50 Best Books for Boys and Young Men

by Brett & Kate McKay on November 15, 2009 · 191 comments

in A Man's Life, Diversions

vintage boy reading

As a boy, one of my favorite times in school was when we’d get a new Scholastic News book “catalog.” I would pour over the pages picking out which books I wanted and filling out the order sheet. And as soon I got them, I was lying under the covers with my nose buried in a book.

Unfortunately, not all boys have that kind of enthusiasm for reading. For several decades now, boys have scored lower on reading assessment tests than girls. Boys also take longer to learn to read than girls, are less likely to actually read and to value reading, and are more likely to label themselves as “non-readers” (up to 50% of high school age boys consider themselves as such). Non-reading boys do poorer academically and end up as non-reading men (women read almost twice as many books as men).

What’s the problem? Some of it may be biological (boys’ language skills develop slower that girls). But a lot of it is sociological. Boys may see reading as a passive and thus sissy activity. Boys also lack male reading mentors-their librarians and teachers are often female, and it’s mom that reads to them. And in the name of gender-neutrality, teachers are foisting books on boys that they simply do not like.

But parents are to blame too, often trying to make their sons read “important books” to build their character. Dad loved some long tome as a boy and wants junior to come to an equal apprectation of it.

But reading experts all agree that boys need to be allowed to pick the books that really interest them. Of course it’s okay to make suggestions to your son about things he might like-boys very much value the opinion of other boys and men in making their reading selections. So here are 50 books that many boys and young men will really love. We’ve included some classics, but we also threw in some more modern and accessible choices-after all, not every boy has the desire or the aptitude to dive into Dickens.

Finally, while we had boys about the ages of 9-15 in mind when we made this list, I’ve always considered the distinction between adult and young adult literature to be an unfortunate and artificial one. Putting together this list I remembered just how good these books are, and I can’t wait to read them again as a man. Whether you’re 12 or 52, grab one of these books and a bag of cookies and head out to the treehouse.

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen


Pretty much every boy’s favorite book. When the pilot of the small plane of which he is a passenger crash lands in the Canadian wilderness, 13 year old Brian Robeson must survive with only his wits and a hatchet. Utterly alone, Brian must learn to rely on himself. Gripping and vividly told, every boy pictures himself in Brian’s shoes and wonders whether he would have what it takes to survive.

A Separate Peace by John Knowles


Set at a boys prep school on the eve of World War II, A Separate Peace centers on the friendship of Phineas and Gene. Phineas’ seeming perfection creates a jealously in Gene that results in a tragedy that will forever change both of their lives. A piercing look at both the light and the shadows of friendship and humanity. Every boy wishes he were Finny but knows he’s more like Gene. This book has stuck with me ever since reading it as a young man and remains one of my favorite until to this day.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman


Take Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, replace the jungle with a graveyard and the animals with ghosts and you’ve got Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. The book begins with the mention of the murder of a family, but quickly moves on from there and is not a gruesome tale inappropriate for youngsters. The sole survivor of the murder is an 18 month old baby, who toddles away to a graveyard. Here the cemetery’s ghosts and ghouls adopt the boy, give him a name (“Nobody” as he’s like nobody else in the graveyard), protect him from the still on the loose killer, and teach him the life lessons that only the dead can know. It’s takes a graveyard to raise a child, and the cemetery is a great home, but eventually Bod, as they call him, must deal with the world outside of its borders. Spooky, magical, and engrossing, it’s a must for all boys who like ghost stories (so pretty much all boys). Be sure to check out Gaiman’s other great books like Neverwhere and Anasi Boys.

The American Boy’s Handy Book by Daniel C. Beard


Long before The Dangerous Book for Boys became all the rage , there was the American Boy’s Handy Book. Every father and grandfather should have this on his shelf, waiting there for a boy to pull it off and start leafing through. Dozens of awesome (and unlike another book, some actually dangerous) hands on projects for boys to tackle from how to build kites and forts to how to rear wild birds and trap animals. Originally published in 1882 and still a must for every boy today.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster


The story of a boy who’s boring life is interrupted by the appearance of something strange and unusual that transports him to a magical place. It’s a premise that underlies a myriad of children’s books, but few are as creatively constructed as The Phantom Tollbooth. Young Milo finds a tollbooth in his room, gets in his toy car and drives into another dimension. Boys will love the strange adventures Milo experiences, while older kids and adults can enjoy the witty satire and clever puns.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain


One of the great American novels. Young Huck Finn escapes from his abusive father by taking off on a raft down the Mississippi River. He is joined by Jim, an escaped slave. The two set off on a grand adventure full of close calls and interesting characters. With both wit, action, and fun, coupled with an undercurrent of serious themes, Huck Finn is a multi-layered masterpiece for young and old.

