72 books like 1001 TV Shows You Must Watch Before You Die

By Paul Condon,

Here are 72 books that 1001 TV Shows You Must Watch Before You Die fans have personally recommended if you like 1001 TV Shows You Must Watch Before You Die. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention

Tom Gilb Author Of Competitive Engineering: A Handbook For Systems Engineering, Requirements Engineering, and Software Engineering Using Planguage

From my list on learning successful invention and business methods.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a self-taught guy, having started in my first job at IBM Oslo, when I was 18 years old, as punched card machine operator, and plug-board ‘programmer'. I did night studies in sociology/philosophy for 10 years at University of Oslo. I read about 30 books a year, and I’m 82 in 2023. I have spent most of my career as an independent international consultant to corporations and governments, while building up my ideas of useful methods to solve problems. In retirement, I love to spread my ideas, and learn more. I also write about 5 new books a year, when at my Oslofjord Summer cabin. They're all digital and free or free samples. 

Tom's book list on learning successful invention and business methods

Tom Gilb Why did Tom love this book?

From my notes after I read it, “Great content and organization. Triggered me to write and plan a 2022 Book.”

There was specific practical content like removing vacation policy, removing travel and expenses policy. An opening the books, which showed the practices behind the no rules idea, and their consequent results in the business. As a consultant, these give me a tool for discussion with clients. What if you did the same?

Again a great leader, and successful businessperson, using persistence and imagination to deal with the forces against change.

By Reed Hastings, Erin Meyer,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked No Rules Rules as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hard work is irrelevant. Be radically honest. Adequate performance gets a generous severance. And never, ever try to please your boss.

These are some of the ground rules if you work at Netflix. They are part of a unique cultural experiment that explains how the company has transformed itself at lightning speed from a DVD mail order service into a streaming superpower - with 125 million fervent subscribers and a market capitalisation bigger than Disney.

Finally Reed Hastings, Netflix Chairman and CEO, is sharing the secrets that have revolutionised the entertainment and tech industries. With INSEAD business school professor Erin…


Book cover of Tube

Kimberly Potts Author Of The Way We All Became The Brady Bunch: How the Canceled Sitcom Became the Beloved Pop Culture Icon We Are Still Talking about Today

From my list on television history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Kimberly Potts is a TV and pop culture journalist and author who believes television is not only the ultimate entertainment medium, but is also the ultimate cultural common denominator. She has written for The New York TimesEntertainment Weekly, VultureThe Hollywood ReporterTV GuideThe Los Angeles Times, Yahoo, Variety, People.comUS Weekly, E! Online, Thrillist, Esquire.com, AOL, Movies.com, and The Wrap. Kimberly also co-hosts the Pop Literacy and #Authoring podcasts, and is a member of the Television Critics Association, Critics Choice Association, Authors Guild, and American Society of Journalist and Authors.

Kimberly's book list on television history

Kimberly Potts Why did Kimberly love this book?

Most of those curious about the history of television have heard of the boy who invented it: Philo Farnsworth. He was just 14 years old when he conceived the idea that led to the first televised image less than a decade later. Farnsworth died penniless and unwell despite a life spent devoted to what became one of the most influential inventions of his lifetime and ours. That journey is a large part of the story the Tube authors unfold, but there are several additional key players who factor into the medium’s early years, and that, along with what will feel like some prescient thoughts about the current state of the television industry, make for an insightful, delightful read in this 1996 tome.

By Marshall Jon Fisher, David E. Fisher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tube as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Traces the progress of the diverse group of iconoclasts including an Idaho farm boy, an eccentric Scotsman, and two Russian Americans from the laboratory prototypes that drew public laughter to the vicious courtroom battles for control of what would become an enormous market power. With devilish character sketches, compelling stories, and scientific explanations that are easy to follow, the Fishers capture the brilliance, vision, and frustration behind the invention of television. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.


