To avoid having to check this page every ten seconds for updates on supplements, music, and sundry little details, hit us up on Facebook and like the page. That'll keep you updated without getting spammed with a million twitter-length posts!

01 November 2010

I Like To Break A Mental Sweat, Too: Fiction You Need To Read

I began this series over a year ago with some recommendations for those of you who wanted to stretch your mental horizons with some strength training and nutrition nonfiction.  Having received numerous requests for some fiction recommendations, I shall provide them forthwith.  you'll find that they're heavy on scifi and horror, because that's what I like.  If you don't, then you need to think long and hard about all of the bad decisions you've made in your life that might have resulted in the sorry state of affairs that  is your literature preference.
You might hate scifi and horror, but everyone likes Lucy Pinder.

None of these books really have shit to do with strength training and nutrition, but generally reflect my post-modernist, anarcho-capitalist leanings and are uniformly awesome.  Ignore them at your dire peril.

Thus, with no further adieu, unordered and uncategorized, are fiction books I love and have reread repeatedly:
Kung Fu High School, by Rick Gattis.  One of the more bizarre books I've read, KFHS combines the typical dystopic high school visions of the spate of 1980s high school movies like Class of 1984 with equal parts Ricky O and the Substitute to make a book that's simultaneously tongue in cheek, intelligent, and ridiculously violent.  Though I wasn't much a fan of the frequent illustrations, they did aid a bit in envisioning the high schoolers' home-made armor, and provided a fairly unique social commentary that I appreciated.  Additionally, it informed me that one can actually heat one's house with the oven (though I discovered when my heat went out that this is hardly economical).  Anyway, the book follows a 15 year old badass chick through a year of high school at Kung Fu High, wherein ever student belongs to a martial arts gang and routinely beats the shit out of, or kills, each other.  Perfect for anyone who loves contrasting martial arts styles, the high school dystopias of the 1980s, or the movie "The Warriors".

Jennifer Government, by Max Barry.  Unbelievably awesome, this book imagines the US as a completely libertarian system.  In it, the protagonist is a Nike employee who gets dragged into an ingenious scheme to drive up the price of sneakers by having mercenaries pose as gangbangers to kill kids for their shoes, giving street cred to extremely expensive shoes after demand had dropped, and reigniting buzz about the shoe.  The Government then gets involved, with former-corporate-merc-turned-government-agent Jennifer leading the charge to stop corporate entities from killing US citizens to improve their bottom line.  It's a combination of satire, social commentary, and action novel all wrapped into one, and leaves you truly pondering whether a libertarian society would really be as awesome as one might think.

The Bachman Books, by Stephen King.  I read this entire series of books in two days while listening to GNR's Appetite for Destruction album on repeat in seventh grade.  Calling these books "life-changing" might be a bit of a stretch, but the novel The Long Walk that's included in this tome is fucking amazing.  The story's theme is that the US has become a fascist dictatorship, and the only way for anyone to achieve fame or riches is to compete in, and win, the Long Walk.  Essentially, the participants have to walk as long as they can, without stopping, until there is only one left.  Stopping, slowing, or going to quickly draws a warning, and on the 3rd warning, the participant is summarily executed.  Amazing book.  Also included is the novel The Running Man, which the movie resembles in no way whatsoever.  Instead, the book presages reality television and shows like the Amazing Race, with a bit of Van Damme's Hard Target thrown in for good measure.

Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein, the Forever War by Joe Haldeman, and Armor by John Steakley.  These three books are all incredible, share similar themes and literary styles, and deserve to be read together. They're all novels about rushing out into space to stop the living fuck out of killer, carnivorous aliens, but temper that wild-eyed xenophobia with more social commentary than you could shake a stick at.  Read them back to back and see what comes of it- I actually wrote a now-lost but (in my opinion) awesome synthesis of these three and some novel by LE Modesitt in a college literature class.  Having lost that paper, I can't really share with you much more than my opinion that those four books are an excellent insight into the perfectly natural phenomenon of xenophobia,  in addition to later providing the basis for my full agreement with Stephen Hawking's assertion that we should not be out looking for aliens, because they're going to eat our faces.

American PsychoAmerican Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis.  I'd imagine most of you have already read this, so I won't get into too much detail.  The book, which is represented fairly well by the movie, illustrates how the emptiness of our materialistic lifestyles, combined with any amount of shitty 1980s pop music, will drive a person completely batshit.  Christian Bale did a fantastic job in his role as the protagonist, but I'd recommend that just like Fight Club, you really need to see the movie and read the book for a full treatment.  Unlike just about any other book-movie combo on Earth, both of those novels and their accompanying movies complement each other, and the reader benefits from seeing both movies.

