8 Books for Fans of HBO’s White Lotus 

These books feature twisted relationships with money, family, power, and community.

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If you haven’t already seen HBO’s series White Lotus, you’ve probably heard the buzz about it. An escape to a relaxing resort where every need is met, even anticipated. What could possibly go wrong? Well, if there are human beings involved…everything. The tensions between the staff and the secrets within the relationships of the clients all come to light in six delicious episodes.

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Now, if you enjoyed the voyeurism of watching the complexities of humans interacting with each other, then you’ll be happy to see that there are plenty of books offering windows into the lives of other captivating human scenarios. (And truth be told, some of these selections have also been scooped up by HBO so you can binge after you read them!)

The Development

The Development

By John Barth

Think fast. What are you imaging when you hear the words gated community? This story may test your preconceptions. Get the inside scoop on the goings on in a seemingly innocent retirement community that is so much more than meets the eye.

The narrator is a resident who feels compelled to document the unusual events that are occurring in a neighborhood that should be more focused on enjoying the golden years than caught up in the drama usually reserved for teenagers. Barth sets up an eye-opening satire about humans being human in this oft-overlooked group setting. The irony of the gates keeping in trouble as opposed to keeping it out will not be lost on you as you laugh out loud at the relatability of the residents' highs and sympathize for them in their lowest lows.

Want Not

Want Not

By Jonathan Miles

The characters in this novel, all living in New York City, are at different stages of life with different goals. While the reader may not see the connection at first, the collision of these characters and storylines will be worth the wait. 

Meet the objects of fascination: a young couple aiming to be independent of the conventional ties of capitalism, a guy at a crossroads after divorce who has spent his career studying ancient language, and a woman who never imagined being a trophy wife yet found herself one anyway. Miles dives into what humans want, what we value or undervalue and what that says about us.

Fun Home

Fun Home

By Alison Bechdel

The parent-child dynamic is complicated at its best. And the dynamic shifts as we age. Adult children start to realize at some point that there are facets to their parents that were never revealed to them, often after the parent is gone.

In this groundbreaking graphic memoir, Bechdel offers a humorous and reflective glimpse into her Pennsylvania childhood and her evolving understanding of the man she called Dad. Bechdel grew up at the "fun home," her family's cheeky name for the funeral home run by her father, an army veteran full of secrets. As Bechdel grows into her own understanding of herself as a lesbian, she realizes that she and her taciturn father had far more in common then she ever could have seen as a child or before his suicide.



By Patricia Highsmith

This collection of short stories should not be mistaken for quick, light and airy reads. Rather, these are highly impactful studies of the animal known as the homo sapien.

Patricia Highsmith is an artist in painting the picture of humans caught in very human situations and as readers we can’t look away. If you are particularly fond of psychological thrillers, this is the pick for you. Without giving any of the stories away, suffice it to say that if you are not creeped out or cringe during your time with this book, I’m a little concerned.

My Brilliant Friend

My Brilliant Friend

By Elena Ferrante

This is a bit of an Easter egg. If you were paying attention, you may remember this book was one that Rachel is reading during the White Lotus series. Of course, this book is already well known and just to get a little more meta on you, My Brilliant Friend also has been adapted as an HBO series. Is your mind blown?

This is another good example of how a setting can determine your circumstance in life. Follow Elena and Lila through Naples, Italy and their young adulthood in the 1950s. Their choices for adulthood are rather limited but they seek solace and adventure in each other. The relationship between the girls is as intimate as a non-romantic relationship can be. In fact, this is the first in a series and you can see stay with them in many more seasons of their lives in the next three books—and soon, all four seasons of the HBO adaptation. Want even more? Explore our guide to Elena Ferrante's best books.

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Nine Perfect Strangers

By Liane Moriarty

HBO seemingly has a thing for stories that brought together resort clients and staff and secrets. This novel continues to exemplify Liane Moriarty’s ability to create suspenseful stories based not on outlandish conspiracy theories, but on common traumas affecting people navigating life. Here, nine people voluntarily book a stay at what appears to be a wellness spa.

Each person, couple or family has come with more baggage than the suitcases they packed. And they will get more from this stay than they bargained for as their charismatic hostess has some very unconventional methods to heal not only her clients’ psychological wounds but her own.

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The Girl Before

By JP Delaney

I read this book before it became another highly bingeable series on HBO! The allure of this story is the parallelisms that occur between present day Jane and the "girl before", Emma. They both inhabited a highly stylized apartment in London that is sleek and efficient. But this apartment is so much more than a beautiful place to live. It requires you to live by its rules—not bringing in your own possessions, only playing music it thinks you would like, tracking your sleep patterns and vital signs, and other actions that seem to cross the boundary of utopia and caged animal.

This apartment was designed by a mysterious architect who picks those lucky enough to live in his creation by an application. Soon it becomes clear that it is not a coincidence that Emma and Jane are so similar. But what isn’t clear is what happened to Emma, and why exactly wouldn’t the architect live in his life’s work himself? 

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By Stephanie Danler

Danler uses her own personal history to inform the main character of Tess in this novel that looks at the relationships of people in the workplace, in relationships, and even with New York City itself.

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Tess has no idea about living in a large metropolitan area much less how a restaurant operates. Yet, she actually lands a job in an elite establishment and has to catch up quickly with the rules and hierarchy of the restaurant biz. She gets swept into a romance with a chef who introduces her to the pleasures of food, intimacy and becoming uninhibited. It’s not all fun and games, though. Tess soon finds herself caught up in a love triangle she never saw coming and struggling at trying to make it in the city that can make or break you if you’re not careful.