All of the hidden book references on Netflix's 'You'

·19 min read
All of the hidden book references on Netflix's 'You'
PENN BADGLEY as JOE GOLDBERG in episode 308 of YOU
"You" features plenty of books. John P. Fleenor/Netflix

During season one, Joe highly recommends the 1970 novel "Desperate Characters" to Beck.

desperate characters you
It's a key part of Joe and Beck's first interaction. Netflix

When Beck (Elizabeth Lail) first comes into Joe's (Penn Badgley) 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 seen on her coffee table when Benji (Lou Taylor Pucci) asks about it.

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

peach salinger you
Peach, played by Shay Mitchell, is Beck's best friend. Netflix

Salinger is known for "Catcher in the Rye," and "Franny and Zooey."

A rude customer buys "Franny and Zooey" on episode one of season one.

franny and zooey you
Beck called the customer a mean name. Netflix

A rude customer can be seen buying "Franny and Zooey" from the bookstore on 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 allude to Joe's impression of Peach, the author's fictional descendant on the show.

Joe lends Paco "Don Quixote."

don quixote joe book you
He lets Paco borrow the old copy of "Don Quixote." Netflix

"The most valuable things in life are usually the most helpless. So they need people like us to protect them," Joe tells Paco on episode one, season one.

This quote could be alluding to his obsessive overprotection of Beck through his actions.

Right after, he gives Paco (Luca Padovan) 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, adding that this book is one of his favorites.

Joe also lends Paco "The Three Musketeers" by Alexandre Dumas.

three musketeers paco joe book
Paco is an avid reader. 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 Athos, Porthos, and Aramis.

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

da vinci code you
Beck lends the Italian book to Joe. Netflix

After he saves her from the train tracks, Beck comes back to the store and gives him "Il Codice Da Vinci" with one of her poems inside.

This book is a mystery thriller, the same genre as "You."

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

stephen king in you
The book takes up a prominent display in Mooney's. Netflix

The morning "Sleeping Beauties" is released at Joe's bookstore, Ethan (Zach Cherry) 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" revolves around the disappearance of women from the world.

It could be alluding to the women on "You" who disappear in one way or another: Beck, Peach, or even Candace (Ambyr Childers).

Joe gives Paco "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley to read next.

joe paco book frankenstein you
On episode two, Paco's explanation of "Frankenstein" could be alluding to Joe. Netflix

After Paco hates a werewolf novel the girls in his class keep talking about, Joe recommends "Frankenstein."

He says, "The monster is really cool and scary, but also not really the monster." The audience later realizes 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. "It's weird because he's bad, but not all bad."

Joe then adds, "Well, I think it's open to your interpretation."

This could reference the format of "You" 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.

Joe Ozma of Oz books You
Joe steals the book from Peach. Netflix

During Peach's party on episode two, season one, Joe finds a collection of old and first-edition novels and pockets Baum's "Ozma of Oz," the third book in the Oz series.

The tale follows Dorothy Gale of Kansas as she makes a trip over the rainbow for the second time.

It's also revealed that Joe used to read this 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.

the alienist joe you
Joe says he knows he can't just "Google how to get rid of a dead body" without raising suspicion. Netflix

Joe lists King and Caleb Carr as some authors he researched to figure out how to get rid of Benji's body.

He takes a look at Carr's "The Alienist," 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.

charles dickens festival you
The festival is all about the author Charles Dickens. Netflix

Beck attends a Dickens festival with her family.

Here, everyone dresses up in Victorian-era clothing and participates in old-fashioned activities.

Joe recommends Paco read "The Count of Monte Cristo" by Dumas.

paco you
Paco had been trying to read books about juvenile persecution. 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 and says, "He waits 24 years to get justice."

Joe replies, "It's all about the long game."

This is foreshadowing Ron's murder.

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

Joe hemmingway party you
Joe is wearing a turtleneck. Netflix

Lynn dresses up as a "Harry Potter" character and Blythe becomes Dorothea Brooke from George Eliot's "Middlemarch."

