The Essential Man's Library
May 14, 2008 1:29 PM   Subscribe

100 Must-Read Books (for dudes) Men just have different ... needs ... than women, so apparently they need to read different books as well. However (as a chick myself) I tend to check this sort of thing out in a futile but ongoing attempt to figure out men. Hmmph. Men. Go figure ....
posted by kd (89 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think I'll read these over a niiiice big glass of discounted orange juice.
posted by youarenothere at 1:34 PM on May 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Men use height and width to rescale their images, while women use Photoshop. Amirite?
posted by soundofsuburbia at 1:35 PM on May 14, 2008


A good list, I guess (I've read a lot of the titles), but I question the need include all those really big scans of the book covers.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 1:35 PM on May 14, 2008


Is it insulting to remark that blogs like this one are just a cat turd's toss away from those phony blogs SEO people generate to hype ranking numbers?
posted by Burhanistan at 1:37 PM on May 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


You see, with the 100 Must-Read books for dudes, the first two chapters are full of instructions on how to hock snot, scratch yer boys, belch, and grow body hair in nostrils and ear canals. Then you get to the really good stuff.
posted by WCityMike at 1:39 PM on May 14, 2008


There's some really overrated books there.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:39 PM on May 14, 2008


Men like books with pictures...

...REALLY FUCKING BIG PICTURES
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:39 PM on May 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


Apparently, men need 50% of their literature to be self improvement books. I guess we were worse off than we realized?
posted by Kiablokirk at 1:40 PM on May 14, 2008


They forgot Deliverance.
posted by sleepy pete at 1:40 PM on May 14, 2008


I tend to check this sort of thing out in a futile but ongoing attempt to figure out men.

Hey, if you have questions, just ask away. We'll set you straight.
posted by msalt at 1:43 PM on May 14, 2008


However (as a chick myself) I tend to check this sort of thing out in a futile but ongoing attempt to figure out men

It's probably just best to ask us.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:43 PM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's pretty obvious that the guy just swiveled his head to the right and copied down the titles of all the books on his bookshelf, whether or not he'd read them. I mean, the Politics? Atlas Shrugged? Are you kidding?
posted by nasreddin at 1:44 PM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


So this is...basically a list of classics that everyone's read, plus the Boy Scout Handbook? How is this man-specific? Are us unfortunate chicks supposed to be too busy thinking about shoes to cope with all the big scary words? Machiavelli and Jack London are "man books"? I like wolves and manipulation just as much as my betesticled brethren, thanks.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 1:44 PM on May 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


WARNING: I've read all of these, and I'm still gay.

The list, it does nothing!
posted by MrVisible at 1:45 PM on May 14, 2008 [28 favorites]


These "100 essential" lists should have a sworn statement at the beginning that "the author has, in fact, read all books listed below in their entirety."
posted by ferdydurke at 1:46 PM on May 14, 2008


I thought it was a shit list. I've read a handful of them, but the only one of those I've read I'd call a 'must read' was The Master and Margarita.

But the very idea of 'must read' lists are bollocks anyway. Read what you enjoy. Apart from The Master and Margarita. *Everybody* must read that. But only because its inconceivable to me that there could be anyone who wouldn't enjoy it.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:46 PM on May 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Yes, they have different needs. Paramount among these needs is the desire to have the world acknowledge the immensity of their genitals. From that desire stems the inclusion of a number of the books in this list, including Wealth of Nations, Atlas Shrugged, and a Teddy Roosevelt biography. I''m also convinced that that the author of the list never read the books on it, as it is difficult to square the inclusion of something like Brothers Karamazov with some of the above proto-fascist texts.

Men need a little less "manliness" and a little more brains and compassion. Read a biography of Ben Franklin. Not only was he a polymath and a true Renaissance man, but if it's traditional manliness you're after, Franklin "scored more chicks" in his seventies than Roosevelt did in his entire life.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:46 PM on May 14, 2008 [7 favorites]


Did they seriously call Longstreet a Colonel? Seriously?
posted by saladin at 1:47 PM on May 14, 2008


Dormant Gorilla: " I like wolves and manipulation just as much as my betesticled brethren, thanks."

Hee! Quote of the day for me.
posted by brundlefly at 1:48 PM on May 14, 2008


Why does the fact that I have a penis mean that I need to read Atlas Shrugged and Swiss Family Robinson?
posted by Avenger at 1:49 PM on May 14, 2008


Men need a little less "manliness" and a little more brains and compassion. Read a biography of Ben Franklin. Not only was he a polymath and a true Renaissance man, but if it's traditional manliness you're after, Franklin "scored more chicks" in his seventies than Roosevelt did in his entire life.

