Ernest Hemingway coined the termed “the iceberg theory” which refers to an understated style of writing that concerns itself with surface elements in a story rather than the more preachy approach. In other words, Hemingway respected the intellect of his readers—we can see what’s beneath on our own. This is perhaps one of the reasons the man became so popular, this and his larger than life persona. One could argue that it was his relationship with the world that catered to his relatability and universal appeal. His most notable works are The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell To Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea. The latter, for which Hemingway won the Pulitzer and Noble prize in the 1950s has just been adapted into a play by someone who used to fish with Master Hem himself.
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AE Hotchner, a friend and longtime biographer of Hemingway’s during the time in which The Old Man and the Sea was written, promised Ernest he would adapt the novella before he died. The story goes, Hemingway went to see the 1958 John Sturges film version of his book with Hotchner and was dissatisfied (this is a nice word). In a recent interview, Hotchner described Hemingway’s reaction to the film:
“He said, ‘You know, you write a book that you really like and then they do something like that to it, and it’s like pissing in your father’s beer’,” Hotchner said. (Hemingway reserved this particular turn of phrase for a handful of hated adaptations of his work, he said.)
The film was miscast and lacked the novella’s vision. Hemingway asked his friend to take a “crack at it” and now, at 101 years old, Hotchner finally has. The subtext of The Old Man and the Sea more or less has to do with success; while writing The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway was under a lot of pressure to reclaim his former glory. In the same way that the fisherman Santiago is after his marlin, Master Hem was after the reaffirmation of his own creativity and self-worth. This part of the story was not conveyed as well in the film adaption, it is the part that AE Hotchner wishes to accentuate on stage. He promised his friend he would.
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Some people define legacy as the things we leave behind; our relationships, work, and the impression we make on people. It’s easy to get distracted by our careers as we become obsessed with superficial things like money, fame and the fruitless pursuit of immortality. What we can all can take away from Hotchner’s life-long devotion to his friend is a blissful sense of pride in the only immortal thing that has ever existed; beneath it all—the sanctity of human connection. And now, after making a version of Master Hem’s tale for a new audience (not the annoyed teenagers in Mrs. Gross’s high school English class), Hotchner feels he’s honored the connection he once formed with a friend.
Do you think you know your friends well? But how you can distinguish that one reader from the group? Or perhaps you’ve met a new friend and are wonder if they are an avid reader like you! Well, here’s how!
You know when your friends are avid readers when…
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1. They’ve read your favorite books.
You invite your friend to over, and when they see your personal library, you catch that twinkle in their eyes like the stars in the sky as they point to your shelves and say, “I read that one, and that one, and that one…”
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2. They understand that books are always better!
You continuously come into agreement that books are always the best medium of entertainment, regardless of any film or television adaptation that may be made! (well, almost always, *cough* The Godfather *cough*)
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3. Their Goodreads account is just as meticulous as yours!
One your favorite past times is exchanging phones and examining each other’s Goodreads accounts, discussing your bookshelves and reviews!
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4. They are as addicted to book shopping as you are!
You’ll spend the day wandering in and out of bookstores, even when you don’t have any money and are reduced to window shopping- because what is life without books?
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5. You binge watch adaptations together so you can discuss straight away!
When you plan to watch a film adaptation or series adaptations on Netflix, Hulu, or what have you, you made a vow to each other to not watch it until you’ve both finished reading the book first!
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6. Their literary Halloween costumes are on point!
Halloween is a deal breaker. This is where your friends show you who they really are. They can dress as Harry Potter to your Ron Weasley or Voldemort to your Harry Potter, either way, they need to show up and show off, as long as its book related!
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If you don’t have a bestie who’s an avid reader like you are then that’s okay! There are many books in your unread pile that are dying to be your friend.
While October 3rd isn’t upon us quite yet, it’s never too early to show love for Mean Girls. I don’t know about you, but as a 90s baby (who grew up in the 2000’s and 2010’s), Mean Girls was a staple of my teenagehood.
