Fiction for Men as Suggested by Art of Manliness Readers

by Brett & Kate McKay on May 21, 2013 · 281 comments

in Books, Travel & Leisure

Just over a year ago, we wrote a post on why men should read more fiction. I asked readers to suggest their favorite pieces of manly fiction in the comments so I could create a master “AoM Fiction for Men” list. We got a really good response, and we finally finished compiling the suggestions into a list. If you’re looking for some ideas on what to read this summer, check it out. The list has a nice mix of genres so you’re bound to find something that suits your tastes. I’ve added several of them to my own “to-read” list. If you have any more recommendations for books you think an AoM Man would enjoy, please share them in the comments, and we’ll add them to the master list. Enjoy!

American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Shadow Moon tries to rebuild his life after being released from prison, but gets caught up in a showdown between the old gods who came over to America with the country’s early immigrants and the new gods “of credit card and freeway, of Internet and telephone, of radio and hospital and television, gods of plastic and of beeper and of neon.” Musings about the role of technology in modern life and the meaning of death, set in the real and mythical American landscape.
Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. This long novel leaps between the story of a secret WWII Allied unit who try to keep the Nazis from discovering they have cracked their Enigma code, and the cryptanalysts’ grandchildren who seek to create a secure data haven in the modern age, and discover a far-reaching conspiracy in the process.
  A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Readers said that the Princess of Mars is much, much better than the blockbuster movie-version flop John Carter. This book is the first in the Barsoom series, consisting of ten novels, the first five of which, it should be noted, are available for free at Project Gutenberg. This sci-fi adventure is said to have inspired some of the science fiction greats like Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, and others.
  Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa. This historical novel is a fictionalized account of real-life Samurai warrior Miyamoto Musashi as he seeks to master not only the Way of the Sword, but the path to honorable, spirited manliness. Musashi is famous in Japan for being a master swordsman and also writing the philosophy/tactical work, The Book of Five Rings, which is still studied today.
  The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. This book received a ton of accolades when it was published in 2011, including being named in the NY Times Top Ten of the Year and Amazon’s Best Book of the Year. USA Today said this about it: “The Art of Fielding belongs in the upper echelon of anybody’s league, in this case alongside Bernard Malamud’s The Natural, Scott Lasser’s Battle Creek, and W.P. Kinsella’s Shoeless Joe.” I read this book earlier this year and really enjoyed it. It’s a coming-of-age story with baseball serving as the backdrop. One of the better modern novels I’ve read in a long time.
  Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. This well-known fantasy favorite was unsurprisingly recommended numerous times by readers. Follow Frodo Baggins and his trustworthy friend Samwise Gamgee and learn about friendship, loyalty, dedication to a good cause, and many other manly virtues. You’ll also find one of the wisest characters in literature in Gandalf. J.R.R. Tolkien had one of the greatest imaginations of his time and created an entire LOTR universe, complete with new languages, maps of various lands, and even histories of how these lands came to be. If you’re interested in some of the Middle-earth back story, get your hands on The Silmarillion.
  From Here to Eternity by James Jones. I read From Here to Eternity this year at my father-in-law’s suggestion. One of the best war novels I’ve read. The movie adaptation from 1953 happens to have made it onto our Top 100 Movies list, so be sure to check that out as well. Set in Hawaii, the novel is loosely based on author James Jones’ own experiences.
  Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. This is a behemoth of a book, coming in at over half a million words, but from what people say, the effort is well worth it. Wallace took the title from a line in Hamlet (another work that all men should read), and although he committed suicide in 2008, has lately become regarded as one of the more influential writers of the latter part of the 20th century. As this is his magnum opus, it’s a great place to start.
  The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carré. le Carré is considered the greatest spy novelist of all time. Check out his most lauded work and what is often called the greatest spy novel of all time, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. This particular novel was influential in informing the public about common Cold War espionage practices. Whereas James Bond novels and movies romanticize the world of spies, le Carre gives us brutal realism.
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. Many readers suggested checking out the work of Sir Walter Scott, who James Bowman called “the man who did the most to resuscitate honor for the modern era.” This work from 1820 is a great adventure story set in medieval times and deals with knighthood and chivalry. We also see appearances from Knights Templar and Robin Hood (Locksley, in this novel). What fella doesn’t want to read about that? Available for free as an ebook.
  Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry. This book was recommended to me by small town advocate, Uncle Buzz. Turned out to be one of my favorite books of all time. A book about the life and unrequited love of a rural barber named Jayber Crow. From his barber chair, he learns about listening, community, life’s tough questions, and much more. The book really made me want to move to the country to become a barber.
  World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks. This popular book is a fictional account of the zombie war, told from the point of view of a journalist who is conducting interviews many years later. It’s not so much blood and gore, but about the political and sociological ramifications of such a catastrophe. It’s set as a series of interviews, so it somewhat lacks a cohesive plot, but it’s still riveting. I’ve also heard the audio version of this is fantastic. You’ll want to read/listen to it before this summer’s release of the film version starring Brad Pitt.
  The Aubrey/Maturin Series by Patrick O’Brian. Reader Tom Smedely said this of the 20+ volume series: “Patrick O’Brian’s novels probe the mysteries of manliness. 20+ volumes starting with Master and Commander take us into a lost world of wooden ships and iron men. Even a patriotic American will find himself grieving the setbacks of the British navy during the War of 1812!” Even more awesome is that the series closely follows the heroics of real-life captain Thomas Cochrane.
  Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis. One of the best novels on what it means to get in touch with your inner Wild Man. The narrator is a young intellectual who is in love with his books. After a stinging encounter, he decides to leave his books behind for a while, and do some self-discovery. You’ll be dancing and shouting “Opa!” like Zorba by the end.
  All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren. This 1947 Pulitzer winner is one of the best pieces of political fiction ever written. It’s loosely based on the career of Louisiana governor Huey P. Long. Interestingly enough, the author said it was “never meant to be a book about politics.” Indeed, there are larger lessons about humanity to be learned, and this is a great example of how hubris can destroy a man.
  Independent People by Halldór Laxness. Reader Jordan explains this pick: “Iceland’s Laxness won the Nobel Prize in Literature the year after another great manly fiction writer, Hemingway. Independent People is his most important work about an Icelandic farmer who strives to be his own independent man when all else is against him. Laxness’ prose captures the harsh beauty of the Icelandic way of life and poetically blends myth and reality in this moving epic.”
  Legends of the Fall by Jim Harrison. You’ve seen the movie, now read the novella that it’s based on. Here’s what dannyb278 had to say about Harrison: “Nobody writes better concerning the 20th century male. Ignore the movie, the novella Legends of the Fall is one of the greatest works in modern American Fiction.”
  Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. I kicked off 2012 by reading this classic Western. It’s a new favorite of mine, and I can’t wait to read it again in a few years. Another Pulitzer winner here, this is the third installment of the Lonesome Dove series of four novels (although the first published). This story of some retired cattle drivers carries lots of insight on what it means to be a man (look for a post in the future on that very theme!).
  Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. This oft-suggested sci-fi classic is supposedly one of the funniest books ever written. It’s been on my to-read list for while. Think I’ll get to it next. This wildly successful franchise includes six novels, video games, stage acts, TV series, movies, comic books, etc. Must have somethin’ going for it!
  Masters of Rome Series by Colleen McCullough. If you’re a Roman history buff, reader Evan M. suggests checking out the Masters of Rome series. It chronicles the end of the Roman empire and the lives and careers of Gaius Marius, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Pompeius Magnus, and Gaius Julius Caesar. There are seven books in the series.
  For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. Naturally, several readers suggested “anything by Hemingway.” If you’ve never read Hemingway, start with For Whom the Bell Tolls. In the novel, we follow the experiences of a young American dynamiter in the Spanish Civil War. Much of it is pulled from Hemingway’s own experiences as a journalist reporting on the war.
  A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. Thanks to HBO, many gents are now discovering this series. A Game of Thrones is the first of the five-part series (with more coming) which is a classic fantasy epic set in a world invented by Martin. The series is known for killing off main characters to keep you on your toes.
  Blood Meridian or The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Lots of commenters said, “Anything by Cormac McCarthy,” and I couldn’t agree more. Blood Meridian explores the violence between Native Americans and the white settlers in the 19th century, while The Road follows a father and son as they walk through a post-apocalyptic America. Both terrifying and touching — one of the only books that has ever made me cry.
