100 Must-Read Books: The Essential Man’s Library

by A Manly Guest Contributor on May 14, 2008 · 1,239 comments

in Books, Travel & Leisure

Written by: Jason Lankow, Ross Crooks, Joshua Ritchie, and Brett McKay

Photo by the nonist

There are the books you read, and then there are the books that change your life. We can all look back on the books that have shaped our perspective on politics, religion, money, and love. Some will even become a source of inspiration for the rest of your life. From a seemingly infinite list of books of anecdotal or literal merit, we have narrowed down the top 100 books that have shaped the lives of individual men while also helping define broader cultural ideas of what it means to be a man.

Whether it be a book on adventure, war, or manners, there is so much to learn about life’s great questions from these gems. Let us know in the comments which of these you loved, hated, and the books that meant a lot to you and should have made the list (you can even get really indignant about your favorite book). And without further ado, this is our list.

To see a list of just the titles and authors names for easy printing, click here.

Amazon Listmania: The Essential Man’s Library Part I

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Set on the East Coast in the roaring ’20s, this American novel is a classic. From it we learn that often the wanting of something is better than actually having it. It is relevant to every man’s life. Furthermore, one true friend is worth infinitely more than a multitude of acquaintances.

“He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles… It faced–or seemed to face–the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor.”

The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

Considered by most to be the authoritative text on statesmanship and power (how to obtain it as well as an illustration of its trappings), although certainly a shrewd one.

“From this arises an argument: whether it is better to be loved than feared. I reply that one should like to be both one and the other; but since it is difficult to join them together, it is much safer to be feared than to be loved when one of the two must be lacking.”

Essentially, Machiavelli advocates letting your people have their property and women, but making sure that they know what you are capable of doing if they step out of line.

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse-five by Kurt Vonnegut

Through the beloved Billy Pilgrim, we see the central themes of Vonnegut’s humanism along with his satirical take on how disgusting it is when humans don’t use their (limited) free will to prevent simple atrocities. A great example of how we use humor to deal with hardship, and the conflict between the way heroism is conveyed through stories for actions in situations that perhaps could have been avoided altogether.

“So then I understood. It was war that made her so angry. She didn’t want her babies or anybody else’s babies killed in wars. And she thought wars were partly encouraged by books and movies.”

1984 by George Orwell


If you are already worried about the information that your computer is collecting from you, re-read this one and you will feel much better! Or, perhaps, you will throw your computer in a river. This is the classic text for the will of the individual to maintain his privacy and free will, and how easy it is at the end of it all to just try to blend in and go with the flow to avoid making things even worse by speaking out.

“But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”

The Republic by Plato

Since every man can use a fair portion of philosophy in his literary diet, the origin of legitimate western thought might be a good place to start. Plato’s most well known work breaks down topics of which you should have a fundamental understanding such as government, justice, and political theory.

Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The final work of Dostoevsky (commonly accepted English spelling of the name) has a lot of meat to chew on…it strikes at the core of who we are and what drives us. Ultimately, for all of our strength and wisdom as individuals, we are often frustrated by our failures to do what we know we must do (or at least think we should do) and need the power of forgiveness in our lives. Many important thinkers consider this to be one of (if not the most) important masterpiece of literature, including Sigmund Freud and Franz Kafka (who did not think quite alike, to say the least).

“So long as man remains free he strives for nothing so incessantly and so painfully as to find some one to worship.”

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Holden Caufield, if nothing else, should serve as a point of reference for the angst and cynicism that you perhaps once had, or ideally never had. If you thought like him when you were 16 or 17 years old, you are forgiven. If you still identify with him, you need to find some more joy, somehow…fake it ’til you make it. Do something.

The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith


The fundamental work on free market policies: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.” Want an education in economics? This book is a great start.

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

Set in the Spanish Civil War, this novel explores who man becomes when faced with the prospect of his own death. It is worthwhile for all of us to consider what we would give our lives for, as this defines what and who we truly love. This is one of the great examples of how war has shaped men, past and present, and has in part defined the image of a true hero who is courageous even when it has brutal consequences.

“You learned the dry-mouthed, fear-purged purging ecstasy of battle and you fought that summer and that fall for all the poor in the world against all tyranny, for all the things you believed in and for the new world you had been educated into.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Arguably the best work from the ever-quotable Wilde, this novel is a guide for how to live a life of pure decadence. It is packed with impeccable wit, clever one-liners, and an excessive amount of egotistical vanity. At the very least, this book will show you the glory and the pitfalls of being the best looking chap around.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

One of the most controversial books of its time, the Joads are “Okies” who head west to the fertile valleys of California during the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s. Because of the social solutions that the book proposed, and its depiction of work camp conditions, some groups attacked the novel as communist propaganda. However, it was widely read as a result of the national attention, and is a classic example of a man doing what he had to do for his family and persevering through all plights and conditions.

“Fear the time when the strikes stop while the great owners live – for every little beaten strike is proof that the step is being taken…fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is the foundation of Manself, and this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe.”

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

With a revolutionary and controversial view of the future, Huxley’s satiric take on the “utopia” of tomorrow has provoked reader’s thoughts for decades. Depictions of genetically enhanced embryos predisposed to a specific social class cast warning signs for technological interference with human life.

How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie


This is not a Dr. Phil self-help book. Citing intimate examples from the likes of Rockefeller, Charles Schwab, and FDR, this comprehensive guide is all about how to get ahead in business, relationships, and life. Read one chapter a day for the rest of your life. It will make you a far better man than you would ever be without it.

Call of the Wild by Jack London

The tale of a domesticated dog forced to adapt to a life of work in Alaska during the Yukon gold rush. Most of us can recall rooting for Buck in the ferocious battle to be the leader of the pack. Make sure that you embrace the benefits of competition to push yourself to become better in your work, but do it without biting and/or killing co-workers.

“…men, groping in the Arctic darkness, had found a yellow metal…These men wanted dogs, and the dogs they wanted were heavy dogs, with strong muscles by which to toil, and furry coats to protect them from the frost.”

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt shows what made Theodore Roosevelt the great man he was. Reading this book will inspire you to get off the couch and start moving in your life. Harvard graduate, New York Assemblyman, rancher, historian, author of several books, New York City Police Commissioner, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Governor of New York, and commanding officer of the Rough Riders are all titles that TR had before he became president at 42.

Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

Every boy can stand to learn a bit of old fashioned resourcefulness from their pops. Finding yourself on a deserted island is surely the way to learn these skills in a hurry. Tree forts, treasure hunting, and constant adventure mark the Swiss Family’s 10-year run. Lesson number one? Shipwrecks make for some good literature.

Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac

An idealistic vision from the man who fueled the Beat Generation, a life on the road without concern for wealth or even stability, rather an enjoyment of surroundings, whatever they may be. This is a great book for reminding us to get away from technology, at least for a day, to appreciate nature and some of the more simple pleasures of life. Don’t feel inferior to the beatniks if you still like driving your car…don’t ever let hipsters give you guilt trips.

“I felt like lying down by the side of the trail and remembering it all. The woods do that to you, they always look familiar, long lost, like the face of a long-dead relative, like an old dream…”

The Iliad and Odyssey of Homer


(2-for-1 special) Though the authorship is disputed, the place of these two epics in the man canon is not. Roughly based around the events of the Trojan War, these poems are likely a great collection of common Greek folklore surrounding the events in those days of fierce political turmoil. It is rumored that there were 10 epics in all, and 8 were lost over time. This may be a blessing in disguise, because, if they were around, you would never get to the rest of this list.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

The logic here is simple: any book which has the influence to have coined terminology commonly used in our society for decades on end should be perused based solely on principle. 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.

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

A bit of isolation never hurt any man. Thoreau spent two years, two months and two days writing this book in Walden, a cabin tucked deep in the woods near Concord, Massachusetts. This work of non-fiction describes the changing of the seasons over the course of a year and was intended to give the author an escape from society in order to achieve a more objective point of view. A real man would take this sabbatical himself, but the book should suffice for those of you who are employed.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding


Primal instincts. With only the most basic of needs to consider, human nature takes a different approach. A fictional study of the struggle for power and the unspeakable things that man (or child) will do when taken outside the order of civilization.

The Master and Margarita by by Mikhail Bulgakov

There is nothing more manly than a bout with the Devil. An entertaining commentary on the atheistic social bureaucracy in Moscow in the 1930s wherein Lucifer himself pays the town a visit to make light of their skepticism regarding the spiritual realm.

“As a result he decided to abandon the main thoroughfares and make his way through the side streets and back alleys where people were less nosy, and there was less chance that a barefoot man would be pestered about long johns that stubbornly refused to look like trousers.”

Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut

Written as the autobiography of Rabo Karabekian, of course with Vonnegut’s own war experiences drawn upon as inspiration to the aging artist who narrates his own story. It is a hilarious take on abstract art, and takes jabs at both the inflated self-importance of the artist and the people who simply refuse to look beneath the surface.

“My soul knows my meat is doing bad things, and is embarrassed. But my meat just keeps right on doing bad, dumb things.”

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Exploring the “virtue” of living for ourselves, this monster of a book (1,084 pages in my version) is certainly worth plowing through as it is simply a great story. The fundamental concept is that our world falls apart when individuals stop seeking their own satisfaction through personal achievement and feel a sense of entitlement to the accomplishments and work of others. This book challenges us on many levels…you may find it conflicting with your value of other people, her treatment of God, or any other beliefs you already hold. Yet, who can argue with, “The most depraved type of human being … (is) the man without a purpose.”

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Photo by Celeste

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.

None of us want this to happen. Well, most of us don’t. Kafka employed terms from law and politics, and was always concerned about some vague, oppressive bureaucracy that sought his ruin, though seeming cool and detached. We can take something from the very approach of Kafka to his work and find a balance between reading too much meaning into an event and, on the contrary, caring too little and being completely disillusioned.

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{ 1216 comments… read them below or add one }

701 Michael December 6, 2009 at 11:29 am

Here’s a freebie for you guys go to learnoutloud.com and download As a Man Thinketh by James Allen a classic self-help book for men on audio book. You can also download A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens I don’t know how long the offer lasts.

702 Win Nguyen December 19, 2009 at 7:59 pm

The link to the Listmania’s part III actually goes to part II – you may want to fix that. I found the part III link on Amazon though. Thank you very much for the great list.

703 Richard Shelmerdine December 22, 2009 at 5:17 am

Every young man should read some Orwell in his time. Some 1984 and Animal Farm stretch the mind.

704 Shaz December 31, 2009 at 7:21 am

“Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest mother—–r in the world. If I moved to a martial-arts monastery in China and studied real hard for ten years. If my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad.” – Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson

Now that is a kick-ass book, and my favorite manly quote.

705 Cosby December 31, 2009 at 7:40 am

Wow! I can only say that the comments have taken on a life of their own. Like most others I do think it’s a good list, a starting point rather than a goal.

As a lifelong reading addict I’d like to recommend the following books and authors:

The Little World of Don Camillo by Giovani Guareschi

The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C Clarke

The Horatio Hornblower series by C.S. Forester

Mila 18 by Leon Uris

I could go on and on, but comments that drone on are tiresome. Besides do you really care what I think?

706 Roxana January 19, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Great collection, it seems you have here what I like best(and how cute, the pic of Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky is in Romanian) :)

707 Manuel T. January 19, 2010 at 8:14 pm

one. Memoirs of Casanova
two. Baghavad gita

Normal. Dupa o partida de dragoste pasionala, merita sa-ti clatesti ochii si cu Fratii Karamazov
Se ajunge la interpretari prin alte “lentile”.

708 Alex C January 20, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Whoa, Atlas Shrugged… I read that as a young teen. That book should come with a warning. I am an adult now and was eventually able to think for myself, differentiate fact from fiction and live my life happily again. I’m not going to get into a discussion of why her philosophy is so utterly wrong. but I just wanted to offer a word of caution for any other young and open-minded readers out there… Approach this one with a critical mind. Her arguments are very strong and hard to contradict. But yes, the story is excellent.

Have fun!

709 John January 21, 2010 at 8:17 am

It’s a list. Of the staple books that everyone should be exposed to by the time they can vote. Is it exhaustive? No. It’s 100 essential books.

Some of you guys need to get over yourselves. Pretentious much? Any yahoo can do a google search of ‘highbrow books’. How many of them have you read? Thought so.

There also seems to be a remarkable amount of elitism here. ‘Middlebrow’? Wow – I haven’t heard anyone drop that reference outside of the scraggly-bearded pimple faced English lit majors hanging out in front of the Student Union’s coffee shop.

For those who think it’s ‘dated’ – it’s quintessential man reading. Before ‘metrosexual’ and ‘manscaping’ became acceptable terms, men were men. We camped. We hunted. We knew how to use a compass…..we knew how to MAKE a compass. We could clean a shotgun and the deer we killed with it. Some of the pseudo-intelligentsia can smugly opine that these are antiquated and that these books harken back to an idealized time. Well – maybe we need that.

