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19 of the Best Books of 2021

what books are you based on

A bookworm is happiest when they’re surrounded by books — both old and new. Undoubtedly, 2021 was a great year for both fiction and nonfiction, with bestsellers like Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters and Second Place by Rachel Cusk. Whether you read memoirs or young-adult (YA) novels, 2021 was a fantastic year for book lovers. While we can’t squeeze in all of our favorites from 2021, we’ve rounded up a stellar sampling of must-reads. Here’s some of the year’s best books. 

“Crying in H Mart: A Memoir” by Michelle Zauner

what books are you based on

In her profound memoir Crying in H Mart , Michelle Zauner shares an unflinching view of growing up as a Korean American person — all while reflecting on losing her mother to terminal cancer. Author Dani Shapiro notes that the Japanese Breakfast musician “has created a gripping, sensuous portrait of an indelible mother-daughter bond that hits all the notes: love, friction, loyalty, grief.”

“The Prophets” by Robert Jones, Jr.

what books are you based on

In Robert Jones, Jr.’s lyrical debut novel, The Prophets , Isaiah and Samuel are two enslaved young men who find refuge in each other — and their love becomes both sustaining and heroic in the face of a vicious world. Entertainment Weekly writes that “While The Prophets’ dreamy realism recalls the work of Toni Morrison… Its penetrating focus on social dynamics stands out more singularly.” Now that’s a compliment.

“The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman

what books are you based on

At President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Amanda Gorman read her electrifying poem, “ The Hill We Climb .” Since then, it has been praised for its call for unity and healing. Vogue captures the feeling of reading the poem well, calling it “deeply rousing and uplifting.” 

“Beautiful World, Where Are You” by Sally Rooney

what books are you based on

New York Times bestselling author Sally Rooney has returned with a sharp, romantic drama, Beautiful World, Where Are You . Two separate relationships are in chaos, threatening to ruin friendships. Vogue  declares that the author has “invented a sensibility entirely of her own: Sunny and sharp.” 

“Somebody’s Daughter: A Memoir” by Ashley C. Ford

what books are you based on

Ashley C. Ford’s coming-of-age memoir, Somebody’s Daughter , centers on her childhood. Ford, a Black girl who grew up poor in Indiana, recounts how her family was fragmented by her father’s incarceration. With rich, unflinching writing, Ford has penned a debut for the ages. The memoir’s publisher perhaps puts the core of the book best, noting that Ford “embarks on a powerful journey to find the threads between who she is and what she was born into, and the complicated familial love that often binds them.” 

“Last Night at the Telegraph Club” by Malinda Lo

what books are you based on

Everyone remembers their first all-consuming love — and for Lily Hu, the teenage protagonist of Malinda Lo’s queer YA novel, that love is Kathleen Miller. Set in the 1950s in San Francisco,  Last Night at the Telegraph Club  is not just one of the year’s best, but one of Lo’s best. O: The Oprah Magazine notes that the novel is “proof of Lo’s skill at creating darkly romantic tales of love in the face of danger.”

“¡Hola Papi!” by John Paul Brammer

what books are you based on

In his memoir, ¡H ola Papi!: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons , advice columnist John Paul Brammer delves into his experiences growing up as a queer, biracial person. The  Los Angeles Times  writes that “Brammer’s writing is incredibly funny, kind, and gracious to his readers, and deeply vulnerable in a way that makes it feel as if he’s talking to only you” — and we couldn’t agree more. 

“Honey Girl” by Morgan Rogers

what books are you based on

In Morgan Rogers’ novel Honey Girl , Grace Porter is an overachiever — and certainly not the type of person to marry a stranger in Las Vegas. Or, at least, she didn’t think she was that type of person. As Grace navigates the messiness of adulthood, Rogers takes us on a journey that’s both heartfelt and unflinching, illustrating that love is all about risks — even when it comes to loving ourselves. 

“Aftershocks: A Memoir” by Nadia Owusu

what books are you based on

Nadia Owusu’s memoir, Aftershocks , reflects on her experience of being abandoned by her parents at a young age. Entertainment Weekly notes that “Owusu dispatches all of this heartache with blistering honesty but does so with prose light enough that it never feels too much to bear.”

“Klara and the Sun” by Kazuo Ishiguro

what books are you based on

What if an artificial intelligence (AI) assistant had feelings? In Kazuo Ishiguro’s latest novel,  Klara and the Sun , Klara is an Artificial Friend who wonders if friendship is possible. The Financial Times called the Never Let Me Go author’s latest “a deft dystopian fable about the innocence of a robot that asks big questions about existence.”