Book cover of Horizontal Hold: The Making and Breaking of a Network Television Pilot

Kimberly Potts Author Of The Way We All Became The Brady Bunch: How the Canceled Sitcom Became the Beloved Pop Culture Icon We Are Still Talking about Today

From my list on television history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Kimberly Potts is a TV and pop culture journalist and author who believes television is not only the ultimate entertainment medium, but is also the ultimate cultural common denominator. She has written for The New York TimesEntertainment Weekly, VultureThe Hollywood ReporterTV GuideThe Los Angeles Times, Yahoo, Variety, People.comUS Weekly, E! Online, Thrillist, Esquire.com, AOL, Movies.com, and The Wrap. Kimberly also co-hosts the Pop Literacy and #Authoring podcasts, and is a member of the Television Critics Association, Critics Choice Association, Authors Guild, and American Society of Journalist and Authors.

Kimberly's book list on television history

Kimberly Potts Why did Kimberly love this book?

Remember E.O.B., the drama about political speechwriters starring Mary Beth Hurt? Or the speechwriter series called Word of Mouth and starring Gladys Knight? Or the other one, The War Room, starring Brad Hall? Actually, no one saw any of them, because they were all versions of the same failed TV pilot, from St. Elsewhere producers Bruce Paltrow and Tom Fontana. And the story of the series’ saga to not making it to primetime covers more than a year, and highlights all the network, casting, technical, and general TV industry drama that can impact the TV pilot process, a process the networks still use to fill their schedules every year.

By Daniel Paisner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Horizontal Hold as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Absurdly funny, trenchant, and provocative, this outside-looking-in account of the stillbirth of one particular television series is a must read for every serious and not-so-serious television viewer.


Book cover of Primetime Blues: African Americans on Network Television

Kimberly Potts Author Of The Way We All Became The Brady Bunch: How the Canceled Sitcom Became the Beloved Pop Culture Icon We Are Still Talking about Today

From my list on television history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Kimberly Potts is a TV and pop culture journalist and author who believes television is not only the ultimate entertainment medium, but is also the ultimate cultural common denominator. She has written for The New York TimesEntertainment Weekly, VultureThe Hollywood ReporterTV GuideThe Los Angeles Times, Yahoo, Variety, People.comUS Weekly, E! Online, Thrillist, Esquire.com, AOL, Movies.com, and The Wrap. Kimberly also co-hosts the Pop Literacy and #Authoring podcasts, and is a member of the Television Critics Association, Critics Choice Association, Authors Guild, and American Society of Journalist and Authors.

Kimberly's book list on television history

Kimberly Potts Why did Kimberly love this book?

Film historian and professor Bogle does a deep dive on the history of Black characters and series on television, from the early days of the medium and stereotyped portrayals on series like Amos ‘n’ Andy through groundbreaking ‘70s shows like Sanford & Son and The Jeffersons, ‘80s juggernaut The Cosby Show, and the sitcoms of UPN and The WB in the mid-1990s. Bogle shares his opinions throughout the compelling chronicle, and does not suffer foolish performances or material gladly, making this a must read for any TV fan seeking a truly comprehensive account of TV history.

By Donald Bogle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Primetime Blues as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Analyzing four decades of African Americans in television, the author traces the history of black characters and themes, covering Amos 'n' Andy, The Mod Squad, Sanford and Son, Good Times, The Cosby Show, L.A. Law, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Martin, and other groundbreaking shows.


Book cover of Complex Serial Drama and Multiplatform Television

Mareike Jenner Author Of Netflix and the Re-invention of Television

From my list on contemporary television.

Why am I passionate about this?

I like understanding television as culturally situated. Television is constructed along a number of sites: cultural, institutional, ideological, historical, or via the different ways audiences understand it. Interrogating television and what it does as a medium was historically relevant because it was a mass medium. But how can we evaluate the medium in times of highly fragmented audiences? Because of this, exploring Netflix as a new form of ‘television’ has become so important to me. The authors all try to get to terms with how television has changed over its short existence. This helps us understand the medium better, as well as our current moment.

Mareike's book list on contemporary television

Mareike Jenner Why did Mareike love this book?

Dunleavy explores what complexity means for contemporary ‘quality’ TV. She focusses on the narrative structures, creative strategies, and style of contemporary television.

For me, what stands out about this book is how it explores the interrelationship between recent technological changes and what we understand as television. This results in a redefinition of television.

When writing the second edition of my book, I found the different ways people have conceptualized contemporary television especially important.

