Image Credit: Credit: Warner Bros
After a long day at university: searching for seats in Morrell, tactfully dodging geese outside Biology and for the particularly unfortunate amongst us possibly suffering though a lecture in Hendrix Hall too, I’m guessing not everyone is heading straight back home for a spot of personal reading.
In fact, if reading for pleasure wasn’t really your bag before you came to university it’s unlikely that being forced to read, write and analyse day in day out is going to have inspired you. In fact, even for the dedicated bookworms amongst us, if anything is going to push you to reach for a laptop over a paperback in your spare time, it’s a university reading list.
So, it is with this in mind (this and the fact that I feel like the number of conversations I have revolving around Netflix will not stop increasing) that this article will be running down a few of the most popular shows on Netflix in the UK and providing some easy-to-read book recommendations based on your favourite programmes to binge.
First up, it of course has to be Friends. Averaging over 23 million views per episode when it was first broadcast, the popularity of this classic (yes, I’m prepared to make that claim) American sitcom doesn’t seem to be dying down. So, for those who need to be saved from themselves, don’t watch season 1-8 for the 27th time because let’s face it you can already recite every episode, and instead pick up Nora Ephron’s Heartburn.
Although upon first glance it may not appear to hold that many similarities to *Friends *(it’s not about a group of friends for starters) in actuality, the two share many similar themes. Funny, tragic and set in New York, *Heartburn *was published in 1983 and is an autobiographical novel based on the breakdown of Ephron’s second marriage. We begin the story faced with an eight months pregnant narrator Rachel Samstat (Ephron) finding out her husband is having an affair, a beginning not all that dissimilar from Rachel Green running in to Central Perk in a soaking wet wedding gown. Once again middle-class American women suffering heartbreak proves surprisingly entertaining. Like Friends, Heartburn is lightweight, relatable and perfect to read no matter your mood.
Next up is *Making a Murder *or (insert any true crime show here). Get a bunch of Uni students in a room together and you’re never that far away from ‘the true crime fan’. We’ve all had a run in with one of these interesting individuals, generally characterised by knowing far too many facts about cults than can possibly normal. For these enthusiasts, it’s got to be Talking with Serial Killers. Written by investigative criminologist Christopher Berry-Dee and transcribed from audio and videotape interviews, this book shares the conversations Berry-Dee has had over the years with some of the world’s most famous murderers in some of the toughest prisons. With the killers themselves describing their crimes and casting light on the extent to which they feel (or indeed lack) remorse for the atrocities they have committed. Perhaps not one to read straight before bed, but definitely a good distraction from revision.
Stranger Things, a show which bears so much resemblance to a Stephen King novel that many original viewers were left wondering whether it was indeed based on one of his books. It is in fact not, although the creators Matt and Ross Duffer have admitting to basing many of the show’s elements on the ‘80s horror books and films they enjoyed as children, including many of King’s works. This meant of course, that this recommendation had to be Stephen King’s It. The Duffer brothers in fact claimed in an interview that it was this book that was the greatest inspiration behind their Netflix show. However, this book is a hefty 1115 pages, making it not quite the lightweight exam season read. For a slightly more achievable alternative at just 415 pages there is another King novel *Firestarter, *in which the characters, like Eleven in Stranger Things, are telepaths with their powers coming from government experiments.
If you are more of a historical drama fan, perhaps measured by whether the changing of the cast of *The Crown *from series two to three meant something to you or not, then you should try *The Royals *by Kitty Kelley. Although published in 1997, and so admittedly not entirely up to date with all the Windsor related gossip, investigative biographer Kelley pulls no punches in her assessment of the Royal family’s antics. Going behind the scenes at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and Kensington Palace, and pulling out all the Skeletons from their, what have presumably got to be, antique closets. Kelley doesn’t just pass off her own opinion as fact but identifies most of her sources creating an unusually credible account of what the Royals got up to at the end of the last century.
And finally, Black Mirror. Providing proof, if any was indeed needed, that analysing modern society and what the consequences of new technologies may be can be pretty creepy. For this I’d recommend Shirley Jackson’s *Dark Tales *which too puts the unsettling into the everyday. A collection of short stories, *Dark Tales *puts a slightly disturbing twist on suburban life, with the daily commute to work becoming more than just a nightmare in terms of traffic and a seemingly loving wife hiding her homicidal thoughts. Putting the unnerving in to day-to-day life, you’ll be hard pushed to not be feeling a little more suspicious after reading this collection of Jackson’s – forget exam stress, this will have you questioning everything.