“100 Boyfriends” by Brontez Purnell

what books are you based on

Brontez Purnell’s romantic, intoxicating book, 100 Boyfriends , is a look at the romantic lives of queer men who are striving to find out not just where they belong, but where they can shine. Author Bryan Washington praised the collection, writing that “Each story in 100 Boyfriends is a minor eclipse: stunning in scope, technically blinding, and entirely miraculous.”

“One Last Stop” by Casey McQuiston

what books are you based on

In Casey McQuiston’s big-hearted romance novel, One Last Stop , August meets Jane on a New York City subway — but she doesn’t realize just how fateful their chance encounter is at first. New York Magazine called the novel “an earnest reminder that home — whether that means a time, a place, or a person — is worth fighting for,” and we wouldn’t expect anything less from the  Red, White & Royal Blue author. 

“Afterparties: Stories” by Anthony Veasna So

what books are you based on

In Afterparties , Anthony Veasna So weaves together tenderhearted stories about the lives of several Cambodian American characters. Although the stories vary quite a bit in terms of content, author George Saunders writes that they are all “powered by So’s skill with the telling detail,” and are much like “…beams of wry, affectionate light, falling from different directions on a complicated, struggling, beloved American community.”

“Malibu Rising” by Taylor Jenkins Reid

what books are you based on

In Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel Malibu Rising , readers meet four famous siblings as they throw their annual end-of-summer party in Malibu. However, over the course of 24 hours, family drama ensues. The Washington Post calls this read “a fast-paced, engaging novel that smoothly transports readers.”

“Let Me Tell You What I Mean” by Joan Didion

what books are you based on

Between 1968 and 2000, award-winning journalist and essayist Joan Didion wrote 12 pieces about a variety of well-known figures, ranging from Ernest Hemingway and Nancy Reagan to Martha Stewart. Now, these works have been gathered in the essay collection Let Me Tell You What I Mean . Bret Easton Ellis writes that Didion’s “prose remains peerless,” so, if you’re a fan of the iconic writer, this is a must-read. 

“Intimacies” by Katie Kitamura

what books are you based on

Intimacies is Katie Kitamura’s fourth novel, following 2017’s critically acclaimed A Separation . In it, an interpreter for the International Court at the Hague gets drawn into a political scandal after agreeing to translate for a former world leader and potential criminal. The novel is a fascinating investigation into the instability of language and how it influences identity. Dana Spiotta describes Intimacies as “a haunting, precise, and morally astute novel that reads like a psychological thriller.”

“Detransition, Baby” by Torrey Peters

what books are you based on

In Detransition, Baby , Torrey Peters tells a witty and nuanced story about partnership, parenthood and identity. About the novel, Ginny Hogan from the New York Times states “[Detransition, Baby upends] our traditional, gendered notions of what parenthood can look like.”

“Second Place” by Rachel Cusk

what books are you based on

In Rachel Cusk’s novel Second Place , a follow up to her brilliant Outline trilogy, a woman invites an artist she admires to live in her remote guesthouse for the summer. As the stay unfolds, a series of unexpected events spurs revelations about womanhood, marriage and security. About Second Place , Jenny Singer from Glamour writes “there is mayhem; surprising sweetness and brilliant observations tumble from every page.”

“Sellout: The Major-Label Feeding Frenzy That Swept Punk, Emo, and Hardcore ” by Dan Ozzi

what books are you based on

In Sellout: The Major-Label Feeding Frenzy That Swept Punk, Emo, and Hardcore , rock critic Dan Ozzi traces the stories of eleven separate bands that transitioned from the indie scene to achieve mainstream success in the ‘90s. Including interviews and anecdotes from bands like Green Day, Jimmy Eat World and Blink-182, this is a must-read for any music lover.


what books are you based on

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Is Netflix’s You based on a book?

Everything you need to know about the source material for the hit thriller series, including whether a fourth You book is on the way.

you season 3

One of the most binge-worthy series in Netflix 's library returned for its third run earlier this month – with dark thriller You reuniting viewers with stalking serial killer Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) and his partner Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti).

The fast-paced third season saw the pair's relationship stretched to the limit as they aimed to cover up their murderous behaviour, and many fans will have already reached the show's thrilling climax.

Books play a central role in the series – Joe is a massive bookwork and used to work at a bookstore – but was the show itself based on a novel? Read on for everything you need to know.

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The short answer is yes, the show is based on a series of novels by Caroline Kepnes, whose first book, You , was originally published back in 2014.

Kepnes has released three novels in the series so far, with the original followed up by Hidden Bodies in 2016 and You Love Me in 2021.

Is You season 3 based on a book?


Here's where things get a little more complicated – while You season three is in some ways an adaptation of Kepnes' novels, the events in the new run do not correspond to the third book in Kepnes' series (which should come as no surprise, given the new book was only published earlier this year).

