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Books, nerds.

April 28, 2011

Hey Friend,

So someone made the mistake of asking for some recommendations on books.  Thanks for humoring us.  Lest we pass up a chance to wax philosophical and fail to live up to our reputation of being arrogant, middle-class (upper, if you want to be honest about it), know-it-alls, we’ve assembled a quick list*:


  •  “The History of White People” – Nell Irvin Painter.
  • “Lies My Teacher Told Me” – James Loewen


  • “Parecon” – Michael Albert
  • “A People’s History of the United States” – Howard Zinn
  • “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” – Jules Verne
  • “Invisible Cities” – Italo Calvino


  • “News from Nowhere” – William Morris
  • “The Erasers” – Alain Robbe-Grillet
  • “2666” – Roberto Bolano
  • “Germinal” – Emile Zola
  • “How to Travel with a Salmon & Other Essays” – Umberto Eco
  • “The Expanding Circle” – Peter Singer
  • “The Picture of Dorian Gray” – Oscar Wilde
  • “Seeing” – Jose Saramago
  • “The Dispossessed” – Ursula K. Le Guin
  • “On the Justice of Roosting Chickens” – Ward Churchill (for that matter…)


  • “Sixty Stories” + “Forty Stories”- Donald Barthelme
  • “Stories In The Worst Way” + “It Looked Alive”- Gary Lutz
  • “Jesus’ Son”- Denis Johnson
  • “Airships” – Barry Hannah
  • “Lost In The Funhouse” – John Barth
  • “Collected Stories” – Amy Hempel
  • “The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis” – Lydia Davis
  • “A Fan’s Notes” – Frederick Exely
  • “Hunger” – Knut Hamsun
  • Powell’s, Quimby’s, the remainders at Book Culture
  • htmlgiant and The Rumpus

We’ll edit here, but that’s a start.



* Disclaimer: Let it be known that yes, we (collectively) enjoy reading and support the idea that it could ever once again rival twitter and ironic flannel shirts on skinny farts for the label of “cool.”  We also find it fun to hear about books others have loved and that will teach us fun things about the world.  So suspend your labels and judgment.  We’re not all  the preachy type, fighting to keep our noses above the crowd (Al really is though! …no, kidding, kidding….); just giving a peek that we’ve been asked for a few times.  Feel free to recommend some stuff back.

24 Comments leave one →
  1. Stephen permalink
    April 28, 2011 12:43 am

    Volt, by Alan Heathcock. Collection of 8 shorts, came out this year. It has a kind of southern gothic meets crime fiction feel to it. If you’ve ever lived in a small, shit town you’ll get it. Read it in one sitting and it will haunt you for days.

  2. Jeff Waste permalink
    April 29, 2011 9:39 pm

    “Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace
    It looks intimidating, but is definitely worth it.

    P.S. Props on the Amy Hemple.

  3. Reef permalink
    April 30, 2011 2:32 am

    Any of you fans of Candide or Zadig by Voltaire?

    • April 30, 2011 4:48 am

      Yes! Candide is amazing and fucked… haven’t read Zadig, but got really excited about finding an English copy of “Micromegas”. Haven’t read it yet though. If you liked “Candide” and haven’t tried “The Adventures of Pinocchio” by Carlo Collodi, try it. Similar stuff, different style.

  4. Rod permalink
    May 2, 2011 1:17 am

    Henry miller – the rosy crucifixion:sexus

  5. May 2, 2011 4:35 am

    If you’re looking to genuinely laugh and appreciate someones poor humanity / ability to relate on a social scale, I recommended Apathy and Other Small Victories by Paul Neilman.
    Favorite book to date.

    Beyond that, I recently read Flight by Sherman Alexie which was good in the teenage angst / no place / self loathing expression, but I herd someone had to read that for school, so let’s stick with Apathy.

    And currently Eeeee Eee Eeee by Tao Lin, which is shaping up to look promising, besides the questionable lack of punctuation.

    • boner honkfarts permalink
      May 4, 2011 5:30 am

      ‘the decline of the west’ by oswald spengler. pretty obscure history title that’s kind of hard to find, but well worth the read.

      ‘killing hope: US military and CIA interventions since 1950’ by william blum if you wanna understand why all that ‘they hate us for our freedom’ shit is, well, shit.

      ‘amusing ourselves to death: public discourse in the age of show business’ by neil postman, which is pretty relevant considering the premise of the book and this thread has to deal with the death of the written word.

      and everyone should read ‘autobiography of malcolm x’

      • boner honkfarts permalink
        May 4, 2011 5:33 am

        and if you haven’t checked out project gutenberg, do so immediately.

      • Justin permalink
        May 27, 2011 2:04 am

        Killing Hope is excellent. Rogue State is William Blum’s other book which is good.

        Along those same lines, I’d recommend Michael Parenti’s work. Especially, The Sword and The Dollar, To Kill A Nation, Democracy For The Few, Blackshirts and Reds, and Against Empire. He has another book out called The Face Of Imperialism which looks excellent. Parenti is much better politically than Chomsky and Zinn, in my opinion. He seems much more pragmatic.

        I’d also recommend The Wretched Of The Earth by Frantz Fanon and How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Walter Rodney.

        The Ward Churchill recommendation is great as well.

        Along the lines of fiction, you can’t go wrong with books like The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and Mother by Maxim Gorky.

