Swimsuit season beckons; instead of doing an uninspired juice cleanse to fit into your tube top or ass-less chaps, why not take a more literary approach? We’ve combed through an array of books to find diets that will work for all body types, goals, and temperaments. Who needs a gym membership when you have the literary canon?
The Jane Eyre Diet
About: When poor teenage Jane is sent to Lowood, a harsh boarding school with questionable discipline methods, she is forced to subsist on a diet of gruel thinly disguised as oatmeal. The upside to all of this? She loses five pounds and eventually snags a man who likes to lock women in his attic!
Phase 1: Daily serving of cafeteria oatmeal, which Bronte describes as so good that “famine itself […] sickens over it.”
Phase 2: Take meandering walks in the middle of the freezing English countryside, preferably in the middle of a snowstorm.
Phase 3: Contract typhus and ride that delirium to the perfect beach bod!
The Upton Sinclair Diet
About: The Victorian era wasn’t the best time for hygiene, but they did manage to get themselves into those corsets just fine. Ripped from the pages of his muckraking novel, The Jungle, this diet is a tricky one — but if you happen to have a health code-violating meat factory on hand, this will be a breeze.
Phase 1: Purchase the most expired packaged meat you can find, then leave it outside, opened for weeks before consuming.
Phase 2: Spend a few weeks dizzy with tuberculosis.
Phase 3: Become a hobo and then live off the fat of the land, ie: dandelions.
The Kafka Diet
About: This extreme diet is based on Kafka’s famed story, “The Hunger Artist.” You too can make a spectacle out of your diet by charging people to gawk at your willpower. You’ll know you’re doing this diet right if you eventually get hired to perform at a circus. Though, avoid the panthers.
Phase 1: Stop eating. Forever.
Phase 2: Lock yourself in a cage.
Phase 3: Sing melancholy songs to stave off the impending loneliness.
The Beat Generation Diet
About: For all you free-wheeling types, this is a diet with little restrictions but plenty of results. It’s easy enough, especially if you get your friends to join you. Throw in a bongo drum and some low-brow philosophizing, and this diet can also double as a happening party.
Phase 1: Replace all food with cigarettes.
Phase 2: Replace all cigarettes with peyote.
Phase 3: Replace all peyote with bizarre performance art that involves naked unicycling.
The Stephen King Diet
About: Based on his famous tale of self-cannibalism, “Survivor Type,” this diet is only for those serious about making a dramatic change. It requires an ungodly amount of dedication and an acquired taste for human flesh. This diet also happens to be popular among the fashionista set.
Phase 1: Do an insane amount of heroin, preferably while getting sunburned on a secluded island.
Phase 2: Starve yourself to the point of hallucinating.
Phase 3: Amputate your own limbs and eat them to survive. Cook until brown and mealy, then serve with more heroin.