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December 18, 2014

The (Annotated) 'Lost' Reading List

by Ryan McKee, posted Jan 19th 2010 6:00PM
Historically, TV shows don't give their viewers homework. They avoid make any allusion that viewers should be reading more literature than gobbling another 'Jersey Shore' marathon.

However, fans of 'Lost' ('Lostheads,' 'Losters') have become accustomed to jumping on their computers immediately after the Bad Robot production logo finishes. While fan message boards help casual viewers understand some nuances, hardcore Others research references in philosophy, religion, science, and literature. They hope to discover what the hell it all means.Historically, TV shows don't give their viewers homework. They avoid make any allusion that viewers should be reading more literature than gobbling another 'Jersey Shore' marathon.

However, fans of 'Lost' ('Lostheads,' 'Losters') have become accustomed to jumping on their computers immediately after the Bad Robot production logo finishes. While fan message boards help casual viewers understand some nuances, hardcore Others research references in philosophy, religion, science, and literature. They hope to discover what the hell it all means.

'Lost' essentially assigns a summer reading list each season. And just like they did in school, most fans promise themselves they will read it all but procrastinate and have to cram the week before. To help you feel prepared going into the last season of your favorite show, we've compiled a list of five books that producers transparently dropped in last season. Get the CliffsNotes and surprise your viewing party with scholarly observations.

'The Little Prince' by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The fourth episode of season five focuses on Claire's son Aaron and shares its name with this children's book. Written by a French aviator who crashed mysteriously in the ocean, the novella is illustrated and under 100 pages. You may not even need the study guide. There are numerous similarities between the book and TV show. The prince is a blond young boy, like Aaron, who lives on an isolated asteroid and has a "magic box" that conjures what one thinks.

Possible insight into next season: The boy claims death is the only way to get back to his planet. Locke 'died' to reunite the survivors and Claire seems to have 'died' to reunite with her father. Death may be the only means to their final destination.

'Ulysses' by James Joyce
Even English majors avoid reading this entire book, so don't feel guilty about the CliffsNotes. In the episode titled '316,' Ben is reading this stream-of-consciousness masterpiece while on the flight that will crash on the Island. When Jack questions his ability to just read, Ben responds that it's better than just waiting for something to happen. Ironically, that's exactly what most readers do while reading this 1,000-page novel that chronicles one day in the life of Leopold Bloom in Dublin on June 16, 1904.

Possible insight into next season: 'Penelope' is the title of the book's last episode and is from the viewpoint of the main character's wife. Penelope is the name of Desmond's wife, who knows more than she's been saying. Look for her to do some explaining. Also, the book meditates on how minor events can drastically alter history, comparing them to a weaver. Jacob is shown as a weaver in last season's finale.

'A Separate Reality' by Carlos Castaneda
When Sayid travels back in time and meets a young Benjamin Linus, Ben gives him this book to pass the time while imprisoned. This allegedly true account tells of the author's apprenticeship with a Yaqui Indian Sorcerer, Don Juan Matus. In it, they use peyote to communicate with higher consciousness, much like Locke's vision quest or the truth serum used on Sayid.

Possible insight into next season: According to the shaman, reality is created by infinite numbers of "luminous eggs" unseen by the human eye. However, enlightened minds can enter the "eggs" or bodies of others to transcend bodily death, just like Jacob's nemesis seems to have done with Locke's body.

'Our Mutual Friend' by Charles Dickens
This book will arguably lend the most insight into 'Lost.' It first pops up in Season 2. Penny gives it to Desmond and he saves it to be the last thing he reads before death. The most recent allusion is last season when viewers see Desmond has named his boat after the book.

Possible insight into next season: Just like 'Lost,' the novel constantly alludes that more is going on beneath the surface. Yet, Dickens rushed to write the novel under tight deadlines, to be published serially, and thus not every loose string gets tied. 'Lost' writers have said they respect that pressure he went through, possibly suggesting they're flying by the seat of their pants more than we think. Don't expect everything to be completely explained by the end.

'Everything That Rises Must Converge' by Flannery O'Connor
In the season finale, the mysterious Jacob is reading this book as John Locke is pushed out the window by his father. O'Connor is known for her short stories about flawed characters living everyday events, which often end suddenly and tragically. You only need to read a few stories in this collection to grasp this Southern Gothic style.

Possible insight into next season: The book's title comes from the French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. The poetic expression summarizes the Christian belief that everyone converges at the same end, Judgment Day. Perhaps every character must answer to the Island, which is why advertising for Season 6 shows all of the past cast-mates, alive and dead.

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