23 Books Every Fan Of “House Of Cards” Should Read

    A House of Cards reading list.

    If you are like me — or seemingly half of America — you spent most of Valentine's Day weekend binge-watching the second season of House of Cards. Even President Obama is a fan of the show, publicly tweeting his anticipation of Season 2. This critically acclaimed series revolves around Frank and Claire Underwood (played by Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright), two Machiavellian power players who scheme, lie, and betray their way to the top. If the show's popularity and acclaim have shown anything, it is that Americans are fascinated by people who grab power by any means necessary. Although Frank and Claire commit all sorts of crimes, including murder, to get ahead, people want to root for them. Take, for example, the debate about whether or not Claire Underwood — a woman who cuts off another woman's health insurance and tells her, "I'm willing to let your child wither and die inside you if that's what's required" — is or is not a "feminist warrior." Whether we are attracted or repulsed by characters like the Underwoods, we all want to see what they will do.

    With some much appreciated help from fellow writers, I've compiled a variety of fiction and nonfiction books to read while you wait for Season 3 to be filmed. These books feature ruthless rulers, Machiavellian plotters, devious political machinations, intrepid journalists, and other elements that fans of House of Cards will love.

    1. House of Cards by Michael Dobbs

    2. The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli

    3. The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

    4. The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice by William Shakespeare

    5. I, Claudius by Robert Graves

    6. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

    7. After the Banquet by Yukio Mishima

    8. The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion

    9. A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin

    10. Watergate by Thomas Mallon

    11. All the President’s Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward

    12. The Selling of the President 1968 by Joe McGinniss

    13. The Dwarf by Pär Lagerkvist

    14. Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar

    15. The Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel García Márquez

    16. Reasons of State by Alejo Carpentier

    17. Forty-Four Stories About Our Forty-Four Presidents curated by Melville House

    18. Stumbling and Raging edited by Stephen Elliott

    19. Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff

    20. Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    21. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

    22. The Years of Lyndon Johnson series by Robert Caro

    23. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren


    Lincoln Michel's fiction appears in Tin House, Electric Literature, Unstuck, NOON, and elsewhere. He is a co-editor of Gigantic magazine and Gigantic Worlds, a forthcoming anthology of science flash fiction. Sometimes he draws authors as monsters. He tweets at @thelincoln.