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I am a reader at my core, but given the choice of entertainment, I will choose television over books. I know, I know, but there’s something about a good TV series that I love so much. One of the first shows I fell in love with was Lost, JJ Abrams’ popular survival sci-fi drama with the notoriously questionable ending. I’ve repeated it several times since Lost finished its run. Last summer I paid special attention to the many books and literary references throughout the show.
The island has some bookworms, including Sawyer, the southern villain with a penchant for often gruesome nicknames. Sawyer’s reading list is very white. Yes, the man had a plane crash and his reading material was limited to what people had in their suitcases. However, numerous books have been featured and referenced in Lost as a whole, with a general preference for white authors. If Lost were produced in 2021, would Sawyer’s reading list be more diverse? It is possible if JJ Abrams himself diversifies his reading.
Spoilers for Lost I think, but the show came out in 2004. You had time.
Are you there god It’s Margaret from Judy Blume
Aside from the title, which is quite an island vibe, this book Lost doesn’t offer much thematically. What I want to know is who traveled with it in their suitcase? I feel like a touchless grandma bought this to give to her grandchild who was nearing puberty but definitely already knows what’s going on because it’s 2004 grandma, I have AOL. In any case, reading about bras, scoliosis braces and periods is at least one form of pointless escape from the island drama. 3/5 stars
Those chosen by Chaim Potok
This book focuses on groups of Jewish fathers and sons and the differences between Orthodox and Hasidic Jews in a historical context. Since this book is neither read on screen nor examined thematically, I give it 3/5 stars.
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Watership Down by Richard Adams
I don’t even know where to start with this one because it freaks me out. Watership Down is the dark fable of a community of rabbits in search of a utopia with topics such as survival, leadership, responsibility. Watership Down also features a myth that is astounding, similar to Lost. Rabbits appear in all six seasons of Lost. Not so funny, the copy of Watership Down Sawyer is reading was originally Boone’s. 4/5 stars.
From Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
The novel from the time of the depression deals with topics such as isolation, trauma and the futility of dreams. References to this novel are frequent, but the most famous reference to Steinbeck’s novel is a scene in season 6. Sawyer and the Man in Black take a walk in the jungle and Sawyer describes the plot, effectively restoring the ending. 5/5 stars for reference.
Ayn Rand’s well head
The Fountainhead is about a Conman who is in love with a woman named Katie. In the featured episode, Kate is on one of many jungle hikes. Yawning. 1/5 stars.
Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie
This is a classic Poirot novel in which the detective tries in vain to vacation at a beach resort. One of the resort guests is strangled to death while another guest pretends to be a corpse in an attempt to solve the case. Sawyer reads Evil Under the Sun in episode 3.14 when Nikki asks him for help. Nikki is buried alive later in the same episode. 4/5 stars as a harbinger.
A fold in the time of Madeline L’Engle
A wrinkle in time is the perfect way to describe all of the flashbacks, forward flashes, and sideways flashes in Lost. Just wrinkles. This book also includes an evil entity known as “The Black Thing”, multiple dimensions, and references to theology. Sawyer reads it in episode 1.18, “Numbers”. This is one of my personal favorite books so I’m giving it 5/5 stars.
Bad Twin by Gary Troup
Sawyer reads a manuscript of it in season 2. It’s not a real book. 0/5 stars.
Lancelot by Walker Percy
Lancelot is the story of a man who discovers he is not his daughter’s father and responds by blowing up his house and killing his wife. He is then admitted to a hospital where his reality merges with nightmares and memories. In parallel, Kate was shown to have murdered Wayne in a similar manner. Hurley’s time in the mental hospital was plagued by guilt that eventually turned into hallucinations that he couldn’t separate from reality. Sawyer reads Lancelot in Season 2, then goes to his stack of books on his dresser. 2/5 stars.
The invention of the morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares
This surrealistic novel is about a refugee who lives on a desert island and keeps a diary of his bizarre experiences. When “tourists” arrive, he notices that things are not quite right. According to some sources, Lost was based in part on this book. Sawyer reads The Invention of Morel in Season 4 at the Other’s Barracks. 2.5 / 5 stars for irony.
Lost is such a literary TV show that I couldn’t put everything I wanted to say in one post. The next time you revisit one of your old favorites, keep an eye out for clever references or hidden gems. TV people are book people too. Check out our TV archives for more fun watching TV.