Of Beards and Men by Christopher Oldstone-Moore
We’re living in the hairiest of times, from BieSber’s dirt stache, to James Harden’s chin curtain to the Postmates’ delivery guy’s caveman face rug. A beard is the modern equivalent of a motorcycle in the Sixties. It represents freedom and rebellion. Thus, it’s only fitting that the guy who wrote a definitive book on beards would have the hipster brand of approval of two last names (bonus points for the hyphen). Jokes aside, “Of Beards and Men” is a fascinating read on what your facial hair says about you, and no we aren’t talking to you “flavor savor” dude. Oldstone-Moore is a scholar, lecturer, and yes, a beard-wearer, who takes a historian’s approach to face fuzz, covering major beard movements, outlining principles in facial hair history (Civil War beards are still the best), while dropping “beard stroking-worthy” tidbits like how Freud believed that beards were dicks of the face and who actually talked Abraham Lincoln into growing the GOAB (Greatest Beard of All-Time). Sure, a 352-page tome on facial hair may seem hairy, but the author never takes the subject at face value. Instead, he digs deeper with OCD-like documentation and the passion of a drunk uncle, teaching you how grooming, identity and masculinity are all connected.
Armada by Ernest Cline
Ernest Cline is the ultimate fanboy’s fanboy. Not only did he pen the genre-busting, sci-fi award winning “Ready Player One,” which Steven Spielberg is set to direct, but he wrote the dang screenplay for “Fanboys” the movie, which told the Kleenex-grabbing tale of a group of high school buddies who reunite to fulfill the last “Star Wars” wish of a cancer-stricken friend. That’s a lot of Nerdist-cred, yet his greatest claim to fanboy fame may be his pimped-out DeLorean, which he modeled after the iconic “Back To the Future” sports car, complete with flux capacitor. Now, Cline is back with his second novel, “Armada,” about a teenage boy, Zach Lightman, who’s asked by the government to use his video game skills to stop an alien invasion. Sci-fi fans might ring the Defcon 5 alarm as it sound like a rip-off of “The Last Starfighter,” but there’s one key difference — Zach has seen the cult ‘80s classic a dozen times (as have we). This hyper-aware, meta-nerd perspective gives the audience a sly wink as Cline uses the gaming lexicon as a genius storytelling device, creating a blockbuster sci-fi book within a real world that appeals to not only the gamer in us, but the human side as well.
Home is Burning by Dan Marshall
Home is Burning sounds like one of those lame movie adaptation books that young adults lap up faster than a palmful of meds. In the opening pages, we learn that Dan is a recent college grad, who has finally escaped the Mormon-confines of his childhood in Utah. Now, living the dream in LA with a new job and a hot girlfriend, Dan gets a phone call that changes his life forever — his marathon-running dad has been diagnosed with ALS. Cue, the Sad Spotify playlist. Dan rushes back home to Salt Lake City to help his siblings and beloved mom, who oh yeah, has been living with cancer. What sounds like a textbook screenwriting rom-com structure takes a 180 degree turn when you actually meet the Marshall’s aka Team Terminal. The five misfit siblings are out of Comedy Central casting and the scene-stealing matriarch drops more f-bombs than Louis C.K. If you’re a fan of Dave Eggers or David Sedaris, you will feel right at home with this unflinchingly honest and heartbreakingly funny family memoir that started out as (what else) Facebook confessionals. Dan’s struggles were real, yet still weird, sad and funny, i.e. his devoted mom offers to give her bedridden husband blow jobs everyday for the rest of his life. Don’t sleep on this gem because the movie adaptation is coming, starring Miles Teller… proving once again that truth is stranger than fiction.
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates by Mike and Dave Stangle
Every generation has its “Wedding Crashers.” Okay, not really, but now you do with this booze-filled stream of (un)consciousness by two wild and crazy New York siblings, who drunkenly posted an online ad (never drink and Craigslist btw) in search of dates to their cousin’s wedding in Saratoga. Before the Stangle bros could say, “It’s poppin,’” the New York natives became social media famous after their late night post went viral, appearing in Gawker, Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post. The movie adaptation of their autobiographical story comes in the Summer of 2016 starring Zac Efron and Adam DeVine, while the book version is more of a how-to-book/dating guide/live long-form diary post that captures their indelible spirit as they consume spirits, while walking the thin line between douchey and hilarity. Yes, it’s pop culture trash, but the kind you recycle as in pass along to a buddy.