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Hunter S. Thompson Thinks You Should Read These Books

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Hunter S. Thompson was critical of many things; sports, politics (Nixon in particular), society at large, drugs, books... the list goes on. So when he recommends something there is certainly an interest in why such a specific mind as his would enjoy it. He was a man who lived his life by excess, when he loved something he really loved it. Now, thanks to Electric Literature, here are the books Thompson recommended to many people close to him.

This was a man who wanted to feel how the words in The Great Gatsby felt to write out, so he did the only natural thing. He retyped the entire novel, word for word, multiple times on his typewriter. He loved that novel so much he wanted to feel how it was written.

Everyone has a few novels and works of literature they recommend to anyone who'll listen; maybe some of your go-to recs are those that Thompson recommended to friends, family, and various coworkers or editors over the years, all of which indicate his taste in literature. You can tell a lot about a person by the books they enjoy and by the words that shaped them. These are the words that shaped Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, one of the most brilliant American writers of all time.

Source for all quotes: Electric Literature

  • Recommended to: his mother, Virginia Thompson

    “As a parting note - I suggest that you get hold of a book called The Outsider by Colin Wilson. I had intended to go into a detailed explanation of what I have found out about myself in the past year or so, but find that I am too tired. However, after reading that book, you may come closer to understanding just what lies ahead for your Hunter-named son. I had just begun to doubt some of my strongest convictions when I stumbled upon that book. But rather than being wrong, I think that I just don’t express my rightness correctly.”
    • Author: Colin Wilson
    • First Published: 1956
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  • Recommended to: Angus Cameron, Knopf editor

    “If history professors in this country had any sense they would tout the book as a capsule cram course in the American Dream. I think it is the most American novel ever written. I remember coming across it in a bookstore in Rio de Janeiro; the title in Portuguese was O Grande Gatsby, and it was a fantastic thing to read it in that weird language and know that futility of the translation. If Fitzgerald had been a Brazilian he’d have had that country dancing to words instead of music.”

    Thompson famously retyped the novel word for word just to feel what it was like to write such a novel.
    • Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
    • First Published: 1925

    More The Great Gatsby 

    #5 of 171 35+ Books Everybody Lies About Having Read#22 of 331 The Top Must-Read Books of All Time#5 of 183 The Greatest American Novels

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  • Recommended to: Angus Cameron, Knopf editor

    “Fiction is a bridge to the truth that journalism can’t reach. Facts are lies when they’re added up, and the only kind of journalism I can pay much attention to is something like Down and Out in Paris and London
    …But in order to write that kind of punch-out stuff you have to add up the facts in your own fuzzy way, and to hell with the hired swine who use adding machines.”

    • Author: George Orwell
    • First Published: 1933
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  • Photo: Vintage

    Recommended to: Robert D. Ballou, Viking editor

    “Last week I read two fairly recent first novels - Acrobat Admits (Harold Grossman), and After Long Silence (Robert Gutwillig) - and saw enough mistakes to make me look long and hard at mine [Prince Jellyfish]. Although I’m already sure the Thompson effort will be better than those two, I’m looking forward to the day that I can say it will be better than Lie Down in Darkness. When that day comes, I will put my manuscript in a box and send it to you.”

    • Author: William Styron
    • First Published: 1951
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