We all know Ross Geller is a giant geek. And we wouldn’t want him any other way. Frequently quoting theories of evolution, palaeontology and historical facts, Ross is a lover of books and grammatical correctness.
One of my favourite episodes though, is ‘The One with Ross’s Library Book’.
Learning that his doctoral dissertation is in the university library, Ross goes to pay it a visit (naturally). A severely neglected part of the library, Ross discovers that the palaeontology section is only used by students to make out in. Deciding to defend his turf, Ross ends up fooling around with a student himself… The moral of the story is that books are bad and inevitably lead only to sex.
‘The One with all the Haste’: Flowers of Algernon, Daniel Keyes.
In an attempt to win back their apartment, Monica and Rachel try to buy the apartment back with basketball tickets. When Joey suggests that they make the switch, Chandler replies “But we can’t live in the small apartment after we’ve lived here! Didn’t you ever read Flowers of Algernon?”
‘The One where Chandler can’t Cry’: Chicken Soup for the Soul, Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen.
After the group notices that Chandler doesn’t show much emotion, Monica tries (unsuccessfully) to make him cry. After presenting him with a number of hypothetical situations, she accuses him of being dead inside. presumably in an attempt to open himself up emotionally, Chandler is embarrassed to be caught reading Chicken Soup for the Soul and he can’t stop crying.
‘The One Where Ross Meets Elizabeth’s Dad’:
A woman of many unique talents, we learn in this episode that Phoebe has written fourteen books, all of which were very well received…. by herself. Phoebe decides that her next book will be about Monica and Chandler… I mean Marcia and Chester. Annoyed, Monica writes about “Phyllis”. Personally, I think Phoebe’s book would be better.
“Well, if you must know I have written 14 books. And as I am the only one who has read them, I can tell you that they all have been very well received.”
‘The One at the Beach’: Joan Didion’s The Last Thing He Wanted.
Taking a good book on va-ca with you is common sense. But Didion’s The Last Thing He Wanted is hardly a light, beachy read. An exploration of U.S politics, Didion’s writing is definitely challenging both in topic and prose.
‘The One With Rachel’s Book’:
This is perhaps one of my favourite episodes. After deciding to take a nap in Rachel’s room, Joey finds an erotic novel under the pillow. I mean of course, where else would you keep it? Containing chimney sweeps and vicars, Joey – being the immature guy that he is – finds it hillarious and decides to tease Rachel by dressing up as a vicar. Except Joey, being Joey, actually dresses up as a goal keeper. Rachel, though, is wholly unapologetic and refuses to feel embaressed. Go Rachel!
“Hey-hey, y’know what? I don’t care! I’m not ashamed of my book. There’s nothing wrong with a woman enjoying a little…erotica. It’s just a healthy expression of female sexuality, which by the way, you will never understand!”
‘The One with Mrs. Bing:’
Recurring throughout the series, Chandler’s mom is a confident, independent woman who is very much in control of her sexuality. A successful author of erotic fiction, Mrs. Bing even inspires Rachel to try and write her own novel.
Rachel: Okay. Now this is just the first chapter, and I want your absolute honest opinion. Oh, oh, and on page two, he’s not ‘reaching for her heaving beasts’.
Monica: “What’s a ‘niffle’?”
Joey: “You usually find them on the ‘heaving beasts’.”
Rachel: “Alright, alright, so I’m not a great typist…”
Ross: “Wait, did you get to the part about his ‘huge throbbing pens’? Tell ya, you don’t wanna be around when he starts writing with those!”
Rachel: “Alright, that’s it! Give it back! That’s it!”
Phoebe and Rachel:
‘The One with Ross’ Sandwich’: Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights
Feeling left out because she never went to school, Phoebe takes a literature class and invites Rachel along. They are supposed to be reading Wuthering Heights, but Rachel says she read it in high school. She later remembers that she had in fact never finished it. Asking Phoebe for a brief synopsis, Rachel then proceeds to steal Phoebe’s answer when asked about the book in class. But rest assured, when it happens again with Jane Eyre, Phoebe gets her revenge by telling her it is about a cyborg:
Rachel: “Uh, thank you Phoebe. Umm, well, what struck me most when reading Jane Eyre was uh, how the book was so ahead of its time.”
The Teacher: “If you’re talking about feminism, I think you’re right.”
Rachel: “Yeah, well, feminism yes, but also the robots.”
Joey and Rachel:
‘The One where Monica and Richard are Friends’: The Shining, Stephen King
Rachel finds a copy of The Shining in Joey’s freezer. After asking about it, Joey explains that whenever he reads it and gets too scared, he puts it in there and he feels safer. Rachel doesn’t “get” what’s so great about The Shining. Joey asks her if she’s ever read something over and over. She says yes, but only with one book- Little Women:
“But I mean that’s a classic, what’s so great about The Shining?”
In a deal to learn to appreciate each other’s books, they swap.
“Just how little are these women? I mean, are they like scary little?”
Apparently it’s not just suspense novels that scare Joey: As a character in Little Women gets sick he starts worrying and has to put that in the freezer too.
Phoebe, Monica and Rachel:
‘The One Where Eddie Won’t Go’:
When Phoebe and Monica start talking about a book that they had read, Rachel decides she needs to check it out. Be Your Own Windkeeper is about how women need to become more empowered because men, apparently, take women’s “wind”. Those damn leaf blowers!