Dexter's Bookshelf: Author Jeff Lindsay on What a Serial Killer Reads
To celebrate the series-ending final episode of the hit TV show, "Dexter," we asked "Dexter" creator and author of seven "Dexter" novels--the latest of which is "Dexter's Final Cut"--what the blood-spatter analyst-by-day/serial-killing vigilante-by-night reads for inspiration. Who knew Dexter prizes "Joy of Cooking" as much as "Dracula"?
Naturally enough, Dexter doesn't read for enjoyment. There's only one thing he does for pleasure, and that requires moonlight, duct tape and a naughty friend.
But Dexter does read books. He has always been fascinated by the bizarre behavior of the alien species he is forced to live among, and he has studied it extensively. And, like many other serial killers, Dexter loves to prove his superiority by dropping obscure hints that no one else is clever enough to decipher. Through seven Dexter novels, our beloved hero has very happily tossed out quotes or paraphrases from many literary sources, and enjoyed himself immensely as the references go right over everyone else's head. For example, when a police lieutenant doesn't understand his remark, "Carpe diem," Dexter says it means, "complain in daylight."
In the course of his study on "How Humans Think" (and how to out-think them), Dexter has read highlights from most of the Western canon. So, first on his bookshelf, you would find a well-worn copy of:
Every sound study of "Being Human" must include Shakespeare. He didn't merely understand people, he explained them in clear and pithy words that still ring true today--and in iambic pentameter, too. If you really want to parade your superiority and wit in a way that brooks no contradiction, nothing works better than tossing out a quote from "Coriolanus." As the song says, "Brush up your Shakespeare, and they'll all kowtow."
As everyone knows, poetry is all about plumbing the depths of the human soul. And because he doesn't have one, Dexter is fascinated by poetry. This anthology covers most of the important poets--and in a nice, simplified way, so you don't have to read too much of the boring stuff to get to the real zingers. Also, it's excellent source material for displaying wit (see above).
Dexter is well-aware that he is a monster. This has naturally given him an interest in other monsters, and none is more justly famous than dear old Vlad. Everyone needs a role model, and who better than the Count? Sophisticated, sexy, undead, and he even has super powers--everything a young monster could aspire to be.
It would not be fair to say Dexter is totally without any of the enthusiasms real people enjoy. His most obvious passion is food, and before his marriage to a superb cook, Rita, Dexter did what most budget-conscious individuals must do: He bought a good, used copy of this excellent tome and cooked for himself. This is still the best all-purpose cookbook.
Trunk: Volume Two – Blood, by Suzanne Boccalatte & Meredith Jones
In both his career and his hobby, blood is the source of horrid fascination for Dexter. This small and beautiful book is a thorough and fascinating look at the subject, with wonderful illustrations and a very clever introduction written by a certain author (me).
Twain would not permit publication of this wonderful book until after his death. It's a series of witty and insightful observations on humanity, its behavior and condition. It's a perfect read for Dexter: The letters are written by Satan, a true kindred spirit, and they express a wry bewilderment at the ridiculous actions and beliefs of this most unlikely of species that perfectly mirrors Dexter's own attitude.
Jeff Lindsay is the New York Times bestselling author and creator of the "Dexter" novels, most recently "Dexter's Final Cut." He lives in south Florida with his wife and three daughters. His novels are the inspiration for the hit Showtime and CBS series "Dexter."