Surfing, Skateboarding, Music, Photography, Travel, Culture and general antics of the youth on the run.

Books we recommend for holiday break Spark up a fire and put some words through your mind for the holidays.

what youth recommends top 5 books holiday break

The next two weeks are an opportunity. A break. A moment to find clarity and inspiration. For most of us, in between the family gatherings and trips and travel and chaos there is a year wrapping up, and an opportunity to squeak in one or two more books to our count for the year. And believe me, it may not seem like it, but there are windows here. Moments of dare we say…freedom? Where you might find yourself at a coffee shop and no where to be right away. Or by a fire someplace with no one to talk to. Or God forbid you put your phone in the other room, pull into a jazz Spotify station and just bury your nose in a book for an hour or two. Sounds like fun to us. And we picked a couple for just these occasions. Here are five to peruse.

Curated by James Royce. 

1. Essays by George Orwell

“At the time I could not see beyond the moral dilemma that is presented to the weak in a world governed by the strong: Break the rules, or perish.” — from the essay Books v. Cigarettes

What’s a What Youth reading without something written by a dead white guy? I actually came across this book by chance earlier this year after someone else left their copy behind at a coffee shop I used to frequent. Knowing that Orwell does not in fact suck as a writer I picked it up on my way out and gave it a try. I ended up finishing the book later that day — humble brag. But seriously, it’s that good. It’s no secret Orwell’s a genius. But the way he can write about well, anything, is something to experience. And this is a perfect starting point.

2. The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way by Bill Bryson

It is a cherishable irony that a language that succeeded almost by stealth, treated for centuries as the inadequate and second-rate tongue of peasants, should one day become the most important and successful language in the world.” — from Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way

English is a funny language. Ask any Englishman, American, or Aussie and they’ll agree. Yet it’s one of the most widely spoken dialects in the world. Still, it has loads of peculiarities. Like why do people bother writing when speaking is hard enough? Or why is it that parties of english speakers, no matter their country of origin, can only tolerate silence for four seconds (see: Christmas dinner with the family) before interjecting anything, however unrelated? And why is it that native speakers have trouble communicating effectively with one another — as almost every American visiting Australia will tell you? Well this book dives into all these little quirks. Bill Bryson is one of those rare authors who can write about any subject and make it compelling. So give it a try. He’s also one of my favorites writers and everything I wish (and will ultimately fail) to be. So if you love it, give me a call so we can discuss it all over a drink and I can loan you a few of his other books. I’m not kidding.

3. SantaLand Diaries by David Sedaris

“Standing in a two-hour line makes people worry that they’re not living in a democratic nation. People stand in line for two hours and they go over the edge.” — from SantaLand Diaries

Yes, it’s the holidays. There’s nothing wrong with going the extra mile to get into the spirit of things. Don’t worry, no one will judge you (at least not outspokenly) for flipping on your Dean Martin winter classics spotify playlist. Or reading a Christmas-themed book for that matter. Anyways, here’s a great literary holiday tale that isn’t A Christmas Carol. Or The Polar Express. I haven’t read much Sedaris. But from what I gathered from both this and a few of his other books (he has a good handful), he’s hysterical. Sticking to that tone, “SantaLand” is a Sedaris’ humorous account about his stint working as a Christmas elf at Macy’s. Yes, curling up next to the fireplace in December with something that has “Santa” in its title is cliché as hell. But if you’re going to do it you might as well read something that proves being surrounded by children, tinsel and merriment isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

4. The Playboy Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy by various authors

“They had wakened one morning and the world was empty. The neighbor’s clothesline was still strung with blowing white wash, cars blamed in front go other seven-A.M. cottages, but there were no farewells, the city did not hum with its mighty arterial traffics, phones did not alarm themselves, children did not wail in sunflower wildernesses.” — from Ray Bradbury in The Playboy Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy

Turns out “I read it for the articles!” isn’t just a hackneyed phrase reserved for people whose mothers stumble across their pile of pilfered titty-mags. Sure, over the years Playboy has been primarily known for its, well, adult content. But it has also always been a rich source of printed articles and fiction. Loads of which was penned by some of the biggest names (see: Truman Capote, Jack Kerouac, Roald Dahl) in the literary game. And this neat little book wraps up all the SciFi hits — one of Playboy’s most consistent columns. Featuring contributions from genre heavy-hitters Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, plus lots more.

5. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

“A man’s at odds to know his mind cause his mind is aught he has to know it with. He can know his heart, but he don’t want to. Rightly so. Best not to look in there. It ain’t the heart of a creature that is bound in the way that God has set for it. You can find meanness in the least of creatures, but when God made man the devil was at his elbow. A creature that can do anything. Make a machine. And a machine to make the machine. And evil that can run itself a thousand years, no need to tend it.” — from Blood Meridian

Chances are the holidays are a pretty happy time for you. Time off work. Weekday drinking. Bonding with family. Well this book will suck all of that positive light right out of your soul. To be blunt: It’s fucking devastating. But it’s also one of the most epic pieces of modern American literature around. McCarthy (another old white guy — but not dead!) has a knack for toying with his readers emotions. A talent he normally uses to convince them that there’s no hope in humanity and the world as we know it is beyond doomed. Very on brand with 2017. But back to the book. In short, Blood Meridian is about cowboys. But it’s one of the most insanely violent, bleak, and breathtakingly beautiful wild west stories ever told. Read it once and you’ll feel like you’ve lived hundreds of lives, all of which were downright grim. It’s quite the experience. Plus it also features one of the best villains of all time. You’ll need a take a long, cold shower after this one.