  What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver. This collection of short stories by Raymond Carver center on uneducated, seemingly normal American people. They have problems, and they aren’t all shiny and polished. His writing is often compared to Hemingway’s in its simplistic style. Anything compared to Papa is good enough for me!
  Raise a Holler by Jason Stuart. If you’re a Southern gent, Nick suggests Raise a Holler. According to Jedidiah Ayers, “It’s, more or less, The Hobbit re-imagined as a series of southern-fried crime misadventures.”
  Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett. While it’s a young adult fantasy series, several people suggested the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. Its 39 novels will keep you busy for a very long time, and there are supposedly more to come. As the title suggests, this world is a flat disc that is set upon the backs of four elephants. The books often focus and speak to a specific theme, such as religion, business, current events, etc. They also parody many common elements and cliches of fantasy and sci-fi literature.
  The Plot Against America and American Pastoral by Philip Roth. Reader Hal said, “Philip Roth is good and comes with the added benefit that you can then say you have read Philip Roth. The Plot Against America is a good way in.” American Pastoral won a Pulitzer for its portrayal of life in the Lyndon Johnson years, and The Plot Against America is an alternate history novel in which FDR is defeated by Charles Lindbergh in the 1940 election.
  The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene. Reader Caleb S. suggested anything by Graham Greene. “He is a twentieth-century writer of novels and short stories, and his works are filled with men faced with complex moral conflicts. All of his novels are both entertaining and literary, which is a rarity these days, and perfect for someone looking to begin a fiction-reading habit.” Check out The Power and the Glory, which deals with the power struggle between the Roman Catholic church and the Mexican government, to get started with Mr. Greene.
  The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. Several readers suggested Raymond Chandler. If you like detective stories, you can’t go wrong with this master of the genre, who is praised as being the most lyrical of crime writers, as well as having some of the best dialogue in the genre. The Big Sleep (his first) is a favorite of mine.
  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. My favorite of all time. Read it again (yes, I’ll assume you’ve already read it at least once) before you go see DiCaprio take on the iconic role of Jay Gatsby at the movies. We learn about the fallacy of the American dream in this short 1920s classic.
  Deadwood by Pete Dexter. Marc has something in common with my dad. They both recommend western author Pete Dexter’s Deadwood, a fictional narrative of Wild Bill’s last days.
  Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. Reader Tom G. likes sci-fi writer Robert Heinlein. “His characters have, in a very large part, defined what I conceptualize ‘manliness’ to be.” If you’re a man who likes to think deep, Tom suggests Stranger in a Strange Land. It’s considered to be essential sci-fi, and tells the story of a Martian human who comes to Earth in early adulthood.
  Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Several recommendations for Ender’s Game. I finally got around to reading it this year. It’s a kid’s book, but it tackles some pretty adult themes. Another sci-fi classic, this novel is set during Earth’s future, when kids are trained for battle in preparation for an expected attack. It is still suggested reading in many military organizations, and has ballooned into a series of 12 novels and 12 short stories.
  David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. Dickens had several votes, and is widely considered the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. That means you should read his works. You can’t go wrong with David Copperfield, which Dickens himself called his favorite. It’s a semi-autobiographical work that tells the life story of a boy who grows up in poverty in London, but escapes his miserable childhood to be become a successful novelist. Available free as an ebook.
  Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield. A fictional account of the Spartan 300. Manly. This book is a military favorite and is taught at West Point, the Naval Academy, VMI, and Marine Corps Basic School. If those guys read it, so should you.
 HowFewRemain(1stEd) Southern Victory Series by Harry Turtledove. Gabe recommended alternate history writer Harry Turtledove. Find out what would have happened had the South won the Civil War, all the way through 1940, in the eleven novels of the Southern Victory Series. Hint: The world is a very different place; your globe would not have the same boundaries.
  Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling. Hearty recommendations for anything by Rudyard Kipling, author of the manliest poem ever written, “If.” Most people suggested starting off with Kipling’s Captains Courageous. The story tells of a wealthy young boy’s transition to manhood after being saved from drowning by a fishing boat in the North Atlantic. Fun Fact: This novel was written while Kipling was living in Vermont, which is our favorite vacation spot. Free as an ebook.
  Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. An insomniac finds relief in a secret club. No explanation needed for this one. If you’ve seen the movie, it’s time to read the book. It’s also interesting to note the author’s intent in writing: “…bookstores were full of books like The Joy Luck Club and The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and How to Make an American Quilt. These were all novels that presented a social model for women to be together. But there was no novel that presented a new social model for men to share their lives.”
  Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky. Reader Jake Warner suggested Russian post-apocalyptic novel Metro 2033: “It’s a bit hard to find in English, but Dmitry Glukhovsky’s Metro 2033 is an excellent post-apocalyptic novel.” The name comes from survivors of a nuclear holocaust retreating to metro train tunnels, in which they begin their new way of life. The book has spawned a very popular video game as well.
Water Music by T.C. Boyle. Water Music follows the wild adventures of Ned Rise, thief and whoremaster, and Mungo Park, a Scottish explorer, through London’s seamy gutters and Scotland’s scenic highlands, to their grand meeting in the heart of darkest Africa. Sounds good.
  The Rediscovery of Man by Cordwainer Smith. Kent said everyone should check out the The Rediscovery of Man, a collection of sci-fi short stories by Cordwainer Smith. “His science fiction explores the nature of humanity after mankind has spread out among the stars and begun to diverge.”
  His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. Grumpy Typewriter (fantastic pseudonym, by the way) is a fan of the His Dark Materials trilogy. You’ve probably seen the movie the book inspiredThe Golden Compass. Grumpy Typewriter says the books are much better. Always are, always are. The epic trilogy is a coming of age story of two kids who travel through a series of alternate universes, and is said to be a re-telling and repudiation of John Milton’s classic, Paradise Lost.
  Lord Jim and Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Several readers suggested anything by Joseph Conrad. ”He speaks to the masculine in all of us to some extent,” said commenter Graham. If you’ve already read Heart of Darkness, try reading Lord Jim. There are also expanded versions of Heart of Darkness based on Conrad’s notes if you just can’t get enough. Conrad’s works are available free as ebooks.
A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor. A few suggested Flannery O’Connor, a female author known for her Southern Gothic style. Her stories are pretty raw and highlight complex ethical and moral questions. For a good sampling of her work, pick up the collection of her short stories entitled, A Good Man Is Hard to Find.
  The Sportswriter by Richard Ford. This is a novel about a failed novelist turned sportswriter who experiences an existential crisis after the death of his son. Its sequel, Independence Day, won a Pulitzer, and there is also a third installment.
  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. You might be surprised, but several readers suggested Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. LG, a ninth-grade English teacher, said this about the book: “Although all of Austen’s novels are great, I think Pride and Prejudice especially is worth a man’s time to read for its examples of good, noble, self-sacrificing men from every social class, as well as its counter-examples. On the ‘bad guy’ side, you’ve got a womanizing manipulator, a father who shirks his duties and lives to regret it, a pompous moral weakling, and a man whose arrogance blinds him to his own faults.” If you still think Austen is too girly for your tastes, Chris suggests Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
  The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett. Several recommendations for Hammett’s Sam Spade detective novels. Couldn’t agree more. Start off with The Maltese Falcon. If you need convincing, the New York Times calls Hammett the dean of the school of detective fiction.
  Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. A book that begins with a boxing match and explores what it means to be an independent man when you feel pushed to conform to others’ stereotypes and expectations.
  Dune by Frank Herbert. Several readers suggested books by Frank Herbert for those who love sci-fi. Dune is a good place to start. Set in the far future, the Dune universe finds planets controlled by individual noble houses. The story focuses on the Atreides family as they gain control of a planet with a very valuable commodity. Although not confirmed, it is said to be the bestselling novel of all time in its genre. Like many sci-fi series, prequels and sequels have been added both by Herbert and others for a total of well over 20 novels.
  The Richard Hannay Series by John Buchan. Trev recommended the Richard Hannay series. “They were written during and about WWI and are great adventure stories.” There are five novels that star Richard Hannay, the first three of which are available for free as ebooks.