The iconic teen comedy has become a cult icon since it premiered in 2004. Recognized for its memorable catchphrases, hilarious performances, and dramatic (yet relatable) portrayals of the trials and tribulations of being a teenager, Mean Girls will forever go down as one of the best teen films in history.
In celebration of its upcoming fourteenth anniversary on April 30th, here are five books I highly recommend to get your dose of humor, high school drama, friendship quarrels, romantic conflict, and everything in between!
When discussing conflicts in female friendships, Big Little Lies is a title that immediately comes to mind. While Liane Moriarty’s novel has become a popular read already thanks to HBO’s hit adaptation, if you haven’t read it already, please do. If you have read it, it’s definitely worth re-reading. Big Little Lies features killer drama filled with a murder mystery, love triangles, and female catfights that seriously rivals Mean Girls.
A murder…A tragic accident…Or just parents behaving badly? What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.
Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny, biting, and passionate; she remembers everything and forgives no one. Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare but she is paying a price for the illusion of perfection. New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for a nanny. She comes with a mysterious past and a sadness beyond her years. These three women are at different crossroads, but they will all wind up in the same shocking place.
Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the little lies that can turn lethal.
2. My Not So Perfect Life: A Novel by Sophie Kinsella
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Mean Girls manages to capture the deep dark struggles many young women face, including insecurities, poor body-image, and habit of comparing yourself to another (which doesn’t typically bode well). Author Sophie Kinsella brings an honest representation of these relatable topics in her novel, My Not So Perfect Life.
Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe.
Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she’s desperate to make her dad proud.
Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.
3. Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
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Mean Girls’ Cady Heron arrives at North Shore High School feeling like an outsider. As she becomes pulled in by the forces of Janis and Ian, and the Plastics, she finds herself struggling with maintaining true to herself all the while desiring the validation of others. Author Julie Buxbaum represents this common teenage struggle through her protagonist, Jessie, in Tell Me Three Things.
Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son, and to start at a new school where she knows no one.
Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?
In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?
4. Little Monsters by Kara Thomas
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If there’s one aspect of high school Mean Girls manages to expose, it’s the deceitful facades people can put on. From fake smiles to full-on performances, high school is full of phonies (in the words of Holden Caulfield). Author Kara Thomas exposes this sensitive reality in her gorgeous novel, Little Monsters.
Kacey is the new girl in Broken Falls. When she moved in with her father, she stepped into a brand-new life. A life with a stepbrother, a stepmother, and strangest of all, an adoring younger half sister. Kacey’s new life is eerily charming compared with the wild highs and lows of the old one she lived with her volatile mother. And everyone is so nice in Broken Falls—she’s even been welcomed into a tight new circle of friends. Bailey and Jade invite her to do everything with them.
Which is why it’s so odd when they start acting distant. And when they don’t invite her to the biggest party of the year, it doesn’t exactly feel like an accident. But Kacey will never be able to ask, because Bailey never makes it home from that party. Suddenly, Broken Falls doesn’t seem so welcoming after all—especially once everyone starts looking to the new girl for answers.
Kacey is about to learn some very important lessons: Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes when you’re the new girl, you shouldn’t trust anyone.
5. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
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While Mean Girls is absolutely hilarious, underneath its witty tone lay serious statements about all-too-real topics. The film opens up a conversations about very real issues young women face including (but not limited to): peer-pressures, female competitive behaviors, fake friendships, poor body image, bullying, rivalries for the opposite sex, etc. Mindy Kaling divulges into similar topics, and brings her own brand of humor to lighten them up, in her memoir Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns).
Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”
Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!
In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.
