Looking For Smart But Fun Books - Perhaps Graphic Novels -Details Inside
April 29, 2018 6:15 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for some books to read that are smart, but not an intellectual exercise. Fun, but substantive. I like things that marry philosophy and pulp. Smart Fun!!! Details inside

I am looking for some books to read that are smart, but not an intellectual exercise. Fun, but substantive. I like things that marry philosophy and pulp. Smart Fun!!!

I love intelligent and dense fiction, but have a hard time reading it at night. I am looking for stuff that is a little easier to read, but not trashy. I would even be up for some suggestions of graphic novels. I liked the Watchmen. I tried to read my brother's Xmen Dark Phoenix saga, but I couldn't get through it. Too "nerdy" and too much exposition. I have had people recommend Sandman, Preacher and Y. The thing that is appealing about that stuff is that it is easier to read then dense prose. I love Westworld, Game of Thrones and True Detective. Things that marry pulp/genre with philosophy and good characters.

Basically I want some stuff that is easily digestible and easy to read when you are tired/doesn't require a long commitment

Thank you in advance
posted by kbbbo to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Terry Pratchett's discworld books are both smart but still good fun fun reading. You might also like the "Fables series of graphic novels.
posted by nalyd at 6:57 AM on April 29, 2018 [3 favorites]

Try Max Barry.
posted by Redstart at 7:03 AM on April 29, 2018

Have you read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay by Michael Chabon? It is probably longer than you want, but definitely marries philosophy and pulp/genre. It's one of my favorite books.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:18 AM on April 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seconding Terry Pratchett.

As far as graphic novels, Fun Home is pretty great. I really liked Strangers in Paradise which is pulpy but features a lot of strong women.

I've heard that Bone has lots of philosophical references but my philosophy background isn't strong enough to identify them.
posted by bunderful at 7:27 AM on April 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Promethea, by Alan Moore of Watchmen fame, is a long philosophical treatise on the nature of magic and storytelling dressed up as a superhero story.
posted by ejs at 8:45 AM on April 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Aubrey Maturin Series by Patrick O'Brian. The Maturin character has lots to say about philosophy and such.
posted by Fukiyama at 10:17 AM on April 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

China Mieville's The City and the City? It's about two cities that occupy the same physical location but are not allowed to interact with each other. As is usual with Mieville, there's great worldbuilding and lots of interesting philosophical questions to ponder if you care to think deeply about it, but it's also a page-turning murder mystery.

A lot of classic sci-fi in general is great for 'fun, but thought-provoking'. Octavia Butler's Kindred, about a black woman who travels back in time to the era of slavery, is both suspenseful and incredibly, incredibly insightful. (But deals with heavy subject matter, if you're looking to avoid that.) Isaac Asimov's I, Robot, a collection of short stories mostly about, well, robots, is by turns hilarious and dramatic and surprisingly relevant to today's technology debates. It's sort of like Black Mirror, if it were a book published in 1950.
posted by perplexion at 1:19 PM on April 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Warren Ellis & John Cassaday’s series, Planetary, has been complete for a while now and is fun and dense.
posted by sleeping bear at 3:09 PM on April 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Saga. The Wicked+the Divine. Paper Girls. All pretty far along in their runs, all smart and fun.
posted by emjaybee at 3:33 PM on April 29, 2018

I second Fun Home; its sequel is even more theory-heavy (all the transference!). Maybe Nick Sousanis' Unflattening - explicitly theoretical graphic "novel"

Embassytown does more with its central philosophical concept than City and the City imo but both are good possibilities.

Perhaps Peter Watts' work? Hard sci fi, very cerebral, no outer space shenanigans to put up with.
posted by ahundredjarsofsky at 12:26 AM on April 30, 2018

I just read the graphic novel My Favorite Thing Is Monsters and loved it. It's beautiful and smart.
posted by GoldenEel at 11:58 AM on April 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

Paco Ignacio Taibo II is a fun mystery writer who is also a pretty sophisticated activist. Light mysteries that make you feel smart. Jo Walton's Farthing is an English drawing room mystery within an alternate history within an examination of the fascist impulse.
posted by latkes at 6:11 PM on May 6, 2018

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