My Bookish Confession

roadside picnicIt is time for some book confessions and I have got a real strange one to confess. Some people break spines, some read the last page first, mine is completely different. I first really noticed this while reading the Russian sci-fi classic Roadside Picnic by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky. I was half way through the book and I thought ‘this book is amazing’, there are all these interesting ideas about science and technology; then I wanted the book to end.

I did some research in other books I’ve read recently and it seemed to happen with them as well. No matter how much I enjoy the plot and characters, I seem to be contently seeking out the themes within the books. This isn’t really a bad thing, I am trying to train my brain to read critically and analyse the text as I am going along. However I don’t want to lose interest in a book once I find a major theme.

middlemarchI had a think about the books and I realised Middlemarch took me so long because I would find a theme to really sink my teeth into and I would spend so much time thinking about what this novel said about it and forget to continue reading. The problem with this is that Middlemarch is pretty much a social commentary on provincial live and there are so many themes within the book to explore. I had to force myself to go back and continue reading and then I would fixate on another theme for a while and lose interest with the rest of the book again.

Another example would be The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery where there are so many philosophical ideas that I want to investigate it tends to distract me from the rest of the book. The only problem is that I don’t know that much about philosophy, so I have to spend more time researching ideas than actually enjoying the book. I did however manage to finish The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Roadside Picnic and Middlemarch; I love them all dearly and I think that is because I spent some much time thinking about them. It is just a really weird bookish quirk I have and I am not sure if it is entirely useful.

Hey! Nietzsche!I have spent a lot of time thinking about why I am so weird and why I am constantly searching for themes in books. I do enjoy critical reading and I have a keen interest in literary criticism so if I train myself to actually focus on the book in search of more themes, maybe I will be less likely to lose interest halfway through. I think this quirk started when I first discovered reading; the book was Hey! Nietzsche! Leave Them Kids Alone! by Craig Schuftan. This non-fiction book explores the link between The Romantic Movement and modern rock music and it too me six months to read. Not because I am a slow reader, but because I had to read most of the books and poetry referenced here. It sparked a passion within me, not just of reading but also of learning.

Now it’s your turn to confess; are there any bookish confessions you want to make? Now is your chance to share them.

Michael’s Merry Christmas List

Christmas is almost here and like all book nerds, now is the time to think about the books to buy and give to our loved ones. I secretly try to find books that will turn my friends and family into bibliophiles, it is all about matching the right book with the right person. Here are some suggestions that I am thinking about getting for my loved ones that might help others with books that you might not have thought of before.

The Book with no PicturesThe Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak

Nothing will bring more pleasure than giving a friend with small kids a book with ridiculous words. The kids will enjoy making their mother or father act a little childish. The premise of this book is great; it is mixed with humour as well as teaching children about the joys of reading. B.J. Novak is best known for his role as Ryan Howard on The Office but he is certainly a writer to watch.

yes pleaseYes Please by Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler is a comedian and improv actor currently playing Lesley Knope on the hit sitcom Parks and Recreation. This is fun and quirky collection of essays about Amy Poehler’s life and passions. Yes Please follows in the same footsteps as fellow SNL actor Tina Fey, whose memoir Bossypants, took the literary world by storm a few years ago. If you are a fan of Parks and Recreation I would also recommend Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals for Delicious Living by Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson). Yes Please also makes a great audiobook.

Choose Your Own AutobiographyChoose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris

Neil Patrick Harris played Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother, he is a Tony award winner and now he has released a memoir with a unique perspective. Mixing the nostalgia of the old Choose You Own Adventure novels with a memoir about pop culture is sure to be a winner for anyone lucky enough to receive this as a gift. Neil Patrick Harris is an incredibly gifted performer who recently transitioned to the big screen with a role in Gone Girl.

station 11Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven has received plenty of hype lately; it is a dark and stylistic post-apocalyptic novel. The book tells the story of a group of thespians who travel around America performing Shakespeare. While the premise of the book sounds a little boring, this book has been doing really well with critics and book lovers around the world. I think it is one of the best post-apocalyptic novels I have read in a long time. For fans of books like The Road by Cormac McCarthy and The Passage by Justin Cronin.

