Category: Classics

5 Books You Can’t Just Can’t Listen To

You read the title, you know what this article is about. With all the hoopla over the last hundred or so years of us asking the same few questions (Will the book die out? Is the book dead?) over and over again, I’ve decided to do something a little more productive than just roll my eyes.

I’ve decided to give you five great books that you just can’t listen to. Yes, you may be able to find some actor with the soothing chirp of Michael Caine or the deep drawl of Morgan Freeman, but simply listening isn’t going to give you the full experience. For these books, you have to read them yourself.

I think you get the idea.

Now for this list I’ve discounted Mad Libs, coloring books, pop up books, or any comic book/graphic novels/manga. None of those will be appearing on this list. You’re old enough to know that you can’t just hear the soothing voice of a Stephen Fry while you’re running on the treadmill to get the full picture—you actually have to open up the comic book and read it. There’s no use of me reiterating that for the hundredth time.

What’ll be on this list are books. Books with spines and pages and words. Ready?

 

 

5. Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar

 

Hopscotch: A Novel (Pantheon Modern Writers Series) by [Cortazar, Julio]
Image Via Amazon

Written in Paris, Hopscotch was published in Spanish in 1963 and in English in 1966. Okay, so we’ve got Horacio Oliveira, an Argentinian writer who lives in Paris with his mistress, La Maga. Everything is going well until a child dies and La Maga disappears off the face of the planet. Not sure what to do, Oliveira returns to Buenos Aires, where he works by turns as a salesman, a keeper of a circus cat which can truly count, and an attendant in an insane asylum.

Easy, right?

 

Rayuela

The Spanish Version / Image Via Wikipedia

 

Oh yeah, ninety-nine chapters are expendable. You read that right, expendable. Meaning they are useless, that they can be cut out of the book with no loss to the story, and with a book that’s 155 chapters in total, that means that about 63.87% of the book can be thrown out in the trash.

Why didn’t the editor do his/her job? I hear you ask, and the answer is why this book made this list.

See there are a couple of ways to read this book. You can read it from chapter one to chapter fifty six, or you can “hopscotch” throughout the book using the “Table of Instructions”. Or you can go completely random.

 

Julio Cortazar

Image Via AZ Quotes

 

Reading the book in order means that ninety-nine expendable chapters will make little to no sense. They’re nothing more than random musings.

Reading them using the “Table of Instructions” means that some of these expendable chapters can be revelations. See, the entire book is written in an episodic, snapshot manner. A real slice of lie type story. These expendable chapters, when you put them in order, can add information about the characters, such as giving more information about this guy named Morelli who pops up for a small cameo in the novel. At first, he’s random. Diving deep, we realize what he means.

Point is, these “expendable” chapters at first seem like random musings, but upon closer inspection some of these ‘musings’ are actually answers in disguise.

 

Image result for Julio Cortazar
Image Via La tinta

Wait! I hear you say, can’t we just have two audio versions: One where a narrator goes through the book linearly and one where he “hopscotches” around using the “Table of Instructions”.

Well, assuming money is no obstacle, yes, but you forget about the third way to read this book: figure it out yourself.

Remember how I said reading the table means that only *some* of the expendable chapters make sense? That’s where making it up as you go along comes. Yes, that part where I said “you can go completely random” wasn’t a joke. In fact, Cortázar himself gives the reader the option of choosing a unique path through the narrative.

The book is a puzzle. It’s a choose your own adventure where you are left on your own devise to figure out the timeline between all these chapters. It won’t be easy, given that the narratives techniques switch from first person and third person to stream-of-consciousness and traditional spelling and grammatical rules are often bent or even outright broken, but this isn’t your typical book.

It’s a book you can’t just simply listen it.

 

4. Chuck Palahniuk’s Invisible Monsters Remix

 

Invisible Monsters Remix by [Palahniuk, Chuck]
Image Via Amazon

Do you like Chuck Palahniuk? He wrote Fight Club, and I love Fight Club. I can’t stop talking about Fight Club. Did you know that Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club, thinks Fight Club is better than Fight Club?

