Just finished: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Imagine one of the most heart felt and socially engaging stories you’ve ever heard told in a sarcastic, monotone voice. This is what reading “A Man Called Ove” feels like – a bittersweet delight.

Current Reading: Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

This is one of those books that saddens me for having had it on the back burner for so long. I didn’t particularly enjoy the movies, and though I don’t equate books to their Hollywood counterparts by any means, I sometimes find that the material of one itself doesn’t interest me enough to warrant exploring the other. Make no mistake, Crichton’s edge-of-your-seat masterpiece has me regretting prolonged avoidance of this book more than when I finally read the Harry Potter Series. He is as much a master literary craftsman as he is a well researched scientific ambassador. I thought my days of paleontology intrigue were far in my past until now.

Most vivid: List of graphic novel mind blowers

Some graphic novels immerse readers in their world, pulling at their multidimensional senses from a two-dimensional platform. The well classed novelist plays with readers’ perceptions by bending what initially seems like a strict set of rules and procedure for interacting with the novel.

  1. Locke and Key 

Hill and Rodrigruez worked so well together to express emotion through highly stylized contrasting artwork. I felt everything the characters felt, even the less savory ones I wouldn’t normally identify with reading a regular book. If that’s not enough, the graphics break walls on their page – literally – to take advantage of reader expectations and portray experiences we wouldn’t otherwise have in real life. 

  1. The Sandman

Gaiman and his artists capture a highly fantastic environment within the negative space of the simple and the extravagant to articulate an otherwise unimaginable mood and experience. No one knows what it feels like to be an ancient god, all powerful and yet, all too burdened by the realities of a world we don’t understand; but reading The Sandman got me pretty close. 

  1. Manhattan Projects 

A graphic novel with serious implications that doesn’t take itself all too seriously. Hickman and Pitarra work, through beautiful, original art and meta narrative, to throw us into the hellish minds of some of our most prized scientists’ alter egos. They too break walls and use immersive plot digressions to illustrate what it might be like to experience the mind of evil geniuses and live in their world. 

  1. Watchmen 

I don’t know how many would agree with me, but I’ve felt for a while now that Watchmen reads more like a work of prose than just another graphic novel. The artwork is amazing too, but what really gripped me and kept me in the story were the details in the backgrounds and on mixed media pages. Almost as if you were keeping up with the daily headlines yourself. 

  1. Doom Patrol

Although I found the art a little simple, it managed to portray Morrison’s weird and altogether abstract concepts eloquently. There’s no realistic way to portray a character like Negative Man or Mr. Nobody – even Crazy Jane is complex in theory and she’s probably one of the most humanoid characters in the book. Reading Doom Patrol, was as close to the concepts as I could get. 

  1. Arkham Asylum 

Not only do the painstakingly detailed graphics read well, but what really comes through in this novel is the unassuming art of dialogue boxes to carry massive weight in a minimalistic style. In conjunction with the rest of the graphics, it portrays characters, mood, and all around sensory input. 

  1. Calvin and Hobbes

Watterson, for me, was one of the original mind benders and heart wrenchers. Watterson’s unapologetic use of a simple story-line provides a comfortable backdrop in Calvin’s crazily fun, wild mind that allows simple tricks to give massive emotional appeal. Any time Calvin left his imagination or Hobbes suddenly became the stuffed animal we secretly didn’t want to admit he was, we knew the illusion was over but also realized we were living the dream right along with Calvin before that.  

Greatest Influences: A List

I’ve read many self-help books in uncertainty and in leisure. Entertainment lies in piecing together the argument of how we may bear fruit on our lives by discourse from the Hellenists to Influencers. Although, an intentional outside opinion can be helpful, I find implementing nuances derived from literature vicariously often more impactful. This list conglomerates some of the most influential books in my life, yet none are self-help books for that very reason. 

  1. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams 

Though heavy with social commentary, the main perspective I harvested from this beautiful satire was the ability to create humor out of dark realities. After much practice, I’ve become a much happier person fighting off daily monotony or life’s anxieties with a quick joke or a sardonic perspective shift. 

  1. Elbow Room – Daniel C. Dennett 

I originally read this book for a class, the philosophy of which has little to do with the lesson I took from it. I played with Dennet’s idea of “wiggle room” in my head – of graying lines. I applied his thought process and thought experiment to ideas I previously held strictly as black and white, finding that most beliefs can hold common ground in your life; in fact, seldomly do things appear so uncompromising. 

  1. Extreme Ownership – Jocko Willink

Jocko’s style of stoicism reconciles the idea of an aggressive personality with self control – something I attempt to live up to in my everyday life. With this style, I face myself and the externalities of my life head on; with honesty and humility. 

  1. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater – Kurt Vonnegut 

Almost a Great Gatsby in reverse, Eliot Rosewater develops a conscience and dispenses great sums of money to people he meets and many he doesn’t after leaving New York. His blinding generosity, even despite those who appear to take advantage of him, inspires some of my own kindness. It has come to lend me an extremely socialist opinion on living in a society. For, if we do not take care of each other, how are we to call ourselves one?

  1. Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf

If I’m being honest, the plot of Mrs. Dalloway remains one of the blandest I’ve ever read, but important to my life nonetheless. Woolf’s writing taught me a release for mental blocks, for decision making, and gave me a tool in crucial times to attend to my emotions without making myself a slave to them.

Essential Sci-Fi: Guardians of Time by Poul Anderson

In the six decades since its publication, Anderson’s collection of short stories still gives perspectives of the past, both 20th century and beyond, presenting the kind of forward-thinking social commentary that developed into normalcy more recently. This alone makes it as much time machine as it is time travel saga, transporting the reader around the world from pre-historic to the edges of prediction. Its genius lies in the nuanced definitions of the known world and Poul’s tangled yet logically sound ball of yarn that makes up the unknown.

If that alone doesn’t strike interest, Guardians of Time (AKA: Time Patrol) is still one of the most captivating and cleverly crafted series of stories I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Reading it for the first time, I could hardly bear to put the book down; rereading it produced the exact same longing. For as long as it has born fruit for its readers, I imagine it will continue to bring wisdom from the past and project ideas for their future in a digestible, exciting way.