Me? I can hunt, shoot, fish, hike my way out of any wilderness (and enjoy the journey). AND I have read all of these books – and many of the one’s that have been trotted out as well. Plus some of my own. I have a wall full of degrees in my home office – the other 3 walls covered with bookshelves sagging from the weight of abused books.

710 Steve H January 22, 2010 at 7:17 am

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Solzhenitsyn is most definitely a manly read and should have been on the list. Perhaps it was overlooked. I also like Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche.

711 Robert January 22, 2010 at 11:47 pm

What a great list. The way I can usually tell if a book list is good or not is whether Ulysses is on it or not. That book is trash. I guess sometimes books cause a lot of controversy and are banned when they first come out and then they earn a spot on the list for ever and ever. Since you don’t actually suggest we read it, you pass my list test.

712 Rachel January 24, 2010 at 10:21 pm

very good list indeed :) stumble led me to this and i am quite glad it did. i have actually read a few of these including Atlas shrugged. i love it, and anything by ayn rand. i also adore kurt vonnegut. this should be the essential library for everyone :p

713 Dale January 30, 2010 at 9:40 am

A great list but I wonder if “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” by W.L. Shirer might be put on in exchange for on of the Teddy R books.
One great lines on pg 730
” The Fuehrer stated ‘that he was by nature and artist, not a politician, and that once the Polish question was settled he would end his life as an artist and not as a warmonger.’ “

714 jondereach February 4, 2010 at 10:14 am

Bully for you! An excellent list. I could grumble about the inclusion of authors who didn’t write very well or the omission of writers who write very well indeed , but, as the posts show, we are all to some extent grumbletonians and I shall forbear. To have read the books of historical merit, works that have left their mark for good or ill, is the hallmark of manliness and not, as is commonly supposed, the stamp of the bookworm or the effete. Witness the politicians, engineers, business people and barroom savants who have never read any of these books and, being unaware of concepts that have been tried and rejected long ago, regale us with preposterous enthusiams. I truly believe this world(and women especially- I have heard them deplore the status quo of manhood) cries out for manliness. For your tireless efforts, I say: Huzzah!

715 Homer February 4, 2010 at 11:01 pm

Glad to see Killer Angels on the list. It’s worth the read just for the story of Colonel Joshua Chamberlain. He was the epitome of a leader and an unlikely hero…..the man studied at a theological seminary and was a professor of rhetoric at Bowdoin College in Maine before he volunteered in the Union army. He even hung out with Harriet Beecher Stowe!! At Gettysburg he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his defense of Little Round Top. In my opinion, he is one of the best role models for any young man – brilliant, ethical, principled, and a true leader of men.

Oh by the way…..the book also chronicles Robert E. Lee, John Buford, James Longstreet, Pickett, etc. This book to put a human face on strategy, tactics, and decision making in war. A must read for any young man as far as I’m concerned.

716 dan c February 5, 2010 at 5:58 pm

this to me mostly just looks like a list of really good books everyone should read regardless of gender. these are a lot of my favorite books.

717 Anya February 6, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Blah blah blah, blogger produces:

List of typical “classics” that most everyone in the West who’s gone to both high school and college have read (the only unexpected aspect is how few seem to have actually read them!).

Blah blah blah, commenters produce:

Laundry list of personal favorites that “should have been” on the list. Also, Insecure Self-Important Buffoons declaring that those who enjoy the books on this list are mindless, or childish, or weak, or idiotic — not for any concrete reason, but because the Insecure Self-Important Buffoons do not enjoy the listed books.

What is a book truly worth reading? How about one that is enjoyable and/or provides insights pertinent to one’s life, regardless whether some pompous jackhole has put it on his list?

718 veni February 13, 2010 at 4:51 am

hey, nice list.. i’m going to try tim robbins – another roadside attraction first.
but where’s the bukowski, and D.H lawrence? women and ham on rye gotta be essential mens reading right? but thanks 4 the list =) awsome

719 scott hoffman February 13, 2010 at 11:46 am

An excellent list of manly reading, so much wisdom to be gained, I must admit however though an avid reader over the last 25 years I have read very few on the list, those being The Bible (many times), The Illiad, The Hobbit, Killer angels, Catcher in the rye, Tarzan lord of the apes, The Red badge of courage, and Animal Farm. The Prince, 1984, Odyssey, and the Art of war sit untouched on my bookshelves, looks like I have some reading to do.

720 Mark February 14, 2010 at 10:54 pm

Just finished reading the list and added a good number to my “Must Read” list. This year I have encouraged my two teenagers that as a family we should disconnect the TV for a year and concentrate on choosing something we each want to accomplish and all of us read a certain number of good books. I am a lucky enough father to have them on board with the idea.

I find it rather amusing to read the reaction by some to the inclusion of the Bible on this list. My only suggestion is that it should have been first on the list. Regardless of your feelings toward religion or spirituality, the Bible is unquestionably the single most influential book ever written. It practically ushered in the renissance period, Many historians agree that the Guttenburg press was developed largely as an answer to the need to put the bible in the hands of the common man. It has been attacked, attempts have been made to stamp it out, water it down, ridicule it and keep it from the common folk. And yet it survives. No other book in history has been so loved and hated by so many. No other book has been so widely published. No other book has been so quoted. The Bible contains history, philosophy, instruction for daily living, some of the most moving poetry ever written, love stories, epic scenes of blood and battle. All in one leather bound work consisting of 66 books written by multiple authors over a period of thousands of years. Without even venturing into a discussion of its theology, the bible as a magnificent literary work stands alone. Please excuse my own lack of literary genius if I left grammatical errors in my post here.

721 BRENT February 17, 2010 at 11:41 am

Reading through the list, I agree with many and disagree with many. Maybe I slipped past some, but I didn’t see the one book that I recommend to everybody: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey.

722 Matthew February 17, 2010 at 9:52 pm

Too many of these books are grade school level, too many books for “boys” and not “men.”

The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables – Nathaniel Hawthorne

Two very good books. Not easy reads, but a man should be able to fully comprehend his own language.

723 REM February 23, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Fernando Pessoa – The Book of Disquiet

724 Mike Fook March 6, 2010 at 7:40 pm

I’ve read just one of the books in your list – Lord of the Flies. Great book. Flatworld is a good book for men. Think on These Things, Jiddu Krishnamurti is a great book for human beings in general.

725 JAKLAUGHING March 7, 2010 at 6:54 pm

…raymond chandler…
…’sometimes a great notion’
…peter temple…
…bleak house…
…jane austen…

726 JAKLAUGHING March 7, 2010 at 6:57 pm


727 Nick March 8, 2010 at 10:57 am

Love the list. I have a good deal of these books, and have been meaning to get around to reading all of them. Some of the boys books, though, makes me sad, because nowadays, if a kid learns to make a bow and arrow, the cops would be all over him once a “concerned neighbor” calls them up when they see the boy with this stuff.