Ethan's costume is Mr. Darcy from Jane Austen's beloved novel "Pride and Prejudice."

You can also spot a Shakespeare and Mark Twain among the guests.

Candace reads and destroys "Wuthering Heights."

wuthering heights candace
She later destroys the book and Joe is seen repairing it. Netflix

During season one, 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.

Joe and Beck read together.

beck joe reading in bet you
They're reading very different books. Netflix

Joe is reading "Black Swan Green" by David Mitchell.

Meanwhile, Beck reads "On Beauty" by Zadie Smith.

Season two kicks off with a mural of books.

ook mural
The mural could be a nod to Joe's time working at Mr. Mooney's bookshop. Netflix

This real-life mural is located in Hollywood, and the books featured are all written by Charles Bukowski, a German-American novelist and poet deeply influenced by California.

The second season takes place in Los Angeles and the books could be foreshadowing Joe's job as a bookseller at the high-end wellness store Anavrin just a few moments later.

During the first episode of season two, Joe whips out "Crime and Punishment."

you crime nad punishment
We later learn he deliberately did this to secure his job at Anavrin. Netflix

Joe takes the Fyodor Dostoyevsky book out of his bag during his job interview with the Anavrin employee Calvin (Adwin Brown).

"I just feel like it gets more relevant every day, right?" Joe tells him. " ... This guy's struggling, trying to get past his mistakes, you know. I don't like to get political but I will say our world is done for if we don't think about that, how to be better."

"I can't believe you just did that, made a Russian novel sound like something I'd want to read," Calvin tells him.

We later learn that Joe brought the book to secure his job at Anavrin when we see a flashback of Forty angrily lecturing Calvin for ordering a bunch of copies of "Crime and Punishment."

"What? There's a human alive who wants to read 'Crime and Punishment?'" Forty tells Calvin.

That said, the book could also be a nod to Joe's present state. The novel's narrator struggles to overcome his past mistakes.

One of Joe's first social-media posts is a photo of three books.

Joe instagramming you s2
These novels could be foreshadowing later events. Netflix

During season two, episode one, Joe takes a photo of three colorful novels.

The red book is "The Power" by Naomi Alderman, a sci-fi novel about women developing the ability to shoot electrical jolts from their fingertips, helping them to become the dominant gender.

This could allude to Love having the upper hand at the close of the season when locked Joe in his own cage.

The yellow book is "Gold Fame Citrus" by Claire Vaye Watkins, a novel set in the future in California.

According to Goodreads, this book explores the myths we believe about others and tell about ourselves.

It certainly seems like a nod to Joe and the lies and constant justifications he tells himself.

The last book is "Sum" by David Eagleman, a novel that goes through different afterlives and alternate realities of what could have been.

The reference could foreshadow Joe's fresh start as someone new (Will).

Love's parting gift to Joe is a Joan Didion book.

you
The book has a snake on the cover. Netflix

On the second episode of season two, Love (Victoria Pedretti) gifts Joe Didion's novel "Play It As It Lays," a novel that dissects American life in the 1960s.

As she gives it to Joe, she calls it "smart," "complex," and "a little dark" because it's what "makes [him] feel at home" and what makes her feel at home.

This is foreshadowing Love's own dark past of murder and deception.

We later see Joe reading the book on episode three and packing it in his duffel bag on episode eight.

Joe's locker at Anavrin contains the book "Nostromo" by Joseph Conrad.

Joe's locker will you s2
The green book is "Nostromo." Netflix

During season two, episode three, Joe opens his locker to get a baked treat from Love, revealing two books in the locker.

Although the brown book's name is unclear, the green novel is "Nostromo," a tale of rebellion and exploitation set in a fictional republic.

It has an omniscient narrator who withholds details from the reader, similar to Joe's tendency to withhold details from the viewer.

For example, when he saw Love long before he met her in the grocery store, he purposefully got an apartment that overlooked it.

