My personal favorite top five best things about abc’s TV show LOST are as follows:
5) The smoke monster sounds like an NYC taxi cab
4) Wide range of well-developed characters
3) Riveting cliffhangers and mind-blowing plot twists
2) Exotic island locale
1) Josh Holloway
You’ll notice that I listed Josh Holloway (who plays Sawyer) as the single greatest thing about LOST (numbers 1-4 were just buildup). Before you jump to any conclusions, I didn’t chose him as number 1 simply for his rural southern drawl, fabulous biceps, penchant for nicknames, or general bad boy sexiness. I chose him because Sawyer reads.
Exotic island locale aside, the escapist appeal of LOST sucked me in when I first saw Sawyer reading on the beach. His roguish good looks and devil may care attitude make reading seem just as exotic as being stranded on a desert island with him. I just wish I had a poster of him getting caught reading. Sexiest. Bookworm. Ever.
There are some great websites out there that list the numerous books that are referenced throughout the show, and ABC features an official LOST book club on their website which offers an open forum for people to discuss what they’re reading and also links curious readers to Amazon so they can buy the books, which is fantastic (any TV show that encourages viewers to buy books has an A+ in my, um, book).
I’ve read some books on these lists for school and others at my leisure, but reading them under the lens of LOST is a mind-blowing experience. I read The Turn of the Screw by Henry James in college, and hated it. Then it had a brief cameo in Season 2 (The DHARMA orientation video that Desmond shows Jack and Locke in the Swan is hidden behind it), and James’s particular brand of paranoid gothic ghost story totally set the tone for the DHARMA initiative to be super creepy and suggestively supernatural. Miles, the spiritualist that comes to the island in season 4, even has the same name as the little kid in James’s novel that sees ghosts! Brilliant! I had never read Philip K. Dick’s novel VALIS, and picked it up because it was on Flavorwire’s LOST reading list. Now I’m thinking that the Island could be a twin of our reality that’s fundamentally and spiritually flawed, and our heroes are sent to fix the pain and suffering on the island much like Jesus was an ambassador to Earth from Heaven. Or something. Reading The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares lent some insight into why no one on the island seems to really die. Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time hinted how or why the island traveled through time through season 5… or maybe not. Desmond is seen reading Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories in LA X, a short novel about the importance of storytelling, which (I think) is a suggestion for all viewers eagerly awaiting the long-anticipated conclusion of their favorite series to keep in mind that however the story of our dear heroes ends, the important part is that the story was told–and told well.
Even though Sawyer doesn’t read all of the books I’ve mentioned, he is one example of how LOST really wants its viewers to pick up a book and get reading. I suggest reading any of these books before the season ends; although I have the sneaking suspicion that once the season does end, I won’t stop reading for the sake of LOST. I used to think that I wanted answers from the show, but if I’ve learned anything from following Sawyer’s example it’s that the key to peeling back the layers of time travel, love triangles, intrigue and mystery that are unique to LOST can only be done by the help of the literary references deliberately (and brilliantly) scattered throughout the series. Chad Post from Open Letter foreshadows a conclusion to the series with another literary reference that I completely agree with–that the greatest works of literature will just barely escape the grasp of our understanding, and instead inspire more thought, more debate, and (best of all) more reading.