9 Pitch-Perfect Books from Sofia Coppola Reading List

If you’re always on the lookout for some brilliant recommendations, specifically from vetted sources, then you’re in for a treat! Because this list brings 9 books from the immaculate, iridescent and iconic auteur, Sofia Coppola, the woman who owns and wrote the book on the indie, soft pastel, part-fun-part-sad coming-of-age aesthetic. Taking us to her favourite classics as well as contemporaries in the world of fiction and non-fiction, we are truly not surprised that of all filmmakers, Coppola’s, the silent genius of book-to-film adaptations, would make for a trustworthy reading list.  

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

“I love a tragic love story and a torn woman.”

Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina is widely celebrated as one of the greatest pieces of literature and continues to be a well-recognised part of Russian literature. Serially published over a span of two years, and appropriately fat for it, the story follows young Anna and her tumultuous affair with cavalry officer Count Vronsky. Delving into delicious themes of transgression and faith, this sweeping masterpiece introduces readers to the minutia of Imperial Russian society, specifically a quickly modernising Russia with trains and stations, all the while journeying through the complexities of marriages, social relationships and navigating desire. 

Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maughan

“I loved that book in my youth, I love a tragic romance, that is the ultimate for unrequited love.”

One of the best English-language novels from 20th-century playwright and author Somerset Maughan, and recommended by Coppola for its brilliant title and plot, Of Human Bondage is a mix of ‘autobiography and pure invention’. Clubfooted orphan Philip Carey has a bottomless appetite for knowledge, a hunger that drives him to Paris to become an artist at 18 and then to London to study medicine. But this is a love story. As a medical student, he encounters a waitressing Mildred, investing his insatiable appetite in an obsessive relationship, surrendering to its all-consuming nature. After finishing medical school, he falls into another romantic dalliance and a pregnancy that forces him to take stock of his life. A coming-of-age narrative unlike any other, it is, as Coppola says, the ultimate for unrequited love. 

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jeanette McCurdy

“I couldn’t put it down. It was so moving and funny and hopeful how someone can emerge from that trauma and chaos and find themselves as an artist.”

In addition to the excellent-book-title-what-is-it-about list of books, iCarly actor McCurdy’s depressing and hilarious memoir is an excellent and intimate portrayal of being a child actor. Ft. eating disorders, substance abuse, and a controlling mom/manager, I’m Glad My Mom Died is a book that grieves the trauma of her youth, the fact of her mother passing post-cancer, as well as her recovery, the decision to quit acting, seek out therapy and take control of her own life. It is truly a chronicle of emergence and recuperation, one that seeks to share and not explicitly inspire. 

Spring Snow by Yukio Mishima

“A beautiful tragic love story set in the Taishō period in Japan.”

Japanese post-war author Mishima cannot be recommended enough, and Spring Snow, the first in his Sea of Fertility tetralogy, is a brilliant introduction to the beauty of Mishima’s lyrical prose. Strange, surreal, raw poetry mixed with nihilist spiritualism, the novel takes us to 1912 Tokyo, specifically the conflict between its ancient aristocracy and the vain nouveau riche who, unburdened by tradition, finds itself equipped with sudden social power. A bildungsroman, it positions a sensitive, melancholic and anxiously entitled Kioyaki as its protagonist, exploring the quickly evolving social terrain of Japan through his life, passions, loathings and especially, love.  A boy with an early fear of losing things, protesting possession based on this instinctive rejection of the concept, Kioyaki has a complex relationship with his family’s social status, power and luxury, as well as with Ayakura, the object of his youthful and passionate infatuation. Coded within East Asian traditions of courtship and love relationships, Ayakura and Kioyaki’s teenage romance is a profound expression of the author’s own opinions on love, that first love is a ‘misfortune of life’ and that love itself can never exist in a ‘pure state.’

All About Love by bell hooks

“I love her thoughtfulness on this topic.”