Instead, You season three is based – as was the case for the second season – on Hidden Bodies, book two in Kepnes' series. This is made clear in the opening credits for each episode, although in truth there are some major differences between the book and the new season.

In the books, Love never becomes a killer as she does in the series, while she and Joe do not raise baby Henry together – instead, Joe is arrested in connection with the earlier murders and remains in jail until after the child is born.

Will there be a fourth You book?

The fourth series of You has already been announced by Netflix, and it seems that Kepnes is also planning more books in her series – with the author recently telling The Hollywood Reporter that a fourth novel was in the works and that the pandemic features heavily in the draft.

The next season of the show will likely adapt the third book in Kepnes' series – but this has not been confirmed just yet, and there's a chance the show could go in a different direction entirely.

Want to read more about You?

You seasons 1-3 are streaming on Netflix. If you want to watch something else check out our guides to the best movies on Netflix and the best series on Netflix.

If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide or visit our Drama hub for more news and features.

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The Differences Between Netflix's You And The Books: Which Novel Is Series 4 Based On?

14 February 2023, 12:07

Everything you need to know about You and the books

By Savannah Roberts

Everything you need to know about the books that inspired Netflix's You, and all the differences in the storylines...

Listen to this article

Netflix has released the highly-anticipated fourth series of You , and it didn't take us all long to binge through the first five episodes in part one.

Fans were all keen to know what the new season had in store for us, with a whole new host of characters joining the show as Joe Goldberg makes the move to none other than London!

The Cast Of ‘You’ Season 4: All The New Actors & Where You’ve Seen Them Before

You is famously based on the book series of the same name by Caroline Kepnes, but which novel corresponds to which season?

So far she has released the books You , Hidden Bodies , and You Love Me , with the fourth instalment, For You and You Only, coming out in April.

Read on to find out how the plotlines in the Netflix hit differ from the ones in the books [spoilers for the novels and seasons 1, 2 and 3 ahead] ...

You season four isn't based on a particular book

Which book is You season 4 based on?

Ahead of the release of You's fourth season, it was assumed that the show would continue to take inspiration from Caroline Kepnes' novels, but it seems it will be going in a completely original direction.

She released her third book You Love Me in April 2021, meaning it was too late for it to be used as source material for the third season.

The plot of the third book and the newest season iss completely different. As we know, in the show Joe escapes to London and carves a life out as a university professor, making friends with a group of the city's elite in the process.

The story in You Love Me sees Joe take a different path, he does leave the West Coast but remains in the US and quickly falls for a woman called Mary. He tries to pursue the new romance without his typical obsessive behaviour, very different from season four indeed!

You season 1 was more faithful to the books

You season 1 follows Caroline Kepnes' first book

Netflix's You arrived on the platform back in December 2018 and the psychological drama instantly made waves among audiences.

Fans of the Caroline Kepnes book of the same name were all buzzing to see a TV adaptation od the story. The original thriller novel was released back in 2014, on the most part, the series follows its source material but they do take some creative liberties...

The over-arching plotlines are mostly the same, centring around an aspiring writer Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail) who quickly becomes the subject of Joe's infatuation.

Some of the biggest differences are as follows: the characters of Joe's neighbour Paco and Beck's pal Annika do not exist in the book, Peach (Shay Mitchell) is far less suspicious of her best friend's boyfriend and dies in a very different series of events, and Candace is a more mysterious piece of Joe's past and is long dead before Beck is in the picture.

Season 2 of You made a jump to LA

Hidden Bodies partly inspired You season 2

Both seasons two and three are inspired by the second book in Kepnes' series, Hidden Bodies, but they don't follow the story religiously.

Season two is truer to the book, Hidden Bodies core storyline is as follows: Joe Goldberg makes the move to Los Angeles from New York, changes his name and starts anew, he does so to leave behind the grisly end to his relationship with Beck. However, upon arriving in LA he becomes quickly infatuated with Love Quinn.

In the book, another reason why Joe heads to the City of Angels is to hunt down a character called Amy Adam, a woman who wronged him and broke his heart. The Netflix series did make a reference to this by using the name as an alias for Candace, who is as we mentioned remains dead in the books – not in the show though! One of the reasons Joe goes to LA in the series is to escape Candace who threatened to reveal all of his deadly secrets.

Other notable changes include the inclusion of Ellie Alves (Jenna Ortega), as Delilah (Carmela Zumbado) never had a little sister in the books, and she was much less integral to the main plot.

Now on to Love, who is portrayed by Victoria Pedretti on the show, this is where the differences get major! In the books she does accept and love Joe despite his murderous past, however , she herself is not a murderer. As we all know, Love is just as twisted as Joe (if not more) in the TV version so this is a pretty big change!