Joe gives Ellie a list of books to read and the first one is a Russian novel.

anavrin bookstore you s 2
Joe wanted to sell more Russian literature. Netflix

After Ellie (Jenna Ortega) gives Joe a movie recommendation, he insists on getting her a book.

His first proposal is "The Master and Margarita" by Mikhail Bulgakov.

"For Ellie, something dark, funny, ambitious," Joe says as he buys it at Anavrin on season two, episode three.

The book is a Russian novel, something Joe is likely trying to sell more of after his initial job interview with Calvin.

It is known for being dark and funny since it's based around the devil, a naked witch, and a black cat who loves to drink vodka and play chess.

During season two, episode seven, we get a glimpse of the books in Joe's cage.

Joe cage books you s2
These books might be important to him. Netflix

As Delilah (Carmela Zumbado) digs around his cage, you can see a few books Joe has kept inside of it.

It's difficult to make out all of the titles, but one visible name is Aristotle Onassis, Jacqueline Kennedy's second husband and wealthy shipping magnate.

You can also see "Berlin Wild" by Elly Welt, a book set during World War II.

These could be a handful of titles Joe wanted to bring with him during his trek from New York to Los Angeles.

Joe's newest target is reading a stack of classic books.

yard books you s2
She clearly has a taste for classic literature. Netflix

During the season-two finale, Joe is carrying "Crime and Punishment" (the book that helped him get hired at Anavrin) into his yard.

But instead of actually reading it, he peers over through the fence at his neighbor, who is making her way through a few books.

Her stack includes "Brave New World," a classic dystopian novel by Aldous Huxley. The sci-fi work is centered around a world where life is genetically engineered and pain-free, but also meaningless.

She also has "A Guide to Jane Austen" by Michael Hardwick and "Kafka's Selected Stories," translated by Stanley Corngold, which are both classic writers.

Her taste in literature could be part of the reason why Joe falls for her.

Joe mentions several authors at the beginning of the first episode of season three.

Joe Goldberg holds up baby Henry on "You."
Joe compares parenthood to the myth of Sisyphus. Netflix

Joe mentions several authors and common themes when describing what he imagines parenthood will be like.

He mentions Nicholson Baker's essays and Louisa May Alcott's novels before deciding that parenthood is instead "'Groundhog Day' as written by Jean Paul-Satre."

Joe also compares taking care of his infant Henry to the "Greek myth about pushing a boulder of baby poop up a hill" in reference to the myth of Sisyphus.

"The Great Gatsby" is mentioned multiple times in the first episode.

YOU (L to R) PENN BADGLEY as JOE GOLDBERG in episode 301 of YOU
Joe reads the famous novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald to Henry. John P. Fleenor/Netflix

Joe reads Fitzgerald's classic "The Great Gatsby" to Henry, who throws up on the book.

Joe also refers to Natalie (Michaela McManus) as "the green light at the end of my dock." In the book, the green light was a symbol for hope.

Joe grabs his hat off of a Hemingway book.

Joe's hat sitting on a book on Netflix's "You."
Joe once dressed up as Ernest Hemingway. Netflix

When Joe leaves the house to follow Natalie on the first episode, he grabs his baseball cap off of a stack of two books. The top book is written by Hemingway.

Joe previously dressed up the famous writer for Beck's birthday party.

Natalie takes multiple books out of the library, including one that hints at the season's end.

A stack of books on Netflix's "You."
The books foreshadow the ending. Netflix

Natalie takes out a stack of books that includes N.K. Jemisin's fantasy "The Broken Earth Trilogy" and Laura Hillenbrand's "Seabiscuit: An American Legend."

She also checks out Gillian Flynn's suspense-filled novel "Gone Girl," in which the main character fakes her own death.

Joe does the same by the end of the season.

There is a full rack of books by a King character.

PENN BADGLEY as JOE GOLDBERG in episode 301 of YOU
It's no surprise there's a reference to the great horror writer. John P. Fleenor/Netflix

Joe stands next to a rack of books by Scott Landon as he watches Natalie check out library books.