BONUS BOOK RECOMMENDATION
Bossypants by Tina Fey
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Where oh where would we be without comedian-actress, writer, and general badass Tina Fey. Fey was a huge factor in bringing Mean Girls to screen; she was involved with early brainstormings, wrote the screenplay, and graced us with the incredible performance of Ms. Norbury i.e. the teacher we always wanted but probably overlooked. Fey brings the same humor from screen to page with her memoir, Bossypants.
Before Liz Lemon, before “Weekend Update,” before “Sarah Palin,” Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.
She has seen both these dreams come true.
At last, Tina Fey’s story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon — from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.
Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.
Check out these titles and make sure to celebrate the fourteenth anniversary of Mean Girls on April 30th!
I have like five or six good friends. I think that’s fine. I’m all right, comfortable even, with that number. If you’re trying to tell me you have over a dozen good friends—and I mean good—you probably, just, I don’t know. You’re probably lying. Good friends, I’m talking. And you’re saying you have twelve of them? No.
Good friends are, in any case, hard to come by. Many people are selfish. They get in their own head and it’s sometimes hard to find their way out. The bad news is these people don’t make great friends. The good news is they can create great friends via writing books.
Authors have to be fairly self-obsessed if they’re willing to craft a 50,000+ word tome that is essentially a transcribed internal monologue. Imagine the arrogance it takes to write a book. While an author may be a jerk, a character they create may be a true gem.
Take Roald Dahl, for example. His first wife called him “Roald the Rotten,” and he was let go by his publisher for hilarious reasons pertaining to his bad behavior. The letter his publisher sent him notifying him of his dismissal is…pretty funny. Robert Gottlieb, an executive at Alfred A. Knopf at the time, wrote to Dahl, saying, “For a while I put your behavior down to the physical pain you were in and so managed to excuse it. Now I’ve come to believe that you’re just enjoying a prolonged tantrum and are bullying us.” Get all the details and the full letter here.
You can’t see what he’s doing with his hands. He’s strangling a kitten. | Image Via Penguin Books
The point is that Dahl might have been a jerk, but he also created Matilda. Who doesn’t want to split a delicious chocolate cake with Matilda? Or Charlie Bucket. Or the BFG. He might not have had the capacity to treat his fellow human beings with a modicum of common decency, but he was able to recognize and craft kind and compassionate people in his books.
Right, but that’s not the only reason characters are better than people. People are complicated. Characters are less complicated. A person might wake up in a crap mood just because, and then intentionally cut in front of someone when getting on the subway so they can get to the one open seat. A character probably won’t do that because that would be deemed inconsistent or sloppy.
If a character is mean, then that character is probably the bad guy. You know that character will behave that way because that is their temperament. Real mean people, though, can inexplicably have good days. The same person who called you a dumb loser that one November night last year, standing outside of the bar, might later say, “You’re not so bad.” No. I’m not so bad. You are bad. You were bad when you called me a dumb loser. Why are you being nice to me now? Things are not so simple.
I prefer book characters, with whom what you see is exactly what you get. I want to get a beer with Ignatius J. Reilly. I want to go sailing with Edmond Dantes. I want to walk through the garden with the tenant of Wildfell Hall. Remus Lupin, Samwise Gamgee, Nao Yasutani, Qfwfq. THESE ARE MY TRUE FRIENDS.
Let’s be honest, bookworms are pretty darn awesome. Readers are often undervalued but I’m here to tell you why you should not ignore bookworms, no matter how quiet or introverted, if you’re on the search for friend material. There are so many awesome qualities found in a reader that makes them truly friend-worthy, here are just some of many!
Readers are exposed to a variety of characters who each have a different background, opinions, aspirations, temperaments, and more. Exposure to diverse characters increases a reader’s empathy, which benefits them in the real world too. Bookworms are naturally empathetic and can step into the predicament of close friends and can understand what they’re going through.
2. Bookworms always have an inspiring quote to make you feel better.
Authors and poets alike are skilled in creating deep, meaningful quotes that can raise goosebumps on the reader. When readers run across the quotes that touch them, they often memorize it and take it with them. Whenever you’re feeling down, you can always count on your bookworm friend to recite an inspiring quote that will turn that frown upside-up.