You's third seasons sets off on a new trajectory

You season 3 marks the show's detour from the books

The third season of You still draws from the aforementioned Hidden Bodies but its ending sets it on a completely different path, this is where it gets more complicated!

As we've already mentioned, Love isn't deadly like Joe in the books, but she does become pregnant with his son, the only difference being that Joe is in jail under suspicion for countless murders whilst she gives birth – just a small detail!

Caroline Kepnes' third book You Love Me shows that Joe and Love do in fact come to an end, but not because he kills her like in the Netflix adaptation!

The Quinn family paid Joe's legal fees once he's been found innocent in trial, they then bribe him with $4 million to leave Love and disappear. From there the book takes a completely different direction from where season four picks up – the more you know!

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what books are you based on

20 ways the 'You' TV series is different from the book

One of the buzziest shows of 2019, the Lifetime-turned-Netflix thriller "You" actually spurs from a novel written by Caroline Kepnes .

As with any book-to-TV adaptation, "You" the show differs quite a bit from the book it is based on. 

Here are a few of the biggest differences between "You" the TV series and "You" the novel.

Warning: Post contains major spoilers for both the "You" TV series and novel.

For starters, Beck has brown hair in the book.

what books are you based on

Although Beck has blonde hair on the show, she is described as having brown hair in the book. 

In the book, Beck doesn't have an awful professor who is trying to seduce her.

what books are you based on

On the show, Beck has to deal with a professor who sexually harasses her and even removes her from her teacher's assistant position because she will not give in to his inappropriate requests.

In the book, however, there is no subplot about an awful professor — Beck's time at school is hardly mentioned at all. 

Joe Goldberg's neighbors do not exist in the book.

what books are you based on

Although prominently featured on the TV series, Joe's neighbors Ron, Claudia, and Paco are not present in the book.

These characters, let alone their names or storylines, are nowhere to be found in the 425-page novel.

Their tragic storyline was completely made for the TV series — in the book, there's no beating from Ron (in fact, Joe actually gets beaten by a former employee, Curtis, in the book on page 259), there are no hospital visits or drug overdoses to humanize Joe, and there is definitely no Paco for Joe to look after. 

In the book, Joe's apartment is described as being pretty rundown.

what books are you based on

Joe has some pretty sweet digs on the TV series — his apartment seems clean and lined with bookshelves.

But, in the book, Joe is really hesitant to welcome anyone into his digs, and his place is described as being pretty messy, decrepit, and rundown. 

One of the most horrifying scenes on the show doesn't happen in the book.

what books are you based on

In the book and on the series, Joe lies about a gas leak to get into Beck's apartment for the first time. Beck ends up coming home early, and Joe begins to panic. 

But, in Kepnes' novel, Joe simply sneaks out instead of hiding in Beck's apartment. On the series, Joe hides in her shower during one of the most nail-biting scenes of the entire first season. 

In the book, Benji never killed anyone.

what books are you based on

On the TV series, Benji is the owner of an artisanal soda company. In the book, Benji is actually the proud owner of an "organic club soda company that symbolizes everything bad about right now."

One thing does remain the same between the book and movie: Benji is a narcissist who happens to really be allergic to peanuts and could care less about Beck.

Unfortunately, the TV show does change a significant part of Benji's storyline, having him reveal to Joe that he killed one of his friends and caught the whole thing on tape.

This detail was perhaps added to help Benji look like more of a bad guy, making Joe seem a bit "justified" in killing the rival suitor.

In the book, Joe quizzes Benji about books while holding him captive.

what books are you based on

While holding Benji captive, Joe frequently gives Benji books to read and tries to quiz him on them later.

On the show, Joe doesn't give Benji any sorts of exams or assignments, other than the "Which soda is yours?" beverage test (which also appears in the book). 

In the book, Beck doesn't have to work and she's not financially struggling as much.

what books are you based on

In the book, Beck isn't a broke student who really needs a job — at least there's not much of an indication that she is, anyway.

On the TV show, she's a yoga teacher who has to balance early morning classes with her tough teaching-assistant schedule. None of this happens in the book. 

In the book, Beck lives in an apartment meant for Brown graduates pursuing a graduate degree in New York City. She won the apartment by writing a winning essay for The Brownstone Biased Lottery.

And, while she could probably afford curtains, both the show and book maintain that Beck's apartment windows remain bare, allowing Joe to do all of his peeping activity unobstructed.

And, while we're on the topic of Beck's finances, in the book, Peach never offers to give Beck money to hold her over as she does on the show.

Read More: 8 things 'You' got wrong about bookstores, according to experts

Annika doesn't exist in the book.

what books are you based on

Beck's influencer friend Annika is a character created solely for the TV series.

