In our undying efforts to bring you engaging columns you won’t find anywhere else, we’ve reached out to the metal world, seeking submissions for a new subject: Three amazing books you have to pick up.
Seeing as you read this blog everyday, we went out on a limb and assumed you’d maybe want to get some book suggestions from your favorite bands, too. So today, we continue this series on rad, must-reads with an entry from Charles Cure of the doom band Hush; check ‘em out.
House Of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski
This is probably my favorite book of all time, and the only one I have ever purposely bought multiple copies of. The book started appearing in the earliest part of the 2000’s in small fragments online, then appeared in published form in 2001, where I first encountered it when a friend told me it was “the most frightening book I have ever read”.
As I started getting into it, I found it dense and weird, but it seemed innocuous enough. Later, it transformed into the kind of mind-paralyzing reading experience that wakes you up in the middle of the night, sweating, questioning the status of your perceived reality. It is essentially three different stories that all revolve around an obsession with a book that was written about a house, as well as the house itself.
The word “obsession” is not to be taken lightly here, as House of Leaves deals with that concept in a way that makes Moby Dick look like light reading. To add even more emphasis to that point, the author of the book, Mark Danielewski, was actually obsessed in a very tangible way with the process of writing and publishing the book. He took about ten years to complete it and almost went broke during that time, spending large amounts of his own money on aspects of the work, such as visual elements, pages printed in braille, and the intensely complex and sometimes vertigo inducing typesetting of certain portions.
That said, those elements are something that elevate House of Leaves above many other works in an era where films, audiobooks and e-books are more conveniently digested by a potential reader; in other words, this is a book that you need to have a physical copy of to fully experience — a rarity nowadays. It is by turns endlessly creative, frightening, academic, and fascinating; a worthy obsession.
Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City, by Greg Grandin
I legitimately knew very little about Henry Ford, his company, and had never heard of the city mentioned in the title when I picked up this book. As it turns out, this is really fascinating.
Henry Ford, perhaps the most archetypal of American industrial tycoons, decided that in order to fully realize his dream of cheap, accessible automobile ownership for all Americans, he needed to establish an American style town in the middle of the Brazilian jungle that would serve as a rubber plantation for the Ford Motor Company. From the 1920’s to 1945, he struggled to realize this idea, in the end, abandoning the entire town and withdrawing from Brazil. As much as this book is about the town, which was actually called Fordlandia, it is really about Henry Ford’s conflicting personality traits, boundless ambition, and almost limitless financial resources, and how they combined to turn this poorly conceived idea into a brief reality.
I don’t read biographies of ‘great men and women’ because they too often drift into idolatry or adulation for that person’s major achievements while glossing over the fact that they were human beings with real failings. This book does a good job of balancing the portrayal of Ford as a man capable of both incredible successes as well as nearly catastrophic failure, all against the backdrop of one of the more bizarre international misadventures of the American industrial age.
Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
This is classic cyberpunk sci-fi at its best, but for some reason I cannot fathom, I keep running into people who have never even heard of this book. It was published in 1992, and if you keep that in mind when reading it, you will be legitimately shocked at what Stephenson was able to envision coming down the line in terms of everyday technology.
Among other things, he predicted the widespread use of broadband internet, the invention of Google Earth, and interaction/communication in the digital realm way back when those ideas were still far-off future hopes. Beyond that, its just a sort of cool, action packed book filled with a good interplay between humor, fight scenes, and brain stimulating concepts.
As with any quality cyberpunk storyline, the main character has a lot of machismo and a flagrant disregard for personal safety, with extra points for our guy Hiro in Snow Crash because he also carries samurai swords. The whole storyline takes place in a hypercapitalist version of future America that is really super relatable at the moment because its basically a Tea Party wet dream come true. If you don’t love it, I will buy you a beer at a show and we can talk about what happened to your brain.
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