Rick has been the one calling all the shots in the past 5 seasons of Rick and Morty—or has he? As the show delves deeper into the lives of the Sanchez/Smith Family, it’s becoming clear that Morty is the character running the story. His relationship with Rick acts as a benchmark for his character growth and maturity. In seasons 1-4, Morty Smith has grown from an anxious teenager to a mature, self-confident young adult. He can even outperform the smartest man in the universe, his petty, narcissistic grandfather.
If Rick Sanchez reads to master the universe, then there’s no doubt that Morty does as well. And though Morty’s book collection would often be hijacked by Rick Sanchez’s book recommendations, we’ve caught plenty of glimpses at his unique personal tastes through the seasons. With those hints calibrated, here are 10 books/series that Morty Smith would recommend to anyone trying to adapt and thrive in a world riddled with sociopaths, hormones, and space monsters.
Season 1, Episode 5: Meeseeks and Destroy shedded light on Morty’s infatuation with the fantasy genre. Since he’s constantly taken on life-threatening adventures with Rick for the sake of materialistic goals, it’s a safe bet that Morty has read and connected with Tolkien’s works.
Looking at his track record, Morty can relate better than most 14-year-olds to the tales of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. Just like them, he is faced with the burden of the outside world. When all he’d like is to attend school and live a normal life, the greater universe crashes in, complicating his existence…while also delivering unexpected promises. Unlike the two hobbits, he’s had to deal with a demented and drunk version of Gandalf leading his every step.
Either/Or: A Fragment of Life – Søren Kierkegaard
We’ve come to enjoy Morty’s moral predicaments, such as his futile attempts to save a genocidal fart cloud, act as savior during a planet-wide purge, and console his sister Summer after learning a difficult truth. The decisions Morty has made across the show fall into two categories: the hedonistic, that can justify buying an alien sex doll and the idealistic, that is always seeking to do the right thing for others.
In the book Either/Or, by the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, you’ll be immersed in the two faces of the human soul and the conflict between physical desires and our moral conscious. Noting all of Morty’s successes and mistakes, it’s certain that he’s sought out guidance from reading books to help make the best choices in a chaotic universe.
The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
Compared to Rick Sanchez, whose tastes run more toward non-fiction, Morty appears far more in tune with his personal tastes. He is 14, after all. How many of you were reading the works of Nietzsche and Jean-Paul Sartre when you were that age? One work that would surely speak to Morty and his mixture of naivety and worldly competence is Alexandre Dumas’s classic The Count of Monte Cristo.
Similar to the Hobbit in that it features a rich world, characters, and treasure, the story of Edmond Dantes’s grimy suffering and glorious rise above his circumstances demonstrates the possibility of finding success and satisfaction amid the terrible situations we all find ourselves in from time to time. It is a story that maps the sources for hope and determination inside us all. Any prison is escapable. The universe does not have to be your master.
The Mistborn Series – Brandon Sanderson
It’s a known fact that Morty Smith loves the heist genre—at least until Rick weaned out his interest by amplifying the trope’s less sensible aspects. If, like Morty, your enthusiasm toward heist stories has been ruptured by overuse and unoriginality, try out the Mistborn Series for a change. Set in a world covered in constant-falling ash and ruled by an immortal god-dictator, you’ll experience the heist of all heists.
The story is told through the perspectives of Vin, a beaten down girl on the streets and the confident, charismatic thieving crew leader Kelsier. Mistborn has more to offer than a simple heist story; author Brandon Sanderson constructed the world around the magic of Allomancy, in which people ingest metals to gain superhuman powers. Considering all Morty has experienced in the many universes he’s visited, metal-powered magic gives this series the fantasy/sci fi kick the heist genre desperately lacks.
Carrie – Stephen King
Morty has some things in common with Carrie, the main character in Stephen King’s debut novel. They are both social outcasts due, in part, to the influences of their overbearing parental figures (a drunk narcissist grandfather and a fanatically religious mother). They also house serious amounts of repressed rage that, when release, can destroy everything in their wake.
We all deal with feelings of anger now and then. Rather than taking out our frustration once a year with a brutal blood-fest, we can read about Carrie’s supernatural revenge against high school bullies. Knowing of Morty’s idealism and anger issues, this is the kind of book he’d keep on his bedside, ready to read after a bad day.
In contrast to his overly-logical grandfather, Morty has a preference toward immersion and examining others’ perspectives. Though he hated the screenplay by the lighthouse keeper in the episode Look Who’s Purging Now, we learned two things about him; firstly, Morty actually wanted to listen to it as opposed to Rick; and secondly, Morty ended up writing fiction as more than a hobby in the episode One Crew Over The Crewcoo’s Morty.
Noting how open-minded Morty is toward new things (he would have to be in order to hang with Rick so much), it is highly likely that he’s at least perused the pages of this classic of the craft of screenwriting. This book basically boils down the complexities of story into a 15-step guide that is guaranteed to help one write stories that are captivating enough to avoid being hurled down a fight of spiral stairs by your audience.
Dune – Frank Herbert
Frank Herbert’s Dune has the universal scope that Morty can relate his experiences to. And that factor plays a big reason as to why I think this would stand among his favorite book series. Revolving around the fifteen-year-old Paul Atreides and his family’s acquisition of the famed spice planet, it is one universe that stands apart in terms of originality. Unlike most science fiction epics, which revolve around the technology, Dune puts greater emphasis on the psychological and spiritual aspects, according to TedEd. The narrative those elements to supplement the technologies that commonly appear across the genre.
The Dating Playbook For Men – Andrew Ferebee
You can’t write an article about Morty Smith without bringing up his long-time crush Jessica. Throughout the seasons of Rick and Morty, we’ve witnessed his various efforts to woo the girl of his dreams, failing most of the time. Knowing how determined Morty is, the result of his adventures with Rick, he’s not the kind to simply give up and settle with his weaknesses. If he can deactivate neutrino bombs, he can certainly learn the ways of romance, and this book provides numerous insights to that end.
The Miracle of Mindfulness – Thich Nhat Hanh
Pause the show at any point and Morty’s facial expression will, more often than not, be distressed. If you listen to him talk for five seconds, you’ll notice the shaking panic in his voice. If you watch a full episode of Rick and Morty, he’s in a state of angst about 90% of the time.
Morty is not the type to mope around and whine about his circumstances, as stated in the previous section. After all, he doesn’t tolerate Rick’s shenanigans too long before taking decisive action. That same sentiment applies to his mental and spiritual health.
Before you stop and doubt his ability to achieve calm, consider that at least one Morty has gained mastery over his mind. Unfortunately, that Morty turned out to be evil. As long as we’re talking about Morty, there is hope. If you’re the type to stress easily and are looking to tame that overactive mind of yours, this book will provide you with the basics.
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance – Angela Duckworth
Morty is quite capable for being a teenager. He is able to adapt and function in environments far less predictable than what most people experience in their whole lives. Though his experiences are overseen by the watchful and indifferent eye of Rick, Morty is the primary agent of his circumstances. If you’re looking to attain a similar level of mastery over your grit levels, this book is a must-read. Unlike many self-help books, which are full of far-fetched promises, Angela Duckworth has embedded her years of research into its pages.