Well, his autobiography is there, but if I recall correctly the chicks were elided.
posted by nasreddin at 1:51 PM on May 14, 2008


I could do without Atlas Shrugged in there. Great story my ass - hackneyed to fit her "philosophy". I suppose I'm glad I read it in the way you're glad a root canal is over, but *jebus*. What a waste of an otherwise blissfully lazy summer, reading and re-reading and re-reading and re-reading each passage, trying not to fall asleep just cuz it was something that one was "supposed" to read.
posted by notsnot at 1:55 PM on May 14, 2008


I think it's pretty much the recommended college-bound reading list from my senior year of High School - minus the Jane Austen.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 1:57 PM on May 14, 2008


Explain to me how this isn't just a high school reading list without the female or multicultural authors?
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 2:02 PM on May 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Yeah, and the presence of Atlas Shrugged gets even creepier when you consider that it's basically just one long rape fantasy, sandwiched amidst some rambling and a bunch of stuff about trains.
Still better than Kerouac, though.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 2:05 PM on May 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


I tend to check this sort of thing out in a futile but ongoing attempt to figure out men. Hmmph. Men. Go figure ....

Men are actually pretty simple to figure out. They're all obscenely wealthy and come across as jackasses at first while being down-to-earth and kindhearted deep down inside unless they come across as obscenely wealthy and kindhearted at first, in which case they're actually broke, womanizing curs. Look, Jane Austen told me all about it. It's easy.
posted by katillathehun at 2:07 PM on May 14, 2008 [8 favorites]


I don't know. I liked the book cover photos quite a bit myself.
posted by blucevalo at 2:08 PM on May 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


There are some good suggestions on the list, but there are also a lot of classics that probably wouldn't be too interesting to most 21st century men. Do we really need two books by Teddy Roosevelt and two books about him? And two books by Jon Krakauer? A book by a Winston Churchill that's not the Winston Churchill?

I'd add The Things They Carried, The Right Stuff, and High Fidelity. Drop The Pearl and Cannery Row since The Grapes of Wrath is on the list. Replace For Whom the Bell Tolls with The Sun Also Rises and The Old Man and the Sea.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:09 PM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Explain to me how this isn't just a high school reading list without the female or multicultural authors?

If you count her as human, Ayn Rand was female.
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:10 PM on May 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


Well I do have a copy of Atlas Shrugged sitting on my toilet, for those manly ... excuse me *MANLY* ... long sits. I reckon that's where it belongs. You know, just in case you run out. I even read the pages that are still there occasionally.

Oh, and I've read most of the other ones but nothing says 'backup' like Ayn Rand. And nothing is more manly than being prepared.
posted by elendil71 at 2:10 PM on May 14, 2008


You favorite man-book sucks.
posted by ornate insect at 2:12 PM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Read a biography of Ben Franklin.

Franklin's autobiography is on the list. And, if he had to include Rand, I'd say The Fountainhead over Atlas Shrugged.
posted by JaredSeth at 2:15 PM on May 14, 2008


I don't know why anyone has a problem with Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. It's about "Exploring the “virtue” of living for ourselves"

ROFLLOLZ!!!1!
posted by P.o.B. at 2:18 PM on May 14, 2008


Real men don't read.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:19 PM on May 14, 2008


I suspect the guy who put together this list subscribes to that Iron John idea that dudes need to go out into the wild and rediscover themselves by howling at the moon naked and eating raw meat or whatever. Walden, Into the Wild, Call of the Wild, etc. Along with the inane comments (Dharma Bums is about "appreciating nature" and not, you know, Buddhist enlightenment.)
posted by naju at 2:19 PM on May 14, 2008


No Hunter S. Thompson?
posted by Relay at 2:24 PM on May 14, 2008


If you count her as human, Ayn Rand was female.

Does anyone really count Ayn Rand as a human?
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 2:30 PM on May 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


A parody list with the SCUM Manifesto by Valerie Solanas, and some Proust, Virginia Woolf, Gertrude Stein, Sylvia Plath, Anais Nin, Helene Cixous, Simone de Beauvoir, Edith Wharton, would have been much better. As it is, it's too GQ-crocodile dundee-Hemingway-Ian Fleming-man-sweat by half.
posted by ornate insect at 2:35 PM on May 14, 2008


Real men don't read.