  The Stand by Stephen King. Lots of people suggested Stephen King, and The Stand got several recommendations. Find a more recent, uncut version. At first publishing, King’s editor forced him to cut nearly 400 pages. You’re getting into a 1,200-page book, but seeing the literal fight of good vs. evil in post-apocalyptic America is well worth it. His non-horror books are good too (e.g. The Green Mile and Shawshank Redemption).
  The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl. A novel about a young lawyer who tries to solve the mystery of Edgar Allan Poe’s death. All of Pearl’s novels deal with some kind of literary mystery. So if you like classic literature and modern mysteries, his works will be a win-win.
  The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. If you like learning about the Civil War, then you can’t go wrong with The Killer Angels. You’ll get to experience the Battle of Gettysburg from the point of view of General Lee. General Norman Schwarzkopf called it “the best and most realistic historical novel about war that I have ever read.”
  Call of the Wild by Jack London. Lots of hearty recommendations for Jack London. He wrote some pretty manly stuff, and his life is just as interesting as his prose. You probably read The Call of the Wild in middle school, but it won’t hurt to read it again. Also try White Fang and The Sea-Wolf. All of London’s works are available for free in the public domain.
  The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson. “The Lottery” is one of the most haunting things you’ll ever read, and a must-read as perhaps the most well-known short story in American literature.
  The Professional by W.C. Heinz. A book about boxing that’s more than a book about boxing. It’s considered one of the greatest sports novels ever written. Ernest Hemingway himself said it was “the only good novel I’ve ever read about a fighter, and an excellent novel in its own right.”
  The Jack Reacher Series by Lee Child. If you like thrillers, several readers suggested the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child. Reacher is an ex-MP and drifts around the country with not much more than his heavy-duty boots and a pack. There are currently 17 novels, with another due out this summer.
  Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. A story about the perils of obsession. I think men relate to this book so much because we have a tendency to put up the blinders like old Ahab. It’s also frequently referenced in culture, and is regarded as one of the great novels of all time. For those reasons alone you should have this book in your bank of cultural knowledge.
  Hondo by Louis L’Amour. Several suggested “anything by L’Amour.” The man cranked out Western novels like a machine. Granted, his books aren’t Pulitzer material, but they’re definitely enjoyable and pretty darn manly. Great for road trips. Hondo is one of L’Amour’s most well-known novels. But with over 100 other works, you can stay busy for a good long while.
  The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell. James recommends the Warlord Chronicles. It’s a trilogy about how King Arthur became a great warlord of Britain, and eventually brought peace and unity to the nation as they battled other foreign armies.
  The Leopard and the Cliff by Wallace Breem. Alex said this about The Leopard and the Cliff: “It’s about a British soldier in turn-of-the-century Afghanistan. Duty, honor, loyalty, courage under fire — powerful stuff that’s about as manly as you can get.”
  A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving. Apparently this book inspired the movie Simon Birch. Our narrator is set in the present and telling the story of his childhood with his best friend, Owen Meany, as they grew up in New Hampshire. We also get themes of religion, social justice, and fate. Not too shabby. Irving also wrote The Cider House Rules, which turned into another popular movie.
  The Corps Series by W.E.B Griffin. Several suggested The Corps series, which includes 10 novels for your indulgence. It follows a tight-knit cast of Marines in the WWII and Korean War years. As would be expected of a series about the marines, the ideas of sacrifice, honor, and brotherhood come through in a major way.
  Safely Home by Randy Alcorn. For you Christian gents, Randy recommends Safely Home. It’s about the friendship between two Harvard roommates, one American and one Chinese, who reconnect in present-day China after 20 years. 100% of the proceeds for his books go towards missions work.
  The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. Alexandre Dumas got a manly vote of confidence from several commenters. The Count of Monte Cristo is a good place to start. It’s an adventure story primarily concerned with themes of hope, justice, vengeance, mercy, and forgiveness. At around 1,500 pages, prepare yourself.
  One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. It’s about a single day of a prisoner in a 1950s Soviet labor camp. It was a major literary event in Russia, as it opened people’s eyes to the horror of Stalinist camps in a way that had never been so openly done before.
  The Rigante Series by David Gemmell. If you like fantasy, Jamie suggests checking out the Rigante series. It includes four novels published between 1999 and 2002. One reviewer on Amazon describes it perfectly: “The main characters are typical Gemmell: passionate, resourceful and proud. Full of revenge and destiny, envy and greed. Gemmell’s plots often revolve around simple passions and motivations. Not one dimensional, but just driven by basic human nature.”
