Happy 'Mean Girls' Day! Book Recommendations for Cady, Regina and More
Happy "Mean Girls" Day! In Tina Fey's brilliant comic film skewering high school culture--inspired by Rosalind Wiseman's "Queen Bees and Wannabes"--hot guy Aaron Samuels asks new girl Cady Heron what day it is, and she responds, "It's October 3," leading many Internet denizens to dub today "Mean Girls" Day. This and other key moments from the insanely quotable movie live on, even nine years later ("stop trying to make fetch happen," anyone?). With that in mind, we're recommending reads for each of the cult classic film's characters, according to how they rank in the high school social hierarchy.
Regina George: The Leader of the Pack
Probability dictates that for every dozen or so nice, normal teenage girls, you get a twisted little black-souled psycho who takes authentic pleasure in ruining lives--a.k.a. Regina George. Holding on to that much rage sounds exhausting. Also, there's a good chance some of your so-called "friends" actively fantasize about shoving you in front of a bus. But, hey, lady, we're here to help: If channeling your aggression on the lacrosse field isn't doing the trick, pick up a copy of "The Anger Workbook for Women" for handy tips on keeping your demons at bay. Or hell, take up yoga, or meditation, or move to a yurt. We don't care, really, so long as you point those eye-daggers somewhere else.
Gretchen Wieners: The Deputy
Clearly, Gretchen has already read Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" and has a taste for political intrigue. So, let's get her started on George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series, which sees the Iron Throne usurped about as often as Gretch herself switches social groups in the cafeteria. Plus, Westeros has so many bizarre made-up words--"khaleesi," anyone?--it's got "fetch" looking like normal-person-speak.
Karen Smith: The Ditz
Owing to a cranial vacancy of staggering proportions, Karen spends most of her time mindlessly bouncing back and forth between the more dominant personalities within her clique, which gets her into some dicey situations (three-way phone calls: bad idea). To steer clear of the drama, Karen should focus on her personal strengths, namely her shamanic talent for predicting weather. "Weather for Dummies" is the perfect place to start, with dressed-down facts on climate patterns and forecasting perfect for, well, the Karens of the world.
Cady Heron: The Underminer
After surviving the jungles of junior year, Cady could use some time back in the wild. Except instead of returning to Africa, we suggest she look to Henry David Thoreau for some tips on solitary living. 'Cause you know there's no Burn Book at Walden Pond.
Janis Ian: The Exiled
"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" Would the in-crowd hold any power if it didn't have someone to exclude? In "Mean Girls," the feeling's mutual: Alterna-chick Janis Ian wants nothing to do with the Plastics, opting instead to use her smarts to try and break up their ranks. What better read for Janis than Veronica Roth's "Divergent" trilogy? Fellow black eyeliner addict Tris fights easy categorization within her society's factions--even though it would make life much, much easier--to lean fully into her "divergent" fate and break up her oppressive world's strictures, along with the malevolent government that hands them down.
Damian: The Fool
Damian's witticisms aren't appreciated nearly enough! Instead of putting lunchmeat on his face or singing Christina Aguilera, he should become a disciple of comedian (and Internet darling) Patton Oswalt, who went from a talking head on "Best Week Ever" to a legitimate pop culture commentator--thanks in part to a series of scene-stealing film roles ("Young Adult," ahem) and this memoir of growing up geeky.
Aaron Samuels: The Trophy Guy
Every high school class has its requisite cute boy to cause major drama, and it's no different for the "Mean Girls." But what if you're that guy? Unfortunately for you, hotshot, life's about as good as it's gonna get: You can run a five-minute mile. Your beer gut won't appear for another decade or two (depending how quickly your drinking problem accelerates alongside your inversely decelerating ambition).
Better read "Stiffed," published in 1999, by author Susan Faludi--an exploration of the blows dealt to traditional masculinity by dwindling jobs for men and a concurrent upswing in professional opportunities for women--if you want to know why you may turn into that other guy: the one at the end of the bar, ranting about that time in high school when all the hottest girls wanted a piece of you.