One of the things I’ve learned to do in my time as a librarian is to recommend books to people. Like with so much else in life, there are no one-size-fits-all book recommendations. There is no such thing as a universally-loved book. So, in order to find the right fit for the person I’m recommending for, I often ask them to describe some books they like. By finding out what works for them, I can seek out similar qualities in other books.
But sometimes it’s fun to work a little harder and pair books with things that aren’t books. So join me for a little tour of readalikes across format.
If you like Downton Abbey
The genteel atmosphere of Downton Abbey surrounds a tumultuous heart of a show emotional enough to rival modern soap operas. Pair any of these reads with a cup of tea:
- The Last Summer by Judith Kinghorn (2013, 433 pages)
- Summerset Abbey: A Bloom in Winter by TJ Brown (2013, 284 pages)
- To Marry an English Lord by Gail MacColl (2012, 403 pages)
If you like Serial
The informality of the podcast format can be difficult to replicate in books about crime, but it’s a real draw for people who might not like the dryness or seriousness of traditional reporting. The following books do a good job of bringing in personal elements to keep things fresh and exciting:
- I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara (2018, 328 pages)
- Sadie by Courtney Summers (2018, 311 pages)
- In the Still of the Night by Ann Rule (2010, 404 pages)
If you like Hamilton: An American Musical
I’m going to take it on faith that if you’re a die-hard Hamilton fan looking for readalikes, you’ve already looked into both the Ron Chernow biography that inspired the musical and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s companion book. But if you’ve scraped the surface and want more:
- My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray (2018, 641 pages)
- Original Gangstas: The Untold Story of Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur, and the Birth of West Coast Rap by Ben Westhoff (2016, 422 pages)
- Gmorning, Gnight!: little pep talks for me & you by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jonny Sun (2018, 201 pages)
If you like Star Trek
Star Trek’s enduring popularity is down to its ensemble dynamics and good-hearted adventure stories, set in the vibrant imaginary worlds of space. It has spwaned dozens of novelizations, but if you’re looking for an analog that’s a little less literal, try:
- Lovelock by Orson Scott Card (1994, 285 pages)
- The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (2016, 433 pages)
- Redshirts by John Scalzi (2012, 317 pages)
That’s the game I play! Try it yourself, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask my opinion on books similar to your favorite media property.