15 vintage TV tie-in novels we want to read based on title alone

You can judge a book by its cover. When that book is called 'A Groovy Way to Die.'

Look, a book about Fonzie isn't exactly Charles Dickens. That being said, the television tie-in novel is a lost art. Sure, there are sci-fi expanded universe novels here and there, but back in the day seemingly every show made the leap to the printed page, from Marcus Welby, M.D. to Miami Vice. Even sitcoms sold novelizations, because sometimes in those quiet moments on the bus you still need to read about the exploits of the Sweathogs.

We picked through the libraries of the past to find some of the weirdest and most intriguing entries into the TV tie-in genre.

Here are some of our favorites. Did you read any of these growing up?

1. The Radioactive Camel Affair

By Peter Leslie (1966)

Why would you not read a book called The Radioactive Camel? This sounds more in line with the campier later seasons of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., as Napoleon and Illya track down some missing Uranium 235. Leslie also cranked out a bunch of novels in the Mack Bolan adventure series that once thrilled many young men.

Image: Amazon

2. The Happy Hippo

By Frank Denver (1967)

We're not certain how they squeezed an entire novel out of a relationship between a chimp and a hippo, but safari hats off to the Daktari writers.

Image: worldofrarebooks / eBay

3. The Monkees Go Mod

By Patrick O'Connor (1967)

The silly psychedelia of the television series carried over to the page, as the book jumped from comic strips to surreal short stories to dadaist art. In that way, it was likely closer to Head than the show. Check out 10 more things you might not know about the Monkees.

Image: Amazon

4. A Groovy Way to Die

By Richard Deming (1968)

From the trippy pattern to the groovy title, this book oozes 1960s cool. Even the adjectives are extremely of-the-era, as the Mod Squad clashes with "far-out politics and up-tight murder." The next book in the series was The Sock-it-to-Em Murders, naturally.

5. The Evils of Peyton Place

By Roger Fuller (1969)

Oooh, now this sounds salacious. We would have had to have stashed this under our bed. This volume focuses on the "brassy and immoral" character of Anne Higgenbotham.

Image: Amazon

6. The Flying Nun: The Little Green Men

By William Johnston (1969)

Congress sends investigators to check out reports of U.F.O.s But are they really just flying nuns? Probably! Still, we like the idea of an alien encounter with Sister Bertrille.

Image: scifiman61 / eBay

7. JoAnne Worley's Chicken Joke Book

By JoAnne Worley with Dick Matthews (1969)

Okay, it's not a novel, but it is an entire book of chicken jokes. This Laugh-In tie-in followed up a self titled comedy tome, Mod, Mod World and Inside Laugh-In.

Image: Amazon

8. Bomb in the Classroom

By William Johnston (1971)

Room 222 dealt with some heavy issues. These books really do venture into more morbid territory, don't they? And wait until you get to the next three…

9. The Bugaloos: Rock City Rebels

By Chris Stratton (1971)

The Sid and Marty Krofft production starred in a trio of novels, beginning with The Bugaloos and the Vile Vibes and ending with Benita's Platter Pollution. So, yes, the trippy "vibes" were carried over to the prose as well. In case you are wondering, the Bugaloos are not the rebels. That would be a group of rebellious teenagers who are mad at Benita for running over people with a steamroller.

10. The Partridge Family: Who's That Laughing in the Grave?

By Vance Staton (1972)

When we think Partridge Family we do not think "fiendish peril," but that is just what makes this cover so alluring. Is Keith Partridge the one laughing from the grave?! This "exciting novel" asks that you "dig" it.

11. The Brady Bunch in Adventures on the High Seas

By Jack Matcha (1973)

The Bradys head out on a cruise that quickly goes south thanks to a gang of jewel thieves. "Alice, Greg and Cindy are trapped in a locked room," the jacket blurb exclaims. This all seems rather dark for a Brady Bunch adventure.

12. M*A*S*H Goes to Las Vegas

By Richard Hooker and William E. Butterworth (1976)

"The madcap medics invade Sin City!" the cover proclaims. Radar is getting married at the Nero's Villa casino, and Archbishop Mulcahy is presiding over the event. The 4077th ventured far and wide in its series of novels. This was followed up by M*A*S*H Goes to ViennaM*A*S*H Goes to Montreal and M*A*S*H Goes to Moscow, just to name a few.


By William Johnston (1977)

Fonzie does not exactly seem like the University of Wisconsin type, and indeed he takes an unconventional approach to secondary education. The hip jukebox kicker heads to Speedy U., an institution promising a degree in a matter of weeks. He studies auto mechanics. According to one Amazon reviewer, the colorful characters include "a clumsy-chemist who's trying to invent coffee-flavored toothpaste; a would-be brain surgeon who practices on a head of cauliflower; and the beautiful Gisele, who seems to care more for her chicken than she does for the Fonz." You were expecting a climactic conclusion to the Happy Days book series?

Image: goodreads

14. The Sweathog Newshawks

By William Johnston (1977)

After Boom-Boom Washington's puff piece about himself is rejected by the school paper, the Sweathogs create their own press. Its motto is "Give the People What They Want, and What They Want is Tragedy, Crime and Sex." Something tells us Vinnie Barbarino wasn't exactly Tom Wolfe.

Image: NapoleonsBooks / Etsy

15. "Die, Chameleon!"

By Glen A. Larson and Robert Thurston (1986)

What a delicious, cheesy, pulpy title. Of course, Chameleon is no lizard, rather a character played by Fred Astaire on the TV show. Turns out, as we learn here, he's Starbuck's real father!

Image: Battlestarwiki

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JohnJBauer 22 months ago
You failed to mention the many, many Star Trek novels over the decades.
DariaBrooks 22 months ago
By the way—is MeTV ever going to add an old fashioned Saturday morning block featuring some of the series of Sid & Marty Krofft? We would LOVE to see ‘The Bugaloos,’ ‘Lidsville,’ ‘HR Pufnstuf’ and the others following those great Warner Bros cartoons.
DariaBrooks 22 months ago
I still own and have read all three of the tie-in novels for ‘The Bugaloos,’ and ‘Rock City Rebels’ is by far the best of the lot. While the series never got around to explaining the ‘Flat People’ of Rock City, this novel does—and it shines a whole new light on Benita’s seriously evil ways. (There are posted reviews of these novels on our Bugaloos page on Facebook). Excellent read!
BigGiant66 35 months ago
I read Fonzie Goes To College. I remember parts of it too. In auto shop class they were teaching him how to build a diesel engine.
JeffBaker 45 months ago
William Johnston was a master of comedy, especially in his novels based on "Get Smart." He also did a fun one based on "Bewitched," and an excellent novel based on the not-so-good show "Captain Nice." (He was up for and may have won an Edgar Award for an original mystery novel, too!
TVFF 45 months ago
I've been picking up vintage TV tie-in books the last couple years. I have some of Mannix, Kung Fu, Mod Squad, Partridge Family, Rat Patrol, etc. Maybe about 20-25 total. I've noticed that most of the Partridge Family books only have David Cassidy on the cover and not the whole family.
BryanWFrazier50 58 months ago
I collect Vintage TV Tie - In books from the 1980's and back !! In fact , I have most of the ones pictured above !!
waltsentme 62 months ago
Here's some more, if you want to fill in your collections!:
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