Book Article

What are prime-time TV characters doing with books?

On Alias, Vaughn (Michael Vartan, above) hides behind Italo Calvino's Mr. Palomar (Harvest, $12) during a tense plane trip with fellow spy Sydney. Plot Parallels Palomar, a nervous man in an odd relationship with his wife, travels the world in a state of constant observation -- but still manages to make everything about him. Sound familiar? Why It's Worth Turning Off the TV Calvino makes Palomar and his tiny world-view an amusing curiosity piece. Besides, the short chapters should appease even the fussiest reader.

On One Tree Hill, Brooke (Sophia Bush) agrees to read John Steinbeck's The Winter of Our Discontent (Penguin, $13) if Luke does ''something fun'' for her. Plot Parallels Upstanding Ethan Hawley's moral decline begins with subtle come-ons from the town seductress; squeaky-clean Luke's rebel phase begins with Brooke's less subtle offer. Why It's Worth Turning Off the TV Much as we enjoyed Luke's bad-boy streak, Steinbeck weaves an allegory of consumer culture's corrosiveness through Ethan's unique wit.

On The O.C., Seth (Adam Brody) cajoles Ryan into reading Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (Picador, $15). Plot Parallels Rebel artist/Czech refugee Joe Kavalier escapes to Brooklyn and meets cousin/comics visionary Sammy Clay. As comics geek Seth tells rebel/Chino refugee Ryan: ''They team up and essentially...become brothers, not unlike you and me.'' Why It's Worth Turning Off the TV Everything we love about The O.C.: Fistfights! Love triangles! Coming-out crises! Obscure comics references!

On Gilmore Girls, earnest Yale freshman Rory (Alexis Bledel) dives into Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises (Scribner, $12) for class. Plot Parallels In the book, journalist Jake chases trampy Brett but ends up solo. So, too, does the classmate who bonds with chaste Rory over the novel. Why It's Worth Turning Off the TV Papa's (arguably) best work packs in hot-blooded action and gets at the heart of the writer's famed obsessions: women, bullfighting, and Spain. -- Jennifer Armstrong and Alynda Wheat

Originally posted Mar 26, 2004 Published in issue #757 Mar 26, 2004 Order article reprints
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