In the book, Beck's go-to friends are Chana and Lynn — and neither of them plays a major role and they hardly interact with Joe.

On the other hand , the TV show frequently depicts Beck's friends hanging out with Peach, but in the book, Peach likes to keep Beck's other friends at bay and neither girl seems to mind as they dislike Peach.

There are several more characters on the show that are not in the books.

what books are you based on

On the show, Beck and Joe accidentally run into Maddie Johnson at one of Peach's parties, where Johnson slyly asks about Candace moving to Italy and ghosting literally everyone she's ever known — planting seeds of suspicion in Beck's head. But this doesn't happen in the book as Johnson isn't a character in Kepnes' original novel.

Elijah, the guy Joe was supposed to have killed after finding out he slept with Candace, is also not in the novel.

And neither is Raj, who has an interesting "sleepover" with Peach and Beck in Greenwich. 

In the book, Joe works with a high-schooler long before working with Ethan.

what books are you based on

In the book, Joe notably works with a lazy high-school kid named Curtis prior to working with Ethan. 

Joe fires Curtis after he gives Beck Joe's address. As mentioned earlier, Curtis later retaliates by sending his friends to attack Joe.

Candace has more of an established life on the TV series.

what books are you based on

In the novel, the reader doesn't get too much insight into who Candace was — other than she was one of Joe's previous girlfriends who he definitely killed.

On the show, however, Candace is given a whole storyline. She's an angsty musician who eventually signs with a producer (who she's also sleeping with) before moving to Rome.

Oh, and contrary to the TV show, Beck never tries to investigate what happened to Candace in the books — the reader isn't even sure Beck even knows who she is. 

Read More: Everything we know so far about 'You' season 2

In the book, Peach is not super suspicious of Joe.

what books are you based on

In the book, Peach (played by Shay Mitchell) never confronts Joe about his obsession with Beck even though she does so on the TV show.

In Kepnes' novel, Peach does think she has a stalker but doesn't mention that she believes it is Joe. She also doesn't attack Joe with a gun after finding him in her vacation house.

Peach also dies differently in the books.

what books are you based on

On the TV series, it's implied that Joe shoots Peach — and Peach's suicide note is left, typed, on her laptop.

In the book, Joe drowns Peach on the beach, sending an ambiguous note to Beck from her phone before filling her pockets with rocks and dumping her lifeless body in the ocean.

Unlike on the TV series, no one notices that Peach has died for a few weeks and there's no immediate commotion surrounding her death.

In the book, Joe doesn't get caught at the Dickens Festival.

what books are you based on

Joe isn't the stealthiest stalker on the show. In fact, he gets caught at the Dickens Festival red-handed, but quickly lies to Beck and is then invited to a super awkward Beck family dinner.

However, in the book, Joe actually purchased a Dickensian costume (and a beard, although it is not of the Dickensian style) to blend in at the celebration. He loses his beard after violently puking while onboard a ferry and is almost caught by Beck but he makes it out of the whole ordeal unseen.

In the book, there is also not much emphasis on Beck's father's new family other than that she's mostly disliked by them. 

Karen Minty is a bit different in the book.

what books are you based on

Unlike the book, Karen Minty on the TV series is a kindhearted do-gooder who is relatively normal.

In the book, Joe begins to date Minty after a therapy session with Dr. Nicky when Dr. Nicky suggests he could get the "mouse out of his house" by finding a " stray cat." 

Joe interprets this by trying to replace Beck with a new lover. In the book, Joe meets Minty in the subway and they have a conversation and begin to have a bunch of sexual-fueled encounters.

On the TV series, Minty is his neighbor Claudia's sister who has come to visit. As aforementioned, Claudia doesn't exist in the book series.

One thing does remain true in both the book and the show is that Minty is a nurse and she does briefly date Joe.

The creepy box of Beck's personal belongings is hidden somewhere else in the book.

what books are you based on

Among the dozens of other details that changed between the on-screen adaptation of Kepnes' novel, a big one was when, on the TV show, Beck discovers "The Box of Beck" filled with her stolen mementos in the ceiling of Joe's bathroom.

In the book, Beck has to climb into a tapestry-covered hole in the wall (made by Joe after tossing a typewriter through it) in order to discover the box.

Joe didn't try to conceal the box because he believed no woman would ever climb up to look inside a hole.

In both the show and the novel, Beck does find a pair of her panties, a used tampon, and even her yearbook inside the secret box — but in the book she doesn't find any creepy "souvenirs" that Joe kept of his past kills.

In the book, there's nothing belonging to Benji, Peach, or Candace is found in the box. There aren't any teeth, either. In fact, when Beck finds the box, all she thinks is Joe is a "twisted panty-hoarding creep."

