Real Reading List For Fictional Characters: The Eyre Affair

Somehow, I managed not to read Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair until quite recently. I was denying myself quite the pleasure. The initial book in the Thursday Next Series, it follows the title character and her pursuit of master criminal Acheron Hades as he cuts a swathe through 19th century literature. This is an alternate reality England: in 1985, time travel is common, the Crimean War grinds on, and dodos are a favorite pet. You don't have to be a history or literature buff to find the the book fun, but if you like Douglas Adams and P.G. Wodehouse, this may be right up your alley. I have compiled a list of books that it might benefit various characters to read, however.

Thursday's father, a rogue member of the time police, would find Bernard Cornwell's Waterloo of interest, and check it for inconsistencies. Cornwell, the author of the Sharpe novels set during the Napoleonic Wars, provides a history of the cumulative battle that is at once exhaustive and highly readable. Mr. Next might also find Contested Will by James Shapiro, a look at the controversy about who wrote the works attributed to Shakespeare, of interest but would come to a different conclusion.

Mycroft Next, Thursday's uncle, could use a book like How to Invent and Protect your Invention to keep Goliath Corporation at bay. Written with the layman in mind, this book presents a straightforward guide to patenting your own Prose Portal.

Acheron Hades might find Machine Gun Kelly's Last Stand by Stanley Hamilton useful for how not to run a kidnapping operation. Hamilton details the manhunt for Kelly and his wife after they abscond with an Oklahoma businessman. It is the story of the rise of the FBI and the downfall not only of Kelly, but the gangster in the American public imagination. Hades might find a willing dupe in John Charles Gilkey, a man who would stop at nothing to own rare copies of his favorite books and the subject of Allison Hoover Bartlett's The Man Who Loved Books Too Much

Thursday's other nemesis, Jack Schitt, would find it instructive to read and follow The No Asshole Rule by Robert I. Sutton. Sutton delineates how to create a healthy, affirming workplace and how to survive one that is not.  Noreena Hertz's The Silent Takeover explains how corporations resembling Schitt's employer, Goliath Corporation, provide services once the purview of governments and subvert democracies to their own ends.

And, of course, there is Thursday's love interest, Landon Park-Lane. Suffice it to say he should look at Into the Garden, an anthology of prose and poetry about weddings and marriage.

Have other books these characters should read? Tell us in the comments.

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