Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Back to the Basics

"A motion picture, or music, or television, they have to maintain a certain decorum in order to be broadcast to a vast audience. Other forms of mass media cost too much to produce a risk reaching only a limited audience. Only one person. But a book. . . A book is cheap to print and bind. A book is as private and consensual as sex. A book takes time and effort to consume - something that gives a reader every chance to walk away. Actually, so few people make the effort to read that it's difficult to call books a "mass medium." No one really gives a damn about books. No one has bothered to ban a book in decades."

I read this quote the other day (Chuck Palahniuk, of course) and it not only made me laugh but got me to thinking just how accurate it is. I'm even guilty of it myself, as in today's society movies, TV, and music have completely taken over the media medium and books have fallen by the wayside. Since I've moved to Austin, I've had trouble sleeping and found myself being a lot more high strung then I was in Tyler. People have told me this is typical for a transition period, living in a new place, going through the number of changes I have been. So with my free time I've been trying to figure out ways to cure this problem.

Well after I read this it occurred to me what I use to enjoy doing (even though we were more or less force to do it growing up, anyone remember AR points?) which was reading. Having to write multiple 40+ page papers, give multiple 30 minute+ presentations, and take all those tests we had to in college, I hadn't had the time or the desire to read just for my own personal enjoyment. So I picked up my signed copy of Chuck Palahniuk's "Snuff" and have been reading it ever since. I'm almost done, and plan on starting Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" afterwards. It's amazing how much more vivid reading a book can be then seeing a movie in 3D or watching the newest episode of "Lost" or "American Idol" (which for the record I do not watch either, just using them as an example). Reading a well written, thoroughly researched, insightful or entertaining book feels so much more accomplishing then tivo-ing Desperate Housewives.

Now if you don't have the time to read merely for pleasure because you are too busy reading page after page of dribble for your freshman English class or junior biology exam then I completely understand, but I highly recommend that if you get the chance to pick up a book in the near future, that you do it. It's refreshing, enjoyable, and rewarding. It also helps enlarge your vocabulary, which I can say for a lot of people has continually lessened throughout the years. So here is a list of a few of my favorite books, new and old, in case you aren't sure what you want to read once given the opportunity. Some of these you may have been required to read in school at some point, otheres you may have never heard of, but all I highly recommend for one reason or another. Also, a lot of these have been made into movies, and I must say I've yet to ever see a movie that was as good as the book was, just personal opinion.

Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn/Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain
Island of the Blue Dolphin - Scott O'Dell
Journey to the Centre of the Earth - Jules Verne
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea - Jules Verne

Of course the list of books I've read from my favorite author:

1.) Survivor - Chuck Palahniuk
2.) Choke - Chuck Palahniuk
3.) Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk
4.) Lullaby - Chuck Palahniuk
5.) Diary - Chuck Palahniuk

(Currently reading Snuff, and so far really enjoying it)

And here is my list of books I plan on reading in the near future (opinions welcome):

Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey
A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer
The Autobiography of Malcom X - Anna Haley & Malcom X
Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut
The Lord of the Rings Triology - J.R.R. Tolkien
The Space Trilogy - C.S. Lewis
Invisible Monsters - Chuck Palahniuk
Rant - Chuck Palahniuk
Stranger Than Fiction - Chuck Palahniuk
Haunted - Chuck Palahniuk
Pygmy - Chuck Palahniuk
Fugitives and Refugees - Chuck Palahniuk


  1. Also consider:

    Up In The Air - Walter Kirn
    The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky
    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer
    Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
    Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

    They're all fairly modern.

    Are you sure you want to jump straight into Rand's longest book?

  2. Palahniuk's brilliant; Rant is probably my favorite book and I've read a good amount of his other work as well. You should also try 'Beautiful Losers' and 'the Favorite Game', both by Leonard Cohen.