There's not much indication that Beck knows Joe killed Peach, Candace, or Benji by the time she dies in the novel, but Beck knows the truth before her death on the TV show. 

Mr. Mooney's abuse toward Joe is shown on the TV series, but it is never mentioned in the books.

what books are you based on

On the series, viewers frequently see flashbacks detailing Mr. Mooney's abusive behaviors toward Joe, like locking him in the basement cube. 

The series likely added these flashbacks to try to have viewers sympathize with Joe — in the books Mr. Mooney is seldom mentioned.

Readers are never even told if Mr. Mooney was ever cruel to Joe. 

In the book, Beck escapes captivity just by walking out of the bookstore.

what books are you based on

On the series, viewers see Beck cleverly use a typewriter key to stab Joe so she can try to escape from the basement.

But, in the book, Joe is a lot more trusting of Beck. Joe simply leaves the door of the "cage" unlocked and Beck leaves. 

At the end of the first season, Candace appears. But, at the end of the book, it's a new character.

what books are you based on

At the end of season one of the TV show, Joe encounters Candance.

But, during the end of Kepnes' novel, Joe actually meets a new woman in his bookstore, readers only know her as Amy Adam, an attractive-looking credit-card thief. 

Candace's reappearance at the end of the season is definitely unexpected, hinting at an exciting and off-book season two of "You." 

Spring's Most Anticipated New Books


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You Love Me

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For You and Only You

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How to read the 'You' series in order ahead of season 4

The 'You' series differs on the page versus screen—here's how

You series, You season 1- Production Still Image

The You series isn't just a televised one—yes, like Bridgerton , Lupin and Shadow and Bone before it, the Netflix show is based on a book series by Caroline Kepnes, captivating page-turners that have hooked fans from the get-go...even if the protagonist's obsessive ways left them slightly disturbed.

Caroline Kepnes' 2014 bestseller You was the starting point for the series, which follows the head of a bookshop who becomes infatuated with a writer in the making and stops at nothing to ensure that she's his. A literary love story that gets dark, and quickly—we're sold! If you've already finished the first part of You season 4 —which debuted on the streamer on Thursday, February 9, with the back half to come on Thursday, March 9—we recommend you tide yourself over by catching up with the novels that brought him to life.

How to read the 'You' series in order:

Currently, there are three books in Caroline Kepnes' You book series: 2014's You , 2016's Hidden Bodies , and the most recently released You Love Me , which hit shelves on April 1, 2021. 

What is 'You' the book about? 

The first book in the You series, You introduces us to East Village bookstore manager Joe Goldberg. When he meets a beautiful aspiring wordsmith at the store, he becomes deeply entranced—and entirely too obsessive with her. 

Guinevere Beck's life is seemingly an open book, making it all the more simple for Joe to get exactly what he wants, even if requires something immoral. 

what books are you based on

You: A Novel (The You Series) by Caroline Kepnes RRP: $10.22 / £7.35

What is 'Hidden Bones' about?

You clearly needed a sequel and author Caroline Kepnes delivered, much to thriller fans' delight. In this follow-up, we journey alongside the wicked bookseller as he heads to the West Coast, attempting to put his demons to rest. Will history repeat itself when Joe finds a new love interest in Los Angeles? 

what books are you based on

Hidden Bodies: A You Novel (The You Series) RRP: $13.74 / £6.99

What is 'You Love Me' about?

In the highly-anticipated third installment of the You series, readers find Joe attempting to move out of the city and set up shop in the California burbs. But his new routine starts to look oddly familiar when he finds himself falling for his fellow librarian Mary Kay DiMarco. If she's not willing to go along with his quest for love, how will things play out?

what books are you based on

You Love Me: A You Novel (The You Series) RRP: $13.35 / £12.99

Will there be a fourth book in the 'You' series?

Yes, a fourth You novel is coming! Kepnes announced the new book, entitled For You and You Only , on Instagram (opens in new tab) in November 2022, writing: "I'm so excited to invite you back into Joe's head and I hope you love it in there!" 

The title will be available to purchase everywhere books are sold on Tuesday, April 25. 

what books are you based on

For You and Only You: A Joe Goldberg Novel RRP: $30 / £13.19

'You' series book versus show: how are they different?

Like any onscreen adaptation, storylines tend to change along the way. There are certain characters in the novels that we don't get to see in the TV series (like the professor who is also in love with Beck). And, conversely, there are characters, such as Annika, who exist on the show but not in the book. 

Without giving away any spoilers, particular characters who commit murder in the show don't do so in the book. Plus, a certain horrifying scene in the first season is something entirely new and not in the novel. 