By Trisha Dunleavy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Complex Serial Drama and Multiplatform Television as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book examines the creative strategies, narrative characteristics, industrial practices and stylistic tendencies of complex serial drama. Exemplified by shows like HBO's The Sopranos, AMC's Mad Men and Breaking Bad, Showtime's Dexter, and Netflix's Stranger Things, complex serials are distinguished by their conceptual originality, narrative complexity, transgressive lead characters and serial allure. As a drama form that continues to expand and diversify in today's television, HBO's Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones, Netflix's Orange Is the New Black and Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale provide further examples. Dunleavy investigates the strategies that underpin the innovations, influence and success of complex serial…


Book cover of The Killer Inside Me

Scott Montgomery Author Of Austin Noir

From my list on crime with a whole lot of Texas.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent over twenty years over (fifteen in Texas) recommending crime fiction as a bookseller in a couple of prominent stores. Texas and its writers have always fascinated me. Now that I get to call myself one, I am connected more to the genre literature of my adopted state and have an insider's view as both writer and resident.

Scott's book list on crime with a whole lot of Texas

Scott Montgomery Why did Scott love this book?

Still one of the most disturbing books I’ve ever read from one of the great noir artists.

Thompson gets into the mind of Lou Ford, a psychotic killer who works as a sheriff’s deputy in a West Texas town. The book skillfully maneuvers through Ford dealing with his own crimes and the political maneuvering and blackmail plots in the town that build into an explosion.

This book showed me how turning down the volume in a story can be effective in a novel.

By Jim Thompson,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Killer Inside Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Deputy Sheriff Lou Ford is a pillar of the community in his small Texas town, patient and thoughtful. Some people think he's a little slow and boring but that's the worst they say about him. But then nobody knows about what Lou calls his 'sickness'. It nearly got him put away when he was younger, but his adopted brother took the rap for that. But now the sickness that has been lying dormant for a while is about to surface again and the consequences are brutal and devastating. Tense and suspenseful, The Killer Inside Me is a brilliantly sustained masterpiece…


Book cover of Legitimating Television: Media Convergence and Cultural Status

Mareike Jenner Author Of Netflix and the Re-invention of Television

From my list on contemporary television.

Why am I passionate about this?

I like understanding television as culturally situated. Television is constructed along a number of sites: cultural, institutional, ideological, historical, or via the different ways audiences understand it. Interrogating television and what it does as a medium was historically relevant because it was a mass medium. But how can we evaluate the medium in times of highly fragmented audiences? Because of this, exploring Netflix as a new form of ‘television’ has become so important to me. The authors all try to get to terms with how television has changed over its short existence. This helps us understand the medium better, as well as our current moment.

Mareike's book list on contemporary television

Mareike Jenner Why did Mareike love this book?

This is one of my favorite books about contemporary television.

It deals with the processes that changed how television was viewed following the changes in HBO-style ‘quality’ television. It also critically explores the ways legitimization and associated words like ‘quality’ work as an ultimately classist system where television works as cultural capital.

Netflix established itself on the back of this legitimization, using HBO-style ‘quality’ TV series like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. But HBO also used DVDs to ‘filter’ the individual program out from the ‘flow’ of television, which helped Netflix to establish itself as television.

By Michael Z. Newman, Elana Levine,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Legitimating Television as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Legitimating Television: Media Convergence and Cultural Status explores how and why television is gaining a new level of cultural respectability in the 21st century. Once looked down upon as a "plug-in drug" offering little redeeming social or artistic value, television is now said to be in a creative renaissance, with critics hailing the rise of Quality series such as Mad Men and 30 Rock. Likewise, DVDs and DVRs, web video, HDTV, and mobile devices have shifted the longstanding conception of television as a household appliance toward a new understanding of TV as a sophisticated, high-tech gadget.

Newman and Levine argue…


Book cover of Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay

Amy Hassinger Author Of After the Dam

From my list on flawed, fierce, and fascinating mothers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Becoming a mother reshaped me in ways I’m still wondering at now, two decades on. I’ve had to find ways to resist the repressive cultural mythology surrounding motherhood—the pressure I felt to suddenly become a perfect, self-sacrificing vessel for my children’s optimized development. When I read stories about flawed mothers—women, queer and straight, struggling beneath the magnitude of the job, yet fiercely loving their children all the way through—I felt I could breathe a little bit, could handle the task with a little more good humor and forgiveness, for myself, my partner, and my kids. Read a book, bust a myth, go hug your mom.  

