7 Books to Read If You Love ‘Succession’ on HBO

Family. Trauma. Betrayal. Legacy. Power. These 7 reads are perfect for keeping your ‘Succession’ obsession rolling after the fourth and final season.

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Succession is a brilliantly-crafted Shakespearean drama-comedy whose final season is set to be nothing less than explosive. Like most fans, I’m distraught that the show is ending but very excited to see what ending Jesse Armstrong and his team of writers have cooked up. After debuting in 2018, Succession garnered a loyal fanbase wholly enthralled by the Roys: a dysfunctional family headed by an aging billionaire patriarch.

With mesmerizing dialogue, absurd comedy, killer plot twists, and, dare I say, the best musical score on television, this HBO classic is sure to be sorely missed. Therefore, I found it prudent to compile a list of iconic reads that grapple with the same enduring themes of the show that will hopefully fill the Succession-sized hole in our hearts.

The Condor Passes by Shirley Ann Grau

"The Condor Passes" in white lettering. The backdrop depicts the outside of a New Orleans home
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This dynastic saga introduces us to Thomas Henry Oliver, a New Orleans immigrant who rose to the top of a self-made empire of brothels and speakeasies. Now, at ninety-five, Oliver’s control of his wealth and legacy is waning. After suffering multiple strokes, he must choose an inheritor. However, none of his children seem to fit the bill. Such is what sets up one aging man’s tale of fame and fortune, where generations collide over control of the family business.

Very Cold People by Sarah Manguso

A painting in muted grey and tan colors shows a foyer of a house and a staircase.
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Manguso’s 2022 debut immerses readers into a poignant coming-of-age tale examining family privilege and dysfunction under the backdrop of an elite and suffocating New England town. In a series of vivid vignettes, the protagonist, Ruthie, reflects on her upbringing and uncovers a dark history beneath her hometown’s pristine, illustrious facade. Think Shiv Roy and survival, as this impactful read examines how silence covers up a legacy of harm running down the family line.

Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe

A stone pillar is pictured beneath the book's title and author
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Truth is stranger than fiction in this meticulously crafted multi-generational portrait of the Sackler family. This real-life dynasty was one of the richest in the world, but the source of their wealth was long shrouded in mystery and confusion. Turns out, beneath their charming guise of philanthropy, the Sacklers built their empire on Valium and other painkillers that snowballed into the opioid crisis. No doubt, this propulsive narrative tackling family drama, greed, and accountability is a must-read nonfiction release that screams Succession.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

'Gillian Flynn - Sharp Objects' written in green lettering above a razor blade
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Trade Kendall’s daddy issues for mommy issues, add in some cold-blooded murder, and ta-da, we have Sharp Objects. Talk about complicated families and protagonists with addiction issues. This propulsive thriller is downright twisted. It follows reporter Camille Preaker as she’s sent back to her hometown to cover the unexplained double murders of two young girls. However, perhaps even more daunting is having to face her estranged mother and half-sister in her childhood home ripe with haunting memories.

The Darlings by Cristina Alger

A woman in a greenish blue blazer and black sunglasses is pictured on the street
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Enter the upper echelon of New York society through the Darling family. Like the Roys, they’re embroiled in a red-hot company scandal, trapped in a media spotlight, and internally stressed. Using the financial industry as a backdrop, The Darlings is a fast-paced, exciting read about the ruthless one precent. Much like Succession, we love to hate and hate to love these characters. We’re riveted by the morally gray game they play to stay on top.

Unscripted by James B. Stewart and Rachel Abrams

A family sits around a long table. The family patriarch is pictured in a framed portrait at the center. -- Succession book recc
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As the cover of this new release suggests, this story of a media empire in turmoil is spot-on Succession in real life. Unscripted hones in on the Redstone family. It’s headed by long-time media mogul and ruthless CEO Sumner M. Redstone. Specifically, it tells the jaw-dropping true story of the scandal that put the fate of Paramount Global in a precarious position. The battle for power that ensues is brilliantly recounted by two Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists who were one of the first to break the news in 2016.

King Lear by William Shakespeare

Shakespeare's King Lear, which inspired HBO's Succession
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Last but not least, we’re rounding out this list with the cornerstone of literary inspiration behind Succession: William Shakespeare’s King Lear. This timeless tale of an aging father who divides his kingdom among his children and slowly descends into madness is a perfect parallel to the Roy’s chaotic family turmoil from season to season. Whether the show will also culminate decisively on the note of a failed succession is up in the air. Though, my guess is that we’re in for a family breakdown of unprecedented proportions.

The final season of Succession begins on March 26th on HBO.

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