Mull Over Conspiracy Theories with This Twin Peaks Reading List

That gum you like is coming back in style! Showtime’s Twin Peaks revival finally arrives on Sunday, which prompted us to take a look at The Secret History of Twin Peaks, a gorgeous deep-dive into the weirdest town in the Pacific Northwest from series co-creator Mark Frost.

From the initial discovery of Twin Peaks by famed explorer Meriweather Lewis, to the last known location of FBI special agent Dale Cooper—and the family feuds, mysterious disappearances, and UFO sightings in-between—its best bits give us some new insight into our favorite characters. With season three immanent and a follow-up novel, The Final Dossier, coming in the fall, The Secret History of Twin Peaks is a must-have for fans who want the full, bizarre picture.

One of the coolest parts of the book gives us a look at the favorite books of the Bookhouse Boys. Viewers of the cult phenomenon will remember them as a secret society founded to fight the darkness and crime that always seems to surround the town. We rarely see the Bookhouse Boys actually reading—except for notable honorary member Dale Cooper, who is just the dreamiest, for this and many other admirable habits. But there is a bookcase in the hangout, with each member required contribute a title to the collection.

The Secret History of Twin Peaks is presented as an FBI dossier compiled by an enigmatic figure known only as the Archivist, who has sworn to collect and record all of the town’s paranormal phenomena and local lore. The Archivist writes, “Good literature is a mirror through which we see ourselves more clearly…”

So what’s reflected in the shining knights of Twin Peaks‘ favorite books? And what new conspiracies might be staring back at us? Let’s peruse at the shelves…

Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White; contributed by James Hurley
Charlotte’s Web is a perfectly “terrific” choice for a favorite book, but James’ selected E.B. White’s children’s story not because it was exactly his favorite, but because it is literally the only book he’s ever read. He seems to wear his lack of book-loving as a badge of pride. Perhaps if James read more, he wouldn’t be the worst, most boring character in all of Twin Peaks. (Tied only with his equally boring, terrible fiancé Donna Hayworth.)

The Stand, by Stephen King; contributed by Lucy Moran
We’re told the only reason Lucy’s favorite book is on the hallowed shelf is because she’s the person who actually buys the Bookhouse Boys their books! What?! Shame on you, Bookhouse Boys. Typical. Between this and her coffee-making skills, I guess we all know who really runs things in Twin Peaks. But does Lucy’s love of King’s epic fantasy of the post-apocalypse foreshadow a bigger showdown between the forces of light and darkness in the tiny Washington town?

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Pirsig; contributed by “Big Ed” Hurley
It’s suggested that earnest Ed might have originally picked up this title in hopes it would help him with his job at the auto repair shop he owns, but he keeps reading it anyway. Could this 1974 bestseller hold the key to Hurley’s doomed romanticism and his seeming acceptance of living in the moment of his own suffering at the hands of his wife Nadine’s erratic cruelties?

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee; contributed by Sheriff Harry S. Truman
The parallels between the protagonist of Harper Lee’s classic novel, Atticus Finch, and Twin Peaks’ sheriff Harry Truman are pretty clear—both are the moral compasses of their communities, fighting injustice and darkness, yet never too afraid to point a finger at their own failings. In a town filled with weak and sometimes downright evil people, Harry is a perpetual beacon of integrity.

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72, by Hunter S. Thompson; contributed by Tommy “Hawk” Hill
Who would’ve guessed the hunky deputy has a soft spot for Thompson’s gonzo journalism and harbors a hatred of Richard Nixon? Well, seeing as Hawk wasn’t the most fleshed-out of characters, there’s no telling what he gets up to in his spare time. But he did always seem to have a bit of a rebellious side. Coincidentally enough, Richard Nixon’s shady dealings play a pivotal role in The Secret History of Twin Peaks. Without realizing it, Hawk proves once again to be a shrewd judge of people.

The World According to Garp, by John Irving; contributed by Andy
Talk about hidden depths! Perhaps it is truly the fools among with the most wisdom to share. The sensitive lieutenant—endearing himself to millions of viewers with his grief-wracked tears over the corpse of Laura Palmer in the pilot—seems to understand the full scope of mortality in ways others do not. And like the novel’s titular hero, Andy’s love of Lucy echoes his desire to be around strong-willed women.

Double Indemnity, by James M. Cain; contributed by Hank Jenkins
Is it any wonder that Hank, kicked out of the Bookhouse Boys for his criminal activity, would select a bit of pulp noir as his favorite? While his wife Norma may not be the kind of femme fatale blonde that leads the book’s narrator, an insurance salesman, astray, she’s certainly as beautiful as the star of the film adaptation, Barbra Stanwyck. I suspect Hank, ever the liar, never read the book, but loved the movie—even as the message at its core went well over this jailbird’s head.

The Warren Commission Reportcontributed by Dale Cooper
Are you at all shocked to learn that the dreamiest FBI special agent’s favorite reading material involves one of the biggest, most controversial conspiracy theories of our time? Question everything. Even the inclusion of this book (and its location on the shelf) has proven to be a weird Easter Egg for true Peaks fanatics: as written in the fan wiki, “If you hold the picture of the bookshelf in front of a mirror, the only numbers which are not changed are I,8, and II, and by taking the first word of each of those corresponding titles, we get “Fear the Double.” If the “1” and “2” weren’t typed as Roman numbers, only the “8”—the number associated with Cooper’s book selection—would remain unchanged. The Archivist’s note was a hint! Could this mean the Archivist knows about Cooper’s time trapped in the extra-dimensional Black Lodge, and that he’s been taken over by a presumed evil doppelganger in our dimension? And if so, did the Archivist leave more notes for his successor that might help save the truth-seeking special agent?

The Secret History of Twin Peaks doesn’t spill too many secrets about the upcoming show, but it definitely gives eager fans beautiful, bewildering conspiracies to pour over between episodes. If the cherry pie won’t kill ya, perhaps the impatience for more weirdness will.

Are you excited for the return of Twin Peaks?

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