3. Need help understanding a story? Bookworms are there for you.
Whether you’re writing a book report for school or are simply trying to understand what the hell Shakespeare (or Stephen King) is trying to say, you can count on your bookworm bestie to enlighten you. Readers learn how to analyze language and the ways in which language functions. Language can be difficult, and not everyone can easily cipher a story’s meaning. If you’re wary of using Google and Wikipedia, bookworms can offer advice and insight you can trust.
If readers can spend hours in one sitting reading a book, then trust me, they can spend a good deal of time listening to you share. Readers invest time in listening to a character, narrator, or author and in doing so they’ve learned how to listen. From hearing someone explain a long ass situation to hearing a character talk about themselves, readers can easily apply their listening skills to you. Readers love stories and hearing an actual person share their story is just as enjoyable.
5. Bookworms always have something interesting to say.
Bookworms take away a great deal from a story and most of the time the stories we’ve read stick with us. Bookworms can always fill an uncomfortable or abnormally long silence by relating stories they’ve read, tidbits they’ve picked up, and facts about the stories or authors they’re so familiar with. There’s certainly never a dull conversation with a bookworm and the best part is what they’ve learned, you can learn to and use whenever you’re the one in an awkward situation.
6. Bookworms are very articulate.
As we’ve established, language can be really frickin’ hard to understand sometimes. Whether it’s Victorian literature or modern fantasy, readers learn how to understand language in layered ways in order to appreciate the story. As a result, many readers have large vocabularies which may sometimes make them sound pretentious but has the benefit of allowing them to communicate effectively. Communication is huge between friends and being able to say what you really mean in a way that can’t be interpreted (and won’t be offensive) is a pretty big benefit. In addition, bookworms may be very honest as they’ve seen how lies and miscommunication can create a domino effect for people. So, beware, if you want honesty with a bookworm bestie, you’ll get it.
One of the many reasons readers love books is because their pages are filled with adventures left and right. Whether it is a literal cross-country type of adventure or a spiritual adventure, books are all about taking you on a ride to a place you’ve never been (sound cheesy? Well, you know it’s true nevertheless). Readers LOVE adventures and it doesn’t just stop when the story is over. Not only are bookworms the best counterpart for adventures, but they’re often the ones who already have it planned out. If you’re looking for a wild ride then you can definitely count your bookworm bestie in.
8. Bookworms give the best book recommendations.
This one may sound obvious, but a reader undoubtedly knows the world of books – from newly released titles, books that are to be avoided, underrated books, perfect books depending on your mood, and so on. Even if you aren’t an avid reader, at one point or another you may want to pick up a book yourself. You certainly don’t want to waste hours reading a crappy book that disappoints in the end. So never fear, your bookworm friend will know just the right book for you.
9. Bookworms are problem solvers.
Books are filled with conflicts and resolutions. As we flip the pages, we trace the beginnings, climaxes, and resolutions of horrible predicaments and decisions made by characters. Our histories with these never ending cycles allows us to see the warning signs for problems and use our references to go about solving it. Problem with a boyfriend/girlfriend? Problem with a psychotic boss? Problem with a maybe maybe not possessed sibling? (Okay, maybe the last is a stretch, but bookworms can definitely help you fix the problem).
As mentioned, bookworms are great at problem solving, and one reason is because they’re good at analyzing people. In order to fix communication issues, trying to understand why people do what they do, and more takes an understanding of people. Given readers histories with following the decisions and thoughts of characters, they’re pretty darn good at understanding them. Maybe you’re going on a date and need a friend to analyze their profile on Tinder, or maybe you need a friend to validate your feelings toward someone else. A bookworm can pick up on somethings that maybe you’ve missed and they will be truly honest. Because after all, your bookworm bestie will look out for you!