The Last Mission by Harry Mazer


The classic tale of the collision of a boy’s idealistic view of war with it’s ugly reality. Yet the book manages to avoid being a tired cliche. 15 year old Jack Raab lies his way into the Army Air Force and finds himself flying bombing missions over occupied territory. On his 25th mission, his last mission before being sent home, his plane is shot down, and he is taken prisoner in a German POW camp. A fictional story and an easy read, but historically accurate and realistic in its details. Be sure to check out other books by Harry Mazer; his A Boy at War series is a painless way to teach boys some history.

The First Edition of the Boy Scout Handbook


If you have a son in Scouts, he’ll definitely dig this book. Today’s Scout manual is definitely watered down compared to the first edition. The first edition manual is crammed with info on tracking and trapping animals, building shelters from scratch, and sailing. Additionally, it has stories of bravery and adventure that inspire boys to be great men. Something today’s manual is sorely lacking.

Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane


Known as a war book, The Red Badge of Courage is really a coming of age story set on the battlefield. Young Henry Fleming leaves his mother to fight for the Union Army. His question of whether or not he’ll have the courage to stand and fight is answered in the negative when he flees from his first skirmish. Fleming resolves to redeem himself during the next battle. A story not only of the tragedy of war, but the struggle to replace pride, weakness, and rationalization with bravery and personal honesty.

Watership Down by Richard Adams


One of my favorite books as a boy-who knew the lives of rabbits could be so engrossing? I’m sure it’s rife with rich symbolism and whatnot to mull over, but it’s one of those books that creates a world so rich and evocative that it’s best to let yourself get totally wrapped up in it instead of constantly searching for deeper meaning. When a prophetic rabbit correctly foretells that their warren will be destroyed, a band of rabbits travel in search of  a new home and encounter dangerous and interesting obstacles along the way. Some authors can’t make human characters as interesting as these rabbits.

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{ 190 comments… read them below or add one }

101 Ed November 21, 2009 at 1:36 am

Books I enjoyed as a kid included “The Great Brain” series by John Dennis Fitzgerald, and the Tom Swift Jr. books (very similar to the Hardy Boys, but with many high-tech toys).

+1 for the Count of Montecristo – probably not a book to get someone interested in reading, but a great adventure story. Picked this one up around 8th grade, because it was the biggest book in the library, but it held my interest to the end.

Tom Brown – both his nature books and personal biographies

Ray Bradbury – Martian Chronicles are the best for boys, IMO. Originally printed in Playboy, but since collected into books more likely to be found in the school library

102 Shehan November 21, 2009 at 7:36 pm

I’ve been trying to figure out which Knights of the Round Table I read as a boy forever and I finally did! Thanks for including this in the list– I was actually hoping that you put it on there for boys. Incidentally– the manly man with the manly mustache John Steinbeck had this to say of King Arthur and his knights which I absolutely agree with:

“My feeling of nobless oblige, and any thought I may have against the opressor and for the oppressed came from this secret book.”

103 Elizabeth November 21, 2009 at 7:49 pm

If you’re mentioning Heinlein, why not _Have Spacesuit, Will Travel_? A young man finds a way to get a spacesuit, and from there . . .

104 Edwin November 22, 2009 at 2:57 am

100 comments already, but I can’t help but add “By the Great Horn Spoon!” I loved that book growing up. A young boy and his butler sneak off to California during the Gold Rush to find their treasure. I loved that book growing up.

105 Edward November 22, 2009 at 8:40 pm

A recent discovery, which I would recommend for both boys and girls, is Arthur Ransome’s “Swallows and Amazons” series (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swallows_and_Amazons). There are 12 books in the series, written mostly in the 1930′s.

106 Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot November 23, 2009 at 4:48 am

Every single book by Roald Dahl is pure gold. Danny the Champion of the World and Fantastic Mr. Fox are fabulous too:)

107 parts November 23, 2009 at 3:04 pm

all quiet on the western front?
catcher in the rye?
the great gatsby?
it’s like this cat?
johnny tremain?

108 Brian November 23, 2009 at 4:18 pm

Wow–someone else remembers The Great Brain series? Man, I hadn’t thought of those in AGES. LOVED ‘EM!

Without reading all the other comments, I have to add that I enjoyed the “Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators” series better than the Hardy Boys, and pretty much any of Heinlein’s “juveniles” are ones I still re-read over and over again today.

109 Rob W November 24, 2009 at 10:26 pm

“And in the name of gender-neutrality, teachers are foisting books on boys that they simply do not like.”

I don’t think gender-neutrality plays too much of a role as to why boys don’t read – the majority of books ARE written for young boys. Trust me, it’s much, much harder to find a book for a young woman that treats her as intelligent, adventurous, and courageous than it is to find a similar book for a young man. Some boys simply won’t read a book without a male protagonist while girls are more likely to just appreciate a good story – female authors know this. Just ask Hinton, Lowry, Banks, and George. When J.K. Rowling began the Harry Potter books, she was a single mother with a young daughter – why are the books not about Harriet Potter?