Scott Landon is actually a character in King's book "Lisey's Story."

Joe quotes the book Natalie checks out for him.

Joe holding "Tender Is the Night" by Fitzgerald on Netflix's "You."
This is just one of the many F. Scott Fitzerald books Joe reads. Netflix

Natalie checks out Fitzgerald's "Tender Is the Night" for Joe at the library.

Joe can be seen reading the book on his couch and later quotes it to Natalie.

However, he slightly changes the line, saying, "New friends can often have a better time together than old friends."

Joe reads a classic children's book to Henry.

Joe reads "Frog and Toad" to Henry.
Joe switches from classic novels to children's literature. Netflix

After failing to entertain Henry with classic novels, Joe reads Arnold Lobel's "Frog and Toad" book to him.

He mentions wanting to read Astrid Lindgren's "Pippi Longstocking" to Henry next.

"To Kill a Mockingbird" is mentioned throughout the third episode.

Joe and Love holding baby Henry on Neftlix's "You."
Joe claims he wants to be like Atticus Finch. Netflix

The third episode starts with Joe referencing "To Kill A Mockingbird" when he thinks, "Things are always better in the morning. At least that's what Scout tells us, and who am I to argue with Harper Lee."

Joe later says wants to be "steady like Atticus," an impressive and wise character. He also calls the Engler residence "Boo Radley's house," which is surrounded by misery and mystery.

Joe lists the books he's stolen and sold for Ellie.

PENN BADGLEY as JOE GOLDBERG and TATI GABRIELLE as MARIENNE in episode 301 of YOU
Joe has gotten his hands on priceless books. John P. Fleenor/Netflix

Marienne (Tati Gabrielle) asks Joe if he knows where the library's first edition copy of Henrik Ibsen's drama "Peer Gynt" is, and mentions the play is worth $2,500.

Interestingly enough, some copies of "Peer Gynt" listed as first editions can be found online for under $30.

Joe has also taken and sold copies of works by Dickens and Shelley.

Marienne gives Joe a Dickens book.

Marianne hands Joe a book.
There are parallels between David Copperfield and Joe. Netflix

Marienne gives Joe a copy of Dickens' novel "David Copperfield" to apologize for incorrectly judging Joe for having a wealthy upbringing.

The book is fitting, considering it features a boy who grew up in poverty who turns out to be a successful novelist.

Joe mentions "Dragonriders of Pern," a children's fantasy series from the late 20th century.

Marienne holding up a drawing on Netflix's "You."
Marienne speaks with Joe about her interest in literature. Netflix

Joe tells Marienne that Anne McCaffrey's "Dragonriders of Pern" is his favorite classic fantasy series from the 1970s to the 1990s.

The first book actually came out in 1968, though the series continued until the 1990s.

Marienne discusses her love for "The Little Prince."

Marienne holding up a drawing on Netflix's "You."
Marienne loves the novella about a lonely prince. Netflix

The illustration Marienne submits to the children's illustration contest shows a scene from "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

She says the original French version of the classic is her favorite.

Theo compares Joe's lawn-care skills to Richard Yates' writing style.

Theo on Netflix's "You."
Theo compares Joe to the American fiction writer. Netflix

Theo (Dylan Arnold) tells Joe that his impeccable lawn "shows Richard Yates level attention to detail."

Yates was a troubled realist writer who wrote several novels.

A younger Joe can be seen reading "The Perks of Being a Wallflower."

Joe reading "The Perks of Being a Wallflower."
Joe can be seen reading the cult classic. Netflix

When he was in a group home, Joe reads Stephen Chbosky's "The Perks of Being a Wallflower."

The book came out in 1999 and would have been intended for an older audience than Joe would have fit into.

Joe sees a poetry book at Marienne's apartment.

Joe spots the poetry collection from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Jericho Brown.
Joe spots the poetry collection from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author. Netflix

Joe sees a copy of Jericho Brown's "The Tradition" in Marienne's apartment.

