Binge-then-Read: Nine Perfect Strangers

Binge-then-Read: Nine Perfect Strangers

Liane Moriarty's bestselling book Nine Perfect Strangers just wrapped up the eight episode miniseries adaptation on Hulu. In the story, nine strangers are invited to spend ten days at a health resort run by an enigmatic and mysterious founder, Masha. They all quickly realize that Tranquillum is not the paradise that it seems to be.

For this edition of Binge-then-Read, our Book Chat librarians curated recommendations for each of the characters from Nine Perfect Strangers. Below you will find book for everyone from the retreat owner with a god complex to a retired football player to a romance writer starting over, and more!

 


Masha played by Nicole Kidman

Masha Dmitrichenko: Health Retreat Owner

Masha, played by Nicole Kidman, is the leader of the health retreat Tranquillum and a narcissist with a God complex. She expects people staying at her health retreat to follow her every direction, and to not question her methods. For her we recommend checking out Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb and Cultish by Amanda Montell.

 

Maybe You Should Talk To Someone

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

From a New York Times best-selling author, psychotherapist, and national advice columnist, a hilarious, thought-provoking, and surprising book that takes us behind the scenes of a therapist's world—where her patients are looking for answers (and so is she).

One day, Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who helps patients in her Los Angeles practice. The next, a crisis causes her world to come crashing down. Enter Wendell, the quirky but seasoned therapist in whose of­fice she suddenly lands. With his balding head, cardigan, and khakis, he seems to have come straight from Therapist Central Casting. Yet he will turn out to be anything but.

 

Cultish The Language of Fanaticism

Cultish by Amanda Montell

Masha could probably use a reality check as she builds a cultish personality around her health resort Tranquillum.  In Cultish, Amanda Montell examines what makes "cults" so intriguing and frightening? What makes them powerful? The reason why so many of us binge Manson documentaries by the dozen and fall down rabbit holes researching suburban moms gone QAnon is because we're looking for a satisfying explanation for what causes people to join—and more importantly, stay in—extreme groups. We secretly want to know: could it happen to me? Montell's argument is that, on some level, it already has.

 


Frances Welty

Frances Welty: Romance Novelist in Crisis

Frances Welty, played by Melissa McCarthy, is a romance novelist whose personal and professional life is in pieces. Her publisher is considering dropping her.  "Frances is a woman who believes she's at a point in her life where she should be "peaking at every level," and her failure to do so is taking its toll," said Melissa McCarthy.

Frances could use a comfort read that will help her see everything will work out. We recommend checking out Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes and It's Not All Downhill from Here by Terry McMillan. Both of these books deal with  starting over and moving on after unexpected setbacks.

 

Evvie Drake Starts Over

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

In a sleepy seaside town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth "Evvie" Drake rarely leaves her large, painfully empty house nearly a year after her husband's death in a car crash. Everyone in town, even her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and Evvie doesn't correct them.

Meanwhile, in New York City, Dean Tenney, former Major League pitcher and Andy's childhood best friend, is wrestling with what miserable athletes living out their worst nightmares call the "yips": he can't throw straight anymore, and, even worse, he can't figure out why. As the media storm heats up, an invitation from Andy to stay in Maine seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button on Dean's future.

When he moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie's house, the two make a deal: Dean won't ask about Evvie's late husband, and Evvie won't ask about Dean's baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken—and what starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more. To move forward, Evvie and Dean will have to reckon with their pasts—the friendships they've damaged, the secrets they've kept—but in life, as in baseball, there's always a chance—up until the last out. Our Book Chat team thinks that Frances or anyone starting on a new path will find a kindred spirit in Evvie Drake.

 

It's Not All Downhill from Here by Terry McMillan

It's Not All Downhill From Here by Terry McMillan

After a sudden change of plans, a remarkable woman and her loyal group of friends try to figure out what she's going to do with the rest of her life--from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Waiting to Exhale. When an unexpected loss turns her world upside down, Loretha will have to summon all her strength, resourcefulness, and determination to keep on thriving, pursue joy, heal old wounds, and chart new paths. With a little help from her friends, of course.

