Image courtesy of The New York Public Library.
The good people over at the New York Public Library compiled a list of books read by the characters of Mad Men, which just started the last half of its seventh and final season. Over the course of the series, the show’s characters drank several swimming pools worth of cocktails, engaged in a host of ill-advised illicit affairs and, on occasion, dreamed up a brilliant advertising campaign or two. As it turns out, they also read quite a bit.
All the books seem to say something about the inner life of each character. The show’s enigmatic main character, Don Draper, favored works like Dante’s Inferno and William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury – books that point towards Draper’s series-long downward spiral. The whiny, insecure Pete Campbell read Thomas Pynchon’s paranoid classic The Crying of Lot 49. And Bert Cooper, the aristocratic bow-tie sporting patriarch of Sterling Cooper is apparently an Ayn Rand fan; he’s seen reading Atlas Shrugged early in the series. You can see the full reading list below or here in a beautiful PDF designed by the NYPL.
A number of the texts listed below also appear in our Free eBooks and Free AudioBooks collections.
DON DRAPER’S PICKS:
- EXODUS by Leon Uris (Episode 106 “Babylon”)
- THE BEST OF EVERYTHING by Rona Jaffe
- MEDITATIONS IN AN EMERGENCY by Frank O’Hara
- THE SOUND AND THE FURY by William Faulkner
- THE CHRYSANTHEMUM AND THE SWORD by Ruth Benedict
- THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD by John Le Carre
- THE FIXER by Bernard Malamud
- ODDS AGAINST by Dick Francis
- THE INFERNO by Dante Alighieri
- THE LAST PICTURE SHOW by Larry McMurtry
- PORTNOY’S COMPLAINT by Philip Roth
ROGER STERLING’S PICK:
- CONFESSIONS OF AN ADVERTISING MAN by David Ogilvy
JOAN HARRIS’S PICK:
- LADY CHATTERLEY’S LOVER by D. H. Lawrence
PETE CAMPBELL’S PICKS:
- THE CRYING OF LOT 49 by Thomas Pynchon
- GOODNIGHT MOON by Margaret Wise Brown
BETTY DRAPER’S PICKS:
- BABYLON REVISITED AND OTHER STORIES by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- THE GROUP by Mary McCarthy
LANE PRYCE’S PICK:
- THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER by Mark Twain
HENRY FRANCIS’S PICK:
- THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN by Mark Twain
BERT COOPER’S PICK:
- ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand
SALLY DRAPER’S PICKS:
- THE HISTORY OF THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE by Edward Gibbon
- TWENTY ONE BALLOONS by William Pene Du Bois
- NANCY DREW: THE CLUE OF THE BLACK KEYS by Carolyn Keene
- THE BLACK CAULDRON by Lloyd Alexander
- ROSEMARY’S BABY by Ira Levin
via The New York Public Library
W.H. Auden’s 1941 Literature Syllabus Asks Students to Read 32 Great Works, Covering 6000 Pages
Neil deGrasse Tyson Lists 8 (Free) Books Every Intelligent Person Should Read
Ernest Hemingway’s List for a Young Writer
Carl Sagan’s Undergrad Reading List: 40 Essential Texts for a Well-Rounded Thinker
David Foster Wallace’s 1994 Syllabus: How to Teach Serious Literature with Lightweight Books
Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring lots of pictures of badgers and even more pictures of vice presidents with octopuses on their heads. The Veeptopus store is here.
You forgot Ship Of Fools by Katherine Anne Porter, which Betty can be seen reading, and The Man In The Gray Flannel Suit by Sloan Wilson, which is read by Don. And since this article came out before the series ended, it’s missing three more of Don’s picks: The Godfather by Mario Puzo, The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton, and Hawaii by James A. Michener.