How to read the 'You' series in order if you've binged season 4

The 'You' series differs on the page versus screen—here's how, and why you should catch up on the books

You series. Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg in episode 407 of You. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023
(Image credit: Netflix © 2023/Future)

The You series isn't just a televised one—yes, like Bridgerton, Lupin and Shadow and Bone before it, the thrilling Netflix show starring the character we love to hate, Joe Goldberg, is based on a book series by Caroline Kepnes. And her captivating page-turners have hooked fans from the get-go...even if the protagonist's obsessive ways left also them slightly disturbed.

Caroline Kepnes' 2014 bestseller You was the starting point for the series, which follows the head of a bookshop who becomes infatuated with a writer in the making, and stops at nothing to ensure that she becomes his. It's a literary love story that gets dark, and quickly—we're sold!

If you've finished streaming You season 4—which aired on the streamer between February 9 and March 9—and are looking for a way to tide yourself over until season 5 (the final season, sob!), then why not catch up with the novels that first brought Joe to life?

How to read the 'You' series in order:

Currently, there are three books in Caroline Kepnes' You book series: 2014's You, 2016's Hidden Bodies, and the most recently released You Love Me, which hit shelves on April 1, 2021. 

So if you want to dive into You (the Kepnes novel), this is the order you should read them in, in order to avoid getting the storyline mixed up!

What is 'You' the book about? 

The first book in the You series, You (obvs) introduces us to East Village bookstore manager Joe Goldberg. When he meets a beautiful aspiring wordsmith, Guinevere Beck, at the store, he becomes deeply entranced—and entirely too obsessive with her. 

And unfortunately, Beck's life is seemingly an open book, with social media posts all over the place. As you might have guessed, this makes it all the more simple for Joe to get exactly what he wants—even if requires does something immoral. 

You: A Novel (The You Series) by Caroline Kepnes

You: A Novel (The You Series) by Caroline Kepnes
$10.22 / £7.35

What is 'Hidden Bones' about?

You clearly needed a sequel and author Caroline Kepnes delivered, much to thriller fans' delight. In this follow-up, we journey alongside the wicked bookseller as he heads to the West Coast, attempting to put his demons to rest. Will history repeat itself when Joe finds a new love interest in Los Angeles?

Hidden Bodies: A You Novel (The You Series)

Hidden Bodies: A You Novel (The You Series)
RRP: $13.74 / £6.99

What is 'You Love Me' about?

In the highly-anticipated third installment of the You series, readers find Joe attempting to move out of the city and set up shop in the California 'burbs. But his new routine starts to look oddly familiar when he finds himself falling for his fellow librarian Mary Kay DiMarco. If she's not willing to go along with his quest for love, how will things play out?

You Love Me: A You Novel (The You Series)

You Love Me: A You Novel (The You Series)
RRP: $13.35 / £12.99

Will there be a fourth book in the 'You' series?

Yes, a fourth You novel is coming! Kepnes announced the new book, entitled For You and Only You, on Instagram in November 2022, writing: "I'm so excited to invite you back into Joe's head and I hope you love it in there!" 

The title will be available to purchase everywhere books are sold (online and in-store) on Thursday, April 13, 2023—so there's not long to wait now!

While people have been wondering about You book 5 as a hint to what season 5 of the TV series will bring, it's important to note that the Netflix show is actually one ahead of the book series. This means that season 4 and book 4—while similar—don't technically correspond (e.g. the 4th season wasn't directly influenced by the book), which means that the 5th season likely won't correspond to a book either. That is, unless Kepnes very quickly writes another!

You - Production Stills

(Image credit: Netflix)

However, fans might note that there are some similarities between You (Kepnes novel) and You (the Netflix show) when it comes to book 4 and season 4.

In the upcoming novel, Caroline Kepnes reveals that Joe has travelled from California to Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he has been accepted onto a writing fellowship. There, he falls into a seriously well-to-do, privileged crowd (sound familiar?) until he meets Wonder, who luckily, appears to be as down-to-earth as Joe. And soon, he'll do anything to protect her...

For You and Only You: A Joe Goldberg Novel

For You and Only You: A Joe Goldberg Novel
RRP: $30 / £13.19

'You' series book versus show: how are they different?

Like any onscreen adaptation, storylines tend to change along the way. There are certain characters in the novels that we don't get to see in the TV series (like the professor who is also in love with Beck). And, conversely, there are characters, such as Annika, who exist on the show but not in the book. 

Without giving away any spoilers, particular characters who commit murder in the show don't do so in the book. Plus, a certain horrifying scene in the first season is something entirely new and not in the novel. 

It goes without saying that both print and TV need to be consumed—they're equally as engrossing and frightening! 

Catch up on You series 4, which is available to stream on Netflix now.

Danielle Valente
Digital News Writer

Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few. 

When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again. 

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