The Secret History of Wonder WomanThe Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore

I am sure everyone knows someone that is a fan of comic books and let’s face it, Wonder Woman is always going to be one of the greatest superheroes. This book tells the history of not just this iconic superhero but also her creator, William Moulton Marston. This book follows not just the creation of Wonder Woman in 1941 but also the struggle for women’s rights throughout the 20th century. A fascinating book of pop-culture and feminism; this book has plenty to offer.

Merciless GodsMerciless Gods by Christos Tsiolkas

This is a risky pick and is definitely not for everyone but a collection of short stories from the Australian author of The Slap and Barracuda can make for a great present. This is a collection that deals with Love, sex, death, family, friendship, betrayal, tenderness, sacrifice and revelation so you will need to be very selective about who you give this book to. However Tsiolkas is a great author that is always ready to challenge his readers and that is something I respect.

Foxglove SummerFoxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

If you know people that love fantasy novels then Ben Aaronovitch might be the perfect choose for them. Be warned this is book five in the Peter Grant series but they work well as stand-alone novels too. Peter Grant is a London cop that is part of a small task force that deals with supernatural crimes. Urban fantasy is a great genre that normally mixes fantasy and crime into an urban setting. Think The Dresden Files (or the TV show Supernatural) with a sense of humour. These books are quirky, a little nerdy, but always a lot of fun.

What We See When We ReadWhat We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund

This book is a must for all book lovers; it explores the phenomenology of reading itself. From the visual to the images our mind paints while reading, What We See When We Read is just the perfect book to have on the bookshelf. It is a stunning piece of art and literary criticism and will leave all readers pondering the art of reading for a long time. Peter Mendelsund designs book covers and has spent a lot of time working out the philosophy and psychology behind reading. I highly recommend this book.

All That Is Solid Melts into Air by Darragh McKeon

As book lovers we always look for ways to put our favourite books into the hands of everyone. All That Is Solid Melts into Air is my favourite for 2014 and if you are a fan of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra, then go out and get this book. This novel follows a group of people as they try to live their lives in the Soviet Union, but then the Chernobyl nuclear disaster happens and everything changes. This is a beautiful and haunting novel that deals with the social and political issues of the cold war era.

As you can see, for the most part I have picked books that will easily bridge the gap between TV and movies to books. Most of my friends and family are pop-culture nerds and view TV as the ultimate source of entertainment. This is the main reason why I went for books that will help them transition (hopefully) into a love of reading. Happy Holidays everyone and let me know what books you plan to buy for your loved ones in the comments below.

Prepare Yourself for these Film Adaptations

The summer is almost upon us, which means the season for blockbuster movies is here. With the successful adaptation of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn I thought I would talk about some other movies that come from books. Like me, I am sure a lot of people out there would prefer to read the book before seeing the movies so we might be too busy reading to find time to see this films which are out now or coming really soon. I am going exclude The Hobbit and Mockingjay simply because I believe everyone is aware of these books.

Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson

Starring Nicole Kidman, Mark Strong and Colin Firth, this psychological thriller tells the story of a woman suffering from anterograde amnesia. Every night she goes to sleep and wakes up with no memory of the past ten years. Slowly she tries to reconstruct her memory but how much can she trust what she wrote over the past ten years. S. J. Watson’s debut novel has been a literary sensation and now is our chance to see how it translates onto the silver screen.

A Walk Among the Tombstones by Lawrence Block

Matt Scudder is Lawrence Block’s offering to hardboiled crime novels. With seventeen books in the series, this character has been around since 1976. An alcoholic ex-cop who quit the NYPD after accidentally causing the death of a young girl, he now does favours for people who in return give him gifts of money. Scudder was portrayed in 1986 by Jeff Bridges in Eight Million Ways to Die (book 5) and now Liam Neeson is taking on the role in A Walk Among the Tombstones (book 10).

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Trooper

Jonathan Trooper is the author of six comedy/drama novels but he may be best known for the television series Banshee that he created with David Schickler. This is Where I Leave You is the story the Foxman family. After their father dies, the family finds out that his dying request was for them to spend seven days together; his attempt to bring his family back together has hilarious outcomes. This is a story of a dysfunctional family, full of raw emotions, staring Jason Bateman, Jane Fonda and Tina Fey.

