In the spirit of 4/20, we’ve rounded up a variety of reading recommendations from authors whose credentials include (but certainly aren’t limited to): Rolling Stone writer, history professor, botanist, pot psychologist, sex columnist, memoirist, short story writer, novelist, and a guy who recorded everything his dad said on Twitter and turned it into a #1 New York Times bestseller. Click through for their personal recommendations on reading material to compliment an “already confused and heightened state of mind,” or (warning!) keep you parked on a bus bench in front of Dairy Queen for two hours. If you’re especially susceptible to DQ marijuana time-warp scenarios, or if you don’t choose to observe this national holiday, there is suggested reading here that will allow you to experience “how awful it is to be high around cool people you don’t really know” without actually having to do so.
As many of the authors point out, smoking isn’t exactly conducive to reading, but there is no denying the lasting appeal of drug experiences — both as writing material and to individual book fiends, conjuring memories of reading on the porch for summer days without end and (failed) experimentation with The Anarchist Cookbook. If you have your own recommendations (or cautionary tales), or have ever tried to smoke the inside of a banana peel, we invite you, as always, to share in the comments.
Spring, 1989: John Ashbery’s poem “Fragment.” That April a friend of mine (let’s call him Trimalchio) broke up with his girlfriend (let’s call her Petronia) and as a goodbye present she gave me this great big bag of weed, which she only did to make him mad, which worked, although Trimalchio ended up smoking much of it. I spent many hours that spring on the porch, in the sun or under the stars, listening to the Stylistics or the Jungle Brothers or Spacemen 3, reading poetry. Ashbery’s “Fragment,” from 1970, was a poem I already knew well and had read many times, but I thought I might pick up something new reading it through blurrier eyes. I did pick up something new, but then I do every time I read “Fragment.” Reading it took up a weekend in May, very pleasurably. Like the man said: “There was lots of time left, and we could always come back to it, and use it later.” The bag was finally emptied in the late summer of 1990, to the strains of the Jungle Brothers’ “Tribe Vibes.” Both “Fragment” and “Tribe Vibes” evoke that year for me. Thanks, Petronia. — Rob Sheffield