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Mad Men Reading List

Don Draper reading

Don Draper reading

In honour of all the mad men and women of Sterling Cooper & Partners, this reading list covers all the literary references in all seven seasons so far of one of the best shows on television.

These are books that have been mentioned in, appeared in or are connected to the world of Mad Men.

The original source of most of the following information, apart from watching the show on DVD and spotting the books (specifically the title and author of the books on the list), can be found at the links to the right.

I have added my own description of the scenes in which the books appear, as well as some further facts about the books and how they were referenced in the show.

Many thanks to the New York Public Library for their invaluable book list.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Season 1

S01E01 Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

The Crisis of the Old Order by Arthur Schlesinger Jr. (Book in Pete's office as he talks to Trudy on the phone)

The View from Chivo by H. Allen Smith; The Peking Man is Missing by Claire Taschdjian; La Presidenta by Lois Gould; Masterpieces of World Literature in Digest Form by Frank Magill (Books in Don's office as he talks to Dr. Greta Guttman about cigarettes)

S01E03 Marriage of Figaro

Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence (The girls of Sterling Cooper discuss the book in the break room)

S01E04 New Amsterdam

Nursery Friends from France by Olive Beaupre Miller (translation) (Betty reads to Sally and Bobby before bed)

Italy by Herbert Kubly and the editors of Life (Betty's reading material while babysitting Glen Bishop)

S01E06 Babylon

The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe (Don reads in bed on Mother's Day; Don and Betty talk about the film of the same name featuring Joan Crawford)

Exodus by Leon Uris (Don receives the book from clients trying to bring greater tourism to Israel; the film with Paul Newman is mentioned)

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S01E08 The Hobo Code

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand; The Crisis of the Old Order by Arthur Schlesinger Jr.; The Americans: The Colonial Experience by Daniel Boorstin (Books in Bert Cooper's office; Bert is particularly fond of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and suggests it to Don)

Meditations in an Emergency by Frank O'Hara

Meditations in an Emergency by Frank O'Hara

Season 2

S02E01 For Those Who Think Young

Meditations in an Emergency by Frank O' Hara (A bar patron is reading the book as Don has lunch)

S02E02 Flight 1

The Agony and the Ectasy by Irving Stone (Peggy's mother is reading the book)

S02E03 The Benefactor

Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk (Bobbie Barrett is holding the book mid-phone call with Don)

S02E04 Three Sundays

Babylon Revisited and Other Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Betty tries to read as the Draper's spend Sunday in the living room)

S02E08 A Night To Remember

Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies by C.S. Forester (Peggy gives the book to her sister to give to her brother-in-law who enjoys adventure books)

Moby Dick by Herman Melville (Peggy mentions it when giving her sister the C.S. Forester book)

S02E09 Six Month Leave

Ship of Fools by Katherine Ann Porter (Don and Betty are taking time apart and Betty is having a drink and reading in the living room)

S02E10 The Inheritance

Junior Classics Volume One (Fairy Tales and Fables) and Volume Seven (The Animal Books) (Books on top of the television set as Betty and Glen Bishop watch cartoons)

S02E11 The Jet Set

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (Joy reads in bed next to Don)

Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy

Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy

Season 3

S03E02 Love Among The Ruins

The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary 3 Volume Set, Published in 1987 (In Lane Pryce's office)

S03E03 My Old Kentucky Home

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Volume One by Edward Gibbon (Sally reads it to grandpa Gene before bed)

S03E06 Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (Lane mentions his interest in American literature in the aftermath of the accident at work and the feeling of witnessing his own funeral and eulogy)

S03E07 Seven Twenty Three

Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy (Roger and Don discuss the book and the advertising profession on the way to work)

Be My Guest by Conrad Hilton (Peggy mentions that her mother gave her Hilton's book while talking with Pete about the firm's accounts and Duck)

S03E09 Wee Small Hours

The Bible (On Conrad Hilton's desk as he talks to Don in the middle of the night about praying as a way to solve problems)

S03E10 The Color Blue

The Group by Mary McCarthy (Betty reads in the bathtub)

Helping Yourself with Psychiatry by Frank Caprio; Set Theory and Logic by Robert Stoll; Meeting with Japan by Fosco Maraini; The Corps by W.E.B. Griffin (Books on the shelf as Betty discovers Don's secret box of photos)