Other than that minor quibble, great list. Many books on here my father enjoyed, I enjoyed, and now my kids do too.

110 Edward November 27, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Rumble Fish should be there for sure!

Also liked the Hitch Hiker Guide to the Galaxy at a young age even though you might miss some of the references..

111 Jeffro November 29, 2009 at 7:51 pm

Great list….Thanks for reminding me of My Side of the Mountain. Loved that book and am going to track it down again. Couple of of other suggestions:

Call it Courage by Armstrong Perry – flat out my favorite book until I was about 12 or 13.

A Day in the Life Of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Papillon by Henri Charriere – read it in the 7th grade when I bought it through the school book catalog. Led to some great conversations with my father and his seven brothers.

Tarzan of the Apes – Read the story and find out about the real Tarzan. The entire series is great and veers off into serious sci fi and fantasy territory. Pretty much anything by Edgar Rice Burroughs is great.


112 Ms. Yingling December 4, 2009 at 6:37 am

While this is a pretty good list, a lot of the older titles are a REALLY hard sell, at least at the middle school. Howard Pyle? The Chocolate War? I’ve had boys return these with a mistrustful gleam in their eyes. No Anthony Horowitz or Gordon Korman? Thanks for the list, though– it’s always good to have other opinions.

113 Carl in Charlotte December 7, 2009 at 4:51 pm

Has anyone mentioned The Yearling by Marjorie k. Rawlings? One the best coming-of-age and boy-and-animal books out there. And what about Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli? And the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, although new, deserve to be on every boy’s list.

114 Jason December 7, 2009 at 8:55 pm

No Ayn Rand?

115 matt82 December 10, 2009 at 12:58 pm

I started reading Louis Lamour when I was in 4th grade. They are great books and I even read the walking drum to my son while my wife was still pregnant with him!. He got to the point where he would start kicking and “sword fighting” as I put whenever I started to read it at nights!!!

116 Michael Bruce December 11, 2009 at 1:29 am

Martian Chronicles is number one. Maniac McGee is number two (even better for younger boys). And though its not fiction I really like 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens which really inspired me, taught me a lot and entertained me.

117 Michael Bruce December 11, 2009 at 1:31 am

Hatchet and Ender’s Game are absolutely essential too so thanks for including them.

118 Michael Bruce December 11, 2009 at 1:36 am

Hatchet and Ender’s Game are absolutely essential too so thanks for including them. Really, any Gary Paulsen books are excellent. And the Adventures of Doctor Doolittle will rock the socks off any boy, or person in general. The book, so vastly different in setting and quality, completely puts the movie to shame and doesn’t have a bunch of annoying innuendos and tawdry humor.

119 JB December 15, 2009 at 10:58 am

The first edition of the Boy Scouts Manual is available for free from Project Gutenberg here: http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/29558

120 Michael December 15, 2009 at 4:12 pm

I always got a kick out of the Encyclopedia Brown Series. Good young detective books and a little more readable than The Hardy Boys for younger kids.

121 John W. December 15, 2009 at 7:33 pm

I have to say that I love seeing the books that I loved as a kid on this list. The Chronicles of Narnia were my favorite. I’ve probably read them each at least five times. James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were two that I loved also. Roald Dahl had such a way with writing that made me feel like I was actually in the story. I wish young men would pick up books again and read. I think if those of who want to live as true men mentor the next generation to be real men, the future will be a good deal brighter.

122 Dave Altman December 18, 2009 at 5:36 pm

I didn’t see this one listed, but “Nick of Time” by Ted Bell is a very new book that was written to inspire adventure in young boys. My 11 year old son and myself really enjoyed the book. It is a good page turner.

123 Martin December 20, 2009 at 9:05 am

For Boys who love Baseball you have to try any books by Matt Christopher like the Home Run King.

If you like Hardy Boys you may like the Tom Swift books.

124 Norm January 2, 2010 at 1:10 pm

I’ve read most of these as a child, a lot of others that aren’t on the list, but we all have different influences.

I’m really surprised that The Hatchet was on the list. I thought that was the biggest waste of 48hrs I’ve ever had. Then again I was forced to put down The Hobbit and read it in grade 7. The thought that a 13 year old kid didn’t know how to survive by himself irritated me. I’d been spending weekends up in the woods behind my house since I was 10 and building fires since I was 7. The fact that it took him a week to figure out that you had to put the spear into the water first is what really got me though. It’s like the kid never took a science class or observed the world around him. And yes, 15 years later I still hold this resentment. The book irritated me that much.

