Almost as much as the booze and mid-century decor, AMC’s Mad Men used books to define the sixties generation.
Characters were often seen perusing or reclining aside towering stacks of TBR paperback bestsellers on their night tables. Serious fans of the show would map plots of Don Draper’s reading materials onto his “real life” emotional state of mind, aware of creator Matt Weiner’s slavish and lavish attention to detail and propensity for seeding foreshadowing and plot just about anywhere. Not one frame of the 45 minute show was ever wasted.
I don’t think I’d be too off base to believe that readers of an academic library blog would be dedicated spine readers like me and would agree that part of the fun of watching Mad Men was keeping an eye out for the books. Also sharing our idea of geeky fun was the New York Public Library, which has maintained the “Mad Men Reading List” since 2010. (Why didn’t we think of that!?)
But no need to travel to Manhattan to schlep some of Don or Sally Draper’s favorites to the beach this summer. Falvey has dozens on our shelves:
Meditations in an Emergency – Frank O’Hara (see “Table of Contents”)
Confessions of an Advertising Man – David Ogilvy
Babylon Revisited and Other Stories – F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Chrysanthemum and the Sword – Ruth Benedict
Exodus – Leon Uris
Ship of Fools – Katherine Ann Porter
Lady Chatterley’s Lover – D.H. Lawrence
The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner
Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
The Agony and the Ecstasy – Irving Stone
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire – Edward Gibbon
Despite Sterling Cooper/McCann Erickson Chief Copywriter Peggy Olson admitting that she never knows whether it’s good or bad, this list is just the tip of the iceberg. (In this case, it’s good, Peg.) Check NYPL for more books and our catalog for availability. And remember, now that you’re not watching so much television, you’ll have more time to read! Woo hoo!
Mad Men also has celebrated and skewered the field of advertising. The bookend music of last night’s series ending episode: Paul Anka’s “The Times of Your Life” and the Hilltop Singers’ “I’d like to Teach The World To Sing” both were parts of iconic landmark ads that used some of our favorite human emotions to sell film and sugar water.
Usage of these songs exemplify tactics that Draper described in an very early episode, serving to bookend the entire series: “Advertising is based on one thing, happiness. And you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of the road that screams reassurance that whatever you are doing is okay. You are okay.”
The fanfare surrounding the end of Mad Men and unceasing growth of communication and business marketing majors speaks to how the field of advertising is perennially fascinating and attractive, with hundreds of new Villanovans entering the field yearly.
Business librarian Linda Hauck maintains a helpful and browser-friendly subject guide that highlights advertising resources that are fun to dip into even if you don’t have a paper due and would just like to trace the steps of real Mad Men (and Women) through the history of advertising.
Here are some curated links, and feel free to stop by or contact us if you’d like direction or ideas for further digging.
- Good site for history of Advertising
- More popular treatment in timeline form
- A selection of books on the history of advertising
- Advertising Subject Guide