Over the last four seasons of This Is Us, the We Are Bookish staff has fallen in love with the Pearson family. We laugh with them, we cry (frequently) with them, and now we want to read with them. Here, we’ve carefully paired our favorite This Is Us characters with the perfect book recommendations. Some are poignant, some are lighthearted, and some are simply hilarious.
You can never have too many book recommendations. Tell us in the comments which books you’d pair with This Is Us characters.
For Jack Pearson: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Some of the most impactful moments from season four involved Jack and a young Randall having honest conversations about race. Randall’s teacher Mr. Lawrence gave Jack a copy of Langston Hughes’ The Weary Blues to share with Randall, and we think Jack would also benefit from reading Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ letter to his son about what it means to grow up Black in America.
For Rebecca Pearson: The Comfort Food Diaries by Emily Nunn
Every year on the anniversary of Jack’s death, Rebecca makes his favorite lasagna. Rebecca understands that food doesn’t just fill our stomachs, it has the power to nourish our souls and to connect us to the people we love. That’s why we’re recommending Emily Nunn’s The Comfort Food Diaries. Nunn shares the ways that cooking and traveling helped her to survive after losing her brother. She also includes important recipes from her journey that we think Rebecca would love to try her hand at.
For Kevin Pearson: August, Osage County by Tracy Letts
Kevin’s life has been filled with ups and downs since he left his days as The Manny behind, but we’re so proud of him for pursuing projects that he’s truly passionate about. To help him on his journey, we’d offer this Pulitzer prize-winning play from Tracy Letts. It’s a dramatic and tragic dark comedy about a dysfunctional family. We think it could help Kevin to confront his own complex emotions about his family, while reminding him of the power of a good script.
For Kate Pearson: Noteworthy by Riley Redgate
As an adult, Kate continues to have a strong connection to the memories and emotions that shaped her teenage years, which is why we think she’d be a fan of young adult novels. We’d recommend she pick up Riley Redgate’s Noteworthy, which explores the lengths one girl goes to find her voice and the lessons she learns along the way.
For Toby Damon: The Martian by Andy Weir
Toby’s jokes have been cracking us up since his first appearance, and we have a good feeling he’d enjoy Mark Watney’s hilarious narration of life alone on Mars. Plus, Toby is obsessed with Star Wars—making The Martian his perfect blend of humor and sci-fi adventure.
For Randall Pearson: Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
In Furiously Happy, memoirist Jenny Lawson opens up about living with depression and anxiety disorder. But, as the cover suggests, she does so using dark humor and wry observations. Randall has been coping with anxiety since he was young, and we think he’d find Lawson’s book relatable, honest, and hilarious.
For Beth Pearson: You Can’t Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson
Beth possesses sharp humor, quick wit, and a straightforward attitude. For her, we’d recommend Phoebe Robinson’s You Can’t Touch My Hair. Robinson delivers hilarious and honest essays about pop culture, feminism, and being a Black woman in modern America. We think Beth would love Robinson’s tell-it-like-it-is style, and it might even inspire her to write her own zinger-filled memoir.
For William Hill: The BreakBeat Poets edited by Kevin Coval, Quraysh Ali Lansana, Nate Marshall
We don’t see William as much in the later seasons, but he’s still one of our favorite characters. This anthology combines two of William’s favorite things: poetry and music. The poems draw their inspiration from hip-hop music and culture, and the authors (born between 1961 and 1999) come from across America. We think William would love this collection’s wide range of experiences and voices, and he’d certainly be tempted to share it with his son.
For Deja Andrews: SLAY by Brittney Morris
Deja is often unsure of herself and her place in the world, and she deserves a safe space where she can be herself. We think she’ll find just that in Brittney Morris’ YA debut, which follows a teen girl who creates a virtual relatity video game (inspired by Black Panther‘s Wakanda) that celebrates Black excellence. Who knows, maybe it’ll help inspire Deja to keep working on her science project and pursue a STEM career.