125 John January 3, 2010 at 4:26 pm

The Space Trilogy by CS Lewis is awesome and has good Christian meaning.
-Out of the Silent Planet
-That Hideous Strength

126 Tasha January 9, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Wonderful mix of modern and classic books for boys. I look forward to turning to it when my 12-year-old is looking for his next read.

127 Robert Litwack February 2, 2010 at 5:40 pm

I would say that some of my favorites would be:
White Fang by Jack London.
The Earthsea Triology by LeGuin.
Later it became anything by Dean Koonts, Cussler and L’amour.

128 Jim Hutchings February 9, 2010 at 1:19 pm

I agree with the Louis Lamour post, the “Last of the Breed” is an amazing story of the adventure/survival type for any teenage boy. Also, Lamour’s shourt stories are excellent in the way that he truthfully protrays life in many aspects. Mainly, because he lived through many of the settings. “Education of a Wandering Man” is a great book for anyone to read that really had a hard time in school because he shows that not everything you learn in life is learned in school (as society would have you think, nowadays). Life is out there for learning, enjoy it.

129 Karel Warner February 21, 2010 at 2:26 am

i love the tarzan book its great babe xx]

130 RJay March 18, 2010 at 5:12 pm

I read “My Side of the Mountain” three or four times! Great book. I think I could read it again today and I’m 52 years old.

131 casey campbell April 5, 2010 at 2:33 pm

i appreciate your list. regarding c.s. lewis and the chronicles of narnia…so what if it is a christian allegory. jesus was about as manly as it gets. the dude took a beating, a roman flogging, and extreme body trauma that would have made any dude whimper like a girl scout….what’s more is that he didn’t have to, but chose to for the salvation of man. very manly if you ask me….

132 David Keys April 9, 2010 at 3:53 pm

You have many good listings, but should also include the Historical Fiction collection of G. A. Henty. These are now in public domain and can be obtained from Project Guttenberg or from Amazon.com as Kindle edition e-Books.

133 C. Wells April 22, 2010 at 1:47 am

Great list…but how can you have a list of books for boys and not have any books by G. A. Henty. Unthinkable!

134 Chris April 22, 2010 at 2:34 am

John Christopher’s “Tripods” series was all the rage back when I was in sixth grade:
The White Mountains, The City of Gold and Lead, and The Pool of Fire.
A great sci-fi adventure about growing up, camaraderie, and the ultimate sacrifice.
Also recommend Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree for similar reasons.

135 Bob Lazar April 22, 2010 at 2:41 am

Eh, sorry no booklist on a site with “manliness” in the title that lacks a single Hemingway novel is a sham. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? You mean you couldn’t have even mentioned “farewell to arms” or “death in the afternoon”? Needs more “manly” books.

136 Dabooda April 22, 2010 at 3:12 am

Notable omissions:
The Education of Little Tree, by Forrest Carter (on my personal list, that would be #1)
Alongside Night, by J. Neil Schulman
Wildside, Jumper, and Helm by Steven Gould
Red Planet and The Star Beast by Robert Heinlein
The Warrior’s Apprentice, and other Miles Vorkosigan novels by Lois McMaster Bujold
Ender’s Shadow and most of the other sequels to Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
The Once and Future King by T.H. White
Santiago, by Mike Resnick
Norstrillia, and The Best of Cordwainer Smith, by Cordwainer Smith
H.M.S. Ulysses, by Alistair MacLean

137 Beth White April 22, 2010 at 4:10 am

This may be a book list for boys, but it contains most of MY favorite books. I can’t believe it’s got The Thief of Always on it! I read that book out loud to my 6th and 7th graders over and over–always their favorite book. I also taught Ender’s Game to 9th graders. Now you’ve given me a few more to find and devour. The only one I agree is actually just a “boys” book is Lord of the Flies. I hate that book.

138 Jacob April 22, 2010 at 5:22 am

Wow. All 5 pages and not one G. A. Henty novel. I fondly remember reading Louis L’Amour’s western novels and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes mysteries. I also think Stephen Lawhead’s Pendragon Cycle is a better telling of the Arthur legend, although perhaps better for older readers.

139 Gene April 22, 2010 at 7:10 am

Robert Ruarke’s “The Old Man And The Boy” would be a great addition to your list. And the follow-up “The Old Man’s Boy Grows Older”. Thanks for the list.

140 Kate April 22, 2010 at 9:32 am

G.A. Henty wrote a very lengthy list of accurate historical novels especially for boys, ranging from the Punic Wars up through the late 1800′s. Also a genius new author, N.D. Wilson has published a trilogy that brings the magic of British authors like Tolkein and C.S. Lewis here to American boys through the main character, Henry York. The three titles are 100 Cupboards, Dandelion Fire, and Chestnut King. Which reminds me to mention N.D. Wilson’s first book, Leepike Ridge, the adventures of a 12 year old boy who inadvertently ends up stuck in a cave (the ordeal of which has a feel of Homer’s Odyssey). Which leads me to say that the Illiad and the Odyssey ought also to be on a boy’s reading list.