  Magician by Raymond E. Feist. Mark Sweeny said this about Magician: “The best fictional read I had had is Magician by Raymond E. Feist. It was recommended to me by a chance conversation with the man sitting next to me on a long flight from the U.K. to America. I took a chance and read it, and I was not disappointed. I don’t think you will be either. Go on, take a chance!” The story is about Pug, an orphan boy who becomes the apprentice of a magician. As aliens invade their world, Pug gets caught up in the battle. This novel is the first part of a trilogy, and is often published in two parts: Magician: Apprentice and Magician: Master.
  The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Lots of recommendations for Dostoevsky. The Brothers Karamazov seemed to be the most suggested novel to start off with. Its Amazon description says it better than I can: “Three brothers, involved in the brutal murder of their despicable father, find their lives irrevocably altered as they are driven by intense, uncontrollable emotions of rage and revenge.” This was Dostoevsky’s final novel, and was intended to be an epic series, but he died four months after publication.
  King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard. Several said, “Anything by Haggard.” He was one of the best adventure writers of all-time. King Solomon’s Mines is a classic. Tromp through Africa and find, as the title suggests, King Solomon’s fabled treasure. Haggard supposedly wrote this piece over the course of just a few months because of a wager with his brother. Available free as an ebook.
  Day of War by Cliff Graham. Day of War is a fictional account of King David’s epic battles that are recorded in the Bible in 2 Samuel 23 and 1 Chronicles 11. I read this a few months ago and enjoyed it.
  Sword of Honour Trilogy by Evelyn Waugh. Joe Bones had this to say about the Sword of Honour trilogy: “I cannot recommend Evelyn Waugh enough. His Sword of Honour trilogy is a complex, insightful and hilarious study of a man’s motivations in war. It is solidly rooted in the temporal but illustrated by the spiritual. It also features an exploding portable toilet and a one-armed Brigadier with an eye patch…”
  The Complete Chronicles of Conan by Robert E. Howard. thserry likes the Chronicles of Conan. “Most people write off Conan as being a silly Arnold movie, however, the original stories are masterpieces. The stories consist of everything from short 3-page (‘Frost Giant’s Daughter’) stories to full novels (Hour of the Dragon). My favorite of all the stories is ‘The Tower of the Elephant.’ Beautiful works, and life lessons on being your own man.”
  Joe Ledger Series by Jonathan Maberry. If you like zombies, and plenty of people do these days, you’ll like the Joe Ledger series. Start off with Patient Zero. The series currently has four installments, with three more planned through 2015.
  The Trilogy by Henryk Sienkiewicz. Harland likes anything by Henryk Sienkiewicz. “His works, especially The Trilogy, are fantastic novels of pride, repentance, honor, and epic love stories all set in the time when Poland was a democracy and set upon from outside powers.” Available free as ebooks.
  Heaven Has No Favorites by Erich Maria Remarque. A novel by the same guy who wrote All Quiet on the Western Front. It’s a story of passion and love with the backdrop of automobile racing.
  Mitch Rapp Series by Vince Flynn. The Mitch Rapp series follows a CIA assassin who focuses on thwarting Middle Eastern terrorist attacks on the U.S. Like Jack Bauer, Rapp is often willing to take extreme measures that go beyond allowable protocol. There are currently 14 Mitch Rapp novels.
  Shane by Jack Shaefer. Gary recommended anything by Jack Shaefer for those who like Westerns. Shane is good novel to start off with, and focuses on a mysterious gunslinger who arrives into town to help out a group of homesteaders in 19th century Wyoming. It’s a classic struggle for land and honor in the wide open expanses of the west. A great film too.
  Sum of All Fears by Tom Clancy. Several commenters recommended anything by Tom Clancy. You’ve probably seen the movies and played the video games based off his work. It’s about time you read the novels. Great summertime reading. The Sum of All Fears is about a 20-year-old lost nuclear warhead that gets reconstructed by terrorists and set to be detonated at the Super Bowl. Can hero Jack Ryan save the day? You’ll have to find out yourself.
  The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy. A few suggested The Scarlet Pimpernel. It’s about a disguised superhero living in the aftermath of the French Revolution. This novel inspired the masked superhero genre and ultimately led to the likes of Zorro and Batman. Available for free as an ebook.
  2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke. Lots of recommendations for the works of sci-fi great Arthur C. Clarke. 2001: A Space Odyssey is a classic (and a darn good movie). The movie and book were created in conjunction, with the book actually being released after the movie. A manned spacecraft is sent to Saturn to investigate an ancient mystery. The crew, however, must deal with the self-aware HAL 9000 robot in order to achieve their goals. Themes of technological dependency, nuclear war, and space exploration in general are heavy here.