We read, as long as the book isn't written by a black dude or a woman, unless it's telling us to be selfish.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 2:37 PM on May 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Is Starship Troopers on there?
posted by sciurus at 2:39 PM on May 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


In fairness, I should note that my favorite book is on the list, and the people I know who love it are all men, and the ones who hate it are all women.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 2:40 PM on May 14, 2008


I don't know. I liked the book cover photos quite a bit myself.

So did I, but I think they're swiped from Flickr, all of them. I don't have time to look into this (CC licenses and who stole from who and so on and so forth), but here's Machiavelli, here's Vonnegut and here's Homer, at least.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 2:45 PM on May 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


The only thing you NEED to read as a man, is the manual to Yahtzee.

If you don't have a peepee, you won't understand.
posted by The Power Nap at 2:45 PM on May 14, 2008


I read Little Women. Am I still a man?
posted by binturong at 2:49 PM on May 14, 2008


I've read all of these books, and after looking over the list... I have one thing to say.

El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha.

That is all.
posted by bradth27 at 2:50 PM on May 14, 2008


I read most of these during my four years at a Jesuit high school. Lousy Jesuits, making me read books and think about stuff. Now as an adult I'm free to sit around drinking beer and playing video games.
posted by Science! at 3:00 PM on May 14, 2008




The description of "Into Thin Air" is really dumb, and really wrong:

This book details the author’s fateful ascent up Mt. Everest in which eight other climbers were killed in a storm. Perhaps the most inspiring story is that of one climber who was left for dead, but awakened 12 hours after being abandoned and hiked back to camp in sub-zero weather. This man is an example to all men that when the will of survival is strong enough, a man can overcome any obstacle.

"Into Thin Air" is neither inspiring, nor an example of "the will of survival". The book is a horror story and an examination of human hubris, folly and greed.

So I'm wondering what kind of man would read every book on that list.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:10 PM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Gee, ladies, I sure do love The Great Gatsby!

I hope this post has enlightened you all.
posted by shmegegge at 3:19 PM on May 14, 2008


Paramount among these needs is the desire to have the world acknowledge the immensity of their genitals. From that desire stems the inclusion of a number of the books in this list, including Atlas Shrugged

How immense were Ayn Rand's genitals? This is starting to get interesting after all.
posted by msalt at 3:25 PM on May 14, 2008


Dumb litany fodder.
posted by fook at 3:27 PM on May 14, 2008


I sense...that this list will contain...an overabundance...of Hemingway.

*swishy sound*

Wow, only one. Paint me genuinely surprised. And added points for Foucault's Pendulum. These are subtracted immediately, of course, for the inclusion of White Noise and the racist witterings of Stephen Ambrose.

Cool list, though. Thanks, subby!
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:30 PM on May 14, 2008


Like kirkaracha said. I question an all-time literature list that is 4% Teddy Roosevelt.
posted by kingbenny at 3:33 PM on May 14, 2008


What about the book about sweater puppies, I think it's called something like Where the Red Fern Grows.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 4:00 PM on May 14, 2008


Science!: "I read most of these during my four years at a Jesuit high school. Lousy Jesuits."

Really you read nearly 25 books a year? Figure a 9 month school term that's almost 3 books a month or almost 1 a week. And these are not light books one breezes through. In my high school we usually read one to three books per term, or maybe 2 to 6 per year, plus I might get a couple in over the summer. That gave us lots of class time for discussion and paper writing and stuff. Maybe the problem is the Jesuits gave you ADD with such a quick reading schedule. Recommend re-visiting as an adult when you have more time and experience to reflect!

Swiss Family Robinson?

It has a crazy translation history with add ons and changes by translators. The Penguin Classic version by John Seelye is best for the closest to the original German without all the dumb stuff added by later writers. It's modeled on Robinson Cruse (thus, a Swiss Family Robinson - their last name is not Robinson) and contains a lot of Rousseauian philosophy. It's pretty interesting from a historical perspective, and the opening couple chapters are very entertaining, they shipwreck with tons of cool stuff to start a new civilization with and are very clever in making useful things out of unlikely objects.
posted by stbalbach at 4:03 PM on May 14, 2008




It is basically tattered-paperback porn, which, as someone who has spent way too much time prowling cramped bookstore aisles, appeals to me.
posted by jayder at 4:29 PM on May 14, 2008


stbalbach: Really you read nearly 25 books a year? "

I didn't read all of these, but we read a hell of a lot. One history class alone required 4 novels and two biographies in a semester. Plus there was 'highly encouraged' but optional reading, and summer reading lists. Whatever, that was all a decade ago, no hard feelings.