141 wak8b April 22, 2010 at 10:26 am

Against the Fall of Night (or The City and the Stars) by Arthur C. Clarke are great too!

142 clever-title April 22, 2010 at 1:10 pm

For those who think “Hatchet” or “My Side of the Mountain” are not relatable for urban or suburban boys now, “Slake’s Limbo” is a story similar to My Side in which a kid runs away to live in the subways of NYC.

143 Thor Weatherby April 22, 2010 at 1:13 pm

I feel compelled to add one more book to your excellent collection. ‘T-Model Tommy’ from Stephen W. Meader, had a great influence on my life during those periods when I was practicing entrepreneur. I date back to an era that includes the ‘Great Depression’, when there frequently weren’t any ‘all ready made jobs’ available.

144 Michael April 22, 2010 at 1:58 pm

This is a fascinating thread. Its introductory comments (“What’s the problem?”) are instructive to an old man like me. Part of the problem may be biological, i.e., today’s boys’ language skills develop slower that girls. Maybe it is sociological. Maybe boys see reading as a passive and thus sissy activity. Maybe boys lack male reading mentors-their librarians and teachers are often female, and it’s mom that reads to them. I wonder though.

I am in my early 70′s. I grew up in an era when, to use a cliche, “men were men.” WWII and Korea saw to that. But I learned to read by the time I was 5 years old. In fact, boys who couldn’t read were looked down upon by other boys. How could you know what was in the Sporting News or on that 78 RPM record label if you couldn’t read. When I wasn’t playing basketball, or football, or selling newspapers, I very often went to the local library.

Yes, the female librarian there recommended books, but she never forced any of them on me. (I liked her and thought she was cool because she smoked, always in the ladies room secretly, of course, never in the library proper. But I knew.) My parents watched what I read but never forced any books on me either.

Here are a few I sstill remember fondly. All are non-fiction works that I chose on my own to read. They are likely out of print (I understand Neider’s book was republished in 2000) and would be considered quaint by today’s standards.

High Conquest (The Story of Mountaineering) by James Ramsey Ullman. Great Shipwrecks and Castaways by Charles Neider. The Occident, and The Orient, both by the once famous but now forgotten explorer Richard Halliburton. Outdated? Perhaps. Spellbinding for a boy or a young man? Most definitely. Also, I read every issue of Popular Science and Popular Mechanics that I could “appropriate” from my older brothers.

Finally, a question: Great poetry is anything but unmanly, so shouldn’t some poetry be on this list? Probably not. It should be kept separate. But someday I would like to see a list of manly poems (or poets, or both) on this website. The WWI British poets would be a great starting point.

145 tom April 22, 2010 at 2:27 pm

1984. Animal Farm. Brave New World. The Sovereignty of God. The Last Kingdom. Bones of the Hills. The South Was Right. That Devil Forest (Gen. NB Forest) A Good Man is Hard To Find.

146 Jim April 22, 2010 at 3:10 pm

The Education of Little Tree–Forrest Carter. (He also wrote the story of Josey Wales–not for young boys; and also “Watch For Me on the Mountain,” a can’t-put-it-down book on Geronimo. Little Tree is a fantastic book for boys–growing up as a Cherokee.

More Indian stories:
“The Story Catcher” and “The Horse Catcher”–both for boys, by the great author Mari Sandoz, who wrote “Cheyenne Automn”–not for boys.

I loved James Willard Schultz’s books of his life among the Blackfoot:
“My Life as an Indian,” “Blackfeet and Buffalo,” “Why Gone Those Times?,” and many more.
And his novel, “The Quest of the Fish-Dog Skin,” is perfect for boys. He is a great story teller. He did what a boy would dream of: left his home among stuffy New Englanders and went to live with the Indians.

A lot of boys like the OZ series, which is an American classic.

147 Jim April 22, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Oops–that should be “Cheyenne Autumn,” of course.

148 Anarchist Accountant April 22, 2010 at 4:48 pm

Other than the tripe by Lupica, it’s a great list. Happy to see Calvin & Hobbes included.

149 Randy April 22, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Whole-heartedly agree about poetry. Robert Service’s poems about the Yukon during the goldrush (Cremation of Dan Magee, etc) are as manly as anything I’ve ever read.

My favorite books as a boy were Robinson Crusoe and The Count of Monte Cristo.

150 Scott April 22, 2010 at 8:33 pm

Great list. I’d add Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” as another great graphic novel. Batman! C’mon!

151 Kiran Venkatarao April 22, 2010 at 10:52 pm

I have read quite a few american author books.
of course everyone has their own fav list.
Is E.Hemmingway / Somerst M / or the amazing vet books of James Herriot included in this list.
Herriot has been my fav series which i treasure.
Is Good Earth type books too young for kids to read, I read it when i was about 13 and it did leave an impression.

