Ten fake books in movies that we wish we could read

Suzy Bishop’s books in Moonrise Kingdom

Suzy Bishop is a girl after our own hearts — when running away, she brought only the essentials: a suitcase packed to the brim with her favorite books. Though she reads from a few of them — YA novels with strong female leads all — we couldn’t get enough. At least we have these animated excerpts to tide us over until some intrepid young author fleshes them out for us.

A Match Made In Space by George McFly in Back to the Future

The idea for George McFly’s first and greatest novel, A Match Made In Space, came to him as a teenager, when he had a strange vision: an alien named Darth Vader who came to him and told him he’d better ask Lorraine Baines to the school dance or have his brains melted. Sure, it was really Marty in a radiation suit, but we still want to see what Mr. McFly came up with. It looks like a very compelling read.

The Philosophy of Time Travel by Roberta Sparrow in Donnie Darko

How better to unlock the secrets of the universe than to read the book by Grandma Death? Sure, it sort of exists in the real world, or at least a highly truncated version, but we have a hankering for the real thing, pressed into our troubled hands by a nervous and idealistic professor. Maybe then we’d finally understand the world — or at least we’d figure out Donnie Darko.

Isaac Davis’ book about Manhattan in Manhattan

Okay, this one’s totally hopeless, because the book is mostly hypothetical even within the film, but still. In this Woody Allen classic, Isaac Davis is attempting to write a book about his undying love for New York City, based on an article he wrote about his mother entitled The Castrating Zionist. Sure, it sounds a little more than manic, but we’re imagining an even twitchier version Portnoy’s Complaint dedicated to our favorite city, and that’s a book we’d definitely love to read.

Family of Geniuses by Etheline Tenenbaum in The Royal Tenenbaums

Almost everyone in The Royal Tenenbaums has a book under their belt, but though Eli’s spaghetti Westerns and Margot’s plays both sound titillating, we’d most like to pick up Etheline’s book about the life of her exceptional family. That’s a back story we definitely want to hear in detail.

The Waverly Prep series by Mavis Gary in Young Adult

Thanks to Mavis Gary’s fondness for using overheard bits of conversation from real teens as dialogue in her work, we heard plenty of in-development snippets from the final installment of her ghostwritten YA series in Young Adult, but we’re dying to know more about her protagonist/fictional alter ego Kendal Strickland. As Mavis tells it, the prettiest girl at Waverly Prep “was a legend. As a junior, the student council voted to dedicate the yearbook to her, even though another student had recently died.” Our insecure, aspirational innner 12-year-old is swooning.

How I Did It by Victor Frankenstein in Young Frankenstein

Well, this is pretty self-explanatory.

Handbook for the Recently Deceased in Beetlejuice

It’s not that we want to have an occasion to read this book anytime soon, but we still love the concept. A handy how-to on surviving your afterlife that reads “like stereo instructions?” We’ll keep that one on hold at the library for whenever we might need it.

Avalon Landing by William Forrester in Finding Forrester

In Finding Forrester, the eponymous William Forrester, a character based on J.D. Salinger, is a writer who has become a recluse after writing one great book. We would like to read that book, please. If it’s anything like The Catcher in the Rye, it will be an essential entry in the fictional book canon for years to come.

The Rendering by Richard Dunn in Paper Man

Sure, Richard Dunn’s first book The Rendering, “a dark existential novel,” is supposedly a colossal failure — but we secretly have faith that it’s good. We don’t know, but we’re willing to be that any writer who thinks to build a new couch out of his unsold novels while he’s going bonkers from writer’s block in a far off cabin has some interesting stuff to say. And we like dark existential novels.


I just saw Moonrise Kingdom and loved it, I think it's one of Wes Anderson's best. Also, this list is missing Hogwarts, A History.  What would you add?