Instead of trying to binge watch all the episodes before the ceremony this year: why not try binge reading?

By Liz Steelman
Updated July 13, 2017

We’re living in an age of peak television, but not all of the original stories being told on the small screen are the first time these stories have been explored. In fact novels, biographies, memoirs, and reportage inspired many of the series nominated for 2017 Emmys. We’ve collected the eight books you should read before September 17th (when the 69th Emmys ceremony airs on CBS.)

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood’s salient novel about a not-so-futuristic misogynist dystopia has been a must-read since it was first released in 1985. And now, after more than 30 years looming in the cultural zeitgeist, the Hulu adaptation is nominated for a whopping 13 Emmys including nods in the Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series categories, as well as four members of the cast up for acting awards.

To buy: $10;

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The HBO special starring Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne captured the Television Academy’s eye. But the story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor black woman whose genetic information and cells were harvested and used without her consent in the 1950s to fuel numerous medical advances, has been gaining critical acclaim since 2010, when Rebecca Skloot’s impeccably-reported book was first released.

To buy: $11;


Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty

Loved Jean-Marc Vallee’s stunning, sinister HBO series exploring exactly just what exactly happened to whom at Trivia Night? Well, Australian author Liane Moriarty’s original bestselling page-turner exploring three mothers, their relationships, and the lies they tell is just as—if not more—juicy.

To buy: $13,

Einstein: His Life and Universe, by Walter Isaacson

Everyone knows who Albert Einstein is—but who was he really? This is the idea that fuels the first season of Genius, National Geographic’s first foray into scripted television. The now Emmy-nominated series was inspired by Walter Isaacson’s definitive biography on the eccentric intellectual, Einstein: His Life and Universe.

To buy: $11;

The Man in the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick

What would life be like if the Axis Powers won WWII? Though the Amazon Prime Video adaptation is a sight to see (it’s nominated for Outstanding Production Design), Philip K. Dick’s canonical piece of science fiction is every bit as thrilling and thought-provoking as the television show as it explores the western world under Germany and Japan’s control.

To buy: $8;

Suite Francaise, by Irene Nemirovsky

The Lifetime adaptation starring Michelle Williams might only be nominated for Original Dramatic Score, but the film’s inspiration and the story behind that story are well worth visiting. Suite Francaise is a poignant, remarkable collection of two novellas following Parisians living under German occupation. The author Irene Nemirovsky was well-known Parisian Jewish writer. But before she could publish the stories, she was arrested, sent to, and killed in Auschwitz. 64 years later, her daughters unearthed her stories and sent them out for publishing, where they became an instant classic.

To buy: $8:50;

Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music, by Blair Tindall

If you think the lives of classical music artists are as buttoned-up and stuffy as a night at the symphony, think again: Blair Tindall’s memoir exposes the surprisingly seedy underworld of working class musicians navigating New York’s classical music scene. It inspired the Amazon Prime Video series, which is nominated for three technical Emmys (Outstanding Production Design, Outstanding Cinematography, and Outstanding Sound Mixing.)

To buy: $12;

American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is a master storyteller, and his imagining of a modern day deities is nothing less than stunning. Though it clocks in at 576 pages, Gaiman’s epic is complex, intriguing, and will leave you wanting more. The Starz adaptation is up for two visual Emmys (Outstanding Main Title Design, Outstanding Special Visual Effects)—a testament to their translation of Gaiman’s fantastical prose.

To buy: $13;