Books to Read if You Like Shameless

March 10, 2015 Top Ten Tuesday 33

Greetings Bookworms!

I have a confession to make. We pay too much for cable. That said, part of the reason we do so is because I’m addicted to a show called Shameless. It’s a reboot of a British show I’ve never seen, but it worked for The Office and it’s working for Shameless, yo. William H Macy plays the world’s most dedicated alcoholic/worst father. His eldest daughter Fiona (Emmy Rossum) has taken the helm of the impoverished Gallagher family who live on the South Side of Chicago. The show has approximately zero boundaries and I mean that in the best possible way. Since the folks at The Broke and the Bookish proposed this week’s topic “books for people who love …” I figured I’d get my Shameless on.

shameless ttt

1. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls (review)- This little beauty winds up on so many of my lists, but there’s a reason for it. The parents in this book give Frank and Monica a run for their money. The poverty? The substance abuse? The generalized crazy? Yes, yes, yes.

2. Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend by Erika T Wurth (review)- Dysfucntional families all up in this piece. Actually, the main character in this book takes care of her younger twin siblings a lot, so she reminds me of Fiona Gallagher. Plus, she makes some terrible life decisions, so she’s got a double Fiona going on.

3. This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper (review)- This book is lacking the poverty and outrageously bad parenting, but the Foxmans have a whole lot of their own problems and PLENTY of shenanigans.

4. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson- If you ever wanted to get inside Frank Gallagher’s head while he’s on a bender, this is the book you need to read. Holy crazy drug trip, you guys.

5. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (review)- Francie Nolan, my heart! Poor girl has the complicated alcoholic parent and urban poverty thing down.


6. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (review)- Eleanor’s home life is on par with Shameless, that’s for sure! Actually, she could BE a Gallagher, what with the red hair and all…

7. The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick (review)- One of the undercurrents of Shameless is the way mental illness often dovetails with substance abuse, but it’s still got heart when things are super sad, much like The Silver Linings Playbook

8. Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison- Oh man, I wanted to call social services about every 10 pages when reading this novel. Rural poor devastatingly abusive household. It’ll break your heart.

9. The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton- This book was such a surprise for me. I read A Map of the World and HATED it so I was super hesitant to pick this one up. Lucky I overcame my misgivings because this book was SO good. And sad. Poverty, again, but also a super smart brother who tries to get out of the muck (much like Lip!)

10. Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs- This book blows my mind. Outrageous lack of parental supervision, neglect, and casual drug usage. Why, it’s just like the Gallagher household.


Talk to me, Bookworms! Do any of you watch Shameless? Am I alone on this bandwagon? Is it weird that I’m a little obsessed with a show about super upsetting stuff?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

33 Responses to “Books to Read if You Like Shameless”

  1. Akilah

    I’ve heard good things about Shameless, though I haven’t watched it (no cable). I also picked TV for my topic. Great minds, am I right?

    Bastard Out of Caroline broke my heart a thousand different ways. Man.

  2. Sandra

    I am sitting right next to you, on the passenger seat of this bandwagon. I love the show. In Germany it’s not shown on TV, at least not that I know of. So I just watched the third season on DVD. The Gallagher’s make me laugh although some things are so crass, I wonder if you are really allowed to laugh. For example when Frank makes his perfectly healthy son believe he will die of cancer.
    Eleanor & Park is high on my list already. Probably a good book to wait until the next season is out on DVD.

    • Words For Worms

      Yesssssssss! Glad to have you with me! The Gallaghers make me laugh and cry all the time! That story line with Carl, man. Sometimes I feel guilty for laughing, but I do!

  3. Jenny @ Reading the End

    I totally watch Shameless! I have to wait for it to come out on DVD, so I’m perpetually behind. But I love it — Ian and Lip are my favorites, and I get really sad when things aren’t going well for them. (So, often.) And Emmy Rossum is fantastic in that part.

    The British show’s good too! It’s where James McAvoy met his wife. And also, the Jimmy/Steve character is far less loathsome in the British version, on account of it’s James McAvoy. 😀

  4. Cornelia

    I love Shameless (I’d seen the UK version first), and this is such a great list! I’ve been meaning to read “Bastard out of Carolina” for ages. I also like (/find meaning in) watching shows about difficult subjects, but find reading about them much more…difficult.

  5. Catherine

    So many great options here. Glass Castles and Bastard Out of Carolina? Yes and yes.

    I don’t this Shameless show but if you can handle super upsetting but amazing you should read A Little Life. 700 pgs of best prose I’ve read in a long time but tough material.

  6. Michelle Hornett

    I’ve just finished the first season of Shameless on Netflix (Canada) and I’m desperate to find a book that will take me on the journey that Shameless has. But …of the books recommended are any like the romance between Steve and Fiona? It’s this part that has me wanting to watch along with the total dysfunction. Suggestions on which book to start with please. Going to cottage and need some good reads and no Netflix there.

  7. Louise

    Shameless is absolutely fantastic and I am a little bit late but after watching it, I am not beyond excited to find something similar that will keep me interested. This search lead me to your post and onto this page. Thank you for the suggestions!

    Just left the book store with a book called “The Nest”. Not sure if it is similar but if you have read it, please let me know your thoughts.

  8. Mel

    Another book is “the Last Thing He Needs” by JH Knight. This doesn’t have the schemes Shameless does but it’s another an oldest sibling taking care of younger ones due to substance abusing parents.

Talk to me, Bookworms!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.