A book that has exploded within book tok and appears to be a favourite pick amongst book clubs, bell hooks’ All About Love is just that, a critical commentary on the socio-politics of love and loving. Imagining love in terms of M. Scott Peck’s definition of it, wherein love is understood as “the will to extend one’s self to nurture one’s one, or another’s spiritual growth.” There is a quiet revolution in understanding love as an act of will, as a choice one makes. Diving into modern performances of love, specifically the acts we put on within the contexts of loving relationships, like the mask of invulnerability amongst men or even the inclination towards manipulation promoted amongst women, hooks positions love as a space that allows for truth and honesty, and thus dysfunctional when done without true vulnerability. The book talks of the hazards of performing, of being invulnerable, and in the process forgetting one’s authentic self. Much of her theorisations of love go on to talk of our first and formative bonds, those with our parents, focusing on the types of wounds that can occur at that age and the need to heal that wounded child to repair one’s own relationship with offering and receiving love.   

Mouth to Mouth by Antoine Wilson

“[It] takes a while to get into, but when you do, it’s hard to put down.”

A nameless middle-aged professor sits at a first-class lounge at JFK airport, unexpectedly joined by his former classmate Jeff Cook, a man he claims “was one of those minor players from the past who claimed for himself an outsize role in my memories,” and one who’d incidentally shared his flight back to Frankfurt. Talking of the course of his adult life, Cook takes the narrator back to his childhood, detailing a traumatic and pivotal memory of saving and resuscitating a drowning arts dealer, thus starting a retrospective story that pushes into questions of opportunity and exploitation, often blurring the lines between delusion and reality. Slow to start and suddenly addictive, Wilson’s is a gripping read and one of Obama’s favourite books of 2022.

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffery Eugenides

“I read it and loved it. It felt like Jeffrey Eugenides, the writer, really understood the experience of being a teenager: the longing, the melancholy, the mystery between boys and girls.”

Adapted by Coppola in 1999, Eugenides’ first-person plural novel is a stunning and classic addition to the coming-of-age genre. Written from the perspective of a group of teenage boys who observe and narrate the lives of the eponymous and alluring Lisbon girls, it is a story that attempts and struggles to uncover the cause of death behind each sister’s sudden suicide. Taking us to Grosse Point, Michigan, The Virgin Suicides offers a curiously distant and simultaneously intimate portrait of young women raised in a near-orthodox Catholic household, the mix of proximity and separation of the narrators from the Lisbon family offers the opportunity for minute observation, reliance on hearsay and contemplative speculation regarding the nature of their lives. The five blonde sisters, each dying off one by one, retain a certain enigmatic allure, with the narrative attempting to broach and unable to capture the mystery and tragedy of their circumstances. Atmospheric, and often claustrophobic, the narrative depends on the obsessive fascination of a group of teenage boys who, like the town, and like many towns who experience such queer tragedies, will be forever gripped by a shroud of unanswerable questions.  

Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris

“Love reading this right now while I’m working … So funny and touching and it makes me feel connected.”

A series of 18 semi-autobiographical essays by American humorist and comedian David Sedaris, Happy-Go-Lucky takes us to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as Trump’s America, talking about his own life along with that of his family members, specifically with his long-time partner Hugh as well as his quickly ailing near-estranged 98-year-old father. Described by The New York Times as “the chronicler of dysfunctional families and odd-ball enthusiasms”, Sedaris continues to be gleefully on brand with his comic and intimate collection as he recalls a pre-pandemic era of shooting guns with his sister, buying gummy worms to feed ants and telling wheelchair jokes to his aged father, and then a post-pandemic world of obsessive vacuuming and walking across a deserted city to keep himself occupied. A fun and charming read for anyone looking for personal non-fiction that isn’t emotionally taxing or draining.

The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton

“I love the ending—the last paragraph is so good! I remember where I was that moment [when I was] finishing it and the impact it had.”

A tragicomic novel of manners, The Custom of the Country takes us to Undine Spragg, an ambitious midwestern young woman who, hoping to ascend in American society, convinces her nouveau riche parents to quit the country and settle in New York. Wharton is celebrated for her novels on the American upper class, a socio-economic section that she was born into, and is perhaps best-known for her The Age of Innocence. It is this novel, however, that continues to be celebrated as her masterpiece, a biting satirisation of the upper echelon, and a pitch-perfect exploration of greed, corruption and ruthless ambition. P.S. This novel has been cited as an inspiration behind Downton Abbey.

Pick up any of these 9 Pitch-Perfect Books from Sofia Coppola Reading List from any Kunzum store or WhatsApp +91.8800200280 to order. Buy the book(s) and the coffee’s on us.

Leave a comment