No, not books TO movies, books IN movies, used as props or set dressing. Whenever I see a character reading, I want to know what they’re reading. All too often you can’t tell, but when you can, it’s usually informative.
The AMC series “Mad Men” has had some fun book cameos. Set in the 1960s New York City advertising world, the show consciously references books and films of the time. I noticed in the first episode that the main office set appeared to be an imitation of the office in the film version of Rona Jaffe’s The Best of Everything (with lighting and camera angles borrowed from The Apartment). Somewhere around episode 4 or 5, one of the characters is shown reading Jaffe’s book–which, of course, would be true to the time period.
Another book cameo I always think of comes in Donnie Darko. We meet Donnie’s mother (played by Mary McDonnell) reading Stephen King’s IT. It’s a subtle way to establish the time period but there’s also a nice thematic resonance, as both works deal with horrors that lie beneath the surface of the ordinary.
This week’s New Yorker has an article about set dressers and decorators who are hired to stock libraries on movie sets or in newly decorated homes. I once worked on a film where I had to find books to stock an entire wall, and there wasn’t enough in the budget to rent books. I had a friend who worked at Random House, and he hooked me up with their promotions department. I told him what I was trying to do, and he said he could help me out.
A few short days later, UPS showed up with a shipment for me. 90 boxes of books–remaindered books that would’ve been sent in for pulping. It was one of the greatest moments in my bookworm life. Not that I got to keep the books–they all went to set and who knows where they went after that, but to see all those boxes with my name on them was something I’ll never forget.
Today’s work read was a new book that I’d been dying to read, and I was even more psyched to get paid for it!