Read All Over – Tyler Morgenstern

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Read All Over celebrates the bookworm in all of us, showcasing readers in Vancouver and the books they love most.

Tyler is, among other things, a student who likes using the ideas of (mostly) dead theorists to talk about the Internet. He is also a writer of many things, such as songs, editorials, cultural commentary, and bad jokes. After being told recently that, because of the Web, people don’t really read things anymore, he gave up on his dream of creating a masterwork of political and cultural theory, and has since settled for sassy tweets about bad first dates.


What book makes you feel like a kid again?

The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien: While other kids were getting sweet stories about kings and princes and wizards, I was getting hairy-footed dwarves, giant man-eating spiders, and throngs of blood-thirsty Orcs. And dammit, I wouldn’t have it any other way. My dad used to read the Tolkein books to my sister and I at bedtime and around the campfire, complete with Gollum character voice and staggeringly good Elvish. Whenever I watch the movies or re-read the books, I remember giggling uncontrollably at “What’s he gots in his pocketses?”
50 Below Zero by Robert Munsch: For most kids this book was probably so silly. “50 Below Zero?! Impossible!” I, however, grew up on the prairies where those kinds of temperatures are, sadly, routine. So instead of this being a bonkers little story about dad wondering off into the night in his pyjamas, this book always seemed a little too real. I remember always being really, really concerned that the dad would just straight up die. An early, memorable, and accidental introduction to horror fiction.

What books have changed your life?

Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut: The first Vonnegut book I ever read was actually Slapstick, then the two that hooked me were Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions, but it was Cat’s Cradle that struck me (and continues to strike me) as maybe his best. An incredible story about the apocalypse, the myths of science, and a mysterious calypso singer, this book makes me laugh as much as it makes me shudder. There are lines here that continue to shock me into a new awareness of my world, even now, years after first reading. “After the thing went off, after it was a sure thing that America could wipe out a city with just one bomb, a scientist turned to Father and said, ‘Science has now known sin.’ And do you know what Father said? He said, ‘What is sin’?”

Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, Frederic Jameson: For nerds and nerd allies alike, required reading. Powerful and sprawling in its critical scope, but still incredibly incisive and aware of particulars, Postmodernism, even though some would call it outdated today, is still an amazing example of the power of words to shake up the assumptions that help us make sense of things.

For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again, Michel Tremblay: This is technically a play, but is still so, so beautiful; Tremblay’s ode to his mother, who was battling cancer at the time of writing. It’s incredibly small and intimate, despite unfolding across about three decades. It will probably make you cry, but will also make you cherish the secret joys of bickering with your mom.

The one book you always recommend is…

Leisureville: Adventures in a World Without Children, Andrew Blechman: If you like ethnographic studies of sprawling retirement communities and the weird booze-and-sex cultures that flourish therein, look no further!

How do you like your books served up best – audio books, graphic novels, used paperbacks, library loaner, e-reader…

Classic stylez- I love a hard cover with a fresh spine.

Your life story is published tomorrow. What’s the title?

Ride ’em, Comrade: The kind of true story of one man’s journey through folk music, Marxism, and Manhattans.

Librarian vs. English Professor – who is sexier?

Tough call. Based on my long-standing crush on a former instructor, I’m inclined to go with English Professor. But I recently saw a whole bunch of way foxy librarians do burlesque, and now I don’t know what’s what.

Where is your favorite place to crack open a good book in Vancouver?

Either at Bump & Grind on the Drive with coffee at hand, Guilt & Company (before it gets rowdy and Jenga-ey) with a Manhattan at hand, or lying on my friend Amanda’s living room floor.