728 juanes March 9, 2010 at 2:06 pm

it’s not as if [all the people complaining that one book they liked is not on the list] they read the rest

729 Mike March 9, 2010 at 2:26 pm

I am an avid reader, and have been most of my adult life. Years ago in high school I would abhor reading anything assigned to me. Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Twain, these guys were the enemy. I found no genius in their writings, nothing humorous, and nothing fantastic. When I got older I remember hearing quite a bit about the book, The Catcher in the Rye, it was everywhere in the news that year. I never read it in high school, so I thought that I would give it a try. I had to see what all this fuss was about. I read the book when I was about 21, and I remember thinking—I don’t get it. It was an OK book, am I missing something? Did you have to be a teenager to appreciate the nature of the story? Since I have no literary training (outside of a few college courses) and was not about to discuss the literary meanings in forum, can I not pick up on the genus of the work? Who cares, I thought. I know what I like when it comes to literature, and reading for me has to be enjoyable, and that story for me wasn’t the one of the better books that I have read. It wasn’t even in the top 50.
Maybe I am a strange cat. Maybe I am in the minority, I don’t know. I would just as soon pick up a Batman comic as I would a Lehane mystery, or a Martin fantasy, an Ambrose nonfiction work, or a London adventure. If it is a good story I am there. Now that I am a little bit older (35) I think that I might be missing out on some of the better literary works out there. I thought that some of the better written novels have passed me by, and that works of Hemingway and others might have good stories waiting for me, and I just shun them based on my old high school hatred.
So, where do I find these works? As with everything I need answers on, I go to the internet. I type in best novels, top books, etc. I come up with a few different lists to try. Examining these lists a crazy idea surfaces—what if I try to read all of the books on one of these lists? Thoughts are going through my head that I could perhaps give regular guys out there a unique perspective on these works. Most reviews of these highly regarded novels are glowing. I won’t mention any forums (COUGH Amazon COUGH) but no one has the grapes to give them anything but 5 stars. Ugh.
The first list that I pondered was the British Top 200 books of all time. I like those Limeys and Limey things, so I thought that this was going to be an easy like for me. In typical British fashion they have a host of Science Fiction and Fantasy on the list, which is good. The Hobbit, Dune, It, sounds great. Four Harry Potter books, oy. I know that these books are supposed to be wonderful and somewhat adult orientated, but I haven’t tried them yet. 11 out of the 200, I have read before at my leisure and enjoyed- Lord of the Rings, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, The Hobbit, Dune, Animal Farm, Artemis Fowl, Good Omens, Lord of the Flies, The Color of Magic, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Frankenstein. Catcher in the Rye was there of course and 5 others that I read in High School and hated in my teen angst way. There were a number of other works that just make me completely cringe and rather embarrassed to be seen reading in public– Jane Eyre, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Flowers in the Attic, Emma, anything in Oprah’s book club ugghhhh. Tess of the d’Urbervilles? Sorry, can’t pronounce it, not reading it. Others just look extremely painful- Lorne Doone (good cookie), Sophie’s World, Man and Boy, Girls out Late. Also there are a number of children’s books- The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Winne the Pooh, I am sure I will read these to my daughter at some point, but don’t include them on this list.

Since the Brits were out I began to look in other places. Time magazine has a list of their top 100 American novels of all time. A very PC list. I have read a few on the list including- Into the Wild, Johnny Got His Gun, and The Road, enjoyed all. Alas, Babylon is on the list, cool I would like to read that, along with The Things They Carried. Four Toni Morrison books? Come on. I am sure that she is a brilliant writer, but I have no desire to read anything by her or the Autobiography of Malcolm X that isn’t really an autobiography. What a terrible, terrible list. Where is Uncle Tom’s Cabin? I am sure from a literary standpoint this is an incredible collection, but for someone who enjoys reading outside of academic circles, I advise you to stay away.
I decided to go in a completely different direction from the highest literary arenas to a magazine that concentrates on everything pop culture- Entertainment Weekly. EW published their list of “New Classic Novels” from 1983 to 2008. They included some comics and graphic novels, very cool, about time they get recognized as literary work. Nine works are under my belt- The Road, Mystic River, Into Thin Air, Watchmen, Angela’s Ashes, Sandman, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay, The Ruins (Surprising admission. Good book, but I thought that author Scott Smith’s A Simple Plan was much better), and The Da Vinci Code, which people need to stop dumping on. It is a very enjoyable read. What do they have for strikes?- Bridget Jones’s Diary, The Joy Luck Club, Waiting to Exhale, Toni Morrison, ugh. Novels I think that I might like?- Maus, Blindness, Friday Night Lights, The Lovely Bones. Tough decision, but I think that the bad novels outweigh the good. I continue to look for another list.
As I continue to Google, what appears next? A website by the name of The Art of Manliness. I have to look. A of M has a list of 100 must read books for every man. Sounds fantastic, I have to check this out. Damn fine list at first glance, one great novel on the list I just finished, Undaunted Courage, the story of Lewis and Clark’s expedition to the Pacific Coast has to be one of my favorites of all time. Others I have devoured- Lord of the Flies, Into Thin Air, Into the Wild, The Hobbit, and two I have read in a college course within the last 6 years- Hamlet and Frankenstein. This list is by no means an easy one with works by Plato, Homer, Dostoevsky, and Joyce. Cringe worthy- The Bible, Atlas Shrugged, On the Road (I have a bias toward the hippie culture and drug use and I think that this book might feature both). But wouldn’t it be great to try to finish the list? There are some killer titles here- The Thin Red Line, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, Blood Meridian and The Killer Angels. Wars, adventures, Presidents, pirates and monsters, I get it.
So, I accept your challenge artofmaliness.com, to read your 100 must read books, and to have a manly bookshelf! Let’s see if I am more manly as a result of this.

730 Marriage Proposal Guide March 9, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Great job with this list. Just a couple that I would also like to recommend. I apologize if someone already mentioned this or if I overlooked it on the main list, but The Alchemist would be another great addition. Also, I agree with a couple who said The Little Prince as well. Two excellent books for men trying to figure out their place in life.


731 Errant Frost March 9, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Well done, very extensive list. Very impressive, I couldn’t agree more.

732 matt town March 10, 2010 at 1:26 am

i liked watership down… that is my reply to that

733 matt town March 10, 2010 at 1:31 am

oh and if the bibles there, i think the qu’ran (if thats spelled right) sound be there too

734 Yaw March 10, 2010 at 1:50 am

Surely Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill should be in there! great list though.

