The Lost Reading List: 13 Books That Helped Mold the Series
Wondering how to fuel your imagination once Lost ends? Luckily, the show leaves behind a long and wonderful reading list. Lost's writers (and avid readers) have used books to build and subvert expectations, introduce the island's mysteries, and define characters. Sawyer's love of reading was our first tip-off that he had the intellect for long cons. The show feels designed with readers in mind: The more you read, the better your odds of catching its many winks and allusions. Here are just 13 books that have been crucial to Lost:
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, by Lewis Carroll
In Season 1's "White Rabbit," John Locke (Terry O'Quinn) encourages Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox) to pursue the vision of his deceased father, Christian Shephard, into the woods, calling the vision a white rabbit. Locke goes on to prophesize that everything that happens on the island happens for a reason.
White rabbits, the literal kind, turn up often on the show. In Season 3, a young Ben Linus (Michael Emerson) follows a white rabbit past the security fence into the "world" of the others, meeting Richard Alpert (Nestor Carbonell) in the process. Also in Season 3, the insignia of the Looking Glass station is a white rabbit and a watch, a direct reference to Lewis Carroll's fantasy world. Aaron and David are also seen reading the book during the series, and this season saw Jack and Hurley Reyes (Jorge Garcia) observing their lives in the flash-sideways universe through a mirror.
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Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
In the classic Season 4 episode "The Constant," Daniel Faraday (Jeremy Davies) refers to Desmond's time travel experiences as being "unstuck in time." This is the exact same description given to Slaughterhouse protagonist Billy Pilgrim. Miles uses the novel's theory of time travel (what happened, happened) to explain the concept to Hurley in Season 5.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
In Season 3, Locke accuses Ben of being the "man behind the curtain ... the Wizard of Oz." But in fact Jacob is the man behind the curtain for most of the series. Dorothy Gale, in the book, has an uncle named Henry, and Ben's alias is Henry Gale. He claims to have arrived — as the wonderful Wizard did — in a balloon. When Ben, as Gale, saves Locke, their dialogue is similar to that in the movie adaptation of the book: "What did you think, I was going to leave you here?"
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The Bible is referenced many times. It provides the names for many characters (Jacob, Abbadon, Adam and Eve) and episodes, including "Exodus," "Fire and Water," and "The 23rd Psalm." Biblical references, or possible references, abound: The missing piece of the Swan Orientation film was found inside a hollowed out Bible. Mr. Eko (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) cites Psalm 23 right before the smoke monster kills him. There's a character with the very Biblical-sounding name "Christian Shephard."
The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
In Season 2, Locke gives a copy of the book to Ben Linus, who is under the guise of Henry Gale. Ben draws a map on the back page of the novel to the balloon of Henry Gale, promising his wife's remains will be found there. When the survivors find the body of the real Henry Gale, Ben admits his deception and identifies himself as an Other.
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Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
In the Season 3 episode named for the novel, Desmond Hume (Henry Ian Cusick) finds a copy of it that contains a copy of a photo he has been carrying of himself with lost love Penny Widmore (Sonya Walger). He also finds a satellite phone belonging to Naomi Dorrit, a mercenary sent to the island with the Kahana crew. The satellite phone is eventually activated in the season finale, enabling the survivors to contact the freighter, and leading to the eventual escape of The Oceanic 6.
Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
Characters reference the book and its film adaptation, Apocalypse Now, on several occasions, especially in reference to Locke's Colonel Kurtz-like descent into weirdness.
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Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
The boys in this 1954 novel, like the characters in Lost, live on an island they believe to be haunted by a terrifying monster. We're willing to bet at least one enterprising eleventh-grader has done a compare-and-contrast between Jack and Locke, and the Lord of the Flies' Ralph and Jack.
Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
Sawyer reads this book in jail in Season 3. Later, in Season 6, he tells the Man in Black the ending of the book, in which George shoots Lennie in the head, and draws his gun. The Man in Black talks Sawyer down, however, and convinces him to help him recruit more of Jacob's candidates in his quest to leave the island.
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Bad Twin, Laurence Shames (ghostwriting for fictional character Gary Troup)This Lost tie-in novel is about private investigator Paul Artisan, hired by Clifford Widmore of the Widmore family, to locate his identical twin. Paul soon learns that the Widmores are more complex than they seem. Oceanic Airlines and Mr. Cluck's Chicken Shack are also mentioned within the book.
The novel's fictional author, Gary Troup, survived the crash of Oceanic 815, but was the first person to die on the island when he was sucked into the plane's jet engine. Sawyer Ford (Josh Holloway) was seen reading a copy of the manuscript in Season 2, but Jack burned it before he could finish.
Our Mutual Friend, by Charles Dickens
In Season 2, we learned that Desmond keeps a copy of the book with him and intends for it to be the last one he ever reads. While stationed at the Swan and contemplating suicide, he opens the book and finds a love letter left by Penny, which gives him a reason to stay alive. In Season 5, we see that Desmond and Penny's boat is named "Our Mutual Friend."
Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe
Every island-based story owes a debt to this fictional autobiographical account of a man's 28 years on a remote island. Actually, so does every story written in or translated from English, since Crusoe was among the first, if not the first, English-language novels.