Allow me to contradict this listicle’s general argument for a second by admitting that reading does, for the most part, suck. Once we reached first grade and learned to prevent defecating in our pants, we were forced to read dozens of mundane books that made blind hatred of the activity our native reflex. Not to mention it is much more tempting to enjoy degrading social vices than cozy up to a copy of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
In our low-attention-span culture of Adderall prescriptions and 140 characters, it’s rare to find a book that genuinely captivates you to the point where you can’t put it down. There are more out there than you think, many of which deeply explore our favorite act of numbing reality with many of the aforementioned vices.
Here are three books to check out this summer in between your sweaty sessions of self-indulgence, or when your cable is shut off and the booze is gone:
Scar Tissue, Anthony Kiedis
First and foremost, let me tell you that I have seen some shit throughout these 21 years of life on Earth. I mean, I have SEEN some SHIT. I’ve had to put moldy blue bacon on a pizza at a restaurant job because my boss told me to. I’ve had to forgo mentioning the fact that there were about 30 cockroaches rummaging behind the freezer at a fine dining job because my supervisor thought it would be “inappropriate to bring up before a shift.”
I’m getting off topic here.
Despite all the demented FDA crimes that have caused sleepless nights and immeasurable psychological agony, I can guarantee that nothing compares to what Red Hot Chili Peppers front man Anthony Kiedis has seen. If you know any background on Kiedis or the band, you know that this is a man that should not be alive right now. His countless mistresses, drug mishaps, speedball stints, addictions, rehab trips, addiction again, rehab again–all transcribed into this miraculously detailed and surprisingly readable memoir about one of the most compulsive rock stars of all time. A similar man and book come to mind as well…
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson
Here we have Hunter S. Thompson: another man whose entire mission in life was to chase the perfect buzz, no matter the cost. He successfully created his own genre of writing called “gonzo journalism,” a style of reporting that replaces objectivity with personal commentary and emotions, ironically allowing for the incorporation of absolute truth. Essentially, Thompson favored transcribing observations in his own sarcastic style in order to both critique his surroundings and satirize the critiques themselves.
Try innovating this kind of self-aware journalism while scurrying around Las Vegas with a buffet of drugs in your suitcase. Such was the challenge of Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a movie I’m sure you have seen yet a book I doubt you’ve read. The savage story is astronomically better than the film for two reasons: (1) Thompson’s giddy, manic writing is far superior to the film’s choppy script, and (2) the movie gets so fucking ridiculous and repetitive that it becomes a chore to watch after the first 40 minutes.
If you want to peer deeply into the crest of the beautiful wave that eventually became known as the 1960’s countercultural movement, pick up the book rather than the movie. Speaking of another counterculture book…
Inherent Vice, Thomas Pynchon
If any of you are familiar with the legend known as Thomas Pynchon, you know that his mystery is exceeded only by his power. No one knows where he is. He has avoided basically all human contact for over 40 years, and the few photographs of him out there are from his high school and college years–he is currently 77 years old.
Disregarding the guy’s extremely reclusive nature, he writes very dense novels that reward the few who stick them out from cover to cover. Luckily for us Bros, Inherent Vice is lighter than his others and reflects Pynchon’s vivid nostalgia for the ‘60s. It’s a passion piece on copious weed smoking and interconnected scandals, both relics of the bygone decade considered the most transformative in American history.
Not to mention Paul Thomas Anderson is directing a movie adaption to be released later this year, which actually received the holy blessing of the author himself. Pynchon is probably a massive Boogie Nights fan.