After the loss of two celebrated writers this week — Howard Zinn and J.D. Salinger — it's easy to feel like there's nobody left. But there is! Lauren Conrad, Hills star and author. And now she's sharing her favorite books.
In a searingly in-depth interview for EW.com's book blog Shelf Life, Conrad, who has a new YA fiction book coming out (it's her second, both are about a girl who lives in California and is on a reality show), discusses her favorite and most influential books. These are her Great Books:
A book that she remembers from childhood. It's fitting that this book still reverberates with her, given that her old television show, The Hills, was basically a weekly half hour of people saying the same thing to each other over and over again. Instead of "Goodnight," the refrain was usually something along the lines of "I like you" or "I don't like you" or "Riiiight?" As in, "I like you, Audrina. I like you, Brody. I like you, Heidi jumping over the moon." Or, "I don't like you, Justin Bobby. I don't like you, Kelly Cutrone frowning in the dark. I don't like you, math." And, "Riiiiight, trees? Riiiiight, Mercedes? Riiiiight, blonde friend oh wait that's just me in the mirror?" Simple, but effective.
The Great Gatsby
Lauren says she is "obsessed" with the 1920s, and that Gatsby is a "fun story." Which is true! It is a fun story. A fun story about casual, careless rich people who don't think much about anything and then in the end their lives are either awful or over. It would be achingly and comically fitting for Lauren to have been into the clothes and the fun hairstyles and stuff while completely missing the whole grand point about listless, shallow, material lives, but that would mean that we believed she's actually read the thing. Which we don't. So.
"I read a lot of Spark Notes in high school." You and us both, girl. You and us both.
Bang Bang and Are You There Vodka, It's Me Chelsea
About Chelsea Handler's hilariously original memoirs about drinking and celebrity gossip, Lauren issues the following Kakutani-esque
assessment: "I'm a fan of hers. I think she's very funny. She lacks a filter, which I really admire. I find her very entertaining. I really liked reading her books. She's really good at having her personality come across in her writing. It was like she was telling the story herself. You could hear her voice in there." Delicious. "It was like she was telling the story herself. You could hear her voice in there." See Lauren is a bit confused here. Unlike Ms. Conrad, Ms. Handler actually did write her own books, so she really is "telling the story herself." You could hear her voice because, well, it is her voice.
Chicken Soup for the Soul
This is a book that really profoundly touched Lauren as a teenager. What with its mishmash olio of feel-good stories and inspirational essays, we can't think of a single one of us who didn't get it as a present from our aunt and then disinterestedly read a couple of the things and then put it on the shelf and mostly forget it until we were asked questions about what books we were reading these days and, boom there ya go, easy answer.
Lord of the Flies
"I made up my essay. I don't think I even finished my Spark Notes. I probably got a very bad grade." She could have learned a lot about Lo and Heidi by actually reading this. Or at least from finishing the dang Spark Notes, for sheesh's sake! Geez Louise, Lauren!
The Contortionist's Handbook
Evidently her boyfriend, the kid who played Grover in the seminal Wim Winders classic House Arrest, has been reading it and likes it so now she wants to read his fancy book too. She says she downloaded it onto her Kindle. She has a Kindle! Because she likes to read so very much. The novel is about a forger who lives in Los Angeles, so if she ever gets around to having her assistant read it for her (there are no Spark Notes, we already looked), we think she'll relate.
Her favorite book-to-movie adaptation. There's not anyone who doesn't like that movie. That movie is like having a summer morning talk to you. It's warm and breezy and a little too easy, but it's pleasant. The book, however, was written by Nicholas Sparks, and is not very good, because he is a bad writer. Thankfully he invented Sparks Notes, which is like Spark Notes only instead of reading a summary of the book, you read a better version of the same story. We believe the Sparks Notes for The Notebook is, oddly enough, My Antonia.
Update: I forgot one! She mentioned Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson. The novel is about an outcast high school student who, all of a sudden, nobody can hear. (Or something.) This is one of Lauren's favorite books because it's how she felt for a few seconds after the cameras turned off on her last episode of the The Hills, but then it was time to promote her fashions so she felt just fine.
At the end of the interview, when asked if there's a character she has nightmares about, Lauren says: "I feel like, in a lot of the books I read, the protagonist's enemy is themselves. I read about a lot of self-torturing characters. I'm not big on happy endings."
Well, neither are we:
Lauren Conrad's new book, Sweet Little Lies is in stores February 2nd.