Like fine wines and cheeses, there are some books that, when read together, make each other sing. Always esoteric and gregarious, we at the humor section offer our literary pairing recommendations.
“Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert and “The Odyssey” by Homer
Take a long winded and fantastical journey with the books in this pairing. You’ll ask yourself, what seems more likely: blinding a Cyclops and then visiting the witch-goddess Circe, or finding true love in Bali?
“Less than Zero” by Bret Easton Ellis and “Looking for Alaska” by John Green
Chase the nihilistic bitter aftertaste of Bret Easton Ellis’ debut novel with John Green’s sweeter, nostalgic debut novel as a palate cleanser. You won’t feel much happier after finishing either book in this pairing, but you’ll be both glad you didn’t live in West Hollywood in the ’80s or ever go to boarding school in Alabama.
“Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens and “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” by J.K. Rowling
The narrative structure of “Great Expectations” is a bit headier than that of Harry Potter. Still, the parallels and eventual demises of Sirius Black and Abel Magwitch are perfect complements. And while both British orphaned protagonists have their respective complexities, the pairing finds Harry to be less grating and maligned on the palate than Pip.
“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen and “The Art of the Deal” ghostwritten by Tony Schwartz
These two best-selling works of fiction both have bitter, upsetting notes of sexism, mercantilism and pseudo-European class.
“Faust” by Goethe and “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller
A tried-and-true way to inject change into your daily existence is always a welcome thing. Both of these works grab readers with pretexts of vibrancy and spirit but, after approximately 80 pages of both books, leave one with a revolting sense that all of existence is but a mere ruse for petty mortals to fall for. Expect existential breakdowns and/or tears.
“Bright Lights, Big City” by Jay McInerney and “Das Kapital” by Karl Marx
This pairing requires the sampler to possess a varied set of tasting skills. Beginning with a barrage of mid-1980s yuppie culture, the palate is rocked by heavy tones of uppers being taken at night clubs. Quickly follow this gulp with a prolonged, measured sip from the second component of the pairing to counter the sense of late-capitalist horror instilled by the first. The infeasibility of this endeavor will make the pairing simply wither away, like a state apparatus.
“Hop on Pop” by Dr. Seuss and “Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace
The first selection of this pairing will prompt you to think you’re in for something sweet and simple, but after reading the entire filmography of James Orin Incandenza Jr. in a 10-page long footnote, you’ll notice a surprising aftertaste of daddy issues in both books.