Chuck Palahniuk also wrote Invisible Monsters, a novel about a fashion model who has everything: a boyfriend, a career, a loyal best friend, but loses it all from when a sudden freeway “accident” leaves her disfigured and unable to speak. She becomes an ‘invisible monster,’ but then Brandy Alexander, Queen Supreme, walks into her life and teaches her that reinventing yourself means erasing your past and making up something better.

It’s a great book, and I wish I could talk about it, but I won’t. Instead I’ll talk about what Palahniuk deems the ‘director’s cut’ called Invisible Monsters Remix.

 

Invisible Monsters Remix

Image Via Amazon

 

This remix chops up the original story, presenting it in short scenes which end with a request to skip to another page. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure novel in which readers must follows the directions and flip through the book a la Hopscotch, but this book takes it one step beyond.

Yes, you can read the book linearly, yes you can flip around and, as per the introduction “jump to Chapter Forty-one,” or you could go completely random, but Palahniuk takes it one step beyond.

For a start, you can take out a pen and mark up the book. I’m serious. See, Palahniuk has added  new chapters interspersed throughout the book and you can get lost flipping through the book. To solve this, the author himself encourages you, dear reader, to mark each page with an ‘x’ so when you get to the end (which is in the middle) you can look back to see if you’ve missed any pages.

You will miss pages. About three three chapters worth, in fact.

Plus, unlike Hopscotch, Palahinuk has this:

 

This is real

Image Via Danielshankcruz.files.wordpress

 

There’s nothing like two sequences where the pages that are printed backwards so you gotta use a mirror to read them. Wouldn’t you agree that the experience be less if you just listened to someone reading the pages normally?

 

3. S by Doug Dorst and J. J. Abrams

 

 

Image Via Amazon

 

The book is called S, but not really. It’s actually called Ship of Theseus, but not really. Let me explain.

Ship of Theseus was written by an elusive author named V. M. Straka and published in 1949.

S was written by Doug Dorst and J.J. Abrams, and they wrote three stories that are packaged into one.

The core story is Ship of Theseus by V. M. Straka, published in 1949, which is about an amnesiac, known only as S., who’s trying to figure out who he really is after waking up in a strange city who becomes trapped in a conflict between a violent, oppressive industrialist and his rebellious workers.

The book has footnotes describing how the author, V. M. Straka, was a secretive anarchist who might have written this book as an allegory of a real conflict and assassination conspiracy of which he was a part. No one knows who Straka is and supposedly he is dead, but the book’s editor, F. X. Caldeira, not only wrote the introduction but also included various footnotes throughout the book that seem to contain coded messages in an attempt to contact Straka.

 

S-Inside The Book

Image Via Pinterest

 

Now the book itself is a mock-up of a high school library’s check-out history of the book, spanning the years 1957 to 2000. A grad student named Eric has been working on his own theory of who Straka was, writing his notes in the margins. Jen, an undergrad student who works at the college library, writes out her responses in the margins, creating a conversation as they trade the book back and forth, blossoming into a romance as soon as they begin to encounter some danger by people who don’t want the truth to be known.

 

S-Everything Inside

Everything The Book Comes With / Image Via Emily Short’s Interactive Storytelling

 

One book, three stories.

 

 

2.  The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall

 

The Raw Shark Texts by [Hall, Steven]

Image Via AMazon

 

Do you like pictures? Do you like words? How about pictures made out of words? Well there’s a word for that and it’s calligrams and this book is choc-full of them. Moving text, text that forms pictures, giant texts to emphasize words, this book has it.

Let’s take a step back.

A man named Eric Sanderson wakes up in a house he doesn’t recognize, unable to remember anything of his life. A note instructs him to call a Dr. Randle, who informs him he’s had another episode of memory loss.

Apparently this has been happening for the last two years, but Eric isn’t too sure. He decides to learn the truth, escaping the predatory forces that threaten to consume him.

Postmodern magic rituals, conceptual predators swimming the abstract depths of consciousness, this psychological odyssey is a brilliant story by its own, but Hall takes one step beyond.

The text loops and swerves, putting the reader in Hall’s mindset.

 

The Raw Shark Texts-Swerving Words

Image Via Goodreads

 

It even gives us an image of what Hall sees with images like this:

 

The Raw Shark Texts-Eye

Image Via Than Words

 

Try have someone reading that text out loud! Hall knows that simply saying “an eye appeared” wouldn’t be as powerful as showing us an eye made up of words, making our skin crawl as we feel multiple eyes staring right as us through the very page itself.