It goes without saying that both print and TV need to be consumed—they're equally as engrossing and frightening! 

The first part of You season 4 is available to stream on Netflix.

Danielle is a writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life, covering all-things news, lifestyle and entertainment. 

The heart of her time at Future has been devoted to My Imperfect Life, where she's been attuned to the cosmos, new TV shows and relationship trends.  

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids and a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, amNewYork and Newsday, among other outlets. 

When Danielle is not working, you can usually find her reading a book, coffee at hand, or attempting a new recipe. (Recommendations always welcome!)

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what books are you based on

An Essential Reading Guide for Netflix’s Thrilling Drama “You”

what books are you based on

Season one of the runaway hit  You aired on Lifetime late last year but is now available for binging on Netflix and, I highly recommend you watch it in one sitting. Based on Caroline Kepnes’s bestselling book of the same name, You follows bookstore manager Joe Goldberg who develops a pretty unhealthy obsession with aspiring writer, Beck, when she visits his store. While neither is without flaw—she, prone to lying and cheating and he, a deranged stalker/killer—Beck and Joe’s shared love of books makes this show a must-watch for book lovers. In fact, the show and the book it’s based on are chock-full of literary references. So, while you’re waiting on a second season ( or the third Joe book Kepnes hinted at on Twitter ), go back and rewatch season one—and reread YOU—with this reading list to guide you.


If you haven’t already, read how it all started. Grab a pen and some post-it notes! See if you can spot all the books mentioned in text.

Read the full review of YOU .

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Tolani Osan (@tolanihershelf) on Nov 11, 2018 at 1:11pm PST

what books are you based on

Crazy like: The lovesick and the just-plain-sick.

Best crazy moment: The DA VINCI CODE reading marathon.


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Desperate Characters

When Beck walks into Mooney’s bookstore and purchases a book by Joe’s favorite author, Paula Fox, there’s no turning back for these star-crossed bibliophiles. In DESPERATE CHARACTERS, Sophie is bitten on the hand by a, possibly, rabies-infected cat, and plagued by a series of small and ominous disasters. In YOU, Beck assures Joe she’s read Fox’s novel several times and is just purchasing it for “a friend,” which piques Joe’s interest. However, in the series, Joe has the honor successfully recommending DESPERATE CHARACTERS to Beck. The interaction is so noteworthy, she posts a photo of her new read on Instagram.

what books are you based on

Working in a bookstore has its (mostly) pros and (sometimes) cons. Unfortunately for Joe and his skeletal crew, a new Stephen King book means lines out the door of ravenous Kingophiles . “DOCTOR SLEEP turns my shop into a f***king Church of Stephen and I have no room to think about you, prepare for you,” Joe complains on the release date of King’s long-awaited THE SHINING sequel. Stephen King himself called YOU, “hypnotic and scary… totally original.”

what books are you based on

Paco, Joe’s young book-loving neighbor, doesn’t appear in Kepnes’s YOU. He does however provide an interesting lens through which to view Joe in the Lifetime series. Joe’s soft spot for Paco endears him to the viewer—because, let’s face it, who can resist a generous book giver? Paco loves the classics and even provides literary commentary that’s too on-the-nose about Joe’s secret life. Among the many books Joe has lent (and even pilfered for) Paco, FRANKENSTEIN—in which the reader gets inside the mind of a monster—feels most similar to Joe’s double life.

what books are you based on

One of my favorite things about the Jurassic Park franchise is that it raises such provocative questions about the ethics of science and creation, a la Dr. Ian Malcolm’s observation that “your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could [create dinosaurs] that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” Mary Shelley’s masterpiece of scientific horror also explores this moral quandary.

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The Da Vinci Code

When a customer enters Mooney’s to “shame-buy” a Dan Brown novel, he quickly adds a more challenging, high-brow read to his pile—J.D. Salinger’s FRANNY AND ZOOEY. But Joe believes, whether it’s to purchase a Salinger book or shame-buy a Brown thriller, “buying stuff is one of the only honest things we do.” Joe name-drops Dan Brown numerous times throughout the novel and even marathon-reads THE DA VINCI CODE with Beck, only breaking for a coffee from Starbucks.

what books are you based on

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Franny and Zooey

Beside the Salinger-Brown incident, J. D. Salinger has an interesting connection to another one of the characters in YOU. Peach Salinger—Beck’s pretentious interior designer friend and major obstacle for a picture-perfect Joe and Beck romance—may or may not be a distant relative of the prolific writer. If she’s as close to Salinger as she claims to be, she might just recommend her friends read his interconnected short story “Franny” and novella ZOOEY.

what books are you based on

Benji is Beck’s on-and-off-again boyfriend and the bane of Joe’s existence. When Joe holds Benji hostage, he quizzes him about his supposed top five favorite books: GRAVITY’S RAINBOW by Thomas Pynchon, BRIEF INTERVIEWS WITH HIDEOUS MEN by David Foster Wallace, THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE by Stephen Crane, ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac, and UNDERWORLD by Don DeLillo. Needless to say, Benji fails Joe’s tests… and it costs him his life.

what books are you based on

One of DeLillo’s best, Underworld has many storylines, but it starts on a baseball diamond. The book only spends a short time focusing on baseball, but one ball in particular factors into all of the action that follows.