Amy's book list on flawed, fierce, and fascinating mothers

Amy Hassinger Why did Amy love this book?

I devoured Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet (four novels that trace a lifetime friendship between two women living in a deeply patriarchal mid-twentieth-century Italy) in a single summer a few years back, and when I got to the end of those few thousand pages, I felt as though I wanted to start right over at the beginning again. Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay is the third novel in the series, and I name it here because it’s the novel in which Elena—the book’s protagonist, and a writer herself—becomes a mother. Elena has a modern marriage compared to her friend Lina’s, but still, she finds the expectations and demands of motherhood difficult to reconcile with her own creative ambitions. Ferrante represents that central struggle with arresting honesty—a captivating read. 

By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

OVER 14M OF THE NEAPOLITAN QUARTET SOLD WORLDWIDE

"Nothing quite like this has ever been published before."-The Guardian

"This is high stakes, subversive literature."-The Daily Telegraph

"With the publication of her Neapolitan Novels, (Ferrante) has established herself as the foremost writer in Italy-and the world."-The Sunday Times

"An unconditional masterpiece . . . I was totally enthralled."-Jhumpa Lahiri

"An extraordinary epic."-Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"To the uninitiated, Elena Ferrante is best described as Balzac meets The Sopranos and rewrites feminist theory."-The Times

"Ferrante's writing seems to say something that hasn't been said before, in a way so compelling…


Book cover of The Best of Everything

Cara Bertoia Author Of The Perfect Breasts

From my list on showing life in the big city isn’t all glitz and glam.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a child, I grew up in a very crowded house in suburbia with three sisters. Reading was the best way to escape all the mayhem. By the age of eight I was reading my parents’ novels, whatever books I could find. I wanted to move to a big city like the ones in their novels. At night I would tell myself Cinderella-type stories where I lived in a fabulous apartment and got to be the heroine. I took a class at Harvard Extension, and the professor read my story aloud to the group. From that day on I was hooked.

Cara's book list on showing life in the big city isn’t all glitz and glam

Cara Bertoia Why did Cara love this book?

This book about five girls that live in New York City is so special because it was written in the fifties by a 25-year-old woman who worked in the publishing industry.

In 1958 when opportunities for women were limited the story resonated with a generation of women making their way in a male-dominated world. It explored dating, sex, infidelity, and sexual harassment in an honest way that changed the face of women’s fiction forever. Last year when it was rereleased by Penguin Classics I grabbed a copy, and it was even better than I remembered. 

By Rona Jaffe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Best of Everything as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rona Jaffe's beloved novel about 1950s NYC women in the workplace that paved the way for the #MeToo movement and iconic cultural touchstones like Sex and the City and Mad Men, now for the first time in Penguin Classics, in a 65th anniversary edition with an introduction by New Yorker staff writer Rachel Syme
 
A Penguin Classic
 
When Rona Jaffe’s superb page-turner was first published in 1958, it changed contemporary fiction forever. Some readers were shocked, but millions more were electrified when they saw themselves reflected in its story of five young employees of a New York publishing company. Sixty-five…


Book cover of The Fountainhead

Adam Leitman Bailey Author Of Finding the Uncommon Deal: A Top New York Lawyer Explains How to Buy a Home For the Lowest Possible Price

From my list on making you a better and more successful leader.

Why am I passionate about this?

My name is Adam Leitman Bailey. I am a lawyer, a writer, an advocate, and a leader. Most importantly, I can not stand injustice.  

Adam's book list on making you a better and more successful leader

Adam Leitman Bailey Why did Adam love this book?

At 18 years old, this book taught me that it was okay to be different and that it was okay to aim for greatness and success without worrying about what other people thought of me.

The book also taught me the value of perseverance and the importance of staying true to oneself even in the face of adversity.  

By Ayn Rand,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Fountainhead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in television, presidential biography, and film?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about television, presidential biography, and film.

Television Explore 55 books about television
Presidential Biography Explore 19 books about presidential biography
Film Explore 231 books about film