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Book Madness: Mad Men Edition

Posted: Mar 30 2015


As we have a soft spot for design and all things New York, we are big fans of Mad Men and eagerly await the final episodes of the final season airing in less than a week. This "End of an Era" happens to coincide with something else we love, Book Madness, and so we reached out to Billy Parrott, librarian at the New York Public Library, to see if he would fill out a Mad Men-inspired bracket. Billy is the creator of one of our favorite blogs, the Mad Men Reading List, which is a compilation of every book that has appeared on the show. As Billy explains it, "these titles are a great way to gain insight into the episodes and the social and cultural times in which the series is set. Like the set and costume design, the literary choices of the show really add a stamp of authenticity."

We asked Billy to imagine how different characters on the show would rank each book. He chose Don Draper, Peggy Olson, Joan Harris and Roger Sterling to represent each conference and selected Sally Draper as the decider of the Final Four and Championship. The results were very interesting. Scroll below to see his completed Mad Men bracket and commentary on his selection process.


(Click image for larger version of Book Madness - Mad Men Bracket)

What was your thought process for filling out the bracket?

I think all fans of the show really know the characters... the way they think, what they like, why they do what they do... so it was fun to think about what books they would choose. The thought process was easy and most of the choices fell right into place. 

Did any matchups really stump you?

I don't know that there were any real stumpers, just that some choices were more obvious than others. When working on the Mad Men Reading List for The New York Public Library, I often wondered what books would appear on the show and checked best sellers lists from the late 1960s at the beginning of each season to get an idea of what characters might be reading. Peggy would definitely read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Lolita? That would be on most of the male character's bookshelves. Joan would read Where the Wild Things Are to her child, and Roger would have his secretary buy The Very Hungry Caterpillar so that he could give it as a gift to the same child. It's a form of readers advisory, which is something that librarians everywhere do amazingly well! Librarian’s rock.

Why did you select Sally over all other characters to pick the winner?

I think Sally was a given. What other reader on the show could choose the winner?! How many of the characters showed real growth and development over 7 seasons? Peggy did rise to become a confident professional in a male dominated world, but fans of the show watched Sally literally grow up, from reading The Horse That Liked Sandwiches and Nancy Drew to The History of the Decline of the Fall of the Roman Empire and Rosemary's Baby. It had to be Sally!

Book Madness - Mad Men Edition

Peggy Selection

    • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Joan Selection

    • Where the Wild Things Are

Don Selection

    • To Kill a Mockingbird

Roger Selection

    • The Great Gatsby

Final Four - Selected by Sally Draper

    • Where the Wild Things Are def A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
    • To Kill a Mockingbird def The Great Gatsby

Championship - Selected by Sally Draper

    • To Kill a Mockingbird def Where the Wild Things Are


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