      • June 5, 2011 4:01 pm

        The Decline of the West is definitely interesting, his whole organic take on cultures and societies and whatnot, good suggestion, I love the shit out of history. Amusing ourselves to death was on the label webstore for quite a while because it also rules hard.

    • May 4, 2011 6:41 am

      Will definitely check out Neilman. Sounds interesting.

      As for Alexie: I’m afraid of ethnic-centric writing. Invisible Man is the only book about “the other” that ever made me feel alive. Hmm.

      Tao Lin. Oh, Tao Lin. There are two camps, I suppose. I am firmly in one of them.


      • Austin permalink
        May 22, 2011 9:51 pm

        Apathy is definitely a comedy of a book, if you’re critical about structure and plot and just wrenching literary techniques at what you read, I’d say don’t bother.

        Flight was angsty which was good enough for me, I like the prose in it, and now that I really touch up on it, I suggest it. Despite it being over culture it’s pretty fair. The kid is an orphan whose raging through life fucking himself over and eventually ends up time traveling to events that give him a background on his Indian ancestry, and not only that but he gets to be on both sides of the war between the whites and Indians, I don’t regret reading it.

        Eeeeee e e e e e e e e was stupid, I finished it, the last chapter summed up the whole dumb book and it was worth a shit and a giggle but it was mostly just a shit and a small laugh.

  6. mike permalink
    May 4, 2011 6:25 pm

    due to the fact that your shows add meaning to my life, i’m kindly requesting you play a show in orange county already

  7. name permalink
    May 5, 2011 2:17 am

    The recent(ish) English translation of Typhus, by Sartre. Lots of worst-case-scenerio/questioning life and values type stuff.

    Also enjoyable:

  8. shanaynay permalink
    May 6, 2011 11:55 am

    If you liked hunger you might like Celine’s Journey to the End of the Night. Steppenwolf and Siddhartha are also good bets.

  9. Troy Araiza Kokkinis permalink
    May 8, 2011 6:22 pm

    The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

  10. Aaron permalink
    May 10, 2011 1:42 am

    Vonnegut. ‘Nuff said.

  11. Charlene permalink
    May 17, 2011 9:12 am

    Any of you guys read comics/graphic novels?

  12. May 23, 2011 10:24 pm

    Good sci fi that I’ve read recently:
    Snow Crash = Neal Stephenson
    Spin = Robert Charles Wilson
    John Dies at the End = David Wong

    • boner honkfarts permalink
      May 27, 2011 3:00 am

      here’s an excerpt from ‘diary of a loser’

      So the rich boy will die of cancer and I don’t fucking care.

      Yes, he’s beautiful and I’m sorry, but I don’t fucking care!

      For example, when I painted the ceiling at their place, I went to get a vacuum from the basement. There, locked in, was a dog the size of a year-old calf, and behind a screen, two puppies, one hundred pounds each. And there are two other grown dogs of the same breed walking around the house. They’re huge: the stench, trash, dirt – it’s worse than stables. The rich live as if in an outhouse. What’s the use of all the carpets and tapestries and perfuming their necks and behind their ears? Their place is still an outhouse. And their dirty rags are everywhere. Hence the cancer – from being idle and from the stench in the house. So, he’ll die, the rich boy – and that’s the way it should be. Why is it that we – I – paint their ceiling and pick up trash, and the Yugoslav lugs and packs their stuff, and the Chinese is a house slave? Why is it that we work while they do nothing in their rotten nest, they don’t work and feed their sponger-dogs? Is it because they’re more talented than the Yugoslav and I?

      No, they’re not. The Yugoslav can reason intelligently, and I too am not among the least – I have a clever pair of hands, and I have brains. And the old Chinese guy can play the violin and the piano. We do everything for them, and what do they do for us?

      Why are they given the money?

      Maybe it’s God, maybe not, but the cancer came in at the right time – it’s something like retribution. Let the rich boy die. I’ll be glad even. What the hell, why must I pretend that I’m moved, that I sympathize, that I’m sorry. I’m not moved, I don’t sympathize, and I’m not sorry! My own life – in earnest, the only one – is knocked down by all these fuckers. Go ahead, die, the doomed boy! No amount of cobalt or money will help you. Cancer does not defer to money. If you give it a billion even, it won’t retract. And that’s fair. At least in that everyone is equal. Just like the forty-four-year-old Moscow plumber Tolik, the boy will die.

  13. Malcolm permalink
    June 13, 2011 2:45 am

    Check out Ishmael by Daniel Quinn.

  14. Jordan permalink
    August 1, 2011 8:05 am

    Airships by Barry Hannah is incredible

  15. Richard permalink
    August 2, 2011 11:44 pm

    This entry almost made me cry…seriously! There is still a HC/Punk band out there that cares about other stuff than their virtual reputation and stage pics?! Incredible!!! I saw you guys at the Fluff Festival, exchanged some Euro with your singer in front of the infamous public pool, and saw that you are reading (maybe already finished) Steinbeck´s Grapes of Wrath. I started reading it too – a marvelous humanist Steinbeck was! – but as usual other books interrupted me.
    Get your hands on some Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre – particularly Camus´s Myth of the Sisyphos and Sartre´s The Words or his Nausea. Apart from that, Umberto Eco´s The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loanna which is a wonderful musing on memory and how we construct the narratives of our lives. But my absolute favorite is When I was Five I Killed Myself by Howard Buten – slim book – huge impact!


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