There was a time when soap operas were not considered a topic worthy of serious discussion, let alone a book. There might be an article here or there, but the soaps were mostly a forgotten genre relegated to “bored housewives.”
Soap Opera Books Every Fan Needs
All that changed in the mid-1970s when a rapid growth of a press corp devoted exclusively to covering soap operas created and fed a market for books on the subject. In 1976 and 1977 alone, more than 18 histories, annuals, and star directories were published. More have followed in the years since.
The Wonderful World of TV Soap Operas and Soap World (1974; 1983)
By Robert LaGuardia
LaGuardia’s first endeavor and his later updates remain the gold standard of books about soaps.
The Soap Opera Encyclopedia (1985, 1987)
By Christopher Schemering
Encyclopedia of the soaps. Excellent!
The Serials: Suspense and Drama by Installment (1977)
By Raymond William Stedman
Fantastic book about the genre, with a particular interest in radio soaps.
All My Afternoons: The Heart and Soul of the TV Soap Opera (1979)
By Annie Gilbert
A treasure for old-time viewers, especially of soaps in the 1970s.
Both Of Me (1980)
By Mary Stuart
The Search for Tomorrow leading lady describes what it was like creating the genre for television.
Worlds Without End: The Art and History of the Soap Opera (1997)
By the Museum of Television and Radio
Academic essays about the genre and brief histories of classic shows.
And if you have a favorite show or shows, there are lots of books covering the individual soaps. The 1990s, especially, saw the release of numerous coffee table books, including:
All My Children: The Complete Family Scrapbook (Gary Warner, 1994)
Another World: The Thirty-Fifth Anniversary (Julie Poll, 1999)
As The World Turns: The Complete Family Scrapbook (Julie Poll, 1996)
The Bold and the Beautiful: A Tenth Anniversary Celebration (Robert Waldron, 1996)
Days of Our Lives: The Complete Family Album (Lorraine Zenka, 1995)
General Hospital: The Complete Scrapbook (Gary Warner, 1995)
Guiding Light: The Complete Family Album (Julie Poll and Caelie Haines, 1997)
One Life To Live: Thirty Years of Memories (Gary Warner, 1998)
The Young and the Restless: Special Silver Anniversary Collector’s Edition (Barbara Irwin and Mary Cassata, 1998)