The Chrysanthemum and the Sword by Ruth Benedict

The Chrysanthemum and the Sword by Ruth Benedict

"Sterling's Gold" by Roger Sterling

"Sterling's Gold" by Roger Sterling

Season 4

S04E05 The Chrysanthemum and the Sword

The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene DuBois (Sally reads as Don leaves the children with Phoebe while he goes on a date with Bethany Van Nuys)

The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture by Ruth Benedict (Don reads this book to prepare for business with potential Japanese clients from Honda)

The Horse that Liked Sandwiches by Vivian L. Thompson (Carla reads while she and Sally wait at the psychiatrist's office)

S04E08 The Summer Man

Aesop's Fables: The North Wind and the Sun by Aesop (Faye tells the story to Don at dinner to explain how she does her job)

S04E09 The Beautiful Girls

The Clue of the Black Keys by Carolyn Keene (Sally reads in Don's office)

S04E11 Chinese Wall

Meeting with Japan by Fosco Maraini (On the shelf in Peggy's apartment as Abe and Peggy talk in the morning)

Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships by Eric Berne (Faye reads while waiting in Don's apartment for their date)

Sterling's Gold: Wit & Wisdom of an Ad Man by Roger Sterling (Jane presents Roger with the newly published book after a rough day)

Back cover: "Advertising pioneer and visionary Roger Sterling, Jr., is a founding partner of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. He lives in New York City with his wife Jane."

(According to the Mad Men DVD commentaries, this book is actually available for purchase and contains Roger's best one-liners and ad man related wisdom from the show)

S04E13 Tomorrowland

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (Henry reads among boxes of books being packed up in the Draper residence as he and Betty are about move)

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John Le Carre (Don reads in bed as Megan returns from a night out in Los Angeles)

You Are Not the Target: A Practical Manual of How to Cope with a World of Bewildering Change by Laura Archera Huxley; Gazella by Stuart Cloete (Books in Don's office as he contemplates calling Faye and his new life direction)

Season 5

S05E01-E02 A Little Kiss

Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo (Abe mentions the book about a soldier's experiences in the Vietnam war at Don's 40th)

The Sand Pebbles by Richard McKenna; A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House by Arthur Schlesinger (Books on the shelf behind the band playing at Don's 40th birthday party)

S05E03 Tea Leaves

Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler (Michael Ginsberg jokes that even Hitler 's book was said to have a voice but it doesn't mean it was any good, in reference to Peggy's comment about his book having a voice)

Sterling's Gold by Roger Sterling (Roger has a copy on his desk as he, Pete and Lane talk about the Mohawk Airlines account)

S05E04 Mystery Date

Where Love Has Gone by Harold Robbins (Pauline reads while babysitting the Draper-Francis children)

S05E06 Far Away Places

The Life of Greece by Will Durant (Book on the shelf as Peggy and Abe get ready for the day)

The Tibetan Book of the Dead (Bardo Thodol) by Padmasambhava (Mentioned at the LSD party that Roger and Jane attend)

'Only awareness can make reality, and only what's real can become a dream, and only from a dream can you wake to the light' (quoted in the episode)

S05E07 At the Codfish Ball

The Fixer by Bernard Malamud (Don reads in bed and Megan says he doesn't have to alter his literary choices to impress her father)

The Berlitz Self-Teacher: French (Don takes a break from work to learn a little French as Megan's parents are in town)

S05E08 Lady Lazarus

The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon (Pete reads on the train on the way to work)

S05E09 Dark Shadows

The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander (Sally reads in the Draper apartment)

Odds Against by Dick Francis (Don reads in bed)

Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley (Michael Ginsberg references the poem saying "Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair")

Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1st Edition)

Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1st Edition)

S05E11 The Other Woman

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (Pete reads to his daughter)

Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson (Peggy's job interview with Ted Chaough; he asks Peggy if she is familiar with Emerson and discusses his ideas)

"In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, — no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground, — my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, — all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God." (The passage in the book that Ted Chaough refers to; Chapter 1 from Nature)

S05E12 Commissions and Fees

Nat Turner's Slave Rebellion: The Environment, The Event, The Effects by Herbert Aptheker (Glen Bishop reads while he waits for Sally in the Draper's apartment)

