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‘Hell of a Book, It’s About Bunnies’: 8 Crucial Literary Works on TV Shows

By Nadia Chaudhury | Seriously Random Lists | October 21, 2014 |






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1. Around the World in 72 Days by Nellie Bly, Boardwalk Empire
The one book that young runaway Gillian Darmody owned happened to be Around the World in 72 Days by heroic Elizabeth Jane Cochrane, who used “Nellie Bly” as her pen name, not unlike how Gillian wrote a letter to Nucky from a psych ward as…Nellie Bly. The book also serves as a callback to Margaret Thompson’s fascination with Carrie Duncan’s failed attempt to fly across the ocean. To both characters, these adventures bring just-out-of-reach hope of a future that’s full of freedom and wonder. (Around the World also appears in Pixar’s Up, if you really want to pull at the heartstrings.)


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2. Watership Down, by Richard Adams, Lost
”Hell of a book. It’s about bunnies,” the well-read Sawyer said of Adams’ novel about a small group of rabbits looking to establish a new home for themselves. Hm, that sounds familiar…


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3. The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells, Orphan Black
Dr. Ethan Duncan read and gave Kira this apt (and inappropriate for children) book about experiments gone wrong, which just so happened to contain his genetic coding secrets about the clones, including Kira’s mom, Sarah.


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4. Inferno by Dante, Mad Men
Don Draper’s life is just one big inferno, an implication made visual when he reads Dante’s tale, which was loaned to him by his lover, Sylvia, while on vacation with his wife, Megan.


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5. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, Breaking Bad
When Gale gifted the book that would lead to Walter White’s downfall, he chose to read a poem about a man learning from a “Learn’d Astronomer,” until he grows “tired and sick” and goes off on his own. Not sure what that has to do…WW? NOW I GET IT!


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6. Howl by Allen Ginsberg, Gilmore Girls
Howl is what made Jess that much more alluring to little Rory Gilmore, because of course it did. He acted as if he never read the book, stole it from her bookshelf, and even wrote notes for Rory. That, among other reasons, is why they should have stayed together. #TeamJess


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7. “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats, The Sopranos
Sure, it’s another poem about the impending apocalypse, but “The Second Coming” is also the masterpiece that depressed and troubled A.J. was studying before he attempted suicide and was saved by his dad in season six. He later quoted the poem at a funeral in the series finale.


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8. Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham, Justified
As season two Boyd transformed into an entirely different character than he was in the early episodes, shacking up with Ava and ditching the sleeveless t-shirts, Of Human Bondage was a personal favorite in his collection. Walter Goggins chose the novel intentionally, commenting, “I think it kind of accurately reflects where Boyd’s been.”


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