Unbeknown to science, reading books actually increases the growth rate of beards. You see beard follicles feed off knowledge – complex theories, new perspectives, historical musings – thoughts are indeed their main source of nutrition, so reading a book is akin to feeding a massive burger to your beard. This is no secret, for centuries authors have understood the benefit of books for beards, going so far as to write their own nutrients, thereby providing their beard with a sustainable, self-contained source of growth. Of these hairy authors I have selected a few of the best, the ones most dedicated to furthering beards and beard literature. So pour yourself a tumbler of Cognac, light your pipe, run your ponderous fingers through your beard, sit back and enjoy.
Charles Dickens - All books
A great novelist of the Victorian era and all-round beard enthusiast, Dickens has sculpted a galaxy of unforgettable worlds from his masterful prose. He spares no detail – sometimes at the expense of the reader – in portraying the grottiness of industrial London and its poverty, pollution and wretchedness. His meek, impoverished protagonists personify rags to riches in Oliver Twist and Pip, whose innocence must overcome the dark and sordid to find their solace. The Tale of Two Cities adds colour and character to The French Revolution, and is way better than any textbook. And Dickens wrote at a time when reality was depressing and horrible so they all have happy endings. Don’t get me wrong, Dickens’ wordy, adjective-laden shit talking can get fucking frustrating – but just remember it is only 19th century shit talking, and when you’re bogged down in double-negatives like “it was not unlike his dream undreamt” think about this line from David Copperfield:
“The beard saved him the trouble of shaving, and much as he admired his own appearance before he allowed his beard to grow, he admired it much more now, and never neglected, when an opportunity offered, to gaze his fill at himself.”
Ernest Hemmingway - Old Man and the Sea & To Have and Have Not
If there was a Nobel Prize for beards, Ernest would win it. Though, the Literature Prize was probably enough. Hemmingway’s clear, concise language is the antithesis of Dickens. He values clarity over verbosity, and leaves more unsaid than said. Ernest pioneered the ‘theory of omission’, which is exemplified in the novels The Old Man and the Sea and To Have and Have Not, which are so subtle and nuanced, they often feel more whimsical than existential. Yet don’t be fooled, every face of humanity is packed into these short books – and there is also heaps of beards and rum too.
“If any man wants to raise a beard let him” – Hemmingway.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - Crime & Punishment
Dostoyevsky had a rough life. Russia isn’t the greatest place today, and it was a lot worse when you could get exiled to Siberia for ten years for reading a book about Liberalism. Though, during his time working in hard labour camps in the icy tundra, Dostoyevsky conceived of his master piece, aptly titled Crime and Punishment. This book is a psychological phenomenon that imbues the reader with the feverish, mental anguish of the protagonist Rodion Raskolnikov as he trials the utilitarianism of murder. Sounds complex, but it is actually insane.
Allen Ginsberg (and the other beats who may not have had beards, but by fuck they had the spirit) - Howl, On the Road, and Dharma Bums
“Which way does your beard point tonight?” asked Allen Ginsberg, no doubt high on cough medicine and staring at the stars. Howl is a grinding drug-fuelled mania that spits the secrets of the beats out of its frothing mouth. Ginsberg distils the jazz, the madness, the booze and the talking and the talking and the talking of a generation into a potent poem, which is best ingested with a beer and beard. Best part is you don’t even need to read it, the internet is full of recordings of Ginsberg droning out the lines with melancholy and perfection. And the beat stories On the Road and Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac are basically about what a beard would do if it could hitchhike, party hard, and explore the inner workings of its consciousness.
These authors, and many more, have provided you with a smorgasbord of awaiting knowledge with the simple tools of paper and ink. So put down the remote, stop swiping your phone, get a fucking book, and grow your mind and your beard.