The Drop by Dennis Lehane

The movie was adapted from Dennis Lehane’s short story “Animal Rescue” and is the last movie from the late James Gandolfini. A lonely bartender planning suicide finds himself crossing paths with the Chechen mafia. Typical to Lehane’s style you can expect a fast paced and highly thrilling movie. Featuring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and as mentioned before the late, great Gandolfini.

Serena by Ron Rash

I have a working theory that every time Jennifer Lawrence stars in a movie with Bradley Cooper she gets an Oscar nomination. Set in the Depression era Serena is a French/American drama about newlyweds trying to run a timber business. Struggling to keep the business going, things become more complicated for George Pemberton when he finds out his wife cannot bear children.

There are plenty to keep you going; in 2015 there will be plenty more. Including Insurgent by Veronica Roth, 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and Inferno by Dan Brown. We can go on and on with the upcoming film adaptations, what are you looking forward to seeing adapted?

Discovering Deborah Levy

Deborah LevyHave you ever found an author that you just want to recommend to everyone you meet? The type of author that you just want to read over and over again. I found this author in 2012 and I am slowly working through her backlist. The first book I read of hers I loved so much that as soon as I finished it, I turned back to page one and read it again. It is a little sad that she doesn’t get the recognition she deserves. No doubt, you have read the title of this post and skimmed the pictures, so you know I am talking about Deborah Levy.

Her book Swimming Home was shortlisted for the Man Booker in 2012 and in my opinion was more deserving than Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (I know I am bitter).  Levy has this unique style that I cannot really explain; it is razor sharp, witty, wry and intelligent, but it also has a dark-side. If this isn’t enough, her proses are just stunning, lyrical, poetic and bold. That is enough of playing the adjective game; I can’t give you all a copy of one of Deborah Levy’s books but maybe I can convince you to try one of the following.

swimming homeI recommend everyone start with Swimming Home, not just because it is where I started or because of the Man Booker shortlisting but because it is a pretty safe starting point. Set in a summer villa on the French Riviera, a group of tourists arrive to find a body in the swimming pool. At first they thought she was dead but she is very much alive. This self-proclaimed botanist, Kitty Finch walks out of the pool and injects herself into their holiday. A psychological story of love, this contemporary novel is drenched in Freudian ideas of both desire and dread.

black vodkaIf short stories are more your style, I recommend Black Vodka, a collection of ten stories about relationships, sadness, love, being alone and bitterness. This collection really brings out Levy’s views on philosophical ideas, especially when it comes to existentialism. While she was born in South Africa and now resides in England; the stories in Black Vodka, like most of her books, have a very strong European feel to them.

The UnlovedThanks to the gaining momentum for the Man Booker nomination, a lot of Deborah Levy’s books are being republished. Her 1995 novel The Unloved was edited and republished earlier this year. A group of self-indulgent European tourists decide to celebrate Christmas in a remote French chateau. However during their stay one of them is brutally murdered and the unloved child Tatiana knows who did it. The subsequent investigation into this death turns more into an examination of love, desire and rage. This is a shocking and exciting novel, full of characters you can’t help but suspect of murder.

If that isn’t enough to get you started she also has a collection of essays on the writing life called Things I Don’t Want to Know. Also the beautiful new hardcover edition of her poetry called An Amorous Discourse in the Suburbs of Hell was released this month. I am so glad she has more books for me to discover and enjoy and I hope she has many more in the future. Deborah Levy is such an underrated author in my opinion but I hope many people out there are willing to give her a go.

Russia in Literature, An Obsession

I am not sure if many people are aware but I am a big fan of Russian literature, not just books written by Russians but also books set in Russia. There is something about the backdrop and the way these books are written that I am drawn to. The culture is so different and with the instability of communist Russia used within a novel, it allows for the exploration of great stories and ideas. They are often epic novels that can sometimes be slightly odd but I found that Russian literature has great proses and character development that is just worth reading. This is before looking at the symbolism and motifs, but I won’t go into that. I have even considered learning to read Russian, just so I can read some of these books in their original language. I have noticed that people are often cautious of books set in Russia and view Russian literature as tomes that are difficult to read. So I thought I would talk about my favourite books set in Russia; not all are written by Russians but it is a good place to start.