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The Alienist

When bodies start piling up, Joe is unsure of how to dispose of them and scouring the internet for "how to" articles doesn't seem like the smartest option. So, he turns to his favorite literature (pretty dark, I know). In the series, you’ll spot Joe thumbing through a copy of a THE ALIENIST by Caleb Carr. In this novel, set in Gilded Age New York, an unconventional police commissioner, Theodore Roosevelt, enlists a reporter, a psychologist, and an NYPD secretary to craft a psychological profile of a criminal as they try to solve a brutal murder. Seems like the perfect book to read if you're leading a secret life of crime.

what books are you based on

Fast-paced and gripping, infused with a historian's exactitude, The Alienist conjures up the Gilded Age and its untarnished underside: verminous tenements and opulent mansions, corrupt cops and flamboyant gangsters, shining opera houses and seamy gin mills. Here is a New York during an age when questioning society's belief that all killers are born, not made, could have unexpected and mortal consequences.

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On Beauty

In an episode called "Everythingship," as Joe and Beck sit side by side in bed with their current reads—his, David Mitchell’s BLACK SWAN GREEN; hers, Zadie Smith’s award-winning novel ON BEAUTY—they are an everythingship personified. In the episode after, Joe finds an article online with Beck's top ten favorites books featuring ON BEAUTY right behind DESPERATE CHARACTERS. Zadie Smith’s novel portrays an interracial family whose misadventures in the culture wars on both sides of the Atlantic skewer everything from family life to political correctness to the combustive collision between the personal and the political.

what books are you based on

Full of dead-on wit and relentlessly funny, this tour de force confirms Zadie Smith’s reputation as a major literary talent. Smith notes that she “has taken Howards End , that marvelous tale of class difference, and upped the ante by adding race, politics, and gender.”

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Wuthering Heights

Candace, the mysterious girl with red hair who haunts Joe's dreams and looms over his and Beck's relationship, is finally revealed as Joe's ex-girlfriend in the penultimate episode of the season. We learn that Candace is (was?) a musician in a band called Heathcliff's Misery—a reference to her favorite novel WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Though we know very little about Candace's whereabouts (Joe says she's somewhere in Italy), we know that things did not end well with Joe. During the fight that ended their relationship, she ripped up a rare first edition copy of WUTHERING HEIGHTS that Joe gave her for Christmas. For this and many other reasons (which we'll probably learn in season two), Joe doesn't like to talk about Candace.

what books are you based on

“Whatever souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” The turbulent and tempestuous love story of Cathy and Heathcliff spans two generations—from the time Heathcliff, a strange, coarse young boy, is brought to live on the Earnshaws’ windswept estate, through Cathy’s marriage to Edgar Linton and Heathcliff’s plans for revenge, to Cathy’s death years later and the eventual union of the surviving Earnshaw and Linton heirs. A masterpiece of imaginative fiction, Wuthering Heights (the author’s only novel) remains as poignant and compelling today as it was when first published in 1847.

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Hidden Bodies

Joe Goldberg’s story doesn’t end with YOU. In HIDDEN BODIES, he’s found a new life in Hollywood. But while others seem fixated on their own reflections, Joe can’t stop looking over his shoulder. The problem with hidden bodies is that they don’t always stay that way.

what books are you based on

Joe is a charming, dangerous antihero whose obsessive quest for the perfect girl takes him to extreme lengths. HIDDEN BODIES is not for the faint of heart—Joe is American Psycho level crazy and self-obsessed—but you’ll be turning pages late into the night.

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Is You based on a book?

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Is season 3 of You based on the third book?

Is love quinn in the books, who wrote beck's book in you, is candace still alive in the book you, what is the twist in you, is there a real joe goldberg, is joe from you realistic, who is the idea of you based on, how old is theo meant to be in you s3, why is you season 3 so different from the book, why is you different from the book, is candace a joe hallucination, is joe imagining candace, what did love do with candace's body, what was beck's cause of death in you, how did joe get away with beck's death, is guinevere beck book real, what mental illness does love quinn have, how old is theo meant to be in you, does love get pregnant in the books.


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