Hello, everyone! We’re officially entering the dreary months of winter, which means a lot more time spent indoors in search of entertainment. The best way to keep your spirits up in this gloomy season is to immerse yourself in the world of a good book, but like everything in life, the books that we hope will last forever always end. If you’re like me, sometimes you want to linger in the atmosphere of a book long after it’s finished, so I’ve curated a list of classic books and paired them with modern movies and soundtracks that have the same themes and atmosphere. Think of it like a wine-and-cheese pairing, but for your favorite snowy day entertainment.
For those in search of some gothic fun and a steaming cup of tea:
Why they work together: Jane Eyre is the perfect novel for the winter. Set in the windy moors of Northern England, Jane’s hard-knock childhood provides the gloom, while the novel’s central romance and the mysterious woman in the attic bring the gothic thrills. For me, the best part of reading Jane Eyre is existing for 300 pages in that lonely estate in the countryside, warmed by romance, and chilled by the things that go bump in the night. Guillermo Del Toro’s gothic horror Crimson Peak ably replicates this atmosphere while also bringing lush visuals and a stirring soundtrack. Although the plot of Crimson Peak is pretty different from that of Jane Eyre, they are thematically similar, revolving around ideas about family secrets, female independence, and past sins. One could say that CP is Jane Eyre if Bronte had given Bertha a chance to speak for herself and wreak revenge on her innocent young replacement. Then there’s Florence + The Machine’s album Ceremonials. The mood of the album is dark, sensual, and romantic and Florence herself is the poster child for a gothic heroine. Balancing the romance of Jane Eyre and the darkness of Crimson Peak, Ceremonials is the perfect album to round out a few weeks of gothic moodiness.
For those who enjoy staring out the window at the falling snow, lost in thought:
Why they work together: Focusing on the conflicts between the working class and the bourgeois in 1850s England, North and South might seem more like a political treatise than a romance novel. Yet the politics serve mostly as a backdrop for the real conflict of the novel: the romance between an upper class woman and a middle class man. Peppered with petty insults, unintended social slights, and snappy one-liners, North and South is the dramatic equivalent of a comedy of manners between classes. Parasite is like if someone took North and South, pumped it full of LSD, and threw it into a dystopian future. Bong Joon Ho’s film is the working class’s answer to North and South, except this time, the upper class reaps what it sows. It’s a privilege to be able to read Elizabeth Gaskell’s glowing support of early industrial capitalism and then immediately compare it to Bong Joon Ho’s furious rebuke of that same system. Both works are strong texts on their own, but when put in conversation with each other, you’ll be left ruminating for days. The best soundtrack for some deep thinking about class conflict is, of course, The 1975’s newest album A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships. Icy, somber, and somehow funny, this album will inspire you to dig out your old beret and head over to the nearest kombucha place to talk shop with your local communists. The focus on disconnection and modern emotional isolation pairs well with both North and South and Parasite.
For those who think that the winter months are too hetero:
Why they work together: The Picture of Dorian Grey is the perfect gay text for the long winter months. Love, horror, and snarky aphorisms combine to form a novel that’s half social commentary, half a horror story about the consequences of repressing one’s sexuality. The prose is vivid enough to brighten the dreary days, while the novel’s themes are dark enough to complement the wintry gloom. Wilde’s novel is tragically short, however, which is where Yorgos Lanthimos’s black comedy The Favourite comes into play. Centered around the scandalous relationships between England’s Queen Anne and her two competing female lovers, the movie might as well be written by Wilde himself. Although The Favourite is a lot more bizarre than Dorian, and doesn’t seem to be searching for any morality, you can find many connections between Wilde’s perspective and the film’s. But if the combination of Dorian and The Favourite is a little too cynical, sprinkle in Hayley Kiyoko’s album Expectations to lighten the mood. Sweet but not saccharine, Kiyoko’s testament to lesbian love is the best way to end the winter and usher in the spring.