S05E13 The Phantom

Twice 22 by Ray Bradbury; Tai-Pan by James Clavell; The Smokejumpers by Randle M. Hurst; The Sunday Gentleman by Irving Wallace (Books in the Draper apartment as Marie meets Megan's acting friend Emily)

Third Girl by Agatha Christie (Book on Beth's bed as Pete visits her at the hospital)

The Inferno by Dante Alighieri

The Inferno by Dante Alighieri

The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry

The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry

Season 6

S06E01-E02 The Doorway

The Inferno by Dante Alighieri (translated by John Ciardi) (Don reads on a beach in Hawaii while thinking of Sylvia)

"Midway in our life’s journey I went astray from the straight road and woke to find myself alone in a dark wood" (Don's voiceover of the book to begin season six)

"In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost". Alternate translation by John D. Sinclair, from The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri: Inferno by Dante Alighieri

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare (The ad campaign Peggy is working on alludes to the play; the phrase in the campaign "lend me your ears" appears in the 1967 Beatles song 'With a Little Help From my Friends' and is a line in the play spoken by Marc Antony at Caesar's funeral)

S06E05 The Flood

Topaz by Leon Uris (Betty reads in bed)

S06E06 For Immediate Release

Something by Ralph Waldo Emerson (Peggy has a fantasy in which Ted is reading an unspecified book by Emerson ie something by Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Sterling's Gold by Roger Sterling (Roger has copies of the book around his office and in his travelling bag)

S06E07 Man with a Plan

The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry (Sylvia reads while waiting for Don throughout the episode; Don takes Sylvia's book and reads while on his way to a meeting with Mohawk Airlines in Ted Chaough's plane)

S06E08 The Crash

Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin (Sally reads in bed as she hears an intruder in the apartment)

I Ching: The Book of Change by John Blofeld (Book in the creative department as Wendy Gleason visits and does psychic readings)

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann (On the bookshelf in the Draper's apartment)

S06E10 A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (Referenced in the title and themes of the episode)

Bhagavad Gita by The Sage Vyasa 'Now I am become Death. [The] destroyer of worlds' (Michael Ginsberg quotes the scripture as he appears to lose faith in the advertising profession)

How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success in Selling by Frank Bettger (Bob Benson listens to the book on vinyl in his office)

S06E11 Favors

Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie (Nan Chaough falls asleep reading this book as Ted gets back from work to see his kids)

S06E12 The Quality of Mercy

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (On the desk as Glenn visits Sally at boarding school)

Evolution by Ruth E. Moore (Sally talks to Rolo in the boarding school dorm)

A Small Town in Germany by John Le Carre

A Small Town in Germany by John Le Carre

Season 7

S07E01 Time Zones

A Small Town in Germany by John Le Carre (Lee Cabot's reading material for her flight with Don)

The Penny Wars by Elliott Baker (Peggy's reading material from Mad Men season seven promotional photos)

S07E03 Field Trip

The American Way of Death by Jessica Mitford (Jim Cutler reads in his office)

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (Bobby mentions Frankenstein as being among his favourite fictional characters)

Better Homes and Gardens Junior Cook Book: For the Hostess and Host of Tomorrow (In the Francis house)

S07E04 The Monolith

Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth (Don reads in his office)

From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne (Margaret mentions that her parents read it to her)

Listen to the Warm by Rod McKuen (Caroline reads at her desk)

The Detective by Roderick Thorp (On Don's living room table)

S07E06 The Strategy

The Ceremony of Innocence by Ronald Ribman (Megan looks for her things in the New York department)

Katie Mulholland by Catherine Cookson (Pete reads in bed as he waits for Bonnie)

S07E08 Severance

Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain (Roger calls Diana 'Mildred Pierce')

U.S.A. Trilogy by John Dos Passos (Diana the waitress is holding the book)

S07E12 Lost Horizon

Dora, An Analysis of A Case of Hysteria by Sigmund Freud (Betty reads in the kitchen)

On The Road by Jack Kerouac (Don mentions the book when hallucinating Bert)

S07E13 The Milk and Honey Route

The Godfather by Mario Puzo (Don reads in bed)

The Woman of Rome by Alberto Moravia (A beautiful woman by the pool is reading this book)

