Are you looking for book recommendations? Oddly, one of the places to look for some book recommendations are K-dramas.
If you have watched a dozen Korean dramas by now, you should know how much K-dramas love books.
Sometimes, books are mentioned to build up the character background, or to make the character look smart like in Encounter (2018).
Other times, a book plays a crucial key or a turning point, as it does in The King: Eternal Monarch (2020).
While most of the books are in Korean and unfortunately not available in English translation (yet), a handful of titles that feature in these dramas are in English.
Here are seven book recommendations from some of your favourite Korean dramas:
1.’The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane’ by Kate DiCamillo (My Love from the Star)
The male protagonist in My Love from the Star quotes this book so much throughout the series that the novel became a bestseller in major Korean bookstores.
Written by American writer Kate DiCamillo, ‘The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane’ follows the life of a china rabbit (a rabbit made of ceramic, just to be clear).
Overall, the novel circles around the themes of loss and recovery as well as the journey to self-discovery.
One of the famous quotes in the book is, “If you have no intention of loving or being loved, then the whole journey is pointless.”
2.’The Happy Prince’ by Oscar Wilde (My Absolute Boyfriend)
My Absolute Boyfriend (2019) follows the story of Zero Nine (Yeo Jin-goo), a humanoid robot who is programmed to be in love with his one and only girlfriend.
When he was first programmed, his programmer read out ‘The Happy Prince’ by Oscar Wilde over and over again to remind Zero to never become like the character in the story.
The Happy Prince and Other Tales (1888) is a collection of short stories for children.
Apart from ‘The Happy Prince’, other short stories by Wilde are ‘The Nightingale and the Rose’, ‘The Selfish Giant’, ‘The Devoted Friend’, and ‘The Remarkable Rocket’.
3.’To Room Nineteen’ by Doris Lessing (Because This is My First Life)
Since the female lead Yoon Ji-ho (Jung So-min) in Because This is My First Life (2017) loves to read, books can be found throughout the series.
One of them is ‘To Room Nineteen’ by Doris Lessing which is actually a collection of short stories.
‘To Room Nineteen’ itself is a short story of a couple who get married because it is the logical thing to do.
One day, the wife realises her career is sidelined because of her duties as a wife and a mother.
So the wife finds herself a secret refuge, in room 19, a place where she can be herself.
4.’World’s End Girlfriend’ by Kim Yeonsu (Because This is My First Life)
In one of the episodes of Because This is My First Life, Ji-ho receives this book as a gift.
It is a short story collection entitled ‘World’s End Girlfriend’ by Korean writer Kim Yeon-su.
There is a no English translation of the book.
However, there is an audiobook produced by Literature Translation Institute of Korea.
5.’The Wind in the Willows’ by Kenneth Grahame (When the Weather is Fine)
In the drama When the Weather is Fine (2020), Eun-seob (Seo Kang-joon) is the owner of ‘Goodnight Bookstore’.
Besides selling his books, Eun-seob’s life revolves around drinking coffee, reading, writing on his blog.
One of his favourite books is The Wind in the Willows by Scottish author Kenneth Grahame (1908).
Eun-seob loves the book so much that he owns a collection of at least twelve different Korean editions of it.
This children’s book focuses on four animals; Mole, Rat, Toad and Badger.
A former employee of Bank of England, Grahame moved to an old farmhouse in Blewbury, England in 1908.
There, Grahame used the bedtime stories he had told his son Alastair to write the basis for The Wind in the Willows.
6.’Owl At Home’ by Arnold Stark Lobel (When the Weather is Fine)
Speaking of the drama When the Weather is Fine, Eun-seob turns his bookstore into a book club meeting at night on weekly basis.
During the meeting, members are encouraged to share about their favourite books, poems or verses.
In one of the meetings, the youngest member of the book club Jung Seung-ho (Han Chang-min) shares his favourite book ‘Owl at Home’.
It is a 1975 children’s book written by American author Arnold Lobel.
The story follows Owl who lives by himself in a warm little house and makes a friend when he goes for a walk one night.
If you have young children at home, this is a perfect book to read for them.
7.’Unterm Rad’ by Hermann Hesse (Encounter)
Also known as ‘Beneath the Wheel’, this 1906 novel by Hermann Hesse is on the heavier side of our book recommendations.
It follows the story of Hans Giebenrath, a talented boy sent to a seminary to study and his life after he is expelled.
Overall, Hesse is criticising education system that focuses only on students’ academic performance and nothing more.
The male lead character Kim Jin-hyuk (Park Bo-gum) reads this book when he is travelling on a bus, which makes some of us wonder, “Doesn’t he get any motion sickness?”