High Rise, by JG Ballard.  This one's actually going to be made into a movie soon, which will be interesting, to say the least.  High Rise is a bit tough to explain- the story centers around an ultraarcology in the vein of those proposed by Paolo Soleri and popularized in Sim City, and is as such a small commmunity enclosed in a single building, taking the generally horizontal expanse of a small town and making it vertical.  As one would expect, the society is highly stratified, and this stratification is the cause for the strife that begins the descent into barbarism.  The book's highly fucked up in both violence and sexuality, so it's right up my alley, and laden with enough distaste for modern America that I can hardly resist it-  Fight Club meets Lord of the Flies with a bit of Three's Company thrown in for good measure.

Finally, a couple of recommendations just for fun.
  • think you have a strong stomach?  Check out The Cannibal Within by Mark Mirabello.  Crazy splatterpunk fiction.
  • want to see how resurrected Nazi SS troopers would fare against cannibalistic warmongering aliens in the future?  Check out this badass book, Watch on the Rhine, by John Ringo and Tom Kratman.
  • want a reason to push harder in the gym?  Michael Z. Williamson serves it up with a shitload of libertarianism and a healthy dose of "kill the fascists" in The Weapon.  
More to come in the future.  Until then, more Lucy Pinder, because why the fuck not?  Three a day...


  1. Yo, how old is Jamie. I wanna make fun of him.

    I live in the American Gardens Building on W. 81st Street on the 11th floor. My name is Jamie Lewis. I'm ___ years old. I believe in taking care of myself and a balanced diet and rigorous exercise routine. In the morning if my face is a little puffy I'll put on an ice pack while doing stomach crunches. I can do 1000 now. After I remove the ice pack I use a deep pore cleanser lotion. In the shower I use a water activated gel cleanser, then a honey almond body scrub, and on the face an exfoliating gel scrub. Then I apply an herb-mint facial mask which I leave on for 10 minutes while I prepare the rest of my routine. I always use an after shave lotion with little or no alcohol, because alcohol dries your face out and makes you look older. Then moisturizer, then an anti-aging eye balm followed by a final moisturizing protective lotion.

  2. GNR never released an album named after themselves.
    What are you talking about?

  3. American Psycho!
    First read it as a teenager and loved it.
    I had seen the movie before I read the book- I agree with what you said about the film and movie complimenting each other.
    Speaking of books:
    Lovecraft is always a good read- the stories usually go something like this:
    I saw something so fucking old, extraterrestrial and aquatic/subterranean/tentacled I went totally insane the moment I saw it.
    I hear Battle Royale is pretty good.
    I've seen the film but have yet to read the book.

  4. Starship Troopers? Fuck yes, I knew you'd be into that shit.

  5. Hey I read some of the same books you do, check out David Drake's Hammers Slammers short story collections. Drake is an ex-CIA interrogator/Vietnam vet who wrote a shitload of stories about futuristic wars fought with plasma cannons with detailed descriptions of what molten plasma does to the human body. The guy has been in some real shit his stories are brutally unforgiving and coldly realistic. His vision of the future is unique but depressingly realistic. If humans populated the cosmos most planets would represent third world shit holes, or Russia. Really great shit, I started those books after coming off Armor, which had awesome parts.

  6. Musashi is the fucking man. Opening line of his book? "My name is Miyamoto Musashi. I have killed over 60 men in fights and duels."

    'Book of Five Rings'. Read it.

  7. I have to credit Jamie with turning me on too "Gates of Fire", a FANTASTIC book recreating a Greek/Persian battle. (Jamie mentioned it in his blog profile) Check that one out, too. If any book really deserves "five stars", it's "Gates of Fire".

  8. Takeshi Miike's films : Crows Zero and Crows Zero II are essentially about gangs of highschool kids beating the living shit out of each other in an attempt to take control of the school.

    They are good, although, anything by Miike is bound to be interesting at the very least.

  9. I believe Jamie is talking about GNR Lies. Also, I don't think the eighties drove Bateman insane--I think all that bullshit from then become so overdone and common place, that his life became ultimately mundane, and that he fabricated this illusory world of violence and death just to make himself feel like he was worth a shit. But the book is so damn well written that you can find support for a number of theses.

  10. Actually, I was referring to Appetite- I apparently suffered from a momentary mental lapse.

  11. The Otori series by Lian Hearn is awesome. This is about a world that is basically feudal Japan.

    The story primarily follows one guy who is part of a persecuted religious group. However he has both clan and tribe- they are basically ninjas- blood in him. Both wish to claim him. This book has it all violence, sex, action.

    I'm not assed writing a big review so just look it up on amazon.

  12. Peter- repeated listening to Genesis will drive anyone insane.

    As for Battle Royale, it was not nearly as overrated as Leaves of Grass, but it was still pretty overrated.

