks and Recreation was initially marked by scandal, when it was revealed that she lied in the book about being born in Pawnee. While that required some finagling in the show, the book (which you can actually buy!) provides the perfect tour of one of TV’s most indelible small-town communities.
The story-within-a-story of The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Wes Anderson film is itself a book, written only by “The Author” (co-played by Tom Wilkinson and Jude Law). The book is framed around the young author’s conversation with Zero Moustafa, who recounts a spellbinding tale. It’s ultimately turned into a memoir: The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Memoir of Adam Lang by The Ghost, The Ghost Writer
Roman Polanski’s critically acclaimed thriller centers on a ghostwriter’s assignment to complete the autobiography of a former British PM. What follows is a thrilling story filled with secrets and conspiracy — the writing that results is hardly what could’ve been expected.
Death and Taxes by Karen Eiffel, Stranger Than Fiction
If you’ve ever wanted to listen to Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, and Will Ferrell eloquently meditate on the ethics of manipulating characters to literary effect, here’s your chance. Thompson’s Karen Eiffel is an acclaimed writer whose new novel, Death and Taxes, is unwittingly determining the real-life fate of one mild-mannered IRS agent, Harold Crick (Ferrell). And she’s inflexible with the ending she has in mind: death.
The Waverly Prep series by Mavis Gary, Young Adult
Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman’s scathingly funny portrait of a YA novelist comes in the form of Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron), a Minneapolis-residing author whose career is flattening. Her claim to fame, the Waverly Prep series, is a once-hot item that’s cooled off, up for discounts and bargains in local bookstores. She’s on a tight deadline to finish the last book, with the series having been canceled.
The novels of Bernard and Joan Berkman, The Squid and the Whale
Noah Baumbach’s precise family comedy is all about the words — it’s an indie steeped in all things literary. Bernard and Joan Berkman are a married couple on the verge of separating — the former a washed-up, once-promising novelist who can’t get enough of himself, the latter a late bloomer whose work is finally getting published to great acclaim. Their intellectual squabbles spill over into much messier family drama.
The children's books of Ted Cole, The Door in the Floor
Based on the first third of a 1998 John Irving novel, The Door in the Floor features a sublime Jeff Bridges performance as Ted Cole, a celebrated children’s book writer. It’s a dark film, with Ted’s creepiest and darkest children’s story — yes, The Door in the Floor — making its way to the title of the film. It’s rendered visually in the movie’s haunting final image.
Tales from Space, Back to the Future
Sherman Peabody first read the Tales from Space comic in 1955. Featuring “Shocking Science-Fiction Stories,” the cover of the comic book featured a spacecraft similar in appearance to the DeLorean — as well as an alien in a yellow suit exact in appearance to Marty McFly’s radiation suit. Sherman also believed that the spaceman had mutated into human form when Marty took off his helmet.
Tropic Thunder by Sergeant "Four Leaf," Tropic Thunder
Nick Nolte briefly appears in Tropic Thunder as Sergeant “Four Leaf,” the man whose memoir of the same name is being adapted into a feature film. He’s a Vietnam veteran who throws a collection of dainty actors into the jungle for a guerrilla-filmmaking style experience that most realistically reflects his own. Inevitably, things don’t go as planned.
Love Hurts by Catherine Woolf, Basic Instinct
Sharon Stone’s Catherine Tramell is a successful crime novelist (her pen name is Catherine Woolf) who just happens to also be a serial killer. At one point we see her love interest (and detective) Nick Curran (Michael Douglas) reading her book Love Hurts — which, it turns out, contains the key to catching a murderer. (Who ever could it be?)
Down with Love by Barbara Novak, Down with Love
Down with Love opens on author Barbara Novak trying to sell her new book of the same name, which is anti-romance, pro-sex, and all about finding ways to replace men with other indulgences. This is a romantic comedy, of course, so you can do the math as to why the film ends with her having written another book — Here’s to Love.
Family of Geniuses by Etheline Tenenbaum, The Royal Tenenbaums
Can you tell that Wes Anderson likes to make up books? Seemingly everyone in The Royal Tenenbaums, Wes Anderson’s biting portrait of a dysfunctional family, writes them, but none is more central than matriarch Etheline’s autobiographical Family of Geniuses. Family friend Eli Cash, meanwhile, has written Old Custer, a Western alternate history novel.
Yeast Lords by Benjamin Purvis, Gentlemen Broncos
Young Benjamin Purvis spends his spare time writing lengthy science fiction stories — his most recent of which, Yeast Lords, is about a hero modeled after his late father. When it generates interest and is fast-tracked from novel to film, however, Ben uncovers a widespread scandal of one Dr. Ronald Chevalier plagiarizing his work.
How I Did It by Victor Frankenstein, Young Frankenstein
Not exactly a published book, How I Did It is the private journals of Dr. Frederick Frankenstein’s father, which delineates how he animated the dead. It’s a clever play on the “manual” key to so much science fiction, one of many nods to this uproariously satirical film’s genre.
Avalon Landing by William Forrester, Finding Forrester
Sean Connery plays William Forrester, an author modeled closely on J.D. Salinger, in this Gus Van Sant film. He’s the writer of the famous, beloved book Avalon Landing, but nothing else — until 16-year-old Jamal pushes him out of his reclusive state.
Isaac's New York love letter, Manhattan
There are two writers in Woody Allen’s New York film: Isaac (Allen), who against a montage of images we meet as he reads the introduction to a book about a man in love with the city, and Jill (Meryl Streep), an author scribing a confessional book about a marriage gone awry. The latter takes up more plot, but Isaac’s love letter best captures the movie’s spirit.
