Spotify Wrapped Reading List: The Lana Del Rey Edition

In an attempt to curate books that cater to deeply vague prompts along the lines of “something that feels like this song”, we are initiating a series of reading lists based on your favourite singers and musicians. And this week we have the immense pleasure of covering Lana Del Rey. 

Lana, more than a musician and artist, is really an aesthetic. From the effervescent smoke that drips down a cigarette, to the soft cotton that drowns melodically, LDR has more fatal aesthetics than I can count, each as evocative as the one before, every song inviting you to embrace the problematic and truly act like a Lolita-esque marooned character who will always be aesthetically devastated and cannot seem to escape her video-game-playing drug-dealing coke-snorting much-older lover(?) 

To prolong the feeling of listening to LDR, and perhaps even offer friendly detours, we have curated a list of aesthetically pleasing, often traumatic but completely congruent books that fit right alongside your playlists. 

The Bell Jar (The Illustrated Edition) by Sylvia Plath

Yes, she is illustrated :”)

Welcome to Plath’s haunting coming-of-age story, the only appropriate type of ‘coming-of-age’. Esther Greenwood, a brilliant young woman, feels increasingly isolated and trapped in the stifling expectations of 1950s society. With her descending into a mental breakdown, the narrative dives into the minutia and inner havoc of mental illness, detailing the nature of its devastation on the individual. Loosely based on Plath’s adolescence and young adulthood, the book offers a raw and unflinching look, with the illustrated edition adding another layer, employing visuals to depict Esther’s internal world and emotional turmoil. The novel’s power lies in its honesty, dark humour, and enduring themes of identity, societal pressures, and the struggle for self-worth. It’s a classic for a reason, resonating with readers even today.

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

“On the morning the last Lisbon daughter took her turn at suicide— it was Mary this time, and sleeping pills, like Therese— the two paramedics arrived at the house knowing exactly where the knife drawer was, and the gas oven, and the beam in the basement from which it was possible to tie a rope.”

With one of the most iconic opening lines in Y/A history, Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides tells the story of the Lisbon sisters, five ethereal and enigmatic girls in a strict suburban neighbourhood, through the eyes of their teenage boy admirers. The boys are haunted by the mystery of the sisters’ suicides, each one a slow descent into despair fueled by religious restrictions and a yearning for freedom. The novel is masterfully narrated from a collective “we,” creating a dreamlike and melancholic atmosphere. Eugenides’ beautiful prose and exploration of teenage longing make The Virgin Suicides a captivating and haunting read.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Let’s not act like this wasn’t an obvious book recc for an LDR fan. Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial masterpiece is narrated by Humbert Humbert, a middle-aged man obsessed with Dolores Haze, his 12-year-old stepdaughter, or, Lolita, the light of his life and fire of his loins. Groomed, kidnapped and manipulated, Dolores finds herself at the mercy of her pursuer, journeying across America and slowly descending into Humbert’s dark desires. Despite the disturbing subject matter, Nabokov’s genius lies in his masterful prose. He crafts a soft-edged beauty in the heart of Humbert’s twisted perception, making the story both repulsive and strangely poetic. Lolita is a complex exploration of obsession, manipulation, and the loss of innocence.

My Heavenly Favourite by Lucas Rijneveld

This is Lolita for those who’ve read the original, seek something similar from a refreshing new voice, and are looking for a visceral/chilling/beautiful read. This is Lucas Rijniveld, winner of 2020’s International Booker, and the first Dutch author and non-binary person to do so. Known for her brutal The Discomfort of the Evening, Rijniveld’s literature does not shy away from the ‘icky’ or disturbing. Translated from her transgressive Dutch, set in the regressive countryside, My Heavenly Favourite narrates a 300-page long summer, wherein a veterinarian develops intense sexual/romantic feelings for a 14-year-old farmer’s daughter. Much like Nabakov’s, the book’s tantalising, almost poetic beauty lies in the portion that truly makes your skin crawl. With highly aestheticised characterisations and romanticised obsessions, My Heavenly Favourite delivers the discomfort and delight characteristic of Rijnveld’s unique oeuvre.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

In Ottessa Moshfegh’s darkly comedic novel, My Year of Rest and Relaxation, a deeply alienated anonymous New Yorker desperately seeks numbing escapism. A scarily relatable protagonist. Disillusioned with life, she hatches a radical plan: to sleep for a full year via a carefully orchestrated cocktail of prescription drugs. As she drifts in and out of consciousness, the bizarre world around her unfolds. We meet her narcissistic ex-boyfriend, an art dealer with questionable morals, and a therapist who seems more interested in gossip than healing. Despite the unconventional premise, the novel is praised for its delectable wit and comprehensive portrayal of alienation. Moshfegh’s protagonist is a complex character, and her journey, though strange, compels readers to confront themes of disillusionment, societal emptiness, and the human desire to escape.

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass is a groundbreaking collection of poems that truly reinvents traditional forms. Published in 1855, it’s a free-flowing celebration of the common man, nature, and the American spirit. Whitman’s bold, sensual verses embrace the body and soul, defying societal norms. The work’s brilliance lies in its democratic voice. Whitman speaks not just for the elite, but for carpenters, farmers, and all walks of life. He paints vivid portraits of everyday experiences, weaving them into a song of American identity. Controversial at first, Leaves of Grass stands as a powerful testament to human connection and the beauty of the ordinary. Whitman and Ginsberg are famous antecedents to LDR’s poetry and her Americana. It’s giving Violet Bent Backwards over the Grass.

The Beautiful and The Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and Damned paints a dazzling portrait of the roaring twenties. Anthony Patch, a charming but aimless artist, and his captivating wife Gloria, a whirlwind of beauty and ambition, navigate New York’s glittering nightlife. Yet, beneath the champagne toasts and lavish parties lies a hollow emptiness. Fitzgerald’s prose shimmers, capturing the allure and danger of a life fueled by extravagance. The story unfolds like a jazz melody, both seductive and melancholic. As their dreams erode, the shimmering facade cracks, revealing the darkness beneath the dazzling surface. The Beautiful and Damned is a cautionary tale, aesthetically captivating yet ultimately poignant, reminding us of the fleeting nature of beauty and the importance of pursuing dreams with substance. 

Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan

 Bonjour Tristesse takes us to the world of seventeen-year-old Cécile, weaving a coming-of-age tale tinged with summery melancholy. Published in 1954, Françoise Sagan’s debut novel is a masterpiece of aesthetics. Imagine the French Riviera bathed in golden sunlight – Cécile’s playground alongside her widowed father, Raymond, a charming man with a penchant for younger girlfriends. Their carefree existence is disrupted by the arrival of Anne, a sophisticated woman who threatens their idyllic routine. Cécile, navigating a world of newfound freedom and unspoken desires, becomes entangled in her father’s love life. Sagan’s prose is as elegant as the French Riviera itself, capturing the beauty of the setting alongside the complexities of Cécile’s internal world. Bonjour Tristesse is a captivating blend of youthful rebellion, moral ambiguity, and the allure of a life lived on the edge of societal norms.

Pick up any of these 8 Books from the Lana Del Rey Reading List from any Kunzum store or WhatsApp +91.8800200280 to order. Buy the book(s) and the coffee’s on us.

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