No one reads anymore. Which is probably why we read. But we’re realists too. Reading is hard in today’s culture. Our attention spans are at an all-time low. You’re one cell phone scroll away from cleavage and chicks and instant gratification at all times. So why the hell read? Well, for one, Dane does. For two, it’s the first step to having original, intelligent thoughts. And the good thing is, there are actually books (most of which your teachers won’t tell you about) that are more than worth the Instagram hiatus.
A few years ago I noticed that Dane was one of the only guys bringing rad books on trips. While most brought laptops filled with generic pop and hip hop, massive headphones and blank stares, Dane brought books — and always really interesting books. Since it can be hard to decide where to start, we compiled a list (some that made Dane’s list too) that we think you’ll be into.
1. WOMEN by CHARLES BUKOWSKI: No one will change your perspective on the act of reading as quickly as Bukowski. It’s raunchy, crude, sexual, violent, and filled with alcohol abuse, but delivered by one of the most caring and gentle voices in all of American literature. Buried beneath the whiskey just waiting to be found.
2. THE SUN ALSO RISES BY ERNEST HEMINGWAY: Dane once said: “Reading Hemingway is like eating filet mignon after a lifetimes worth of fast food.” Hemingway writes clear, simple sentences, which you’ll quickly realize are a far cry from the complicated headaches you received in most high school literature classes. This book is a sojourn through Spain that will leave you yearning for a trip to the Old World and a strong cocktail.
3. THE RUM DIARY BY HUNTER S. THOMPSON: I realize there is a bad movie with Johnny Depp floating around now about this book, but this, Hunter S. Thompson’s first actual novel, written in his 20s is really what we’re all after. A sweaty, rum-drenched voyage through the Caribbean on assignment with a failing newspaper, you’d be surprised how much wild shit can go down. Clear writing and cloudy brains.
4. THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY BY OSCAR WILDE: Oscar Wilde is hands down the wittiest, smartest son of a bitch this planet has ever produced. And instead of celebrating him, he was condemned for being gay and spent much of his life in exile. This book is worth reading exclusively for the commentary supplied by Lord Henry Wotton.
5. THE ROAD TO LOS ANGELES BY JOHN FANTE: John Fante was one of Charles Bukowski’s heroes and you can see why. There is zero pretentiousness in the writing. It’s all to the point. No time is wasted on metaphor, he says exactly what is happening, clearly and precisely. There is also a crab murder scene you have to read to believe in this one.
6. TROPIC OF CANCER BY HENRY MILLER: Sometimes it’s nice to know there are other people who’ve lost it as well. A thorough and descriptive tale of Miller’s early life slumming in the streets of Paris. Loaded with wine guzzling, prostitution and a shit-ton of mind fucks that will leave you as they’ve left Dillon Perillo: completely baffled and enlightened at the same time.
7. JOHN BARLEYCORN BY JACK LONDON: If you’re gonna drink, you might as well see how the best (and the worst) do it. This is as close to an autobiographical novel as Jack London got, and it’s like being thrown into the barrooms of San Francisco after way too many months at sea. Oyster pirates. Drunken brawls. And lots of roughneck sailing around the globe. Drunk. Sound familiar?
BONUS: NAUSEA BY JEAN PAUL SARTRE (pictured): This is an expert level book. Considered one of the canonical contributions to existentialism, this book will enthrall and perplex and keep you wondering about what the hell all this living is about. The author was the only person in history to decline the Nobel Prize (badass). Double black diamond reading level compared to the above, but worth the effort.