We have finally arrived at that point in our evolution that dystopian fiction always warned us about. Books -- whether you choose to accept it or not -- are dying a slow death that has cruelly been hastened in the very recent past. Or, at least their original physical form has.
So where does that leave us? We live in an era that has never really understood what it's like to discover the power of the imagination: The internet has robbed us of that. There exists an entire generation that has not experienced the joys of sniffing that sweet smell of old ink on musty paper yellowed by time and dust.
E-Books, blogs, listicles and hundreds of sites have single-handedly destroyed what used to be a seminal part of childhood.
But not to worry: Books will always be there for those who seek them out. And here are some of the brighter ones that deserve to be cracked open, inhaled, and experienced post haste.The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
Michael Chabon, self confessed comic book aficionado wrote this seminal, epic and intensely sad account of the early years of the medium he adored. Based partially on the lives of early mavericks of the graphic novel form, Will Eisner and Jack Kirby, Kavalier and Clay is a profound tale that instills in its account of the Golden Age of comic books Jewish Mysticism and sexual identity. It also won the Pulitzer prize for fiction.
Matt Fraction's zippy writing finds an ideal match in Chip Zdarsky's flashy art in what surely has to be one of the most original ideas in years. A young couple realises they can stop time when they arrive at a shared orgasm. Their obvious next step: Robbing banks.
Andy Weir's space-thriller is so nail-bitingly intense that you have to remind yourself that it's just a novel. It has to be one of the best examples of the genre: taut, well-researched and heart-poundingly gripping. Add to that the intellectual superiority it provides you for (at least partially) understanding its incredibly detailed science-talk.
No God but God
Reza Aslan, scholar of religion and excellent writer attempts the seemingly impossible: To humanize a religion that has been accused of losing its humanity. Islam, in Aslan's eyes is a deeply misunderstood way of life. And that's what he tries to illustrate in his unique work of non-fiction interspersed with rare insights into the history of the Islamic world.
Craig Thompson's artwork is so gorgeously intricate that it can single-handedly provide justification of a medium that has so often been considered inferior. It's an added bonus then, that his story happens to be worthy of that art: It is moving, poetic and fantastic. Inspired by the rich Arabian Nights, Habibi is controversial in its depiction of women, but never disrespectful. It tells a harsh story disguised in the beauty of its calligraphic art.
Not That Kind of Girl
Chances are this book's reputation precedes itself. A collection of autobiographical essays by Lena Dunham who is frequently called, as the author herself will waste no time in reminding you, the voice of a generation. It is an odd bunch of stories, some bordering on insanity. But what comes across is the unabashed honesty. It is a raw look inside the mind of a young achiever born into a privileged world full of artsy hipsters. But don't let that turn you off. This is not that kind of book.
Image Comics is producing perhaps the most exciting material the medium has to offer. And their creator owned mantra suits Rat Queens perfectly: It is graphic, profane, hilarious and super-addictive. Not to mention one of the few rays of hope for genuine female-driven comics out right now.
Described on more than one occasion as Game of Thrones meets Star Wars, Saga is an epic science fiction romance by (now)veteran Brian K Vaughan. The stand-out, however, has to be Fiona Staples' awe-inspiring art. It's Romeo and Juliet for the iPad generation.
Curfewed Night/Our Moon Has Blood Clots
Clint Eastwood directed Flags of our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima in the same year. And just like those films dealt with the Battle of Iwo Jima, Basharat Peer and Rahul Pandita offer opposing views and accounts of an issue that we all have opinions about: The Kashmir conflict. Where Pandita's novel is more passionate and raw with anger at his community's displacement, Peer's is shocking in the harsh reality of the world the Pandits left behind. In the end, everyone lost. And that sadness and sense of utter devastation is what connects these books.
Ready Player One
This is a trip back to the neon-infused, synth-scored, arcade hopping 80s. Part The Matrix, part Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Ready Player One is a throwback to an era that was the first to experience modern technology as we know it. A veteran videogame developer leaves behind easter eggs in his multiplayer online game to find a worthy successor to his great empire. Steven Spielberg will be directing the film soon.
The author tweets @NaaharRohan