But Hall then doesn’t just make the text see, he gives it a face.

 

The Raw Shark Texts-Shark

Image Via Pinterest

 

A picture is worth a thousand words, and these pictures are made of words

 

1. House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski

 

Image Via Amazon

 

This book is 709 pages and I read it over the courage of two days. My eyes could not be peeled away. I was lying on the bathroom floor in a hotel at midnight, my cousin’s wedding in eight hours, and I refused to close the book. My brother was asleep in the next room so I couldn’t turn on the light, so I went in the bathroom and lay across the floor and read this book until I was finished.

My cousin’s wedding is a blur, but this book isn’t.

House of Leaves is about a house that is about a little less than an inch bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

Let’s back up. We start off with a first-person narrative by Johnny Truant, a Los Angeles tattoo parlour employee and professed unreliable narrator. Looking for an apartment, Traunt finds out about the meant of the recently deceased Zampanò, a blind, elderly man.

Curious, Traunt goes to the apartment and finds that the blind man was writing a book. Yes, the blind man was writing a book. The book is an academic study of a documentary film called The Navidson Record, even though, according to Traunt, there’s no evidence that the film or its subjects ever existed, even though Zampanò quotes the likes of famous figures from Stephen King to Stanley Kubrick and Anne Rice.

 

Mark Z Danielewski

Image Via KCRW

 

From here, Traunt’s story is told through increasingly long footnotes sprinkled into The Navidson Record, which is about a documentarian who moves into a house with his family and realizes that their house is bigger on the inside than the outside.

What’s more, the house seems to be expanding while the outside stays the same. Plus, a dark, cold hallway opens in an exterior living room wall that should project outside into their yard, but does not. It’s also impossible to shine a light in this hallway and, furthermore, seems to be shifting and growing.

The book utilizes different fonts to distinguish characters. These are: Times New Roman (Zampanò), Courier (Johnny), Bookman (The Editors), and Dante (Johnny’s mother).

It also uses color changes.

 

A Red Passage from 'House of Leaves'

Image Via Fox Burrow Magazine

 

The word “house” is colored blue (gray for non-color editions of the book and light gray for red editions.

The word Minotaur and all struck passages are colored red.

References to Johnny’s mother are colored purple.

This is just the basic stuff right here.

 

House of Leaves

Image VIa Goodreads

 

A prime example of ergodic literature, the book contains copious footnotes, many of which contain footnotes themselves…

 

Image VIa Ergodic Design

 

…while other pages contain only a few words or lines of text…

 

House of Leaves

Image Via Goodreads

 

…some of the text is arranged to mirror the events in the story or a character’s mind…

 

Image result for House of Leaves danielewski footnotes
Image Via The Reader’s Room

 

There are sections where there were just a few words on the page while a chase was happening so you sped through the pages like you were running through the halls and there are sections where the dialogue from people on top of a staircase was high on the page while speech from the characters down below was on the bottom of the page.

 

House of Leaves

Image Via Cornerfolds

 

Housse of Leaves
Image Via Goodreads

 

Give me audiobook of that! You can’t, because to read this book, to read all these books, you have to do more than skim through the pages, you have to interact with them. You have to rip them apart, mark them up, twist them and turn them.

Call these big five art, call these big five artsy, call these big five pretentious, I call them the reason why “The book is dead” question makes my eyes roll into the back of my head.

 

 

 

Featured Images Via Amazon

Eleven of the Most Beautiful And Awesome Book Covers

They say never judge a book by its cover but that’s not really true. The purpose of a book’s cover is to entice you into buying it and those that do a poor job of representing the book aren’t doing their job well. But book covers are an often overlooked piece that provides an intimate look at the contents before you even open them. Some of them are even artistic masterpieces in their own right. But what are the best? Let’s have a look at some of the best ones and marvel at their beauty.

 

 

11. ‘Jurassic Park’ by Michael Crichton 

image via Amazon

 

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton is utterly brilliant as a cover. It depicts a Tyrannosaurus Rex’s skeleton against a white backdrop, hinting at terrifying possibilities but nonetheless drawing the reader in for a wild ride. Its also gets bonus points for becoming so iconic.

