If you are one of the 100 million Americans who have smoked weed before, then perhaps you'll be joining in on the celebrations on April 20. The yearly stoner holiday gives smokers everywhere a day to relax and light up a joint, but this year in particular, potheads have reason to celebrate.
As of 2015, 23 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana in one or more forms, and one component of the "War on Drugs" as we've come to know it is coming to an end. Of course, only time — and the 2016 election — will tell where the fight against marijuana prohibition will go, but in the meantime, stoners can rejoice in the victories already under out belts.
Every year, pot-smokers find new and creative ways to celebrate 4/20. Thousands flock to the parks and fields, picnic blanket in hand, to soak up the rays under a cloud of smoke. For those more politically involved, there are dozens of rallies and protests across major cities where they can participate in the ongoing fight for legalization. There are festivals and rallies, from the well-known in Denver to the more under-the-radar in Amherst, where artists, musicians, and policy makers come together in conversation and celebration. For the less crowd-friendly stoners, there have been many a 4/20 spent baking magic brownies, lollipops, or even pizza infused with the ganja.
But this year, if you are looking to do something a little different for your own celebration, maybe something a little more intellectual, grab a blanket, roll a fat joint, and plant yourself somewhere comfy while you get lost in these 9 stoner novels:
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
Hunter S. Thompson wastes no time at all in this book whose opening line is, "We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold." Filled with psychedelic trips, bottles of booze, and more than one joint, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a staple stoner read.
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
Imagine yourself in a brightly colored bus named Further, riding shotgun to Allen Ginsberg while the Grateful Dead strum a few cords in the back. That is what reading this book is like, because that is what Tom Wolfe did while following Ken Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters from coast to coast, and even to Mexico as they fled marijuana possession charges.
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
In this ultimate classic, an unnamed narrator brings us to his underground home where the weed is strong and the Louis Armstrong records are loud. In the scene, Ellison explores the relationship between the perception of time and smoking, so make sure to take your time reading through this one.
The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
Fact and fiction get stirred up in Jack Kerouac's semi-fictional account of his years traveling after On the Road. The account of Allen Ginsberg's first legendary reading of Howl, while he was stoned, at the Six Gallery in New York, should be enough to get this on your reading list. But if not, than maybe Kerouac's pseudonym Ray Smith, the book's narrator, can convince you to join him on his trek to Mexico where there is "music is coming out of doors, girls, wine, weed, wild hats, viva!"
The Beach by Alex Garland
World travel and pot smoking often go hand-in-hand, and Alex Garland's The Beach is further proof of that connection. When English traveler Richard sets off to find a secret beach paradise in Thailand, he instead stumbles upon a cannabis plantation and a whole lot of weird. Despite the dark tone of the book, the scenes of relaxation and celebration and the presence of marijuana throughout make it a suitable 4/20 read.
Been Down So Long it Looks Like Up to Me by Richard Fariña
Another cult classic of the 1960s counterculture, Cuban-American author Richard Fariña's picaresque novel will make you feel like you're in college again. The unlikely hero, Gnossus Pappadopoulis, like his women loose, his art loud, and his weed strong. Sit back, crack open Been Down So Long, and let yourself wander in and out of not-so-fictional smoke-filled frat parties.
Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon
The real Telegraph Avenue, the street from which Michael Chabon got his novel's title, stretches from downtown Oakland all the way to Berkeley. It's a diverse street where college students roam, $7 coffees in hand, artists set up shop, medical marijuana shops are ever-growing, and the homeless look for a place to rest. Michael Chabon flawlessly captures the realness of the neighborhood and in Mr. Nostalgia, proprietor of non-sports card and weed aficionado.
Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon
If you are in the mood for mystery and mayhem, consider spending the holiday reading Thomas Pynchon's recently adapted Inherent Vice . Detective Larry "Doc" Portello may be a total pothead, but his occasional smoke break leads to mishaps, intrigue, and a lot of humor for the reader.
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
As if you needed another reason to read Margaret Atwood's stunning series, consider the fact that even in a post-apocalyptic world, stoners exist. Before the Snowman became the Snowman, he was just Jimmy, another high-schooler smoking skunky weed and looking at dirty pictures with his best friend. Ah, the good old days, before global pandemics.
Sellevision by Augusten Burroughs
If you are going to spend the holiday reading, make it something hilarious like Augusten Burrough's only work of straight fiction, Sellevision . If the over-the-top characters and outrageous plot line aren't enough to make you laugh through a cloud of smoke, just read the scene between sad Peggy's husband John and Nikki, the 16-year-old neighbor, which involves joint-smoking, munchies, and a whole lot of sexual innuendos.
Ruby by Cynthia Bond
Reminisce with Cynthia Bond's titular character Ruby about the good old days in the East Village, before she left New York for a very troubled south. Travel back to when people "crashed downtown 'tea parties' and smoked weed with artists who rambled for hours about abstract expressionism versus pop art"... actually, never mind. This is The Village we're talking about, so that's probably still happening.
The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell by Aldous Huxley
Long before Hunter S.Thompson's reign in gonzo journalism, Aldous Huxley's account of his use of mescaline changed the way people looked at drug use. His vivid descriptions and insights into his experience make this book a fantastic read for the intellectual stoner. Though not directly about marijuana, The Doors of Perception became a symbol for the 1960s counterculture.