If boys are too busy reading they won't discover beer or girls. It's not true, but that's what they must have been thinking.
posted by Science! at 4:53 PM on May 14, 2008


In fairness, I should note that my favorite book is on the list, and the people I know who love it are all men, and the ones who hate it are all women.

Well, which one is it?
posted by damn dirty ape at 5:01 PM on May 14, 2008


Really you read nearly 25 books a year?
It's not beyond the realm of possibility. I read about a quarter of those books before I hit High School, and another quarter during, mostly on my own time.

Some people really enjoy reading.
posted by lekvar at 5:09 PM on May 14, 2008


Really you read nearly 25 books a year?

Is that alot?
posted by Rubbstone at 5:26 PM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


A men's reading list? So those of you with the patience to let all those pictures load, tell me: does it weight toward Tom Clancy or Stephen King/Dean Koontz?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:29 PM on May 14, 2008


It's more of a boy's reading list.

If you want men's reading, start with Jan Willem van der Wettering's Amsterdam Detectives series. That will sort you out.
posted by tkolar at 5:40 PM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Methinks the author of the list doth emphasize his masculinity too much. There is merit in reading many items of in but I failed to see any cohesion nor depth of consideration to the items he chose.

Also, gender roles are too complex to fairly mention but lists like these help to manufacture narrow minds. However, I agree with any promotion of reading or self improvement.
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 5:41 PM on May 14, 2008


Stories for Men!
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:03 PM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, gender roles are too complex to fairly mention but lists like these help to manufacture narrow minds.

Absolutely. The fact that this list doesn't include works that throw binary gender itno question - like Judith Butler's Gender Trouble - reveals it to be anti-masculist.

That is, if the very concept of a gendered reading reading list wasn't profoundly anti-masculist to begin with.

And what's the big idea behind deliberately crippling guys by not including even the most obvious & basic feminist texts, like A Room of One's Own, or The Second Sex?
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:35 PM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I liked their blurb for "Catch-22"

"Nothing is worse than a man being caught using language of which he is unfamiliar with its proper meaning or origin. Also, it is a great book."

While I think you can (and should) substitute 'person' for 'man' there, the general principle is an admirable one.
posted by Grimgrin at 6:35 PM on May 14, 2008


It's weird, kd, that you've been silent for six years on these boards and then decide to make your entrance again by posting such a pathetic link.

I don't think it's pathetic.

Maybe this is odd, but I think this kind of stuff is actually "best of the web." I think it's cool how the author trolled Flickr looking for photos of the books.

At the same time, I disliked the list of "top best-of rock albums" that was posted a few days ago.
posted by jayder at 6:59 PM on May 14, 2008


More like: 97 books written by men, and 3 that weren't.

How very Atlantic Monthly.
posted by unmake at 7:26 PM on May 14, 2008


"Nothing is worse than a man being caught using language of which he is unfamiliar with its proper meaning or origin. Also, it is a great book."

I like to run and apples.
posted by msalt at 7:56 PM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Stories for Men!: Stories For Boys.
posted by msalt at 8:00 PM on May 14, 2008


Science!: "I read most of these during my four years at a Jesuit high school. Lousy Jesuits."

Stbalbach: "Really you read nearly 25 books a year?"

Rubbstone: "Is that alot?"
lekvar: "It's not beyond the realm of possibility."

----

For high-school school assignments? I've never heard of such a thing. Reading in school is different from reading for pleasure - there are classroom discussions, papers, tests, quizzes, glosses and commentaries by other writers etc.. it takes more than a week and ceftainly not sustained 4 years straight, no matter how good the Jesuits are. I don't mean to give Science! a hard time, I'm sure he read them, but don't blame the Jesuits (except to expand his self learning).
posted by stbalbach at 8:28 PM on May 14, 2008


Clearly, this list is bollocks. Another Roadside Attraction is fucking god awful. It's the second worst Tom Robbins book available - only Even Cowgirls Get the Blues stinks worse. Only recently did Robbins figure out that massive leftist screeds are awfully distracting when you're trying to read a story - huge blocks of the author's opinions make disbelief pretty hard to suspend.

Second, where's Cryptonomicon? A "men's reading list" without the ass-kicking, haiku-writing Bobby Shaftoe on deck is no reading list at all. And seriously, could we not have traded one Teddy Roosevelt tome for a little Mickey Spillane? You want a window into the male mind, kd? Go read I, The Jury and you're off to a pretty good start.
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:59 PM on May 14, 2008


I'm also convinced that that the author of the list never read the books on it, as it is difficult to square the inclusion of something like Brothers Karamazov with some of the above proto-fascist texts.