A Constellation of Vital PhenomenaA Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

I have talked about this book before, and I am never going to stop being a book evangelist for this one. It was one of my favourite books of 2013 (I think The Machine by James Smythe narrowly beat it for the top spot) and it is set in war torn Chechnya as they try to break away from the Russians. Technically not set in Russia, since the collapse of the Soviet Union had already taken place, but the effects still remain prominent. This is a novel that follows three interconnected characters as they try to make sense of life and the changing world around. It is full of beauty that shines through from the back drop of this war torn country.

all that is solid melts into airAll That is Solid Melts into Air by Darragh McKeon

Marketing this novel as this year’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena was all that it took to make me pick this one up. I am glad I did, it is already a favourite for the year. The novel is centred on the Chernobyl meltdown, an era in history I have never seen in fiction before (I am sure there are a few out there). This is another character driven novel that explores ideas of fear and disaster and yet again there is great beauty to be found. Imagine living in Soviet Union, where every part of your life is unstable; so much so that the suggestion of implementing safety measure would be conceived as doing a poor job…until disaster strikes.

Little FailureLittle Failure by Gary Shteyngart

Gary Shteyngart is fast becoming a favourite author of mine; ever since reading Super Sad True Love Story I have become a fan of his writing style and quirky humour. Little Failure is a memoir of his life growing up in Leningrad, USSR (now St. Petersburg, Russia) and the migration to the United States. As a young Russian boy living in the US during the Cold War era it was easier for him to pretend to be German to avoid the hatred people had to the Soviet Union. This was a fascinating memoir full of humour and self-deprecation and I enjoyed learning about the writer’s journey.

Day of the OprichnikDay of the Oprichnik by Vladimir Sorokin

I often like to recommend this Russian novel just because it is so obscure and weird; people are more likely to have never read it. The birth of dystopian fiction is often accredited to the Russian novel We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (which is great too) but I thought a post-modern satire that will have you saying “What the…?” would make for a much more entertaining read. Set in a dystopian future where the Russian empire has reverted back to the draconian codes of Ivan the Terrible, this science fiction novel is not only bizarre but serves as a critique of the political situation in modern Russia.

Crime and PunishmentCrime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

I love this book so much, not just because it makes me look pretentious but I think it was surprisingly easy to read. Think of it like a psychological thriller; Crime and Punishment takes the now popular anti-hero and adds it into a classic novel. Before Dexter Morgan there was Crime and Punishment. The protagonist Raskolnikov is a conflicted character; he shows interest in social classes and believes he is of a higher class than everyone else. That was until commits murder; then he is plagued by guilt, remorse and regret. This is a novel that focuses on the inner turmoil as well as the impact on his intellect and emotions.

Top 10 War Novels: A Response

You might have seen the great post by Jon Page entitled My Top 10 War Novels. Like most people I was entertained and added more books to my ever growing ‘to be read’ list. I was also thinking about all the great war novels that were missed; in fact I made a mental list of my favourite war novels and we share no books in common. The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers just missed my top 10 but that was the closest common book I found. What I enjoy about war novels is exploring the human connection, the struggle with the horrors of war and its aftermath. So I thought as a response to Jon Page’s post here are some great war novels that were missed.

10. Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone dog soldiers

This cult novel seems to capture a unique mood of Americans during the Vietnam War. This book deals with some different themes, not just the war and its effect on America, but it takes a look at counter culture, drug trafficking and the corruptibility of authority.

the narrow road to the deep north9. Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

I feel an Australian perspective is needed on the list and Flanagan offered a great option last year. This book focuses on not just the cruelty of war and its after effects but the impossibility of love, especially when so damaged.

8. Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding painter of silence

This novel looks at Post World War II Romania under the brutal Stalinist regime. This looks at the devastation war had on Romania, providing not only hopelessness and despair but also great beauty. This is a novel that feels like a piece of art and yet it still managed to capture the mental and physical burdens of the characters living in this post-war town.

Maus7. Maus by Art Spiegelman 

This graphic novel tells the story of a Jewish family living and surviving in Hitler’s Europe. This offers a unique perspective of a type of story that has been told time and time again. Maus is also the only graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize.

People of Forever are not Afraid6. People of Forever are not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu 

This is the story of three normal Israeli girls who go from passing notes in school, talking about boys to turning eighteen and being conscripted into the army. For the most, this book is about a perpetual state of war.  The conflict between Israel and Lebanon still puts them into real danger, it is here we explore the idea of self-discovery when they are thrown into such an extreme situation.