This Time by Jesse, Before Sunset
It’s been nine years since the magical Before Sunrise night in Vienna, and in this acclaimed sequel, it’s revealed that Jesse (Ethan Hawke) is on a book tour promoting a novel, This Time, which is based on that romantic getaway. The book even becomes a best-seller — if only the stunning Before trilogy could attract as many fans.
The Book of Crossroads, Pan's Labyrinth
In Guillermo del Toro’s gorgeously spooky fairy tale, the faun gives Ofelia, our main character, a volume called The Book of Crossroads. It’s filled with blank pages, and it’s a test for her to prove herself — to follow its instructions to discover whether she is worthy of being the princess — while also a warning of the danger soon to be faced by her mother.
The second novel of Grady Tripp, Wonder Boys
This Michael Chabon adaptation centers on a creative writing professor who’s struggling to follow up on his celebrated debut novel. The more time he spends with it the worse it gets — at one point running several thousand pages — but through his experiences with his students, he winds up with a finished copy that’s essentially the events of the film.
The romance novels of Melvin Udall, As Good as It Gets
Jack Nicholson’s misanthropic, obsessive-compulsive novelist takes up a lot of oxygen in As Good as It Gets. He’s a best-selling romance writer, with 62 titles under his belt, and is as dismissive of the genre as Paul Sheldon in Misery. When he’s asked how he approaches writing female characters, he responds, “I think of a man — and I take away reason and accountability.”
Jack Attack: The Art of Aggression in Business by Jack Donaghy, 30 Rock
It’s offhandedly mentioned, but that Jack Donaghy has written a tell-all book on his experiences in business in the universe of 30 Rock is entirely perfect for his character. Even better, delivered with Baldwin’s signature gusto, is the book’s title: Jack Attack: The Art of Aggression In Business.
Admissions by Dr. Gina Toll, In Treatment
For two seasons, the centerpiece of HBO’s innovative drama was the weekly sparring match between Paul Weston, a therapist, and his therapist, Dr. Gina Toll. In season 3, however, Paul moves on to a new therapist — but not before Gina could write Admissions, her book which features some unsavory musings about Paul’s practice. The memoir haunts the series’ final season — at one point, literally, when Paul stares at an ad for it in the New York Review of Books — as Paul comes to terms with the function and value of therapy.
Charlotte Light and Dark by Gareth Feinberg, Six Feet Under
The daughter of a psychologist and a psychiatrist, Brenda Chenowith’s unconventional childhood informs much of her journey in Six Feet Under. Brenda had an IQ of 185, and out of that her parents experimented on her with Dr. Gareth Feinberg. The latter wrote Charlotte Light and Dark, a book that would repeatedly haunt Brenda throughout her life. When she realized as a child that she was being observed, she went so far as studying mental disorders and faking symptoms to spite the doctors.
The novels of Richard Castle, Castle
Richard Castle is a character realized in the vein of J.B. Fletcher: a prolific mystery writer who solves crimes on the side. His writing career is much more of a focus in Castle, however, with his 10 Derrick Storm novels and other fictional writings — more than 30 mentioned in total — winning prizes, getting adaptations, and even, in a few cases, made available for real-world purchase.
Handbook for the Recently Deceased, Beetlejuice
Meet Barbara and Adam Maitland (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis), a couple who get into a fatal car crash while vacationing in idyllic Connecticut. They must learn to adjust to the post-living existence, haunting their former home and trying to navigate a surprisingly complex afterlife bureaucracy. Fortunately, they quickly find a copy of the Handbook for the Recently Deceased to help them through the transition.
Misery's Child and other novels by Paul Sheldon, Misery
Author Paul Sheldon (James Caan) doesn’t think much of his Misery Chastain romance series, but he turns off the wrong fan when in his latest published work, Misery’s Child, he kills off the titular character. It’s why Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates in her Oscar-winning role) holds him captive after rescuing him from a car crash: to write a new novel bringing Misery back to life.
The Philosophy of Time Travel by Roberta Sparrow, Donnie Darko
Richard Kelly’s cult classic introduces the topic of time travel via The Philosophy of Time Travel, a seminal book written by an old teacher at the local high school. It features the philosophical and scientific concepts the film uses to tell its increasingly trippy story.
Suzy's storybooks, Moonrise Kingdom
On her way to Camp Ivanhoe, 12-year-old Suzy packs a half-dozen storybooks she stole from her public library. We see her read from several of them, as other kids listen to her enraptured, and Wes Anderson goes all in on their presentation: He actually commissioned six artists to each create an original jacket. A filmmaker known for his attention to detail, indeed.
Tobin's Spirit Guide by J.H. Tobin, Ghostbusters
Ghostbusters fans should be plenty familiar with this one. J.H. Tobin’s compilation of various supernatural occurrences, entities, and facts is what often helps the gang identify exactly what it is they’re getting involved with in the cases they take on. In case you didn’t know already, you can pick up several different editions.
Books in the Library of Hogwarts, The Harry Potter films
The mythology of Harry Potter is rooted in books — the spells bound in volumes in the Library of Hogwarts, the textbook lessons from which professors teach. Whether you’re reading Book of Spells, Extreme Incantations, or A Beginner’s Guide to Transfiguration, there’s something for everybody.
Leave Me Alone by Tally Schifrin, Girls
Girls‘ penultimate season 1 episode opens on a blown-up book jacket of the memoir Leave Me Alone. We learn, later, that it’s written by Tally, an old classmate of Hannah. Hannah calls her a “sh—ty writer” and cracks that her memoir was a result of her “waterbirth[ing] her truth.” Nonetheless, it’s a crucial moment for Hannah: We see her envy at a former equal’s success, a mark of status she never quite achieves through Girls’ entire run.