735 karan aghi March 10, 2010 at 10:22 am

thanks for such good recommendations…though ive just started reading and feel like a novice but i guess all ur recommendations may expand my intellect…thank u..:-)))))!!!!!

736 Eric March 10, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Great list. Thank you for your time putting this together.

737 D-Lo March 11, 2010 at 1:24 am

No way I’m reading through 730+ comments to see if I am repeating anyone…

Glad to see McCarthy, Kierkegaard, and “The Dangerous Book for Boys” on here.

I would also suggest “The Alchemist” and “The Prophet”. Also, there are other McCarthy books that I prefer to “Blood Meridian”. I personally like “Thus Spake Zarathustra” as well. And a newer title that I really enjoyed: “Water for Elephants”.

Good list overall, though.

738 Neil F March 11, 2010 at 12:14 pm

You have the bible but you do not have the Koran which also “is full of ancient counsel and advice that is applicable to today’s man, whether you’re a believer in God or not”.

739 Mary March 13, 2010 at 12:22 am

I find it amusing that one commenter believes you can write good books without reading them and that the sum of human knowledge as invested is books is worthless in the face of “true innovation”.

I’ve finished 33 of these so far, including the Bible lol. Some of them I loved, some I hated, but that’s how it goes.

I agree that “perks of being a wallflower” and “Johnny Got His Gun” should have made the list, maybe over “cross the street to die alone in the rain” Hemmingway. Glad to see Eco, Carnegie, and Machiavelli there, and the American Boys Handy book (which is about 50,000 times cooler than the corresponding ladies version, which is why my Boys copy is nearly ripped to pieces while my Girl’s version is almost untouched. ) As a side note, I was totally unimpressed with the “Dangerous Book” and think “The Boys Own Book” is better. I just read Rise of TR and loved it and the Art of War is brilliant.

Ok, there’s only ONE I was actually upset to see on here and that was Tarzan. Seriously? Tarzan? Mr “I’m a gentleman because it’s in my genes” Tarzan? Mr “I learned to read and speak perfect English and French because it was in my breeding even though I was raised by an ambiguous species of ape ” Tarzan? Ok, sorry, kept that joke going too long.
But seriously, it was bad, you KNOW it was bad- worse, it was TRASHY.

Oh well, it’s all subject to interpretation and I’m a lady so I don’t have much say here. But thanks for the list! I have many more I want to work on from this. And yes, folks, remember, this is a top 100 list and it’s not a bad start.

740 Cal March 16, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Brave New World is far from satire if you keep up with todays bioengineering technology.

741 Nick March 17, 2010 at 9:22 pm

The Count of Monte Cristo was the greatest read of my college years. Being a physicist, I hardly had to touch a novel or any form of literature to fulfill my college requirements, but this book rekindled my desire for fine reading (rather than just slaving away at problem sets. I began the unabridged version of this book on a whim after I came down with a week-long bug (hardest mid-term of my life actually made me sick!). With nothing to do all day but sweat, shake, sleep, and read, I blazed through half of the book. Once I recovered from the bug, I finished the other half in class rather than taking notes or working on problem sets. I’ve gone on to read twice more. Nothing like a truly epic tale of calamity, rebirth, revenge, and reflection.

742 Charles March 17, 2010 at 10:18 pm

A good list, although, too narrow in scope. Within five hundred, tapestry of human literary endeavor would present a more pleasing vista. There, one could have Ray Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine” too.

743 Neil Samtani March 18, 2010 at 1:04 am

Great list – glad to see foucalts pendlum on it! Two key books that were missing – that every man should read – Money by Martin Amis and Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

744 Ted March 20, 2010 at 5:10 pm

I have noticed numerous comments urging the reading of “A People’s History of The United States” by avowed America-hater Howard Zinn. Good riddance to this anti-American Marxist. I recommend “A Patriots History of The United States” by Larry Schweikart, instead.

745 Claude da Blanfuevre (Just call me "Clay") March 23, 2010 at 2:39 pm

One more vote for Elllsion’s Invisible Man

746 Kyle March 24, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Yeah…this list was pretty horrible. How many books written by/about Teddy Roosevelt didn’t make the list, I wonder? Surely there had to be much depression about leaving them off.

Maybe you could actually make a list containing good books? Just a thought…

747 Hanna March 25, 2010 at 4:45 pm

I was so thrilled to see Crime and Punishment on this list, then Hatchet, then a Separate Piece, To Kill A Mocking Bird, Connery Row. Books I’ve read all before I even hit college.

But then I shuddered a Metamorphosis. I understand it’s worth, but all of my 10th grade English agreed it was awful and made a class wide plan on way to go back in time. We would travel back in time to kill Franz Kafka, and burn all his works before they could be published.

Regardless, very nice list. I enjoyed the selections and loved seeing some of my favorites in this list.

748 Mac March 27, 2010 at 4:14 am

Ok, this list is pretty bad. You have 4 or 5 books on Teddy Roosevelt. The man was a manly man, sure, but he was a pretty bad politician, he was viewed as a city slicker by most in territories because he sported abercrombie and fitch pistols, and ummm…he was one man! he didn’t contribute anything GREAT to history, unlike Thomas Jefferson, who doesn’t have a single one of his books or bios on here. TJ was an architect, lawyer, politician, and just general genius. He spoke 8 languages, was extremely well read and spoken, and was a founding father. Why does he not have a book on this list? Not only that, but there is no Faulkner on this list. He INVENTED streamofconciousness writing! He was basically just all around awesomeness. Umm let’s see what else, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest?! Any one of the greek tragedies (Antigone, Oedipus), a book about economics such as Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics. For people who don’t know much about the topic, that would be the book to read. Also, you didn’t have very many philosophical works on here, which was disappointing. Some Boethius would have been commendable, for he explains that we should just accept our fate. That Fortuna, a vile scum she is! She is spinning downward once more! –Reference to Confederacy of Dunces, I love that book. It makes you laugh so hard. But yes, as I said, too much Teddy, too little TJ, and you are missing the great Faulkner, some classic plays, and any philosophical or economical books to help beginners grasp the topic. Some books I agree with, other I do not. I think you repeated yourself a tad too much, what with 3 or 4 Steinbeck books, not to mention all the Teddy. Also, not enough history. Our nation needs to read more about our Founding Fathers.