TheAlchemist The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Journey with a young man through Egypt who is searching for treasure. Ultimately, the treasure he’s seeking ends up being much more valuable than gold. Learn about accomplishing your greatest dreams and how gold isn’t as valuable as it may seem. This allegorical tale has been translated into over 50 languages, a rarity.
Ludlum_-_The_Bourne_Identity_Coverart The Bourne Trilogy by Robert Ludlum. Jason Bourne is about as manly as it comes on the screen. He’s even more so in the books. The action and intrigue never stops as Jason Bourne tries to figure out who he is, and why several different groups of people are trying to eliminate him. That’s a recipe for great reading. The series started with three novels, but has been continued on by a new author with an additional seven novels. I’ve only read the originals, so I can’t vouch for the new ones.
AlasBabylon(1stEd) Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank. SG from the AoM community has this to say about it: “Read it in High School and I have gone back to it over the years. It is about surviving a nuclear war in the late 50s, based on what was out there then and what was ‘known.’ It is a good book even if some of it looks dated now. The hero really becomes a man in the course of leading his family, and later the town.”
DaVinciCode Robert Langdon Series by Dan Brown. Several recommendations for this uber-popular and also controversial series of books. Langdon is a professor who ends up in some ancient mysteries, mostly involving religious themes. The Da Vinci Code is the most well known, but start with Angels & Demons, the first of the series. The fourth novel, Inferno, came out this month and revolves around Dante’s Inferno.
Early_Autumn Early Autumn by Robert Parker. This one got a couple recommendations. A detective is charged with looking after a boy who is mired in a custody battle. We see what a true mentorship can look like, and how important role models are for children. There’s some detective stuff in there as well.
James-Cooper-The-Last-Of-The-Mohicans Leatherstocking Tales by James Fenimore Cooper. This pentalogy is best known for its second installment, The Last of the Mohicans, which takes place during the French and Indian War in which France and Great Britain battle for control of the North American colonies. Available for free as ebooks.
425px-Jurassicpark Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. The movie that won three Oscars pales in comparison to the book that spawned it. All of Crichton’s novels are known for their heavy scientific research that often make the outlandish seem possible. Crichton, sadly, died much too young and won’t be able to give us any more novels. Start with Jurassic Park (which has some wild twists and turns that you don’t see in the movies) and read all of his other novels as well, which range from Viking lore to global warming.
TheShadowOfTheWind The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. A young boy is taken by his father into an old library of forgotten and lost-in-time books that have been preserved by a select few. The young boy is allowed to select one book and take care of it for life. You get a story within a story as you also get to read parts of the book the boy selected.
tumblr_lodi733lXy1qg79p6o1_400 Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis. Lewis is more well-known for The Chronicles of Narnia, but I’ve always heard rave reviews about his Space Trilogy, where he takes a stab at sci-fi. Jump from Mars, to Venus, and back to Earth again. One reviewer likened it to a combination of Tolkien (for creating an imagined reality) and Stephen King’s The Stand (for its portrayal of good vs. evil). Not too shabby!
n26567 The Four Feathers by A.E.W. Mason. Learn about redemption when a young, cowardly soldier quits the army but redeems himself through acts of courage. As with any good adventure novel, there’s also a gal involved. Available for free as an ebook.
high-country-333w High Country by Willard Wyman. A good friend told me this about it: “High Country takes readers back in history to a time when men could still explore the mysteries of America’s rich natural lands. The story follows the life Ty Hardin, who learns the trade of packing in the Montana Rockies from a seasoned mentor, and in the process, evolves from boy to man. This book is for any man who appreciates the tradition of hard work, exploration, and enjoys stories of America’s expansion into The West.”
Fall_of_Giants Fall of Giants by Ken Follett. This is the first part of Follett’s epic Century Trilogy. Winter of the World came out last year, with the third installment slated for 2014. At 1,000 pages each, it’s quite a ride. Fall of Giants starts in pre-WWI Europe and takes us all the way through the war while following a cast of unrelated characters who end up crossing paths in various ways. Beyond being just entertaining fiction, you get a real history lesson of World War I, and how folks from each side were likely feeling. Great read.
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. Another spot-on recommendation from Uncle Buzz and a personal favorite of both Kate and I. When 11-year-old Rube’s older brother goes on the lam, Rube and his father and sister set out in search of him and must decide what to do when they find him. Full of clever references to historical and literary characters, and beautifully and almost magically written, the book touches on faith, family, and fatherhood and will stay with you for a long time after you read it.

