Guest Column: Three Books You Need To Read By Lysura’s Max Otworth

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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 and devour.

Seeing as you read this blog everyday, we went out on a limb and assumed you’d maybe want to get some decent book suggestions from some of your favorite bands, too. So today, we continue this series on rad, must-reads with an entry written by Max Otworth of Lysura.

“Phantoms in the Brain” by V.S. Ramachandran
Ramachandran is the Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition affiliated with UC San Diego’s Department of Psychology. In “Phantoms in the Brain,” he tells the stories of his most interesting patients.

By looking at people with damage to a very specific part of the brain, and analyzing their symptoms, Ramachandran is able to shed light on where many of our human idiosyncrasies come from, and what life is like without them. This ranges from a woman who is convinced her arm is not in fact her own, a man who is convinced everyone he loves is an imposter, and a man who’s temporal lobe brain seizures make him have insane religious hallucinations.

The book is readable enough to be engrossing even if you know nothing about neuroscience.

“Valis” by Philip K. Dick
“Valis” is one of Dick’s less popular and overlooked novels, but one of his best in my opinion. The story focuses around the paranoid and eccentric Horselover Fat as he and a group of friends investigate Fats strange visions, which he believes to be shedding light on hidden facts about life on earth.

Much of this is centered around a fictional movie called “Valis,” which depicts a Richard Nixon from an alternate universe. This ends up leading them to seek out a two year old who is believed by fat to be the incarnation of holy wisdom or something along those lines.

Throughout the corse of the book, you are never really certain if Fat’s visions are intended to be real, or just hallucinations, as he himself struggles making this differentiation. This makes Valis a quick, cerebral, and consistently interesting read from cover to cover.

“Morton’s List” by Robert Bruce, R. Jesse Deneaux and Nathan Andren Fostey
“Morton’s List” is more of a game than a book, but the way it is played, written, and laid out makes it into some sort of strange cult like religious text. Basically a leader is selected, and wears a mask to signify his position.

From here on the leader rolls a 30 sides die, which selects which “table” the players or “inner circle” will be doing a quest from. These tables have names like “Mortal Ties,” “Cosmic Law,” and “Nightscape.” From that table the leader then rolls the die again to select a quest. These can range anywhere from conducting experiments, making art, getting the phone number of a random person, car surfing etc.

In one of my most memorable rounds of the game, ML asked us to write a letter to someone confessing our love, but the spin was that it couldn’t be someone we were actually in love with. This ended up with my male roommate leaving a love note for our female roommate under her pillow. There are hundreds of quests in the book, as well as 50 or so “augmentations” which change the quest in some way, like making us lie in our love letters described above.

If you are bored and have friends who will make a pact to do what the quest calls for no matter what, Morton’s List can be an insanely awesome time.

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