 

10. ‘Get in Trouble’ by Kelly Link

image via amazon

 

Get In Trouble by Kelly Link provides a marvelous and captivating cover. Her stories are offbeat and have a sense of offness to them, showcased by this strange cover. The upside down nature of a seemingly normal house provides an excellent preview of what you’re in for: the normal world turned literally upside down. Not to mention its a really cool visual piece.

 

9. ‘Heart of a samurai’ by Margi Preus 

image via amazon

 

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus has an instantly captivating cover. The colors of the wave contrasted with the lovely sky, the boat riding atop the wave, and the whales beneath instantly make for a classic image. There’s a sense of adventure, danger, and even action from the cover alone, as it draws your eye in right away.

 

7. ‘the great gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald 

image via amazon

 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald has truly one of the great covers of all time. Created by Spanish artist Francis Cugat, this cover is a pretty work of surrealism and beauty. Every part of it is iconic: from the giant disembodied eyes and lips floating over the colorful, almost theme parking looking location below against the backdrop of the blue night sky, its a wonderful work of art that will always represent its book in the popular consciousness.

 

 

6. ‘Beowolf’ translated by Seamus Heaney 

image via amazon

 

Beowolf by Seamus Heaney is a new translation of the classic epic poem that instantly draws your eye through its simplistic but striking cover. All there is to it is a man standing in full chainmail with his back to the camera but it instantly captures the feeling of the poem. The image captures violence and strangeness through what it implies, becoming more the more you pay attention to it. A truly classic image for a classic poem.

 

5. ‘The Godfather’ by Mario Puzo 

image via amazon

 

The Godfather by Mario Puzo is a classic, stark novel and its cover matches its iconic status. Created by S. Neil Fujita, conveys the rotten power Puzo examines, even as it intrigues the potential reader. It could just as easily be the cover to a horror novel—which isn’t actually that far off the mark, if you think about it. There aren’t too many book covers that create what’s essentially a brand logo, but that’s just what this one did.

 

4. ‘The hate u give’ by Angie Thomas

image via Amazon

 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is another brilliant cover that’s more recent. It uses negative space in a bold way, drawing focus to its central character who holds up her sign and demands the looker’s attention. The lead character is both empowered and obscured by her message, an awesome showcase of the book’s themes in a simple way.

 

 

3. ‘Brave New World’ by Aldous Huxley

image via Amazon

 

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley’s cover combines the absurd and frightening tone of the story with a simple, bold approach that draws the eye and holds it tortuously. You try to figure out what you’re looking at, even as the sneaking suspicion that you don’t want to know creeps up on you.

 

2. ‘The Stranger’ by Albert Camus 

image via Amazon

 

The Stranger by Albert Camus is a bit headache inducing to look at but a great image nonetheless. The stark lines converging to create a hidden optical illusion. Once you see it, you’ll never forget it; once you read the book, you’ll forever associate it with this powerful cover.

 

1. ‘A clockwork Orange’ by Anthony Burgess 

Image via Amazon

 

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess is a disturbing cover for a disturbing novel. Supposedly banged out in a single evening, this cover referenced the iconic film, and conveyed the sense of society being broken all at once, showcasing a screaming face contrasted with a fire in place of the upper part of the man’s head. It’s brilliant on a level no other cover has quite been able to surpass.

 

 

 

Featured Images via Amazon

Five Fabulous Great Gatsby Memes

Time to confess – I never had to read The Great Gatsby for school. I don’t know how I missed it! But I went back recently and caught up, and I was… surprised. It’s not that I think it’s under hyped, exactly, but it is under sold. We have infidelity! We have false identities! We have MANSLAUGHTER! I mean, things get wild. Especially for a book set on Long Island.

 

 

Gretchen!

Image via Pinterest

 

I was not prepared for this. I know there are about a hundred thousand old sport jokes, but I was not ready for how incessantly he says it. I think someone else picks it up at one point. Where does this expression come from? Are you just really bad with names? I swear, what is your game here? No one else says this.