Radical Class: Some Weekend Reading A book about Australia (it’s that time again!) from an author we can’t get enough of

“Australia is mostly empty and a long way away. Its population is small and its role in the world consequently peripheral. It doesn’t have coups, recklessly overfish, arm disagreeable despots, grow coca in provocative quantities, or throw its weight around in a brash and unseemly manner. It is stable and peaceful and good. It doesn’t…

Five Songs For Your Next Surf Clip Here’s “Wonderwall” or something or other.

You ever sit down to enjoy the latest web clip and start off thinking, “Hey, the surfing here isn’t terrible.” But then, oh let’s say thirty-seconds into everything, you change your tone. Something’s not quite right. Tilting your head to the side, you raise your eyebrows a bit and say to yourself, “But the music…

What Youth Eats: Open Fire Soup When the thermometer drops, cook outside! Here’s how.

When you get close to Christmas and New Years it’s too easy to sink in to the hole of your living room, stuffed from eating and drinking heavily since Thanksgiving and let the anxieties of 12-hour family days and new year’s expectations to start creeping in. So if that is what actually ended up happening…

What Youth Drinks: Tropical Eggnog Happy Holidays, But First Drink this Punch     

To quote maybe every other person right now, “it’s been quite a year, right?” So much emotion! So much drama! Never the less we’re here, hopefully gathering around a table with a bunch of family to reconnect, catch up, etc.. But as beautiful as the idea of family togetherness is, 10-12 extended family members sitting…

what youth recommends top 5 books holiday break

Books we recommend for holiday break Spark up a fire and put some words through your mind for the holidays.

The next two weeks are an opportunity. A break. A moment to find clarity and inspiration. For most of us, in between the family gatherings and trips and travel and chaos there is a year wrapping up, and an opportunity to squeak in one or two more books to our count for the year. And believe…

what youth radical class cocktails with paul brewer

What Youth Drinks Building Blocks to a Great Cocktail

Did you know making cocktails is as easy as 1-2-3? Well, it can be with Booze-Acid-Sugar. In this brave new world of crazy ass cocktails, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all these circus dick concoctions. Artisanal aperitifs, flavored vodkas, and flair-full garnishes are all real fancy, but sometimes they cloud the basics. Because, when…

Radical Class: What Youth Reads Homage to Catalonia: a book seven decades young and still topical!

The Spaniards are good at many things, but not at making war. All foreigners are alike appalled by their inefficiency, above all their maddening unpunctuality. The one word that no foreigner can avoid learning is mañana.—George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia I bring books with me when I go on vacation for two reasons. One, I struggle…

Radical Class: “The Center Will Not Hold” Definitely watch the new Netflix documentary on writer Joan Didion

In a world full of chaos, absurdity, tragedy and Stranger Things, it’s always nice to find some larger perspective in a good old fashioned documentary. And the latest on writer Joan Didion is that. Few names have encouraged an entire generation of people and writers the way she has. And just a few minutes into the…

Radical Class, What Youth Drinks, Paul Brewer

WHAT YOUTH DRINKS: COCCI AMERICANO An Easy, Inexpensive way to Live that Riviera High Life

I snagged a bottle of this Cocci Americano stuff after seeing it on the shelf at a cocktail bar in Long Beach, CA. It was an impromptu buy — I didn’t know what it was or what to do with it, but thought I’d figure it out. Experiment! Cocktail jazz improvisation! While I’ll save the…

Radical Class, Berlin, Adam Warren

Radical Class: Hope from the Road Just when you thought it was all over: there is Berlin  

Turns out there is still hope out there. Out there, beyond your day-to-day, somewhere out on the road its not all politics, hurricanes, bad vibes and bad memes. In fact, the other day I found myself way outside the bad lands somewhere in Berlin. Just off the plane I walked around the Mitte District. I meandered…

WHAT YOUTH EATS: AGUACHILE Another Raw One: Sinaloa Spicy Shrimp

If you’ve been following along, you know that we’ve gone raw at for the last few weeks. We’ve played with raw tuna a couple different ways (here and here), and got fancy and fresh with a raw beef tartare last week. It’s been fun, delicious, and the whole experiment has opened up our late…

what youth eats, raw, radical class, paul brewer

WHAT YOUTH EATS: RAW BEEF The latest in our Raw Series: Steak tartare is the primest of the prime.

For the last few weeks we’ve gone raw. We’re doing it all for the flavor — an exercise to experience great ingredients at their root essence, with a secondary win of less time cooking and more time having summertime fun outside (making raw things takes less time, duh). So far we’ve focused on fish and…

Sign up for letters from What Youth