The Best of Everything
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel opens in 1958, which is also when Jaffe’s game-changing book about five young women working at a Manhattan-based publishing house first hit the shelves. Both stories are about women struggling to rise to the top of competitive industries during a time when women weren’t encouraged to pursue particularly challenging career paths.
The Chelsea Girls
For a look at the New York arts’ scene in the ‘40s through the ‘60s, check out The Chelsea Girls. It follows the friendship between Hazel Riley and Maxine Mead, a playwright and actress, as they inhabit the famous Chelsea Hotel and attempt to land a show on Broadway over the backdrop of the Red Scare.
We Are Never Meeting in Real Life.
Blogger-turned-essayist Samantha Irby is one of the best voices in modern comedy and something tells us Midge Maisel would appreciate the perceptively hilarious autobiographical essays included in this collection. Irby offers spot-on insights about her own life as well as pop culture, illuminating the truth about what it means to be human.
Diary of a Mad Diva
Midge Maisel appears to be at least partly based on the late Joan Rivers, who helped blaze a trail for women in comedy. Check out her diary (no, really! It’s her actual diary!) with daily musings on celebrity culture, family life—well, the Joan Rivers version of family life—fashion, and more.
This modern classic from the author of High Fidelity is about Sophie Shaw, a young ingenue navigating the tough waters of showbiz in 1960’s London. It chronicles her meteoric rise to television stardom, and while the setting is different from Mrs. Maisel, the snappy, witty voice is pretty similar.
Recipe for a Perfect Wife
Journalist Karma Brown takes her keen eye to fiction. Her first novel follows a present-day publicist-turned-writer named Alice Hale who discovers an old 1950s cookbook filled with letters and notes from the previous owner, housewife Nellie Murdoch. Reading through the pages, Alice begins to piece together the clues the other woman left behind about her life.
Jennifer S. Brown
Midge Maisel’s Jewish-American identity is a major focus of the show, and Brown’s Modern Girls is set in a community of Jewish immigrants in 1935. It follows Dottie Krasinsky and her mother Rose, both of whom who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant. This is a story about identity, motherhood, faith, and tough choices.
Park Avenue Summer
This novel features the real-life former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, Helen Gurley Brown, responsible for transforming the magazine to appeal to the modern woman. In Park Avenue Summer, wannabe photographer Alice Weiss lands a coveted position at the publication and moves to New York from her small Midwestern hometown to make her dreams come true.
Why Not Me?
Comedian Mindy Kaling’s second essay collection digs into her experience as a woman of color climbing the ranks in Hollywood. Though her story isn’t exactly the same as Midge Maisel’s, there are certainly shared themes of struggling to find a place in an industry that isn’t exactly welcoming you with open arms. Plus, Kaling is laugh-out-loud funny.
I Feel Bad About My Neck
This collection of delightful essays about life, love, great apartments on New York City’s Upper West Side, and growing older showcase filmmaker and writer Nora Ephron at the height of her powers. Her comedic voice is not too different from what we’ve seen of Midge’s on the show—sharp, smart, and self-deprecating.
Can’t get enough of Miriam “Midge” Maisel’s comedy antics? After you tear through the third season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, premiering December 4th on Amazon Prime Video, keep the laughs going with some literature that has a similar vibe. And if you’re just tuning in, Mrs. Maisel follows an aspiring female comic in the late 1950s and early 1960s in New York City. Created by Amy Sherman Palladino (best known for bringing the Gilmore Girls to our small screens), you can expect snappy dialogue, lush period costumes, and a poignant exploration of what it means to be a woman and a comedian before the age of the Netflix special. Channel that energy while you wait for a possible season four premiere by checking out these books like Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
Featured image: Rachel Brosnahan in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2017)