Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

Beavis & Butt-head and Books

Greg Zimmerman

Staff Writer

Greg Zimmerman blogs about contemporary literary fiction at The New Dork Review of Books and holds down a full-time gig as a trade magazine editor. Follow him on Twitter: @NewDorkReview.

You’re thinking, MTV’s braindead duo in a post about books? Have you gone mad with low-brow-er?

Not a bit, bunghole. Here’s what’s up: In his book On Writing, Stephen King explains that he knows he has a novel when he dreams up a connection between two seemingly unrelated things. That actually works for Book Riot posts, too. And what two things are more unrelated than Beavis and Butt-head, and books? So let’s have some fun, and take a look at how the unique wisdom of Highland High’s finest can be related to the reading life. You with me? Let’s do this.


1. “Hey Butt-head, is it normal for the inside of your bunghole to itch?”

Readers love finding kindred spirits — others whose bunghole insides itch — who share their particular taste, as well as the ups and downs of the reading life. But how to find those other readers? It’s not easy. Are there others out there who like, say, David Foster Wallace AND Vince Flynn? The only way to find out is to stick your neck out and ask. You may not like the answer (indeed, Butt-head replies, “Beavis, it’s not even normal to ask.”), but you never know unless you throw out itch-inside-your-bunghole type questions.

2. “Calm down, Beavis. You’re going to soil your drawers.”

A near-drawer-soiling is fairly common for me when I finish the last page of something I’ve unexpectedly loved, as I imagine it is for other readers. It happened last year with The History of History, by Ida Hattemer-Higgins. And the year before that, too, with Arthur Phillips’s The Song Is You. I, like many other readers, become insufferable — causing those who know me to implore me to settle the f#$@ down. You know the feeling, I assume?

3. “If you love something, and set it free, and it doesn’t come back… you’re a dumbass!”

I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t agree more with Butt-head here — that whole “if it comes back, it was meant to be” thing is so passive-aggressively weak! How insecure are you that you need to test someone like that? And what does this have to do with books? Not much, frankly — but this has always been one of my favorite Butt-head quotes. So there you go.

4. “This sucks more than anything that has ever sucked before.”

Twilight. James Frey. Novelists who are jerks to their readers and reviewers. Book bloggers who are jerks to other book bloggers. Anonymous commenters. Celebrity “novelists.” E-book price protestors who post one-star reviews. Amazon. This friggin’ guy. People who say “li-bary.” Small towns with no bookstores. Political pundits who publish novels. People who judge others for what they read.

5. “I have seen the top of the mountain. And it is good.”

David Foster Wallace. Thoughtful, reasonable, funny book bloggers. Richard Russo. Independent bookstores. People who work at and are passionate about independent bookstores. Book Riot readers. John Irving. Your mom. Bookish periodicals, like Bookmarks Magazine and Poets & Writers. Zadie Smith. Librarians, both sexy and otherwise. Newspapers that maintain top-notch book review sections. NetGalley. Colson Whitehead’s Twitter feed. Periodicals that still publish fiction. Novelists named Jonathan. Reading on Sunday mornings. Philip Roth.