We Pick Favorite Books for The Characters of Mad Men
It’s almost time to say goodbye to one of the most iconic, smart and stylish shows to grace our TVs in the last decade—if not ever. Before we part ways with Don Draper and company, let’s take a literary peek at the favorite books of some of your favorite (and least favorite) characters of Mad Men.
Don Draper: The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. It’s scary how much Don can relate to this tale of a man who takes over a dead man’s identity and charms everyone around him with his lies.
Peggy Olson: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. Peggy may not have been an immigrant or survived the depression, but she embraces the spirit of this novel’s protagonist to better herself and rise above her given station in life.
Joan Harris: The Diary of Anaïs Nin by Anaïs Nin. As an erudite, independent and sensual woman, Joan particularly connects with Nin’s volumes of her personal diaries, which chronicle her personal and erotic relationships.
Pete Campbell: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Pete’s always trying to get ahead, but his people skills could use some honing. He hopes this book will lead him to the success he so vehemently believes he deserves.
Betty (Draper) Francis: Madama Bovary by Gustav Flaubert. Betty is well-bred and smarter than given credit for, but she struggles with the suburban ennui of the privileged class. There’s no question Emma Bovary is her literary soul sister.
Roger Sterling: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. A novel about a “utopian” society in which hallucinogenic drug use and casual sex is encouraged? Yeah, Roger gladly loses himself in the pages this classic.
Sally Draper: Peyton Place by Grace Metalious. This 1950’s novel was shocking in the frank way it portrayed female sexuality and for its themes incest, abortion and murder. Sally’s probably been forbidden from reading it, so she keeps her copy hidden.
Harry Crane: The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. Harry is a man with an inflated sense of self, so he obviously sees himself in trailblazer Howard Roark… though in reality he’s very Peter Keating in his pursuit of status and wealth over moral integrity.
Megan Draper: Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk. This novel, in which an aspiring actress falls is doomed to have her heart broken by an older charismatic man, gives lovely Megan all the feels.
Salvatore Romano: Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann. He’s a closeted gay man, but Sal doesn’t hide his love for this tale of show business’s dark side. In an alternate world, he also originated the phrase, “she’s on the dolls again!”
Kenny Cosgrove: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Kenny has literary aspirations of his own, publishing sci-fi stories under a pseudonym. He’s undoubtedly a Bradbury fan, particularly of this novel about a society in which books are outlawed.
Glen Bishop – The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. You have to love how deliciously weird Glen is and there’s no book more embraced by misfits and miscreants. You know Glen hates phonies every bit as much as Holden does.
Margarita writes upmarket fiction and is represented by Victoria Skurnick at Levine Greenberg Rostan. She also transcribes and pokes fun at her old journal entries at The Diary Project. When not wrangling her ever-growing book and movie collections or feeding squirrels and chipmunks, she dreams of the day time machines are built so that she can return to the 1980s. Follow her on Twitter at @damiella.