 

Maybe Just a Little

Image via Stalktr

 

It shows. Just a tiny bit. Just a little. Just a touch, like, in the way that every single thing you do is built around the one thing you wanted when you were young. It’s not a leather jacket and earring, but the pink suit was a pretty strong look. Who is this man, and why? Lots of things are explained about Gatsby, but that suit is not one of them.

 

He Did Watch People Die

Image via Tumblr

 

I mean, it’s all symbolism and deeply brilliant or whatever, but that sign was pretty random. I admit I don’t really know Queens very well, so maybe it’s just like that, but he may as well have been the then parish eyes. “Pwease help me, Tom! uwu’ – gets run over by Daisy. Too soon? Nah, no one was a very good person in that book, so see the above.

 

 

Not Awkward at All

Image via JolyGram

 

Nick puts up with a lot. Sam literally bails to get a room with his mistress and Nick is just sitting in the living room, probably smoking or holding a bunch of balloons or something. Who would hang around under those circumstances? Leave a note and go walk around the park or something. Just because nobody else has any boundaries doesn’t mean you can’t. Get it together.

 

And He’s Still Allowed to Have Very Nice Things

Image via Tumblr

 

Heaven’s sake, Gatsby, learn one single lesson, I beg of you. Daisy’s a flake and ALWAYS has been. Her husband sucks. She’s was never going to run away with you, and money wont change that. She sucks, man! I know she’s just an elaborate metaphor for the falseness and toxicity of extreme, thoughtless opulence, but use some critical thinking skills! Sigh.

 

 

Featured image via Meme Maker

7 Star Wars Memes I Have a Good Feeling About

Star Wars may have started well before memes became our primary means of communication, but that hasn’t led to it’s neglect. Besides, with the prequels providing basically endless fuel, and some new screenshots from the sequels, we’ve got fertile ground for a rich meme harvest.

 

Please Never Describe Me

Image via Dorkly

Besides being spectacularly shady, this is relatable. Not because my father was flammable, in so far as I know, but because we all know at least one person who can’t describe people to save their lives. Ironically, my dad is this way. He once described someone to me who he expected me to locate by saying that they had dark hair and maybe a tattoo. Maybe a tattoo? Anyone might have a tattoo. And what’s Luke supposed to do, put out a classified craigslist add looking for anyone flamable? Alright, I know it’s not canon, but it really should be.

 

It’s True And You Should Say It

Featured Image via Tumblr

He committed war crimes! He was a really bad person! Just wanting to peace out and live in the swamp is an incredibly understandable impulse, and I don’t think anyone questioned Yoda’s choices, but the prequels just HAD to explain, didn’t they? Plus, puppet Yoda was good. He was weird, sure, and I wouldn’t want him sitting on MY shoulders, but he was clearly a friend. CGI is an abomination. He looks like he’s going to glitch out of the screen and clip through my body, killing me instantly. Then he’ll probably do something weird like harvest my fingernails. No thanks.

 

#darthbinks

Image via Quickmeme

Alright, alright, before you @me, I don’t actually think Jar Jar Binks is a sith lord. The guy couldn’t do even one thing. Who would recruit him? But when I bring up the theory, people get so mad! Sure, the prequels are awful (still don’t @me! It’s objective fact! I hate sand!), but the meta is outrageous. That’s why most of these memes are from the prequels. There’s really just an infinite number of things to unpack. The Darth Binks theory is great because it doesn’t make the prequels any better. They’re still ridiculous, convoluted, and poorly written (for starters). Nothing changes. Just… Jar Jar’s a sith. It makes you think.

 

The Chosen One

Image via Star Wars 7

God I love Luke, but he was just the densest, most useless chosen one on his planet or any other. Right at his face! You think you’d have these problems with Leia? I’m still mad my girl didn’t ever get to use her powers for violence, though the space walk was obviously amazing. Whose idea was this? They’re like, look, we have two Skywalkers, either could fulfill the prophecy. One is a polished diplomat spy with the guts to lie to Darth Vader’s face and the courage to keep going after her planet explodes. The other is the slowest, most confused farm boy you’ve ever seen. The choice is easy!

