Required Reading: Schmidt


“I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten,” Ralph Waldo Emerson famously quipped, “even so, they have made me.” In this bi-weekly series, Flavorwire plays professor to some of our favorite pop culture characters, assigning reading lists tailored to their temperaments or — in some cases — designed to make them into slightly better people. After all, even fictional characters can have their lives changed by books. Or so we imagine. This week, we recommend a reading list for New Girl‘s Schmidt, to minimize the money put into the douchebag jar.

New Girl‘s Schmidt (no known first name) is everyone’s favorite lovable douchebag, he of the complex grooming habits, possibly heinous attitudes towards women, and cringe-worthy comebacks. So how to help our dear pathetic friend on his quest towards awesome manhood? Here’s a start. Our hand-tailored Schmidt-syllabus is below:

The Great Gatsby , F. Scott Fitzgerald

Schmidt would probably see Jay Gatsby as a kindred spirit — after all, Gatsby is the king of personal myth-making, and he’s also got shirts so nice they make girls cry. That said, the Gatsby story is a cautionary tale — Schmidt could do with a reminder about what happens when you piss your friends off too much. The only danger is that he might start wearing this around the house and dramatically plucking at it when challenged.

Interpreter of Maladies , Jhumpa Lahiri

The way to Cece’s heart is not through mango chutney, but it just might be through Jhumpa Lahiri. At the very least, her gorgeous stories of the Indian-American experience could stop Schmidt from making such a fool of himself every time he encounters any of Cece’s family members.

The Big Sleep , Raymond Chandler

Then again, we can all agree that there are certain times when Schmidt’s just a little too sensitive. He could pick up a few cues from man’s man Philip Marlowe, all tough talk, hard drinks, and late nights playing chess. Then again, there’s always the danger that he’d just pick up an affinity for Panama hats.

The Picture of Dorian Gray , Oscar Wilde

We know you used to be a little chubby, so now you’re extra proud of your physique — but looks aren’t everything, Schmidt. After all, “We sold our qualms. We used the profits to buy perfect bodies,” kind of sounds like something Dorian would say. Better nip that in the bud right now.

The Phantom Tollbooth , Norton Juster

Look, anyone who constantly spews words like “vagenius” and “broenemies” is clearly in need of some quality punning action to tighten up his game. We think Schmidt would giggle for hours over Tock the watchdog. And maybe learn something in the process.