749 DJ March 29, 2010 at 1:07 pm

i thought this list was helpful, but i was looking for more of Classics, like Oliver Twist and Dr. Jykel and Mr. Hyde, classics. Half of the books I havent even heard of, so i was glad that there was a short summary on the books. Im very interested in Lord of the Flies, im going to read that for my honors class, so thanks!(:

750 Baron d'Ormeson March 29, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Any particular reason why the picture of ‘The Brothers Karamazov’ is of a Roumanian translation and that of Aristotle’s ‘Politics’ of a Latin one?

751 Kevin L April 2, 2010 at 1:45 am

“Vanity Fair” by W.M.Thackeray
“The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
“The Adventure of Tom Sawyer” By Mark Twain
“Martin Eden” by Jack London

You did a remarkable job on your list. I just thought these books should be added.

752 RFP April 4, 2010 at 12:21 am

Thanks for the spoiler on “1984″. I was half way through the book but as you decided it was fit to print what is obviously the last line revealing the fate of the main character I can just set it aside now and move onto Huxley’s “Brave New World”. By the way, Old Yeller gets infected with rabies from fighting a wolf and Travis has to shoot him.

753 Maureen April 5, 2010 at 12:09 pm

I loved Frank Kapka ‘s “The Metamorphormis” (s.w.) and
The Day After Tomorrow by Allan Folsom
and all you listed

754 aether April 5, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Manliness? Seriously? Sometimes I feel like this world is going backwards.

755 aether April 5, 2010 at 2:43 pm

I may think the world is going backwards with such blatant sexism abound, but Ayn Rand is undoubtedly one of the most influencial and controversial authors up there. I disagree with people who think she should be cut from the list. There would be a gaping hole without her there.

756 Pete April 5, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Great list! I have to go back and reread a few of these!

If you don’t understand the Bible you can’t understand a majority of literature- -it needs to be on the list.

For those looking for a “ripping read” try James Robert Baker’s “Boy Wonder” which is considered his opus. Really tough to find, but worth the effort.

757 Mario April 7, 2010 at 10:49 pm

A few additions I consider to be VITAL, as they’ve done their fair share in shaping the world, both negatively and positively:

1) The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels
2) On The Origins of Species by Charles Darwin
3) Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
4) A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn

758 dude guy April 9, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Looking for trashy, dudely, crusty, I go with Voodoo Island by EW Gray? Grit and junk. Fun to read.

759 Stephen J April 11, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Interesting choice of reading material. I’ve read the Great Gatsby over the weekend and thought it was marvellous. I am a little sceptical over some of the material suggested here, the bible and the wealth of nations hold little interest for me, but it’s certainly made for an interesting programme of study.

760 JackESavage April 14, 2010 at 3:09 am

Kudos for including Mary Shelley and Oscar Wilde, but where are Proust, Moravia, Shakespeare, and Dickens? And Gide and Camus and Sartre? Boswell? Guy Debord? Bertram Russell? Edward Said? Houellebecq? Maybe those authors didn’t make the “manly” cut? Or maybe the writers on this website hadn’t been exposed to their writing?
Dale Carnegie over Sartre? Dale Fucking Carnegie over James M. Cain or Jim Thompson?
Maybe you’re compiling your list of recommended reading through rose-colored (but manly) glasses?

761 JackESavage April 14, 2010 at 3:25 am

oh, and reading the comments above, I feel abashed.
yes…you guys forgot about that whole Marx/Engels thing…and neglected Adorno as well. and what’s the fixation w/ Roosevelt?
great US pol, but was he “all that”? he was rich, white and privileged…easy to be
a great advocate of nature and clean living when you can afford your own, private, game
And where the hell is Freud?

762 Christopher April 14, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Why isn’t John Muir included in this list? Lord knows how manly that man was! He walked from Indianna to Yosemetie by foot during a civil war for crying out loud!!!! Any man who rather spend time with nature and mountains and not tampering with war is a true man in my book. I highly reccomend “A 1000 Mile Walk to the Gulf” for starters! and how about some more Jack London? John Barleycorn, Tales of the The North and Burning Daylight by Jack London are awesome reads that could inspire any boy who earns to know what being a man is really all about!

763 Bob L. April 14, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Nice work! My recommendation is Roughing It by Mark Twain. Not only is it filled with manly anecdotes of Twain’s experiences during the silver rush of the 19th century, it’s subtly hilarious and teaches a thing or two about not taking things too seriously. Picking up and going out into the world simply because it sounds like a good time? Very manly.

764 Kevin April 16, 2010 at 11:00 am

I have been working on this list for about 1 ½ years now and have to say that I have found some great books that I would have never thought to read … The Master and Margarita for one. On the other hand there have been a couple that have really made me scratch my head and wonder how did this one make the list. The Naked and the Dead would one of those head scratchers. I found that when I finished it I felt like I had humped a forty pound pack across a remote island. It was boring and uninspiring but mainly the problem was that there was not a single character in the whole book that I even liked and by the end I was hoping they would all get blown up. Either you missed the boat on this one or I just didn’t get it.

765 Ben April 19, 2010 at 12:31 am

This is an awesome list, though I would have liked to see “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy on it. That book absolutely changed my view of human nature, and it’s often regarded as one of the best books of the 21st century so far.

766 EditorJack April 20, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Riddley Walker, by Russell Hoban
The Mouse and His Child, by Russell Hoban
Little, Big, by John Crowley
The Horse’s Mouth, by Joyce Carey
The Screwtape Letters, by C. S. Lewis
The Great Divorce, by C. S. Lewis
The Sword in the Stone, by T. H. White
There Are Doors, by Gene Wolf
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (aka Bladerunner), by Philip K. Dick
Ubik, by Philip K. Dick
The Man in the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick
The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Graham

A note to previous commenters: Moby Dick and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance are two of my all-time favorite books. Also, both definitely belong on this list.

767 Daniel April 20, 2010 at 8:28 pm

@ Aether – ” blatant sexism”?

What is so wrong with men trying to become better men? Men of character, morals, honor and virtue. Men who respect and command respect based upon their actions. Men who are upright. Why are these notions deemed antiquated, backward, or even as you say, sexist? This is PC run amok.

Today’s modern male is immature, boyish, rude, lacking moral fiber, and excessively hedonistic and selfish. However, when they man-up and develop character and a belief system based upon moral precepts, and don’t sway from them, they are viewed as intolerant and sexist, or worse, old-fashioned. Yikes!

The fact is there is a double standard. What’s okay for women is not okay for men. It’s okay for women to have their own private clubs and gyms, and hang up a “no boys allowed” sign. It’s okay for bars to have “ladies night.” It is perfectly acceptable to have government organizations and groups that cater only to women and minorities in business. It’s fine for girls in sports to be “one of the boys.” Accept it as is. If you don’t like it, too bad. Be a man and suck it up. But don’t you dare try to do any of the above, unless you want a lawsuit. Right? Nonsense policies like affirmative action govern American society and push men, especially white males, to the sidelines. And it’s not fair to anyone.