Thanks for the book list, I will browse in my local library / Gutenberg.
signing off from half way around the world

152 John Jacques April 22, 2010 at 11:25 pm

I would have expected to see the Harry Potter collection from J.K. Rowling mentioned. She has been attributed to have had an extraordinary influence on reading, both for boys as well as girls since the first volume was published.

153 Lynette May 7, 2010 at 7:04 am

I don’t know what it was about Hemingway’s the Old Man and the Sea that got my son reading by himself, but apparently I couldn’t read it fast enough for him and so he took it over until he finished it, he was about 9 years old then.

Also V.S Reid, the Young Warriors was a favorite of mine, which I read to all three of my kids as soon as they were old enough to understand, then they read it again and again on their own. It is a coming of age, clever resistance of young boys, story of honesty, integrity, forgiveness and overcoming personal weakness that I loved. Also nice to see a different kind of hero – this time from the Caribbean.

154 Snoopy May 29, 2010 at 11:49 am

I’m a girl and I read The Graveyard book and loved it!!!! :)

155 Snoopy May 29, 2010 at 11:53 am

I also read the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, Eragon series, Indiana Jones series, THE FIRE WITHIN series, Fablehaven series, Harry Potter series, and The 39 Clues series. :)

156 Irish Joe June 20, 2010 at 8:49 am

I personally find non fiction writing more satisfying
I find the library or second hand bookshops are great refuges of interestingness in towns and cities .there are plenty of all sorts of age groups in second hand bookshops including young men and nice girls too and charity shops where you get great stuff for very little money , there are some gems there if you look diligently and hard enough
reading is a great way to relax and learn about the world and can be a great sorce of empowerment and education
in my local secondhand bookshop
there are plenty of ‘lads’ there hanging out talking ,playin chess or whatever
the library ios also a great place to find out whats happening in your local area
including other actiovities , groups and possibilities of education
my local also has dvds to borrow now
I got ‘ the magnificent seven ‘ recently
now that would be a movie to recommend to young men
I’m usually thrilled by the selection of books in secondhand shops
and the value for money is unbelievable, one visit can keep you goin’ for months
reading is definitley way to learn and relax
and it improves your ability to articulate what you want to say
your writing and oratory skills
I’d recommend this guys stuff for empowerment and self suffiency
he grew up without a father and a recoverted alcoholic but over came it and became a self made succcesful man and geat modern teacher
and after all the internet is about reading and writing anyway
reading is a cosier easier less stressed /pressurised way to study and learn
and there this social network for readers
worth checkin out
must be on my way
things to take care of elsewhere
take it easy
good luck everyone

157 Edward V. August 9, 2010 at 9:47 pm

I’ve started collecting books from both this list and the 100 Manly Books list.
Out of all the selected pieces I’ve read so far (about 10, considering I’m only 14), I must say that Ender’s Game found its way to becoming my new favorite.

These are great selections, and I hope to keep reading more of them and eventually finding a suggestion for them. Thanks.

158 Laura McDade August 20, 2010 at 10:53 pm

Great List! If you’re having trouble getting your son to read try the Alex Rider Series by Anthony Horowitz. My son couldn’t put these down and would request the next one as soon as he was done with one. The key to getting your kids to read is finding what genre they enjoy reading. As a rule my son reads tons of non-fiction stuff – trains, planes, cars, etc. When he was younger he hated fiction and never wanted to read. Thank goodness I figured out he loves non-fiction. Now he reads both and reads all the time!

159 Tara September 26, 2012 at 7:58 am

Thank you for this list. I think this is a great website for a progressive mother of an almost 14 year old son. He hates to read so he and I do a lot of reading together. This past Summer we read Howard Fast’s “April Morning” and it was phenomenal so I’m recommending it. We just starting reading “The Hobbit” which I think is essential before diving into “The Lord Of The Rings” trilogy. I had a friend suggest Arthur C. Clarke’s “Childhood’s End” but every time I go to borrow it from the library, it always seems to be checked out. Thank you again for the great list. I look forward to reading some of these books in the near future.

160 Matthew October 8, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Love the 50 books but you should also add the Mad Scientist Club, Its about a group of friends who go out and have amazing adventures, such as building their own Lock Ness monster and saving military pilots froma plane crash.