 


Carmel Schneider

Carmel Schneider: Divorcee Looking For Her Confidence

Carmel is a romance novel enthusiast who is picking up the pieces of her life after her recent divorce. Carmel walks around repeating mantras and self-improvement sayings, and she has come toTranquillum to work on being more confident. For Carmel we recommend checking out You are a Badass by Jen Sincero and One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

 

You are a Badass

You are a Badass by Jen Sincero

In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, bestselling author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up twenty-seven bite-sized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word, helping you to:

  • Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want,
  • Create a life you totally love. And create it NOW, and
  • Make some damn money already. The kind you've never made before.

By the end of You Are a Badass, you'll understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can't change, how to change what you don't love, and how to use The Force to kick some serious ass.

 

One Plus One

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied, and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can't afford to pay for. That's Jess's life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight in shining armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess's knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever.
 
One Plus One is Jojo Moyes at her astounding best. You'll laugh, you'll weep, and when you flip the last page, you'll want to start all over again.

 


Napoleon Marconi

Napoleon Marconi: Father and High School History Teacher

Napoleon is a dedicated father and a high school history teacher. He got a discount on a stay at Tranquillum for his family after the death of his son. We thought that he would enjoy come historical fiction novels to transport him to another place, and other people's problems. His picks are All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell.

 

All the Light we cannot see

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

The winner of the Pulitzer Prize and a finalist for the National Book Award. This book is a must read for lovers of historical fiction. From Anthony Doerr, the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning author of Cloud Cuckoo Land, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

 

Hamnet

Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell

Drawing on Maggie O'Farrell's long-term fascination with the little-known story behind Shakespeare's most enigmatic play, Hamnet is a luminous portrait of a marriage, at its heart the loss of a beloved child. Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet.

Award-winning author Maggie O'Farrell's new novel breathes full-blooded life into the story of a loss usually consigned to literary footnotes, and provides an unforgettable vindication of Agnes, a woman intriguingly absent from history.

 


Heather Marconi

Heather Marconi: Grieving Mother

Heather is fiercely protective of her family after the death of her son. She is skeptical of the health resort and the woo-woo claims that Masha makes, but she is also willing to be a team player, and participate. We thought Heather would enjoy The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina and Lost and Wanted by Nell Freudenberger.

 

The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina

The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina

The international bestselling novel sold in 21 countries, about grief, mourning, and the joy of survival, inspired by a real phone booth in Japan with its disconnected "wind" phone, a place of pilgrimage and solace since the 2011 tsunami. When Yui loses both her mother and her daughter in the tsunami, she begins to mark the passage of time from that date onward: Everything is relative to March 11, 2011, the day the tsunami tore Japan apart, and when grief took hold of her life. Yui struggles to continue on, alone with her pain.

Then, one day she hears about a man who has an old disused telephone booth in his garden. There, those who have lost loved ones find the strength to speak to them and begin to come to terms with their grief. As news of the phone booth spreads, people travel to it from miles around. Soon Yui makes her own pilgrimage to the phone booth, too. But once there she cannot bring herself to speak into the receiver. Instead she finds Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose own daughter has stopped talking in the wake of her mother's death. Simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming, The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World is the signpost pointing to the healing that can come after.

 

Lost and Wanted

Lost and Wanted by Nell Freudenberger

An emotionally engaging, suspenseful new novel from the best-selling author, told in the voice of a renowned physicist: an exploration of female friendship, romantic love, and parenthood—bonds that show their power in surprising ways.

Helen Clapp's breakthrough work on five-dimensional spacetime landed her a tenured professorship at MIT; her popular books explain physics in plain terms. Helen disdains notions of the supernatural in favor of rational thought and proven ideas. So it's perhaps especially vexing for her when, on an otherwise unremarkable Wednesday in June, she gets a phone call from a friend who has just died.

That friend was Charlotte Boyce, Helen's roommate at Harvard. The two women had once confided in each other about everything, but as the years passed, Charlie became more elusive, and her calls came less and less often. And now she's permanently, tragically gone. As Helen is drawn back into Charlie's orbit, and also into the web of feelings she once had for Neel Jonnal—a former college classmate now an acclaimed physicist on the verge of a Nobel Prize-winning discovery—she is forced to question the laws of the universe that had always steadied her mind and heart.

 


Zoe Marconi

Zoe Marconi: On Vacation With Her Parents

Zoe is 20 years old and on vacation at this health resort with her parents. She is still reeling after the death of her brother, and at the same time, she doesn't know what to make of the controlling nature of the health resort and Masha. For Zoe we recommend Gravity is a Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty and The Beauty that Remains by Ashley Woodfolk.

