In past seasons of Orange Is the New Black, EW has offered a reading list of some of the many books appearing throughout the show. But season 3 makes that a bit tough, and to do so would shortchange the importance of books over the course of the season.
Spoilers for Orange Is the New Black season 3 follow.
A few books appear in the first episode or two — Poussey reads a Calvin and Hobbes collection with her mother in a flashback, for example — but the inmates quickly lose their access to the library’s offerings after a bed bug infestation hits Litchfield in episode 2, “Bed Bugs and Beyond.” All of the books are begrudgingly burned after a possible bed bug is found in a copy of a Rats of NIMH book.
And so Poussey and Taystee decide to hold a eulogy for all the books they lost.
“We take this time to honor those titles we have lost,” Taystee says, giving Poussey the floor to honor a few particular titles as they enact the “ultimate book return” — returning the books to the trees from which they came.
“Great Expectations, The BFG, damn the Dictionary,” she begins. “Sister Souljah, A High Wind in Jamaica, all the David Sedarises, or Sedari… The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, the Jonathans. Damn, Swift, Lethem, Tropper, Franzen, Kelleman, Livingston Seagull.”
Caputo struggles for most of the season to replenish Litchfield’s book supply, but his new corporate overlords at MCC do not want to spend the money and instead rely on donations. While the inmates may not have access to any published material, many of them find themselves captivated by a new writer’s first work.
After writing a rejected piece for drama class, Suzanne begins writing The Time Hump Chronicles, the sex-filled, inter-dimensional, time-hopping tale of Admiral Rod Cocker, who happens to be modeled on C.O. Donaldson.
Suzanne’s writing takes Litchfield by storm, quickly becoming the 50 Shades of Grey of the prison. Suzanne amasses fans, holds impromptu Q&A’s and becomes a small time celebrity as new chapters are constantly in demand.
But in a reversal of its real-world counterpart, Time Hump actually inspires its own fan fiction that introduces vampires, completely ruining her aesthetic. She’s disappointed that fan fiction is destroying the legacy of her work, and is glad by the end of the season to be done with it. Her writing is found out by Healy and the other C.O.’s, and she is forced to put the adventures of Rod Cocker to rest.
And by the end of the season, the shelves of the library are gradually filling up. In the season finale, “Trust No Bitch,” we see plenty of donated books populating the library, though at the moment no one seems to have time to invest in what’s available. So in the meantime, Piper uses a book, Rebuilding Your Body with Butter (which appears to be fake but sounds like an incredible philosophy to live by), to stash her contraband phone.
While it’s difficult to give a proper reading list as compared to last season, Orange Is the New Black made reading an integral part of several plot lines this season and continued to keep the inmates’ love of literature alive. And, at the very least, it will hopefully incite some actual attempts by fans to create a real-world version of The Time Hump Chronicles.