I’ll now end this little rant with a question. A question to which no one has been able give a common sense answer. What happens when those who advocate so strongly for tolerance and acceptance are, in point of fact, guilty of being intolerant themselves?

768 Nina April 22, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Where are nabokov’s books??? Nice list!

769 Ivan April 22, 2010 at 8:52 pm

You forgot Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson.

770 Chairman April 27, 2010 at 8:41 am

An excellent list – perhaps not perfect in terms of novelty, but manly to the last.

771 A.T. Renaissance Man April 29, 2010 at 6:56 pm

I highly recommend “A Patriots History of The United States” by Larry Schweikart and Michael Patrick Allen and “American History in 100 Nutshells” Written by Thaddeus F. Tuleja. These two books will give you the long and the short of the history of The United States from the days of Columbus up to the present. I also think “Fahrenheit 451″ by Ray Bradbury fits in well with your selections of Animal Farm, 1984, and Brave New World. I like your list and find it to be very inspiring.

772 Dave May 1, 2010 at 1:29 am

Several mentions were made of ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’. A truly great book. One of my all time favorites. But I have yet to see ‘The Three Musketeers’ appear in anyone’s comments. It’s a story rich in the value of loyalty and brotherhood that should be included in any list of greats, especially one that evinces that arts of manliness.

I was tremendously satisfied to see the suggested inclusion of Heinlein. And Azimov of course. And there is a conspicuous abscence of anything by Frank Herbert. Not just ‘Dune’, but how about ‘The White Plague’. If you read this book, you’ll flush ‘The Stand’ down the commode. I promise. It is infintely more terrifying in its realism.

A case must also be made for ‘Ringworld’. I mean, was there ever a more manly man than Louis Wu?

Where is MacDonald? Hasn’t anyone read ‘Fletch’?

Or Bradbury? ‘Fahrenheit 451′ has been mentioned a number of times. As great as it is, I don’t think it even touches ‘Dandelion Wine’ or ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’. But that’s just my opinion.

And you’re killing me with the Ian Fleming. Please, please pick up some John LeCarre. Fleming is pulp. Read ‘A Small Town in Germany’, ‘Call for the Dead’, or ‘The Spy Who Came in from the Cold’ just for starters. You’ll see my point.

Finally, if we’re going to include historical and military writing, You must read Keegan, Rommel, Guderian, Fuller, and Bradley. Alistaire Horne, Cornelius Ryan or Liddell Hart. I understand why they haven’t made the list, but I highly recommend them to the inquisitive reader.

I’m sorry, it’s late. I tried to get through all these posts so as to not repeat anyone else’s suggestions. But, alas, I must cut it short and get some sleep. If someone mentioned these already, then kudos to you….goodnight.

773 Leena May 2, 2010 at 12:17 pm

WOW! Thanks so much. I have read a few of these but not all! I look forward to using this list. It feels calming to know that there are so many scholars out there, willing to share their knowledge and suggestions!

774 Cleophus May 3, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Well, there are several good titles in the mix, but I have to say that the authors of this list have a decidedly “progressivist” big government mindset and a severe lack of grounding in authors from the South. How can you have a list of 100 books and include NOT ONE TITLE by Faulkner? Also you should have listed the Bible first, the other 99 titles are mere filler compared to it.

775 paul Potts May 6, 2010 at 7:29 pm

That quote had better not be the final words in 1984.
I have just started reading it

776 Ben May 7, 2010 at 1:14 pm

This list reads like a high school lit class.

And nothing by Ayn Rand deserves any mention on a “must read” list. Although the famous Whitaker Chambers take-down review of Atlas Shrugged is certainly worth a read.

777 Devin May 8, 2010 at 9:44 pm

I’m surprised Fight Club isn’t on this list.

778 Bobby Digital May 10, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Awesome list of books, but this video has a betta list! hah!


Remixes of Songs

779 YourZ May 10, 2010 at 10:19 pm

What! No Chuck Palaniuk? What about Fight Club? What about Rant? Okay, so maybe Chuck is gay but that doesn’t mean his ‘manly’ quotient is missing. Some of the most manly blokes I know are gay.

780 Noah May 13, 2010 at 10:39 pm

Truth be told, I did not read every single one of the 780 comments for this post, but if no one has already put forth The Road by Cormac McCarthy as a worthy addition to this list, I do so now. It could be the most powerful novel I’ve read.

781 Wackadoodle May 15, 2010 at 1:04 pm

I read “On the Road”, didn’t do a whole lot for me, is “Dharma Bums” better?

I would like to add Harry Crews to the appendix of great authors/books. Very much a writer in the Southern Gothic tradition, with an emphasis on the grotesque (freaks, and the bizarre play into pretty much everyone of his books) with a little Vonnegut-style humanism.

His memoir in particular, “A Childhood: The Biography of a Place” would fit in nicely with this list. It’s short, barely 200 pages, and describes in a very matter-of-fact way growing up dirt poor in the rural south. It also contains my favorite quote about being a man, while learning about skinning a goat and hunting squirrels with his uncle: “But perhaps the best thing he ever showed-made me feel-was that a man does not back away from doing what is necessary, no matter how unpleasant

782 Joel May 15, 2010 at 11:43 pm

Excellent list, many of these are my favorites as well.

However, one suggestion is “The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom” by Slavomir Rawicz. An officer in the Polish Army during WWII, Rawicz becomes a soviet political prisoner in a Siberian work camp. What follows is his epic escape on foot through Russia, the Gobi desert of Mongolia, crossing the Himalayas and his reaching freedom in India.

783 Simmons May 16, 2010 at 10:02 pm

Excellent list. And excellent additions on the comments. Art of Manliness most definitely has the greatest comment section of any website I’ve ever visited.

784 George May 17, 2010 at 3:13 am

One book I think is a nice addition to this fantastic list is Pop-splat, by South African author Ian Martin.

It is one of the few books I’ve ever read that really made me think and completely changed my view of society and how the world operates. Surprising, given the deceptively simple story: a wealthy businessman is murdered in yet another Johannesburg hijacking. The disturbed son thinks something fishy is on the go and decides to investigate. This precipitates a violent, over-the-top but also funny hell-ride across the country.