161 jeanie October 13, 2012 at 9:40 pm

My son has also loved all the Mad Scientist books.
Try reading your son a well annotated (best is a whole page of explanatory notes opposite every page of text) Midsummer Night’s dream or the Tempest. My son made me read Mdsummer over and over to him when he was 4 and we went to see 3 productions (the ballet is the most magical). Dive into Shakespeare when you son is young. I read a poem a night to my son who stated he doesn’t like poetry but then demands his poem every night. many great anthologies including The Oxford Book of children’s verse. there are a few great volumes.
We are on our 6th in his lifetime reading of The Wind in the Willows.
For little boys here’s a list: Farmer Boy by Laura ingalls wilder

Orlando the Marmalade Cat a fabulous series with pictures worthy of framing.
The B
Brambly Hedge series

Katie Morag and the Big Boy cousins and all the other Katie Morag books
Babu’s Song by stephanie stuvee-bodeen about a very poor boy in Tanzania who ca’t afford the uniform to go to school and sells toys him grandpa makes from trsh he finds…beautiful as are her other books.
Almost everything by patricia polacco and if he is behind in reading and feeling it you HAVE to read Thank You Mr Faulker about her own experiences with dyslexia. my Roton RedHeaded Brother, Thunder Cakes, Welcome comfort, the tree of the Dancing Goats etc
Five children and It by E. nesbitt and the sequels there to as well as The Treasure Seakers by her too.

My son and I listen to tons of fabulously well read books on CD on road trips such as the entire borrower series, greek myths and also would you believe “Great lectures Series” history 1500 to the present!

Books about “Becoming a man” are all books that enrich the spirit. What is a man? A tough guy only or an infinite treasure of profound and never ending deepening towards that which ennobles the heart.
Of course Winnie the pooh should not be forgotten!

162 Laurence October 21, 2012 at 7:11 pm

“The Oregon Trail” should be up here as well as “Treasure Island”. Great stories of pioneering and men in the wild.

163 Lawrence Binding November 15, 2012 at 9:08 am

Hi all

What a great resource for books my “I don’t want to read” boys might read. I’ve read many listed both in the original 50 and the comments list…and can add THE TROJAN WAR and THE ODDYSEY. I was about 11 or 12 when I read these books (Not Homer’s original of course)…and they just lit me up…especially the Trojan War. I wondered what it would be like to be Achilles or Hector …Paris struck me even then as effeminate…but still to steal the most beautiful woman in the world and cause a World War…WOW!!!!

164 Libin Daniel November 16, 2012 at 11:06 am

I think the Sherlock Holmes collection and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy might deserve a place in that list, too!

165 Dustin Baker November 16, 2012 at 11:07 am

So glad to Heart of a Champion on the list. It was just a random book I found at the book fair when I was younger but once I got into it I couldn’t put it down. One of my favorite books from my childhood. If you know a boy who loves baseball, I would recommend this as a great gift for Christmas!

166 PASunter November 16, 2012 at 12:31 pm

“Boy”, Roald Dahl’s autobiography is worthy of mention on the list. While James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are wonderful books, Boy gives a glimpse into the childhood that shaped such an imaginative and creative genius. Dahl is a great writer, and it helps to get a glimpse into his soul.

167 Roger December 4, 2012 at 8:36 am

I second PASunter’s suggestion of “Boy” from Roald Dahl and I’d add “Going Solo” (the second part of Roald Dahl’s autobiography) to it. My sons (10 and 11 at the time) adored them. “Watership down” was also a favorite. All three books are unusual in that they are equally compelling for adults and children.

168 April December 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Thank you!!! This is a list I know I will be returning to again & again!

169 Steve C January 24, 2013 at 6:03 pm

One of the best lists I’ve found, with many favorites.

About “Treasure Island,” you wrote “Stevenson insisted that there be no women in the book,” but in fact it was his stepson who insisted. As Stevenson wrote to a friend, “No women in the story, Lloyd’s orders; and who so blithe to obey?”

He also wrote, “If this don’t fetch the kids, why, they have gone rotten since my day,” and “Two chapters are written, and have been tried on Lloyd with great success; the trouble is to work it off without oaths. Buccaneers without oaths – bricks without straw. But youth and the fond parient have to be consulted.”

170 Silviu T February 11, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Was Sherlock Holmes on there? I don’t know but it’s definitely a must.

171 polo March 4, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Has anybody read a boy’s adventure story: Ransy Tansey and the Island of Gold, much like Treasure Island. You would need to be old to reply.

172 Staci Roberts March 6, 2013 at 9:40 am

I thought I was the only one who remembered Bellairs. I think his best series is The Letter, the Witch and the Ring. Still a great read for any age!

173 Diana April 19, 2013 at 10:36 pm

Thank you so much for this awesome list!! I have just spent some weeks putting all of your suggestions into our family’s homeschool curriculum book list, and I can’t wait to read the ones that I haven’t yet experienced along with our students. Thanks!!

174 James V June 30, 2013 at 9:58 am

Awesome list, thanks for sharing! I’d download these to my Kindle immediately, but the manlier thing to do would be to walk my boy to the library, check out actual hard copies, and stop at the park on the way back home.