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk5. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain 

This entire book really showed the disconnection between the military and civil life in the modern day. American wants revenge for 9/11 but they are not willing to sacrifice some like a Thanksgiving football game for it. This is a powerful book in the same vain as Catch 22 and Slaughterhouse-Five.

Constellation of Vital Phenomena4. Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra 

Chechnya is in a fragile state due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union (1991) followed by the Chechen-Ingush ASSR split (1992). This novel takes place during the second Chechen War. This is a beautiful novel of human connection and the struggles found in an abused country. This was one of the best novels of 2013 (for me anyway).

catch 223. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller 

This satirical masterpiece is a novel I’ll never forget; it was surprisingly funny but also remained insightful. This novel talks about the mental suffering caused from war but also the absurdity that can be found in bureaucratic operation and reasoning.

war and peace2. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy 

This Russian classic depicts the French invasion of Russia in 1812. True to Tolstoy form, War and Peace also looks at classes and the impact of the Napoleonic invasion on the Tsarist society. One of the things I love about Tolstoy’s writing is the way he looks at a situation as a whole; he had a unique ability to capture the lives of everyone involved in one war.

slaughterhouse-five1. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

This story just has so many layers to try to explain, but it makes for an interesting read. Billy keeps randomly traveling to the Past, Future and a planet called Tralfamadore; this may seem weird but this classic really captures the effects of war on its survivors and the mental scaring it causes.

A Journey into Graphic Novels

secondsI consider myself a big nerd and comics seem to go hand in hand with the social status. I never really got into comics (or graphic novels) and when I did attempt I never knew where to start. There are millions of reboots and story arcs for the thousands of different superheroes out there but which ones are good and where do I start? It was Scott Pilgrim that started my journey into graphic novels and with Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Seconds recent release, I thought now would be a perfect time to talk about the graphic novels I love.

As an easy way to distinguish between comics and graphic novels, I call single issues (30-40 pages) a comic and a graphic novel is the anthology that contains a full story arc (normally 4-5 single issues). What I find really interesting about a graphic novel is that it is simply a new way to tell a story. It is not always about the superhero, graphic novels can explore high concepts in a whole new way.Maus

Take the only graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize, Maus by Art Spiegelman. In this story we read about Vladek Spiegelman and his wife, it is biography of living and surviving Hitler’s Europe. The graphic novel not only addresses the holocaust and life in a war torn country it does it in a unique way. Exploring the reality and fears of surviving in a visual way, the Jews are depicted as mice and the Nazi’s hunting them as cats.

persepolisThere is also the autobiographic story of Marjane Satrapi  in Persepolis, a coming of age story of a girl living in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution. The whole concept of cultural change works really well in this graphical depiction. There is even an animated adaptation which is worth checking out (even if it is exactly the same). If you prefer a more quasi-autobiographical story maybe try Ghost World by Daniel Clowes or even something by Chris Ware like Jimmy Corrigan or Building Stories.

sex criminalsFinally, if you prefer your graphic novels to be about superheros or people coming to terms with their new found powers, I have some suggestions for you as well. Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction is the first story arc in this new Hawkeye series and explores a life of a superhero outside fighting crime and saving the world. Also by Matt Fraction, with the help of Chip Zdarsky is the weird and wonderfully dirty Sex Criminals. This is a story of a woman that discovers that time freezes after an orgasm and the shenanigans she can get up to with so much quiet time. This graphic novel will not be for everyone; if you want something very different that is full of dirty visual puns then I would recommend it.

I would love to recommend more comics but some of my suggestions are not yet released as a complete story arc yet. If you are interested in more graphic novel suggests let me know in the comments below. I hope this will give you some suggestions if you have never tried a graphic novel before. I’m also happy to take more recommendations in the comments below. Happy reading.

Tara Moss, The Fictional Woman and Feminism

The Fictional WomanI had the great fortune to attend an author event for Tara Moss who was promoting her new book The Fictional Woman. For those who don’t know, Moss is a Canadian-Australian author that started out as a model at 14 years old. She claimed she was a tall nerdy girl at the time but kept hearing people say “you should be a model” so much that she eventually did. Her dream was to be an author but you aren’t much encouragement as a teenage girl to pursue a dream like that. To date Tara Moss has nine novels and The Fictional Woman is her first non-fiction title.

