What’s that book Don Draper’s reading, you ask? We’ve got the answer for you.
Everyone’s favorite ad man Don Draper and his cohorts from AMC’s hit period drama Mad Men have been spotted in scenes reading heralded books from the era.
In anticipation of the sixth season of Mad Men, which premieres on Sunday, we’ve rounded up a list of books that make an appearance in episodes of Mad Men thus far.
1. Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence gets passed around among the ladies in the secretary pool. Season 1, Episode 3 “Marriage of Fiagro” / Lady Chatterly’s Lover was first published in 1928 in Italy, but made its notorious debut in the United States in 1960.
2. Betty Draper reads bedtime stories to Bobby from Nursery Friends from France, translated by Olive Beaupre Miller. Season 1, Episode 4 “New Amsterdam” / This 1920s children’s book is a collector’s item with illustrations by Miska Peresham.
3. Exodus by Leon Uris is discussed around the office and read as “research” when Don Draper and Roger Sterling are trying to win the business of Menken’s department store. Season 1, Episode 6 “Babylon” / This 1958 international bestselling novel is about the founding of the State of Israel.
4. While in bed next to Betty, Don is seen reading The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe. Season 1, Episode 6 “Babylon” / This 1958 novel tells the story of employees at a New York publishing company, which was adapted into a film in 1959.
5. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand is an obsession of Bert Cooper, who tells Don to buy a copy. If you’re paying attention, you can spot it on the bookshelf in the Sterling Cooper offices. Season 1, Episode 8 “The Hobo Code” / This 1957 dystopian novel was Rand’s fourth and final published book.
6. Meditations in an Emergency by Frank O’Hara makes a few appearances in one episode, including being read by Don in a bar. Season 2, Episode 1 “For Those Who Think Young” / This book is a collection of poems by American writer O’Hara, first published in 1957.
7. Betty reads “A Diamond as Big as the Ritz” and other short stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Season 2, Episode 4 “Three Sundays” / This novella was first published in 1922 as part of Tales of the Jazz Age.
8. We see Betty staying up late to read Ship of Fools by Katherine Anne Porter. Season 2, Episode 9 “Six Month Leave” / This 1962 novel is an allegory about the rise of Nazism.
9. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner is spotted in the hands of Don’s lover named Joy. Season 2, Episode 11 “Jet Set” / This Southern Gothic novel tells the story of aristocrats who struggle as they lose their family reputation and face financial ruin.
10. Sally Draper is shown reading aloud to her Grandpa Gene from a copy of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon. Season 3, Episode 3 “My Old Kentucky Home” / Variations on this nonfiction title have been used by subsequent authors over the years.
11. True-to-form for an advertising agency, Confessions of An Advertising Man by David Ogilvy is a topic of conversation. Season 3, Episode 7 “Seven Twenty Three” / An advertising copywriter, Oliglvy’s book is well-written and considered required reading for ad industry professionals.
12. Don reads The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns in Japanese Culture by Ruth Benedict in an episode with the same name. Season 4, Episode 5 “The Chrysanthemum and the Sword” / Influential book in post-World War II America, shaping the ideas about Japanese culture.
13. Young Sally Draper reads The Clue of the Black Keys by Carolyn Keene. Season 4, Episode 9 “The Beautiful Girls” / This is the 28th volume in the Nancy Drew mystery series, published under the pseudonym. Actual authors were Wilhelmina Ranking and Harriet Stratemeyer Adams.
14. In a moment of ego and reflection, Roger Sterling publishes his own book entitled Sterling’s Gold. Season 4, Episode 11 “Chinese Wall” / This fictitious memoir has been published in real life, containing Roger’s quips and quotes from the show.
15. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John Le Carré makes an appearance as Don’s bedtime reading. Season 4, Episode 13 “Tomorrowland” / A tale of western espionage, this novel received critical acclaim when it was published in 1963.
16. Sally and Bobby’s step-grandmother Pauline is reading Where Love Has Gone by Harold Robbins after the kids go to bed. Season 5, Episode 4 “Mystery Date” / Harold Robbins was a bestselling author, best-known for his book The Carpetbaggers.
17. To help learn the language of his new wife and in-laws, Don studies up on The Berlitz Self-Teacher: French. Season 5, Episode 7 “At the Codfish Ball” / Berlitz Publishing is a leading source for language education and world travel books.
18. Megan and Don talk about what his father-in-law will think of his reading choices, while he reads The Fixer by Bernard Malamud before bed. Season 5, Episode 7 “At the Codfish Ball” / This novel won the U.S. National Book Award for fiction in 1967.
19. More bedtime reading for Don with Odds Against by Dick Francis. Season 5, Episode 9 “Dark Shadows” / International bestselling crime writer, Dick Francis’ novels center around horse racing.
20. Pete Campbell reads Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown as a bedtime story to his child. Season 5, Episode 11 “The Other Woman” / This highly acclaimed book is a classic bedtime story for generations of children.
21. The Inferno by Dante Alighieri translated by John Ciardi appears as Don’s beach read in Hawaii. Season 6 Preview Trailer / This is the first part of the epic poem series, The Divine Comedy, followed by Purgatorio and Paradiso.
The mass market paperback edition of The Inferno shown in Don’s hands in the trailer was published in 1954. We still don’t know what year Mad Men Season 6 will take place, this book doesn’t provide a clue. No such luck. Season 5‘s storyline left us in the Spring of 1967. The show’s creator Matthew Weiner has kept the time period of the next season tightly under wraps. Until Sunday…
Meredith is Associate Creative Director at Half Price Books Corporate.
You can follow her on Twitter at @msquare21.