Sure, the narrative is entertaining and the book is easy to read as it’s saturated with sick humour and violence. But on another level it is jam-packed with so many ideas that after I put the book down I spent a week digesting it all. Martin challenges everything from SUV drivers to religious fanatics to private schools and overpopulation. A lot of the ideas are subtly blended into the action in a comical way. For instance, during a violent break-in Martin uses the opportunity to attack snobbish art connoisseurs, calling a Madonna and Child painting ‘Prostitute with baboon fetus.’

It’s a weird combination – over-the-top, Quentin Tarantino-like thrills with world-changing ideas. But it really works.

785 Jupiter Calhoun May 17, 2010 at 4:21 pm

What? No Bukowski? I just finished “Women” by Charles Bukowski. It’s insane, dark, and more than a little misogynistic. It’s also pretty honest. It’s worth a look, even if the protagonist is an utter bastard.

786 bill May 20, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Rooooosevelt was a collectivist traitor don’t emulate him

787 D. Rucker May 20, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Just came upon this website…and had to say lists are always faulty because everyone thinks they are wrong because this or that isn’t on the list…as a woman I have had the extreme pleasure (and sometims displeasure) of reading most of these books…The Aeneid was a favorite of mine, as is The Fountainhead (to all Ayn Rand haters, BACK OFF!) How about the fun of Treasure Island? In all honesty just getting people to read nowadays is becoming a hassle, thank god for my mom and dad always reading around my siblings (really influenced us). This list can be used for a jumping off point to start a library of knowledge anyone can add to, and just because it doesn’t include something you love does not mean you can’t read it!

788 Trevor May 30, 2010 at 9:47 pm

I think “The Clan of The Cave Bear” and the rest of “The Earth’s Children” series should be mentioned, it gives us a view into the depth of human emotion, and a chance to experienced what our ancestors might have endured.

789 Shark June 1, 2010 at 9:23 pm

Every guy should read The 48 Laws of Power

790 Brian June 2, 2010 at 8:16 am

Most glaring omission: Wind, Sand, and Stars (St. Exupery)

Most ill-conceived inclusion: Atlas Shrugged (a.k.a. Nietzsche for Dummies [Nietzsche is brilliant, Rand is a derivative hack]; a.k.a. Hitler for Hippies; etc.)

791 Kurt Russell Anderson June 3, 2010 at 3:35 pm

I love this website and I love being a man. And Im good at it. However there is a man who I model myself after completely who I have yet to hear mention of on this site. I havent searched every corner of the the place but what I have read I’ve heard no mention of George Washington. He is, to me, the ultimate man. No one beats him. I love that man. So lets put 1776 or His Excellency or some other Washington inspired book on the list, yes? It would be unmanly and un……. American to not do so. Think about it.

792 Kurt Russell Anderson June 3, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Oh P.S. – How about a more specific Washington book. The Letters and Writings of George Washington. The first manuscript is his copy of The Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.

Best line: Labour to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.

793 lazysupper June 7, 2010 at 12:53 am

Hamlet over Macbeth? No no no.
And you’ve got Plutarch’s “Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans” but not Paul Kennedy’s “Rise and Fall of the Great Powers”?

Other books you’re missing:

Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S. Thompson
Dracula – Bram Stoker
Guns, Germs, and Steel – Jared Diamond
Battle Royale – Koushun Takami
The Shining – Stephen King
Hitler & Stalin: Parallel Lives – Alan Bullock
We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families – Philip Gourevtich
When Nietzsche Wept – Irvin D. Yalom
American Psycho – Brett Easton Ellis
The SAS Survival Handbook – John Wiseman

794 Brett Widmann June 7, 2010 at 1:50 am

This is definitely a definitive list on books that everyone should try to read in their lifetime. I really like how you justified the Bible for this list. I think it’s crucial, whether you believe it or not, to be savvy on such an important collection of words. On that note, to increase insight and provide more perspective, I suggest that the Koran also be added to this list. Understanding Islam through its religious text and history would help many Americans understand what Islam really is and that it’s not some barbaric or false religion.

Again, awesome job on this list. :)

795 Lee June 8, 2010 at 12:28 pm

hmmm T Roosevelt??

He was a Progressive Socialist hiding in the Republicans, looking like a Conservative, then trying to create a new party, the Progressive movement…….not my favorite Pres.

New Nationalism was Theodore Roosevelt’s Progressive political philosophy during the 1912 election. He made the case for what he called the New Nationalism in a speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, in August 1910. The central issue he argued was human welfare versus property rights. He insisted that only a powerful federal government could regulate the economy and guarantee social justice. Roosevelt believed that the concentration in industry was not necessarily bad, if the industry behaved responsibly. He wanted executive agencies (not the courts) to regulate business. The federal government should be used to protect the laboring men, women and children from what he believed to be exploitation. In terms of policy, the New Nationalism supported child labor laws and minimum wage laws for women. Roosevelt supported graduated income and inheritance taxes, workers’ compensation for industrial accidents, regulation of the labor of women and children, tariff revision, and firmer regulation of corporations.

That is sick socialist ways folks.

796 Tom June 9, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Read “Theodore Roosevelt and the Modern Presidency” (http://www.lewrockwell.com/woods/woods140.html) by Thomas Woods, first published in “Reassessing the Presidency : The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline of Freedom” (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0945466293?ie=UTF8&tag=lewrockwell&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=0945466293), then re-evaluate and hopefully revise your political philosophy and opinion of Theodore Roosevelt.

797 Eric June 11, 2010 at 2:17 am

Be sure to read “A Roving Comission, My Early Life” by Winston Churchill
It covers his time as a cavalry officer fighting in India and Africa at the turn of the century.

798 Ed@notebook June 11, 2010 at 11:21 am

I agree with Brett, awesome reasoning over the Bible but would also extend it to all the religous texts rather than just the Koran. Some of the budist ideas, as an example, are worth contemplating. Not that I’m particularly religious…

But to add to the list, I would insert a catch all. Read something you never normally would.

799 Ted June 14, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Alas Babylon, by Pat Frank, is a very manly novel about survival about a nuclear war between The United States and The Soviety Union. The Most Dangerous Game, by Richard Connell, is a very manly short story in which a big game hunter hunts men for sport after he finds animals are no longer a challenge.

800 Ted June 14, 2010 at 1:16 pm

I also recommend the non-fiction book A Fighter’s Heart: One Man’s Journey Through the World of Fighting, by Sam Sheridan. Sheridan makes a pocketful of money doing adventure jobs and then spends a year practicing boxing, mixed martial arts, brazilian jiu jitsu, muay thai, etc., in different parts of the world. Very enjoyable reading.
I also enjoyed reading another non-fiction book called A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. Bryson is far from the best hiker to ever set foot on The Appalachian Trail but his book is possibly one of the best ever written on the subject. It’s also very funny.

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