By Candice Blackwood
When The Last of Us, the story of a pandemic caused by a mutant fungal infection, started airing in January, the book world was quickly flooded with lists and recommendations of “Sporror” (spore + horror) novels to satiate cravings for more content between weekly episodes. It reminded me there’s often a great reading recommendation based on your television and movie interests.
Now, for better or for worse, during the writers’ strike, our screens have been inundated with reality television. I’ve heard some people call it the next golden age of reality TV. So, in the spirit of embracing this new golden age, I’ve picked some books based on your favourite reality show.
If you like to watch The Great British Baking Show
The Golden Spoon by Jessa Maxwell
Cozy baking show meets a light mystery in The Golden Spoon by Jessa Maxwell. A large cast of characters descends on Betsy’s family estate for Bake Week, a week-long reality baking show where each day focuses on a different type of baking and contestants are eliminated until one wins the golden spoon trophy. But with bakes mysteriously going awry and an unexplained death, this season of Bake Week quickly proves to be anything but cozy.
Jessa Maxwell’s debut it not your typical mystery, and you do not need to be a mystery reader to enjoy this title. It isn’t until about halfway through that we get to the real mystery. Everything leading up to that point is set up, character exploration and a lot of delectable descriptions of baked goods.
The Golden Spoon is available in print and as an ebook.
If you like to watch The Bachelor
The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun
The Charm Offensive is utterly charming. Dev is one of the handlers on a highly rated reality dating show. While Dev’s own love life is in shambles, he is a believer in true love and the show’s ability to create an environment to help people find their soul mate. But after suddenly becoming the handler for the show’s star rather than for a contestant, Dev realizes he has his work cut out for him. The star, Charlie, is so awkward and uncomfortable in front of the camera and the women that he can’t make it through the taping of the arrivals. But as Dev starts getting to know Charlie, he starts to fall for him. He tries to keep his feelings in check – after all Charlie is trying to marry one of the women on the show – but it feels like Charlie might be falling for him as well.
The Charm Offensive is available in print, e-book or downloadable audiobook.
If you like to watch The Real Housewives
Blitzed by Alexa Martin
As soon as you’ve finished the latest season of whichever reality wives and girlfriend show you’re currently enjoying, pick up Blitzed for more drama. After making a huge mistake and terrible first impression, football player Maxwell is determined to prove himself and make it up to Brynn. Brynn is a bar owner and doesn’t stand for any nonsense, including giving Maxwell a second chance. While Maxwell is trying to win Brynn over, the cameras are rolling. A new reality show is being filmed featuring the wives and girlfriends of the other players on Maxwell’s team. Readers will enjoy Brynn’s charming sense of humor and her interactions with the wives and girlfriends. You’ll root for her to fall for Maxwell.
Blitzed is available in print and as an eBook.
If reality adventure and survival shows are more your speed
The Last One by Alexandra Olivia
Twelve people sign up for a reality survival show. They’re dropped into the woods to test their endurance. They expect it to be hard but ultimately safe. No one is going to die. But this TV production quickly becomes too real when a disease-born apocalypse takes place. The problem is the contestants don’t know what’s real and what’s been set up as part of the show. The main character, Zoo, who thankfully has some know-how (she works at a wildlife sanctuary and rehabilitation centre), is on a solo mission when she starts to encounter the bodies of the mysterious pathogen. What happened? How many are gone? What or who was behind it?
. The author does a fantastic job of creating fully realized characters. The plotting and writing are also so well done.
The Last One is available in print and downloadable audiobook.
Candice works at the Sunnyside Branch of the Ottawa Public Library. She enjoys reading fantasy novels for any age that are full of magic, dangerous creatures and the women who fight them.