The Bold Type, Freeform’s new show about three twenty-somethings working for the fictional scarlet magazine, has inspired both love and ire from magazine professionals. Whether or not The Bold Type offers a realistic depiction of a magazine, the show is full of literary and journalistic references. Beyond this, there are tons of literary depictions of magazine work that you might like if you love The Bold Type.
- In one particularly memorable scene, Sutton yells “I’m Nora Ephron, Bitch” in triumph. This show loves Nora Ephron, and honestly, why wouldn’t it? If you don’t know Nora Ephron, I don’t know what to do with you. Not only did she write classic romantic comedies like Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally and my favorite, You’ve Got Mail, she was a prolific magazine columnist and author. If you want to beef up on the Nora Ephron canon, The Most of Nora Ephron includes her collections of columns, novel Heartburn, and the script to When Harry Met Sally. You won’t regret it.
- The Year of Magical Thinking and Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion. Another writer mentioned in the Bold Type, Joan Didion is well known for both her journalism (found in collections like Slouching Towards Bethlehem) and her National Book Award winning memoir The Year of Magical Thinking. I picked these two because I love them, and because they give a varied depiction of Didion as a writer, but any one of her books is worth your time.
- Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell. I know, it’s wildly unrealistic and the internet has decided it hates Carrie Bradshaw (with some good reason). But the series, and book that inspired it, are must reads if only for the ways in which they transformed women’s television and still influence popular conceptions of the life of a writer (we definitely don’t have Carrie’s shoes).
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. Plath’s work has long been overshadowed by claims that she’s “crazy” and her suicide, but her work is amazing. While The Bell Jar is an amazing story of mental illness, Esther works at a women’s magazine in New York the summer she ends up institutionalized. It’s a brilliant book and so much more than her critics will admit.
- Helen Gurley Brown, Sex and the Single Girl. The Bold Type’s Scarlet is loosely based on Cosmo, and as such it’s only fitting to include former Cosmo editors Sex and the Single Girl on this list. Important because of it’s place in both magazine history, and the history of feminism, Brown’s book is essential reading.
I’ve tried to focus on writers mentioned in The Bold Type, and books essential to the history of women’s magazines.