Hawaii by James Michener & The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton (Books given to Don by Andy)

Miscellaneous books appearing in the Draper house

Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book

Betty Crocker's Hostess Cookbook by Betty Crocker

Books related to Mad Men

A Double Scotch: How Chivas Regal and the Glenlivet Became Global Icons by F. Paul Pacult

Advertising in America: The First 200 Years by Charles Goodrum and Helen Dalrymple

From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor by Jerry Della Femina

Furniture & Interiors of the 1960s by Anne Bony

Handbook of Consumer Motivations by Ernest Dichter

Heaven's Bride: The Unprintable Life of Ida C. Craddock, American Mystic, Scholar, Sexologist, Martyr, and Madwoman by Leigh Eric Schmidt

How to Predict What People Will Buy by Louis Cheskin

Memoirs of a Beatnik by Diane di Prima

Mid-Century Ads: Advertising from the Mad Men Era by Jim Heimann

Motivation in Advertising: Motives That Make People Buy by Pierre Martineau

Peyton Place by Grace Metalious

Producing Fashion: Commerce, Culture and Consumers edited by Regina Lee Blaszczyk

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

Sex and the Single Girl by Helen Gurley Brown

Swimming in the Steno Pool: A Retro Guide to Making it in the Office by Lynn Peril

The 1960s by John Peacock

The Arrangement by Elia Kazan

The Conquest of Cool by Thomas Frank

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard

The Hucksters by Frederic Wakeman

The Image, or What Happened to the American Dream by Daniel Boorstin

The Lonely Crowd by David Riesman

The Male Mystique: Men's magazine Ads of the 1960s and '70s by Jacques Boyreau

The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit by Sloan Wilson

The Real Mad Men: The Renegades of Madison Avenue and the Golden Age of Advertising by Andrew Cracknell

The Strategy of Desire by Ernest Dichter

'The Swimmer' in The Brigadier and the Golf Widow by John Cheever

Mad Men and Philosophy: Nothing Is as It Seems edited by James B. South, Rob Carveth and William Irwin

Mad Men and Philosophy: Nothing Is as It Seems edited by James B. South, Rob Carveth and William Irwin

Books about Mad Men

Analyzing Mad Men: Critical Essays on the Television Series edited by Scott Stoddart

Mad Men: Dream Come True TV edited by Gary R. Edgerton

Mad Men: The Illustrated World by Dyna Moe

Mad Men and Philosophy: Nothing Is as It Seems edited by James B. South, Rod Carveth and William Irwin

Mad Men, Mad World: Sex, Politics, Style, and the 1960s by Lauren M.E. Goodlad, Lilya Kaganovsky and Robert A. Rushing

Mad Men on the Couch: Analyzing the Minds of the Men and Women of the Hit TV Show by Stephanie Newman

Mad Men Unbuttoned: A Romp Through 1960s America by Natasha Vargas-Cooper

The Fashion File: Advice, Tips, and Inspiration from the Costume Designer of Mad Men by Janie Bryant

The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men by Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin

Mad Men Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. In 'The Phantom', what movie do Don and Peggy watch?
    • Alfie
    • What's New Pussycat
    • Gambit
    • Casino Royale
    • Georgy Girl
  2. In 'The Suitcase', how many men did Herman "Duck" Phillips say he killed in Okinawa?
    • 15
    • 16
    • 10
    • 17
  3. In 'The Fog', Roger says to Pete "If it isn't ...."
    • Sammy Davis Jr
    • Martin Luther King
    • Medgar Wiley Evers
    • Susan B. Anthony
  4. In 'Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency', what kind of vending machine appears in the hospital waiting room?
    • Dr Pepper
    • Pepsi
    • Coca-Cola
    • Mountain Dew

Answer Key

  1. Casino Royale
  2. 17
  3. Martin Luther King
  4. Dr Pepper

Interpreting Your Score

If you got 4 correct answers: Well Done. You are a true Mad Men fan.

Don Draper reading and drinking, two of his favourite pastimes

Don Draper reading and drinking, two of his favourite pastimes

Now, why not enjoy an Old Fashioned and read a book.

But also continue watching the show, its phenomenal.


Silvia Munguia from San Diego, California on August 24, 2016:

Wow! Great research!

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