 

Gravity is a thing

Gravity is a Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty

Twenty years ago, Abigail Sorenson’s brother Robert went missing one day before her sixteenth birthday, never to be seen again. That same year, she began receiving scattered chapters in the mail of a self-help manual, "the Guidebook," whose anonymous author promised to make her life soar to heights beyond her wildest dreams.

"The Guidebook’s" missives have remained a constant in Abi’s life—a befuddling yet oddly comforting voice through her family’s grief over her brother’s disappearance, a move across continents, the devastating dissolution of her marriage, and the new beginning as a single mother and café owner in Sydney.

Now, two decades after receiving those first pages, Abi is invited to an all-expenses paid weekend retreat to learn “the truth” about the Guidebook. It’s an opportunity too intriguing to refuse. If Everything is Connected, then surely the twin mysteries of "the Guidebook" and a missing brother must be linked?

 

The Beauty that Remains by Ashley Woodfolk

The Beauty that Remains by Ashley Woodfolk

Music brought Autumn, Shay, and Logan together. Death might pull them apart.

Autumn always knew exactly who she was- a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things- her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan has always turned to writing love songs when his real love life was a little less than perfect. But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan is a guy who can't stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger who's struggling to keep it together. And Autumn has become a girl who sends messages that she knows can never be answered.

Each of them wonders "How different would my life be if this hadn't happened? And now that it has . . . what's next?"

 


Ben Chandler

Ben Chandler: Lottery Winner

Ben won the lottery and it changed his life, but maybe not for the better. He drives a Lamborghini, but he misses the way that life used to be before the winning lottery ticket gave him everything that money can buy. For Ben we recommend the books Why We Drive by Matthew Crawford and People Like Us by Dominick Dunne.

 

Why We Drive by Matthew Crawford

Why We Drive by Matthew Crawford

As a car enthusiast Ben seems like the type who would love reading this book blending philosophy and hands-on storytelling that unpacks why we drive. Crawford grounds the narrative in his own experience in the garage and behind the wheel, recounting his decade-long restoration of a vintage Volkswagen as well as his journeys to thriving automotive subcultures across the country.

Crawford leads us on an irreverent but deeply considered inquiry into the power of faceless bureaucracies, the importance of questioning mindless rules, and the battle for democratic self-determination against the surveillance capitalists. A meditation on the competence of ordinary people, Why We Drive explores the genius of our everyday practices on the road, the rewards of "folk engineering," and the existential value of occasionally being scared out of your mind.

 

People Like Us by Dominick Dunne

People Like Us by Dominick Dunne

The way journalist Gus Bailey tells it, in People Like Us, old money is always preferred, but occasionally new money sneaks in—even where it is most unwelcome. After moving from Cincinnati, Elias and Ruby Renthal strike it even richer in New York, turning their millions into billions. It would be impolite for high society to refuse them now. Not to mention disadvantageous. As long as the market is strong, there's absolutely nothing to worry about—except for those nasty secrets from the past. Scandal, anyone?

 


Jessica Chandler

Jessica Chandler: Social Media Influencer

Jessica is an appearance -obsessed social media influencer. She is hyper-focused on self-improvement and all that she can do to become the perfect person. Unlike her husband Ben, she enjoys their new life after the lottery. We think Jessica would enjoy Followers by Megan Angelo and Grown Ups by Emma Jane Unsworth.

 

Followers by Megan Angelo

Followers by Megan Angelo

An electrifying story of two ambitious friends and the dark choices they make to become internet famous. Orla Cadden is a budding novelist stuck in a dead-end job, writing clickbait about movie-star hookups and influencer yoga moves. Then Orla meets Floss—a striving, wannabe A-lister—who comes up with a plan for launching them both into the high-profile lives they dream about.

Thirty-five years later, in a closed California village where government-appointed celebrities live every moment of the day on camera, a woman named Marlow discovers a shattering secret about her past. Despite her massive popularity—twelve million loyal followers—Marlow dreams of fleeing the corporate sponsors who would do anything to keep her on-screen. At turns wry and tender, bleak and hopeful, this darkly funny story reminds us that even if we obsess over famous people we'll never meet, what we really crave is genuine human connection.

As an Influencer, we think Jessica would enjoy this dystopian novel about what happens when influencer culture goes too far, plus it might help with some self-examination of where her priorities lie.