    I'm a big fan of Drake in small doses- kind of like Warhammer books. If I read too many, they will quite literally make me ill, haha. To the guy who's a big fan of them, check out Jerry Pournelle's There Will Be War series. You can get them on amazon for a penny apiece.

  13. Good intros to stuff that's new to me, ta.

    Personally I only read about two novels a year, but I make a point of reading the back-cover of all Brett Easton-Ellis books - the premises are great.

    How about a blog on favourite movies? Out of all the DVDs in my collection there are a few that I watch over and over: Fight Club, Day of the Jackal, Lawrence of Arabia, Beau Travail, Groundhog Day, (and a few I won't mention in present company).

    Talking of Christian Bale, have you seen him in 'Rescue Dawn'? Its the true story of Dieter Dengler, the only American in the Vietnam War to escape from enemy prison and make it through the jungle back to safety. Now there's a tough hombre. There's also a documentary on him called 'Little Dieter Needs to Fly".

  14. Never saw it. I'll check it out though. I might throw in a dvd blog at some point, to mix it up. My blogs of late have been really research heavy.

  15. How do you feel about Dune, Jamie? I very much imagine you being a fan of it, but as of yet I don't think you've made any reference to it.

  16. Honestly, the books I've found most inspiring, and most critical of modern complacency that I've read recently have been by Nietzsche. On the Genealogy and The Antichrist were especially enjoyable.
    Dune's kind of boring especially the prequel series. If you're looking for good science fiction, I highly recommend Dan Simmons.

  17. I like your list Jamie. Take a look at Monster Hunter International and Monster Hunter Vendetta by Larry Correia. Kicking ass and killing bad shit on almost every page.

  18. Six- I'll chekc those out. I'm reading L Neal Smith's Probability Broach and Michael Z Williamson's newest one right now, in addition to blog shit. Both of the aforementioned are fucking amazing.

    Anon2- Nietzsche is a brutal read. I'll do it, but I won't like it. Julius Evola's good for fans of Nietzsche.

    Anon1- I hated the movie(s) and thus have had no interest in the books. I might give them a try at some point, but space operas are typically not my thing.

  19. No comments on Lucy? Those pics made me literally fuck my monitor.

  20. I'm still staring at em. haha

  21. Altered Carbon by Richard K Morgan is MUST READ for sci-fi fans. If you like that one, then read Thirteen, next.

  22. As an an absolutely huge fan of the Bachman books, I keep a copy of those four stories in the trunk of my car just in case I need to readily refer to them.

    I first read the anthology when I was 19 and I still read "The Long Walk" once in a blue moon as it's an unadulterated mind fuck. It took me forever to approach some kind of thematic understanding...then I just stopped trying and decided to like it simply for the badass story that it is. It's a short story and I highly recommend it. A friend of mine to whom I lent it began reading it before he went to bed one night and stayed up the entire night reading it. He came into work the next day bleary-eyed and we talked about it for an entire day. Good times.

    What's scary is that King wrote the first story in that series (forget the name, don't feel like looking it up...a kid holds his entire classroom hostage) when he was in his teens. He was brilliant before he was even old enough to vote. It's a shame most of the endings to his longer novels could suck the barnacles off a whale cock, though.

  23. I think you very much would enjoy Dune. The movie did a poor job conveying a lot of the concepts the book discusses, and the miniseries required a knowledge of the book to enjoy. A lot of it is about transhumanism and creating the superman. It's some cool shit that I think you'd probably find interesting.

  24. Dude Jamie, you need another hooligan post and it has to be Frank Yang. He's like you but with squinty eyes.

  25. I second the Frank Yang suggestion. He's a pretty crazy guy.

  26. Is he the guy who's always jumping shit?

  27. Gonna pick up KFHS based off your writeup, sounds pretty cool.

  28. You forgot Ender's Game! Sci-fi, political commentary (moreso in the sequels) and mindfuck.

  29. frank yang is a tool, and not in a good way. He aint worth writing about.

  30. Will- I was trying to turn people on to shit they'd not already read. Every middle schooler on the planet's read taht book, and I'd recommend Grigory Zamayatin's We over that if we were talking middle school.

  31. Dune-the original single novel-was fucking awesome, all the prequels sucked balls and most of the sequels were trash too, at least compared to 'Dune' itself. MAYBE the best scifi novel ever.

  32. Fake tits on a chick? NO THANKS! No bigger turn off than some water filled sweater meat. All you plugs who are turned on by that are brain dead. In ten years those fun bags will be sagging, useless udders of despair hanging down to her 48" waist and you'll be nothing more than an ATM for her eating habit. Have fun!