175 Neil Green July 30, 2013 at 6:49 am

As a boy two books that I went back to right through High school were “King Solomon’s Mines” by H. Rider Haggard, and “Day of The Triffids” by John Wyndham. I think I read them both maybe 6 or 7 times. Animal Farm as well but I see that has already been mentioned. Great list and fantastic comments, now if you will excuse me I am off to buy a copy of “Hatchet” – man it’s been a LONG time since I read that.

176 damien August 10, 2013 at 5:56 pm

indian in the cupboard

177 Robert August 31, 2013 at 4:26 am

Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren

I’ve read it in English and Swedish. It has some dark themes, but it is captivating. Kids already wonder about the issues raised. This gives dads a way to discuss them.

178 Kyle September 25, 2013 at 8:46 am

I agree with the addition of Ray Bradbury. I didn’t read them when I was younger, but when my fiance taught Something Wicked This Way Comes I fell in love with his books. I would highly reccomend Something Wicked, The Illustrated Man, and The Martian Chronicles.

I also second The Count of Monte Cristo. It has everything: romance, prison escape, revenge.

179 Alex Bensky October 9, 2013 at 7:48 am

I see that someone has beaten me to the Heinlein juveniles. Some of the science is dated–”Between Planets” and “Space Cadet” take place in part in the jungles of Venus, for example. But they are still very good stories with engrossing characters (except for the first, “Rocket Ship Gallileo,” which can be safely skipped).

I’d also suggest John R. Tunis’s books, and not just the Brooklyn Dodger series. “Buddy and the Old Pro” and “The Iron Duke” also have good stories that present real life problems.

180 Rob November 15, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Non-Fiction! I work as a school librarian and so many boys are put off reading as they’re forced to read stuff – as one student so wonderfully described it: “not real life”. As a boy, and even now, I’m blown away by the experiences real people have gone through. Life sometimes is truly stranger than fiction.

181 Michael DeBusk November 16, 2013 at 3:59 pm

* The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien
* The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
* Iron John, by Robert Bly

182 Jake November 27, 2013 at 8:38 am

Starship Troopers and The Moon is Harsh Mistress by Robert A Heinlein. Both books are far better then Ender’s Game.

The Haymeadow by Gary Paulsen. A superb coming of age tale.

Any one of Philip K Dick’s collection of short stories.

183 James V January 20, 2014 at 6:50 pm

Thanks to AoM for all the inspiration! Can’t wait to pass these down to a new generation of young men who read!

184 S Govindkrishna January 23, 2014 at 10:07 am

One of my favorites is “Banner in the Sky”. It is an amazing story of a boy who wants to climb a mountain.

185 kglickman January 24, 2014 at 11:15 pm

Hatchet is definitely a great read;my son loved it. There’s another that could be boy or girl: Because of Winn Dixie…my son and I read this around age 10….beautiful and funny;a great book for kids who love animals. Huck Finn,in my opinion, is classic and a must read for all!

186 Dave Coyle January 25, 2014 at 11:24 am

I’m a bit surprised Starship Troopers wasn’t on there. That is a great work about being a soldier, being a man, learning to lead and depending on a team.

187 SteveM March 28, 2014 at 8:18 pm

I’d say:

Men of Iron by Howard Pyle is a great read.
Doyle wrote “Sir Nigel” and “the White Company”

All three are very values oriented. And great reads.

188 Janice Killian April 4, 2014 at 12:19 pm

The classics are the best! But for boys who aren’t into them like my son, try a book we just discovered called The Boogeyman From Planet Lackawanna. It’s a fun book for 10-12 year olds. A little R.L. Stein with a heart and an edge. Unfortunately, it appears to be only an e-book.

189 Mary Dalton April 8, 2014 at 11:43 am

Not sure anyone mentioned “Call It Courage” by Armstrong Sperry — one of the best adventure stories for young readers ever written. A young Polynesian boy who’s afraid of the sea leaves his home and travels to a deserted island to “find courage.” The island he comes to just happens to be where cannibals come to make their human sacrifices. It’s a fantastic book!

190 A. Riley April 11, 2014 at 6:10 am

My son loved INSECTA: Planet of the Ants (Book 1 – Zombie Nest) and I wanted to put it on your radar. This epic fantasy adventure is not your typical ‘wizards and dragons’ or ‘vamps and werewolves’—it is refreshing and out-of-the-ordinary! The story is for 11-14 year olds and perfect for a boy who loves science, bugs, war strategy, adventure, intrigue and suspense. It’s got armored ants, war beetles, fire ant super soldiers, slaver queens, exploding kamikaze carpenter ants, acid-spitting butterflies, alien landscapes, and lots of battles. But it is clean and has a strong educational undertone. At the end of each chapter there is a cool fact about ants; plus a website with links to images and videos about the insect world. One look at the cover and you’ll say, “Yep, that’s a boy book!” http://insectaplanetoftheants.wordpress.com/

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