 

Grown Ups by Emma Jane Unsworth

Grown Ups by Emma Jane Unsworth

Told in live-wire prose, texts, emails, script dialogue, and social media messages, Grown Ups is a neurotic dramedy of 21st-century manners for the digital age. It reckons with what it means to exist in a woman's body: to sing and dance and work and mother and sparkle and equalize and not complain and be beautiful and love your imperfections and stay strong and show your vulnerability and bake and box. 

 


Tony Hogburn

Tony Hogburn: Retired Football Player

Tony is a retired football player and a recovering drug addict. He voluntarily sought out Masha's help, but he is skeptical of her methods and reluctant to participate. After getting off to a rocky start with Frances they forge a strong connection over the course of their stay at the resort. We think Tony would enjoy Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby a tribute to fans and professional soccer players, and his burgeoning relationship with Frances is so similar to the plot of  This Close to Okay by Leesa Smith that we think he would see himself in the character of Emmett.

 

Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby

Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby

In America, it is soccer. But in Great Britain, it is the real football. No pads, no prayers, no prisoners. And that's before the players even take the field. Nick Hornby has been a football fan since the moment he was conceived. Call it predestiny, or call it preschool. Fever Pitch is his tribute to a lifelong obsession. Part autobiography, part comedy, part incisive analysis of insanity, Hornby's award-winning memoir captures the fever pitch of fandom—its agony and ecstasy, its community, its defining role in thousands of young men's coming-of-age stories. Fever Pitch is one for the home team. But above all, it is one for everyone who knows what it really means to have a losing season.

 

This Close to Okay

This Close to Okay by Leesa Smith

On a rainy October night in Kentucky, recently divorced therapist Tallie Clark is on her way home from work when she spots a man precariously standing at the edge of a bridge. Without a second thought, Tallie pulls over and jumps out of the car into the pouring rain. She convinces the man to join her for a cup of coffee, and he eventually agrees to come back to her house, where he finally shares his name: Emmett.

Alternating between Tallie and Emmett's perspectives as they inch closer to the truth of what brought Emmett to the bridge's edge-as well as the hard truths Tallie has been grappling with since her marriage ended-This Close to Okay is an uplifting, cathartic story about chance encounters, hope found in unlikely moments, and the subtle magic of human connection.

If you loved the dynamic relationship between Frances and Tony in the show/book we think you would love This Close to Okay. Plus Tony would probably enjoy this book even if on the surface he would be skeptical because it is who he is.

 


Spoiler Alert

If you have not read the book or watched the show Nine Perfect Strangers through episode four there is a spoiler in the next character description.


Lars Lee

Lars Lee: Investigative Reporter

Lars is an undercover investigative reporter planning to write an exposé on Tranquillum and Masha. Upon arrival, his personal life is also in upheaval following a breakup, and he has more in common with the other guests than he originally thought. Based on his profession, we thought Lars would enjoy Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe and Bad Blood by John Carreyrou.

 

Empire of Pain

Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe

The Sackler name adorns the walls of many storied institutions--Harvard, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Oxford, the Louvre. They are one of the richest families in the world, known for their lavish donations to the arts and the sciences. The source of the family fortune was vague, however, until it emerged that the Sacklers were responsible for making and marketing a blockbuster painkiller that was the catalyst for the opioid crisis.

Empire of Pain is a masterpiece of narrative reporting and writing, exhaustively documented and ferociously compelling. It is a portrait of the excesses of America's second Gilded Age, a study of impunity among the super elite and a relentless investigation of the naked greed and indifference to human suffering that built one of the world's great fortunes.

 

Bad Blood

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

The full inside story of the breathtaking rise and shocking collapse of Theranos, the one-time multibillion-dollar biotech startup founded by Elizabeth Holmes—now the subject of the HBO documentary The Inventor—by the prize-winning journalist who first broke the story and pursued it to the end. A riveting story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron, a tale of ambition and hubris set amid the bold promises of Silicon Valley.

 


More recommendations just for you!

If you want even more books with a similar feel to Nine Perfect Stangers we recommend checking out The Last Cruise by Kate Christensen, The Witch Elm by Tana Franch, and Behind Closed Doors by BA Paris.

Need personalized recommendations? Fill out a short form, and our Book Chat team will work hard to recommend the perfect book to match your personality.

Published on September 21, 2021
Last Modified December 06, 2021