 

Since Someone Found Everything Else

Image via Killing Time

Seriously, they should be able to just slap it back on there. And when’s Rey going to lose a hand? At this point it’s just a rite of passage. I stan Rey hard, but if she doesn’t lose a hand, is she really even a Star Wars lead? Then again, maybe it’s just a Skywalker thing. Either way, can we talk about how everything that got lost in the first three movies is just around now? How did Maz get Luke’s lightsaber? How did Kylo get Vader’s helmet? Don’t ask questions! I mean, the Star Wars movies have always had so many plot holes, but these are weirdly back to back. She might as well have his hand too.

 

The Man is Swish

 
Image via Memedroid

Look, I like prequel Obi Wan. We all like prequel Obi Wan. I’m just saying that prequel Obi Wan and original Obi-wan are two entirely different people. Original Obi Wan is not without humor, but he’s ultimately a serious, dedicated man. Prequel Obi Wan is sassy, impulsive, and has a dedication to fashion no number of years or friend murders could dull. Look at this man! You’re telling me he was just hanging out on Tatooine, in the hills, without a drop of hair gel? That whole planet couldn’t contain this swagger. No hate, but they’re entirely different people.

 

The Real Reason Anakin Turned

Image via Memedroid

It’s not exactly a hot take, but the Jedi Order was messed up. I mean, for people with so many rules, they had approximately zero morals. Let’s tell people not to love anyone and then expect them to have compassion! Let’s break the Geneva Convention! Seriously, for such a supposedly great civilization, they were about 0% civilized. If he hadn’t murdered all those kids and become a space fascist, Anakin just would have been right. Honestly… down with the Jedi, and good for Luke burning all their manuals. You can be stabby without being authoritarian and colonialist and repressive. Get it together.

Featured Image via Youtube

5 Poe-etic Raven Memes

The raven is a poem with a lot to unpack. I definitely remember an english teacher insisting that the purple curtains were overt symbolism. They’re MOOD you philistine. Anyway. It’s relateable to anyone who’s been tormented by a bird after everyone they love dies of consumption. So maybe just Poe.

 

I Just Wanted a Nap

Image via Make a Meme

This is the most relatable part of the poem to me. This guy is just trying to take a nice depression nap because his lover died, and now there’s this whole bird situation he has to deal with. Even if it wasn’t talking, a bird inside the house is a whole mess. It’s like all those videos of people trying to chase owls out of their houses. Never mind that this one’s basically dragging him. Can’t a guy get a break? I mean, it’s not like he killed her, there’s no need to rub it in.

 

Finely Aged Memes

Image via iFunny

Sure, the Netflix and chill meme is deader than Lenore (Netflix has even made jokes about it – yikes), but this actually sounds like a great date. Take me to your wine cellar! I kid. I’d rather watch mortar dry. The nap thing though, that’s a gem of an idea. I’m taking notes. Who doesn’t want to sleep? Plus, it’s cost effective. Perfect for students, really. Poe was ahead of his time. What a relatable man.

 

Misery Hates Company

Image via Reddit

Sure, it sucks to be alone when you’re sad, but maybe not as much as it sucks to be yelled at by some guy. *New York voice* I’m moping here! But really, you could at least be like… sorry bro. Sucks. Or just say nothing. Was nothing maybe the right thing to say? Just repeating yourself without explanation would be annoying enough at the best of times, but when someone’s mourning it’s just kind of a dick move. What’s your goal, bird?

 

A Sensible Reaction

Image via Tumblr

Have you seen those SNL skits where people are professing their love and the object of their affection is just like… ok. This has a very similar energy. Also this CLASSIC tweet, when the word limit was expanded. I mean, if a raven came into my house and started shouting I’d either befriend it or chase it out, there’s no need to lose your mind over it, as this Twitter denizen proves. Again, and maybe this says more about me than about Poe, but if some bird was yelling at me in my own house I’d yell right back. Get outa here.

 

Questionable Practices

Image via Memedroid

Okay, great shot, but I do hope they then took the cigarette. The last thing a person needs is to be harassed by a bird with a nicotine addiction. I also think that’s a crow, not a raven, though. Still, semantics – ultimately they’re both harbingers of death or whatever. Fun fact – I’m sure everyone knows it’s a murder of crows, but the term for a group of ravens is an unkindness. The titular raven really represents that spirit, too. I don’t exactly approve, but still, what an icon.

Featured image via Psychedelic Quirky Moose