All of the hidden book references on ‘You’

There are a lot of references to books and literary figures in

caption
There are a lot of references to books and literary figures in “You.”
source
Netflix

  • The Lifetime show “You” premiered in 2018, and was recently picked up by Netflix.
  • There are a number of pop culture references throughout the series, especially when it comes to books.
  • Stephen King and Owen King’s book, “Sleeping Beauties,” is featured at Joe’s bookstore, and asks the question of what would happen if women disappeared from the world.

Ever since the Lifetime show “You” was picked up by Netflix, people can’t get enough of it. It has suspense, plot twists, and large number of pop culture references that often pertain to the plotline or Joe’s character specifically.

So before season two airs, take a look at some of the literary and pop culture references scattered throughout “You” and how they add to the series.

Warning: This post contains spoilers.


Joe highly recommends Beck read the 1970 novel “Desperate Characters” by Paula Fox.

caption
It’s a key part of Joe and Beck’s first interaction.
source
Netflix

When Beck first comes into Joe’s bookstore, she’s looking at a Paula Fox novel, to which Joe recommends she read “Desperate Characters.” Beck says she’s worried it won’t live up to the hype but ends up buying it anyway.

“Desperate Characters” tells the story of a couple, Sophie and Otto, living in Brooklyn: After Sophie is bitten trying to feed a stray, a series of small disasters begin striking the couple, revealing the rifts in a marriage and society crumbling to pieces.

The book is later on her coffee table during a scene where she’s with Benji and Benji asks about the book.


Peach Salinger is a distant cousin of J.D. Salinger.

caption
Peach is Beck’s friend.
source
Netflix

J.D. Salinger is most known for “Catcher in the Rye,” as well as “Franny and Zooey.”


A rude customer can be seen buying “Franny and Zooey” in episode one.

caption
Beck called the customer a mean name.
source
Netflix

A rude customer can be seen buying “Franny and Zooey” from the bookstore in the first episode.”He’s just pissed he has to buy Salinger to feel respectable,” Joe’s internal monologue says over the scene.

His rudeness might just allude to Joe’s later impression of Peach, the author’s fictional descendant in the show.


Joe lends Paco “Don Quixote.”

caption
He lets Paco borrow the old copy of “Don Quixote.”
source
Netflix

“The most valuable things in life are usually the most helpless. So they need people like us to protect them,” Joe tells Paco in episode one. It could be alluding to his later feelings that he is protecting Beck out of love through his actions.

Right after, he gives Paco an old copy of “Don Quixote” by Miguel de Cervantes. “It’s about a guy who believes in chivalry so he decides to be an old school knight,” Joe explains to Paco. Joe says this book is one of his favorites.


Joe lends Paco “The Three Musketeers” by Alexandre Dumas.

caption
Paco’s reading a book in episode one.
source
Netflix

Joe sees Paco reading on the stairs of their building and comments on how fast he’s reading “The Three Musketeers.” Paco replies, “It reads quick. It’s good.”

“The Three Musketeers” follows d’Artagnan after he leaves home to join the Musketeers of the Guard, where he becomes friends with the three most intimidating musketeers of the age.


Beck gives Joe “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown in Italian.

caption
Beck gives this to Joe in episode one.
source
Netflix

After he saves her from the train tracks, Beck comes back to the store and gives him “Il Codice Da Vinci” and she wrote a poem inside. This book is a mystery thriller, the same genre as “You” as a series.


Joe and Ethan set up for a debut of Stephen King and Owen King’s book, “Sleeping Beauties,” at their bookstore.

caption
The book takes up a prominent display in Mooney’s.
source
Netflix

The morning “Sleeping Beauties” is released at Joe’s bookstore, Ethan says, “Let’s give thanks to our Lord Stephen King who bestowed books so that our bookstores in third dimensional locations may live.”

“Sleeping Beauties” asks the question of what would happen if women disappeared from the world. Its prominent display could be alluding to a variety of women in “You” who disappear in one way or another: Beck, Peach, or even Candace.

Read More: Everything we know so far about ‘You’ season 2


Joe gives Paco “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley to read next.

caption
In episode two, Paco’s explanation of “Frankenstein” could be alluding to Joe.
source
Netflix

When Paco isn’t enjoying a novel about werewolves the girls in his class keep talking about, Joe recommends “Frankenstein,” saying, “The monster is really cool and scary, but also not really the monster.” The audience realizes later that this is probably how Joe feels about himself.

“It’s cool how you get the monster’s POV, you understand why he does stuff,” Paco later tells Joe as he reads “Frankenstein.” “It’s weird because he’s bad, but not all bad.”

Joe then adds, “Well, I think it’s open to your interpretation.”

This can be alluding to the format of the “You” series in and of itself and the audience’s potential perception of Joe.


Joe steals “Ozma of Oz” by L. Frank Baum from Peach’s house.

caption
Joe steals the book from Peach.
source
Netflix

During Peach’s party in episode two, Joe finds a collection of old and first edition books, and sneaks L. Frank Baum’s “Ozma of Oz.”

“Ozma of Oz” is the third book in the Oz series, and follows Dorothy Gale of Kansas as she makes the trip over the rainbow for the second time. It’s also revealed that Joe used to read that book when Mr. Mooney locked him in the basement of the bookstore as a kid.


Joe turns to numerous books and authors to figure out how to get rid of a dead body.

caption
Joe says he knows he can’t just “Google how to get rid of a dead body” without raising suspicion.
source
Netflix

Joe lists Stephen King and Caleb Carr among the authors he turned to to figure out how to get rid of Benji’s body. He takes a look at “The Alienist,” which is a thriller about a ritualistic killer, before he turns to a cookbook that explains how to butcher a chicken.


Joe follows Beck to a Charles Dickens festival.

caption
The festival is all about the author Charles Dickens.
source
Netflix

Beck attends a Dickens festival with her family, where everyone dresses up in Victorian-era clothing and participates in old-fashioned activities.


Joe recommends Paco read “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas.

caption
Paco had previously been trying to read books about juvenile persecution.
source
Netflix

After Paco tells Joe about his issues with Ron and how he wants revenge, Joe recommends “The Count of Monte Cristo.” Paco gets mad at the book because, he says, “he waits 24 years to get justice,” but Joe replies, “It’s all about the long game.”

This becomes foreshadowing for when Ron is killed later on.


Joe throws Beck a literary-themed birthday party and dresses up as author Ernest Hemingway.

caption
Joe is wearing a turtleneck.
source
Netflix

Lynn is dressed up like a “Harry Potter” character, Blythe is Dorothea Brooke from “Middlemarch” and Ethan is Mr. Darcy from “Pride and Prejudice.” Among the party goers, you can also spot Shakespeare and Mark Twain.


Candace reads and destroys “Wuthering Heights.”

caption
She later destroys the book and Joe is seen repairing it.
source
Netflix

In episode nine, there’s a flashback of Candace reading “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Brontë to Joe. The book is later destroyed. And Joe is shown repairing the book in episode nine, too.


In one scene, Joe and Beck are reading together.

caption
They’re reading very different books.
source
Netflix

Joe is reading “Black Swan Green” by David Mitchell. Meanwhile, Beck is reading “On Beauty” by Zadie Smith.

Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.