The Art of Reading Stoned

Written by Mac Larsen

If someone were to hypothetically ask me: Mac, I’m stoned, feeling ambitious, and want to read a book, any recommendations? I would reply: welcome to the club!

In a world filled with entertainment perfect for consuming cannabis, the stoned read has become something of a lost art. My three-word advice for anyone interested in joining the Stoned Book Club: Books. With. Pictures. So with a little help from our friends over at Books with Pictures Eugene, here are a few recommendations. 

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

The beloved author of The Giving Tree was a 20th-century renaissance man. He wrote children’s poetry, illustrated his own work, wrote “A Boy Named Sue” for Johnny Cash, and smoked an exorbitant amount of weed. Where The Sidewalk Ends provides endless amusement for adults and children alike with its witty rhymes and surreal drawings. 

The Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

Sendak is best known for the sweeping world of Where the Wild Things Are but his real stoner standout is The Night Kitchen, a picture book so psychedelically crafted it can induce munchies in even the fullest of bellies. 

Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples

I’ll just get right to the point, Saga is the best comic of the last 20 years. It doesn’t matter what sort of strain is your preference, Saga is a perfect companion. A Romeo & Juliet story set in space, Saga is a story so vast and one of a kind that only sitting down, rolling a joint, and diving in for yourself can really capture its magic. 

Here by Richard McGuire

Here stems from a simple yet enormously creative idea in comic writing: each page is the same space but divided up into different panels, each showing a different scene in a different time. While one panel may feature a 1950s couple slow-dancing in the bottom of the page only an empty field is shown. Reading Here is a journey not only through history but through the places that are important to us. 

Sandman by Neil Gaiman

I truly believe that the world would be a better place if high school English teachers required a full reading of Gaiman’s Sandman comic run instead of Catcher in the Rye. I like Salinger well enough, but does it include a complete revision of the history of Shakespeare, a baby gargoyle, or a convention for serial killers labeled as a cereal convention? No, it does not. Gaiman’s series was recently adapted into a Netflix series so it would be best for the ambitious reader to catch up on the entire series before Hollywood gets its greasy hands all over it.

Watchmen by Alan Moore

It feels a bit basic recommending Alan Moore’s seminal 1987 graphic novel, like telling someone to try pizza or mac & cheese. The most revered graphic novel of all time is in many ways the perfect stoned comic book reading experience. Fantastically moody and gothic, Moore critiques of a “superhero industrial complex” feel even more relevant today than they did 40 years ago. 

The Incal by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Jean Giraud (Moebius)

If you’re a fan of Star Wars or Dune, The Incal is a perfect satirical addition to your collection of space opera stories. Oftentimes confounding and perfectly weird, Jodorowsky’s brand of science fiction is both hilarious and mind-melting.

What It Is by Lynda Barry

Equal parts graphic novel, diary and instruction manual on writing, What It Is by Lynda Barry is guaranteed to get your creative juices flowing through its stunning use of mixed-media and the creative use of every page. If you hope to get more than just eye-popping visuals from your reading experience, What It Is can provide a jumping off point for your own artistic endeavors.

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

It would be disrespectful to leave out a classic comic strip in this list of recommendations, and especially egregious to leave out the greatest of them all: Calvin and Hobbes. A fantastic choice for situations where you want your reading to act like comfort food, these collections provide plenty of timeless laughs and conversation starters for philosophical questions such as: What is Calvinball? 

The Illustrated Book of Genesis by R. Crumb

Most well known for his raunchy cartoon Fritz the Cat, R. Crumb’s The Illustrated Book of Genesis is exactly what the name entails, a completely illustrated rendition of the first book of the Bible. It features the full cast of characters and original text, while taking some rather surreal liberties in true counterculture fashion. 

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