Warning: Spoilers for You are up ahead!
Netflix’s You has truly taken the world by storm. With a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes for season 1 and an overall score of 90%, it is not hard to see that the show is a good watch. And with a show centered around a book-loving serial killer, it only makes sense that we get a glimpse into the books Joe Goldberg enjoys enough to recommend them to other people – before he kills them.
- Desperate Characters by Paula Fox
In the first episode of the series, Joe recommends this book to Beck, his primary target. The novel itself follows a couple, Otto and Sophie. After Sophie gets bitten by a stray she had been trying to feed, trouble begins to follow the couple. A series of small disasters magnify the issues in Sophie and Otto’s marriage as well as society.
- Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
Joe, as a means to educate his young next-door neighbor, constantly lends Paco books. The classic story of Don Quixote is one of four recommendations Joe lends to the boy. Joe explains to Paco that the story is “about a guy who believes in chivalry so he decides to be an old school knight.” Joe also lends Paco The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Frankenstein.
- The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
As part of an equal exchange, movie recommendations for book recommendations, Joe recommends a list of books to Ellie, the younger sister of his newest target in season 2. A book from Joe’s list is Bulgavok’s The Master and Margarita. The dark but comedic story takes place in the atheist Soviet Union and centers around a visit from the devil himself. Alongside a talking cat who likes vodka, a fanged hitman, a female vampire, and a valet, Satan wreaks havoc on Moscow’s elite.
The show also plays homage to some Honorable Mentions. These are books that Joe doesn’t actually recommend, but are referenced/seen in the show by him or other characters.
- On the Road by Jack Kerouac
As he questions Beck’s kind-of-boyfriend, Benji, Joe casually references Kerouac’s On the Road. This 1957 novel, based on the travels of Kerouac and his friends, follows two friends (narrator Sal Paradise and his friend Dean Moriarty) as they road trip across the United States. The story is broken up into 5 parts, three of which detail Sal’s road trip escapades with Dean.
- Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Throughout season 2, Joe can be seen reading the Michael R. Kats translation for Crime and Punishment. Dostoyevsky’s novel tells the story of a thief who wallows in the depths of his guilt after he plans to, and subsequently kills a shop owner. It can be assumed that Joe’s reading of this story reflects his guilt for killing Beck in season 1.
- Play It as It Lays by Joan Didion
After meeting Love, the woman recommends Joan Didion’s work to Joe. She describes the book as “a little dark,” and should make Joe feel “right at home.” Love’s sharing of this novel alludes to her own involvement with murder and mayhem. So, it comes to no surprise when Love shows her murderous side as season 2 comes to an end.
- Ozma of Oz by L. Frank Baum
While being trapped in the basement of Mr. Mooney’s bookstore as a child, Joe had ample time to read. So, when he sees an original edition of Ozma of Oz at Peach Salinger’s party, he quickly steals the book, as it reminds him of his time in the basement. The story, the third of Baum’s Oz series, details Dorothy’s second trip to Oz.
Feature Image via Elle.
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