The book is a modern poetry collection.

A girl asks Joe where she can find "Narnia" books.

A child talking to Joe on Netflix's "You."
A child looks for "The Chronicles of Narnia." Netflix

A child approaches Joe in the library to ask where "The Chronicles of Narnia" books are located.

The mid-20th-century fantasy series was written by C.S. Lewis.

Joe quotes Milan Kundera.

Joe reading on his bed on Netflix's "You."
Joe quotes the Czech writer. Netflix

Joe quotes Kundera's "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" while thinking about Marienne.

The passage focuses on making the decision between "weight or lightness."

The quote Joe recites to Marienne is from the poetry book she was reading.

Joe in a library on Netflix's "You."
Joe helps out after a storm. Netflix

As they clean up the library after the storm, Joe says, "When you've been worked on for so long you never know you're done."

The quote is from the Brown poetry book she was reading.

Joe makes a joke about Fitzgerald and Hemingway's alcoholism.

Joe on Netflix's "You."
Joe seems to be a fan of Hemingway and Fitzgerald. Netflix

Joe jokes that Henry is a big fan of Hemingway and Fitzgerald.

He adds, "No surprise, you've seen him with a bottle."

Fitzgerald and Hemingway both famously struggled with alcoholism.

Joe recommends "The Outsiders" to Fiona.

Joe recommends "The Outsiders" to Fiona on Netflix's "You."
Joe recommends the heartbreaking coming-of-age novel. Netflix

Joe recommends S. E. Hinton's "The Outsiders" to Fiona.

The classic novel is usually assigned to middle scholars and would have been at peak popularity when Joe was younger.

Juliette borrows a Hans Christian Andersen book.

TATI GABRIELLE as MARIENNE and BEN MEHL as DANTE in episode 307 of YOU
Juliette seems to be a fan of Hans Christian Andersen. John P. Fleenor/Netflix

Dante mentions that Juliette was reading an Andersen book, prompting Joe to ask if she likes "The Little Mermaid."

"The Little Mermaid" was originally a fairytale by Andersen.

Joe reads "The Science of Addiction" when stalking Marienne's ex-husband.

Joe reads “The Science of Addiction" on Netflix's "You."
Joe brushes up on the science of addiction. Netflix

Joe decides to read up on addiction after learning that Marienne's ex, Ryan, dealt with addiction.

He reads Carlton K. Erickson's "The Science of Addiction: From Neurobiology to Treatment" to figure out the best way to trigger Ryan to relapse.

Ryan only has books by Tim Ferriss and Tony Robbins.

Joe on Netflix's "You."
Joe finds self-help books. Netflix

Joe notices that Ryan only has self-improvement books in his bedroom.

Ferriss is an investor and lifestyle coach and Robbins is known for his self-help books.

His collection doesn't include poetry or fiction, genres that Marienne loves.

The library's charity gala is full of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" references.

Love and Joe on Netflix's "You."
Love dresses up as Alice. Netflix

The Madre Linda Library has a themed "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" gala that is packed with references to the children's classic.

There are giant pages of the book and playing cards in the room, which also has chess pieces scattered around.

Most characters are dressed to resemble Lewis Carroll's characters, with Sherry (Shalita Grant) as the Red Queen, Love as Alice, Cary (Travis Van Winkle) as the Mad Hatter, and Dante (Ben Mehl) as the White Rabbit.

The book Joe reads is a guide to ethical polyamory.

"More Than Two" book that Joe reads on Netflix's "You."
Joe reads up on polyamory. Netflix

After Sherry introduces Love to the polyamorous lifestyle, Joe reads "More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory" by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert.

Love is shown reading a Raymond Carver book in bed.

Love reading Raymond Carter in bed on Netflix's "You."
Love reads the American writer's book in bed. Netflix

At the end of the season, Love can be seen reading a book by Carver.

He is an American short-story and poetry writer.

Shelby Slauer contributed to an earlier version of this article.

Read the original article on Insider