I don’t write about television much, if at all, on this blog. So you probably don’t know that I am obsessed with the television series Lost. Lost, however, is very literary television, which is why it appeals so strongly to me. This is a show that is known for being confusing and misleading, but it certainly helps if you’re broadly read.
The series creators have actuallly compared Lost to a book series, with each season corresponding to one novel. Not a lot of television writers think of themselves as novelists, which is another reason why I think Lost is so great. There are weak and strong seasons, just as any book series would have weak and strong entries. I like to think of Lost as being most like Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, since both explore the mysteries of time and space. The series creators have said that King’s works have influenced them. Perhaps that’s why the on-island book club was reading Carrie.
Lost is also a literate show. It features a lot of books in the show itself, which has spawned book clubs in the real world. Many of the characters read frequently on-screen, despite being shot at, blown up and transported through wormholes, and we want to read what they’re reading. I am keeping my own Lost book list, and I’ve read about a third of the books. You’ll discover some really good books about challenging topics like time travel (Slaughterhouse-Five), the nature of reality (The Third Policeman) and paradox (Catch-22), although there are some real stinkers as well (Bad Twin). You can visit the official ABC Lost book club, or check out the Lost books challenge blog. If you want to know more about everything Lost, there is no better source than Lostpedia, which also has a books page.
If you haven’t watched Lost but are intrigued, I recommend you start with Season 1 and work your way through in order. This is not the kind of TV show where you can drop in and out and still expect to know what’s going on. And remember, if one of the seasons isn’t working for you, keep pressing forward, as you may find the next one to be much more enjoyable. Each season truly is like its own novel, with its own themes, story arcs and focal characters, while tying in to the series as a whole.