For many people, the end of the year is a festive time, full of holiday celebrations, family gatherings and days off from work. But for those of us with a bit of a television addiction (ahem… guilty!), the long stretch between late November and January – when shows begin to come back from their winter hiatus – can feel long indeed. To pass the time before Meredith Grey, Alicia Florrick and Olivia Pope return, why not pick up a book that’s on the same wavelength as your favorite show? These picks are sure to please — and they make great holiday presents too!
SCANDAL: Kerry Washington’s Olivia Pope is a woman to be reckoned with. Her wardrobe has sparked a real-life clothing collection at The Limited; her on-screen power is the stuff of legend; and the various forces tugging at her allegiance make for one pulse-pounding episode after another. But the biggest reason many of us tune in regularly is all that sizzling romantic tension between Olivia and the President of the United States. So along those lines, why not try Mimi Alford’s memoir, Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath, which shows you a side of the beloved 35th President that you’ve never seen before.
THE GOOD WIFE: Sure, this ABC hit is about a woman who happens to be the wife of the Illinois governor. But far more than that, it’s a series about a woman who runs her own Chicago law firm, takes on cases that mean something to her, and manages to keep her personal life from imploding at the same time. If you’re missing Alicia Florrick this winter, dive in to Laura Caldwell’s Izzy McNeil series (starting with Red Hot Lies). Caldwell, a former trial attorney, writes about a Chicago lawyer, her questionable fiancé, and a murder that changes everything.
MADAM SECRETARY: This new CBS hit, starring Téa Leoni, is about the newly-appointed Secretary of State, who struggles to walk the line between being a normal family woman and becoming one of the most powerful people in America. Each week brings a new diplomatic complication that she has to solve. If you’re interested in what really goes on behind the scenes of the State Department, Condoleezza Rice’s No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington is sure to please. You’ll be fascinated by the true tales this real-life former Secretary of State tells.
GREY’S ANATOMY: The long-running ABC hit keeps drawing viewers back season after season in large part because of its fascinating medical storylines and titillating personal drama between the characters. While you’re waiting for an update about what’s happening at our favorite Seattle hospital, try Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper, which centers around a huge medical decision and the emotional fallout experienced by the family at the heart of it.
REVENGE: Love. Betrayal. Family secrets. A picture-perfect coastal backdrop simmering with lies and alliances. All of that and more is what keeps Revenge going strong. So why not turn to the original story about secrets and deception in a privileged New York state beach community? You may have read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby when you were in school, but now’s a great time to pull it out again and dive back into a world that will make the wait for Emily Thorne’s next move easier to bear.
THE BLACKLIST: One of last season’s breakout hits, this NBC drama stars James Spader as Raymond Reddington, a high-profile criminal who agrees to cooperate with the FBI. His connection with FBI agent Elizabeth Keen is at the heart of the show, and viewers are left to peel back the layers of their complex relationship each week. While you wait for their next adventure, check out Thomas Harris’s chilling novel The Silence of the Lambs, which, like the famed movie based on it, pairs a gifted criminal with a young woman from the FBI. You’ll think Reddington and his cronies are incredibly gentle and normal after checking in with Harris’s Hannibal Lecter.
Kristin Harmel is the international bestselling author of The Sweetness of Forgetting. Her new novel, The Life Intended, a P.S. I Love You-meets-Sliding Doors story of finding oneself in the face of tragedy, comes out Dec. 30… and would also make for wonderful before-the-TV-season-starts reading.