I was hoping to have had a chance to read The Fictional Woman before going into the event but you know what it is like, sometimes life and, more importantly, other books get in the way. I didn’t even have a chance to read a few pages to get an idea of what the book would be like but I have had a quick look since the event. There is something about an author event that I love, the experience to hear them talk about the book often makes me excited about it as well; even if it is an event for a book I hate.

Putting aside the fact I haven’t read the book, I still want to talk about it. The title comes from that idea that everyone seems to have a fictional element to their life, we tend to be placed into moulds and people don’t always believe everything we do or say. Tara Moss, like most people have had this experience; she even took a polygraph test to prove that she wrote her novels. It is important to note that this is not strictly a memoir but also a social critique on our modern world and feminism.

For Moss to write this topic, she needed to provide some historical context, how women have been treated from out the ages, etc. Looking at women in fiction we often see similar archetypes, like the rags to riches story from Cinderella, which requires a man to be happy. Look at the heroines; they are normally facing off against an evil woman, often a crazy old woman that has been depicted as a witch. Thinking about these archetypes and we see they all stem from fairy tales or medieval fiction, a time where woman weren’t considered as equals. There is also the historical context of Tara Moss‘ life that is important to look at; how a model changes peoples’ opinions of herself and all the choices of her life that have influenced her views on feminism, this is why people tend to treat this book as a memoir rather than a social critique.

It is obvious that I’m very impressed with Tara Moss; she is an intelligent woman that puts a lot of thought and research into her books and her interests. I think as far as role models go, she makes for an excellent choice. She went as far as creating Makedde Vanderwall (from her crime series) so she could learn about the world of psychology, forensics and so on. But she takes her research much more serious that that; becoming a qualified private investigator, and taking lessons on how to use weapons. She was even set on fire and choked unconscious just to understand what it felt like. She is an impressive person and even though I was looking forward to reading her new book, seeing her live has really excited me. I’ve since started reading The Fictional Woman and can confirm this book is well worth picking up.

How Nietzsche Turned me into a Reader

Hey! Nietzsche!I’m not really interested in giving people a quick introduction; I tend to mix my personal life, humour, sarcasm and knowledge into my book reviews and blog posts. However I do want to kick off talking about the book that turned me into a reader.  It wasn’t until 2009 that I discovered the joys of books and reading and something inside me clicked and I wanted to consume every book I saw. This life changing event was all because of one book, an Australian non-fiction title called Hey! Nietzsche! Leave Them Kids Alone! by Craig Schuftan.

At the time I listened to a lot of music and would have cited AFI, My Chemical Romance, Weezer, and so on as some of my favourite bands. In face I was right into the music that was been played on Triple J. Craig Schuftan was a radio producer at Triple J at the time and there was a short show he made for the station called The Culture Club. In this show he would talk about the connection rock and roll has to art and literary worlds. Friedrich Nietzsche was claiming, “I am no man, I am dynamite” well before AC/DC’s song TNT.

That was a real revelation for me and I picked up Hey! Nietzsche! Leave Them Kids Alone! (subtitled; The Romantic Movement, Rock and Roll, and the End of Civilisation as We Know It) and began reading it. However it didn’t stop there; this book connected the so called ‘emo’ movement with The Romantic Movement, I never thought these bands would have anything in common with the greats like Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley or John Keats but I had to find out.

Hey! Nietzsche! Leave Them Kids Alone! by  Craig Schuftan ended up taking half a year to complete; not because I was a slow reader but I wanted to know more,and  I read poetry by Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats, and researched online. I picked up books like Frankenstein (an obsession of mine), Dracula and Wuthering Heights just because they were mentioned. This was a weird turn in my life but my growing thirst for knowledge became an obsession with reading. I have now set a life goal to read everything on the 1001 Books you must read before you die list.

It is weird to think one book can have such a huge impact on my life but I credit Craig Schuftan (and my wife) for such a positive improvement in my life. I will eventually read Craig Schuftan’s books The Culture Club: Modern Art, Rock and Roll and other stuff your parents warned you about and Entertain Us!: The Rise and Fall of Alternative Rock in the Nineties but I’ve put them off because I suspect the same amount of research will be involved.

Has a book had such a positive impact in your life? I would love to know in the comments. Also are there any other books that explore the connections between art and literature with pop-culture?