I'm convinced you never RTFA, it was compiled by four people. Which explains the apparently bewildering mix of opposing philosophies, though not the giant boner for Teddy Roosevelt. Four books? Really?

Me, I like the pitchers. Lotta them are purty and more interesting than the write-ups. I was going to say two Kerouacs were two too many, but golly, I just love that Jason cover.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:14 PM on May 14, 2008


I have a lot of reading to do.
posted by Juglandaceae at 12:24 AM on May 15, 2008


List posts suck, AMIRITE?
posted by fixedgear at 3:01 AM on May 15, 2008


List posts suck, AMIRITE?

I love posts of lists of OMG BEST THINGS EVAR because, disliking just about everything in them, it merely reinforces my confidence that my sense of theology and geometry hasn't gone completely off the rails.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:16 AM on May 15, 2008


Since so many of you men have read all of these and developed the erudition to know which aren't so good, I'm expecting the quality of your freakin' contributions to threads to go up.

Oh. Too late. Better start with the Greeks and work your way through again.

And RLS should be on the list. That is all.
posted by ewkpates at 4:27 AM on May 15, 2008


Sorry for the derail, but lukemeister, thanks for that link...without it I'd never know that there was something called The Atlasphere, a dating site for admirers of Ayn Rand. I'm sure there's comedy gold in there, but they want you to join to view it.
posted by JaredSeth at 6:27 AM on May 15, 2008


And RLS should be on the list. That is all.

R. L. Stein?
posted by saladin at 6:51 AM on May 15, 2008


Robert Louis Stevenson (Kidnapped, Jekyll and Hyde, Treasure Island) .. agreed.
posted by stbalbach at 7:34 AM on May 15, 2008


I couldn't get through A Confederacy of Dunces no matter how hard I tried. As always with these lists, some books I liked and a some I didn't. And a bunch I never tried. Maybe if I went to a Jesuit school instead of public, I would have read more.
posted by genefinder at 8:19 AM on May 15, 2008


This list lacks some decidedly manish books like a BBQ cookbook, a Conan novel, an issue of playboy (or hustler), and a batman or superman comic. This list was just abunch of classics, meh.
posted by Vindaloo at 8:30 AM on May 15, 2008


Cryptonomicon? I liked Snow Crash a lot, but Crypto has the worst female characterization and THE.WORST.SEX.SCENE.EVER. Oh my god, 600 pages of buildup for a description of pneumatic pumping?

I'd put "Sometimes a Great Notion" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by Kesey way above either.
posted by msalt at 10:22 AM on May 15, 2008


God, the photos are really large, aren't they? Ok, if you just want the list in easy Amazon format, here you go:

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

For my two cents, I'd say I enjoyed the vast majority of these, and would recommend them, without hesitation, to a bunch of guys that have probably already read them.
posted by rush at 10:24 AM on May 15, 2008


Stylus Happenstance - I'll bite. Which one?
posted by rush at 10:37 AM on May 15, 2008


I've seen most of the movies. Does that count?
posted by donfactor at 11:09 AM on May 15, 2008


How can these be books for men? They're fiction.
posted by alasdair at 2:21 PM on May 15, 2008


God, what idiots. I mean, here's the first clue: Machiavelli's Prince is given as a must-read without listing a translation. And treating it as a blueprint for political manipulation is a pretty facile reading—I'd argue that it's the least interesting way to read the book, since it ignores a lot of the context and will be particularly flat and unrewarding without a basic knowledge of the political philosophies that he's reacting against.

Likewise, to just say "Read The Republic," without noting differences in translations, or noting that the book is a dialogue and thus best experienced as part of a class, is stupid. Yes, everyone should read The Republic. But that reading should be in a much broader context, unless you want to read it again and again. Some genius autodidacts can get a lot out of it, but even still, it's a hard thing to get much worthwhile out of without considering it a lot more broadly. I mean, yeah, I read it in high school (twice), and have now read it (polisci minor!) about five more times, and each time I get a much more full regard for the book even as I disagree with Plato about fairly central contentions.

I guess that's part of why I hate this list—the list seems fundamentally unreflective, as if there's great knowledge in these books that can simply be gleaned by osmosis, or as if just saying "I read that" is some sort of badge. Any moron can read The Republic. It takes some brains to get anything out of it, which doesn't seem to have happened for these authors.
posted by klangklangston at 3:21 PM on May 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


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