{ 281 comments… read them below or add one }

201 Zach P May 24, 2013 at 6:37 am

I enjoy the titles, however, how can a top list of fiction leave out both Vonnegut and Bradbury (especially his Fahrenheit 451)? If we want books that make us question our own path as well as the nature of man both those two need added. Still, thanks for the good suggestions. Many sound quite appealing.

202 Drew B May 24, 2013 at 8:16 am

No James Crumley or Hunter S?
The Last Good Kiss is a must read and The Rum Diary is my go to summer read every year.

203 Jeff C May 24, 2013 at 9:18 am

The Modern Library 100 Best Novels is my reading guide (google it). Many of these novels can be complimented by Yale Courses on youtube. The lectures on Blood Meridian were incredible.

204 Tim May 24, 2013 at 10:44 am

The Bob Lee Swagger series by Stephen Hunter is another great series. Most people know of it by the movie Shooter with Mark Wahlberg. All really great reads.

205 Mike K May 24, 2013 at 10:54 am

The Road by Cormac McCarthy may be one of the best novel I’ve read on men. Not the boys or self absorbed narcissists of today, but a father desperate to fulfill his obligations to his son in the worst of conditions and weighing the implications of his sacrifice. Also, athough it is not fiction, Louie L’Amour’s Autobiography “Confessions of a Wandering Man” is an excellent study of how to make ready part of the fabric of your life. He read hundreds of books in pockets of time, between high adventures overseas and working back breaking jobs.

206 Jon May 24, 2013 at 11:00 am

They showed us the TV Movie version of “The Lottery” in my 10th grade English class. To this day it still gives me the Heebie Geebies watching it.

207 Rex L. May 24, 2013 at 11:50 am

I would like to add THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH by Phillip K Dick. If read with the right frame of view (nature of God, never stopping to look for pleasure) it can be quite terrifying

208 KENT May 24, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Any story by author G.A. Henty

209 Todd May 24, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Lots of great choices, and I have read many of them.

I would also add to it The Hornblower Series by C. S. Forester, The Plainsman series by Terry Johnston, Time Enough For Love by Heinlein, Dracula by Stoker.

210 Ken May 24, 2013 at 4:06 pm

“Tros of Samothrace”, or just “Tros’, by Talbot Mundy-the best historical fiction I have read. Set in the time of Julius Caesar’s attempt to invade Britain, the protagonist is Greek warrior-mystic Tros. About a thousand pages, it was published in multiple paperback volumes in the 70s or 80s. Out of print I believe. Also Kenneth Roberts historical fiction set around the time of the American Revolution, particularly “Arundel”, about Benedict Arnold’s expedition to Quebec. “The Death Ship” by B. Traven.

211 minuteman May 24, 2013 at 4:13 pm

You have one Bernard Cromwell book on the list but all the rest are just as good.

Somerset Maugham’s “Of Human Bondage”

212 Vincent Pomo May 24, 2013 at 6:47 pm

It sounds like we might need a part 2 to this fantastic list…

how about Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand? It’s one of the best (non-fiction) stories I’ve ever read about beating the impossible odds, and sheer willpower to not only live, but to live without harboring all of your past demons.

213 Nathan May 24, 2013 at 7:49 pm

Well done on this seemingly impossible list you’ve compiled Bret. I was pleased as punch to see Peace Like a River bringing up the rear. Probably my all time favorite novel. I grew up with Lief’s son and family. They’re pretty amazing. Well done and keep up the great work.

214 Phil Demeter May 24, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Looking through this list gets you jazzed about wanting to read :)

215 Matt D May 24, 2013 at 11:14 pm

What about Catch 22?

216 Alexander May 24, 2013 at 11:49 pm

I can’t believe The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand is not on the list. Of all manly stories, that is THE one.

217 Crosse May 25, 2013 at 6:47 am

No fiction list is complete without the Three Greats of science fiction. I see you added two of them but you’re still missing Asimov!
Also Arthur Conan Doyle, Vonnegut, Wells, Jules Verne, JK Rowling (it is actually great), Oscar Wilde, philip k dick, just to name a few.

For those who like sci fi, gollancz SF Masterworks series is amazing (they also have one for fantasy).

218 W. Boerée May 25, 2013 at 10:02 am

I’ve read all of the Lord of the Rings books when I was 12, just started reading it again after reading the Silmarilion. It’s great reading it again and with a better understanding of the English language (I’m not a native speaker).
The books of the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’-serie are an amazing read aswell, although the last 2 books aren’t as good as book 1, 2 and 3.

219 Joshua May 25, 2013 at 4:10 pm

So glad to see “Jayber Crow” and the Aubrey/Maturin series on here…two of my favorites.

220 Steve May 25, 2013 at 5:03 pm

The list could still use more of Kurt Vonnegut. Most people are familiar with Slaughterhouse Five, but so many other novels are worth reading as well. I beleive S5 made the previous list.

I’m glad to see the Hitchhiker’s guide made the list as well. One of my favorite series of all time.

221 Wm May 25, 2013 at 6:15 pm

The characters mentioned in the Masters of Rome post existed at the end of the Republic rather than at the end of the Empire. Small editorial matter.

222 Greg May 25, 2013 at 6:38 pm

@danny-I am aware that this is a book list compiled from reader suggestions. The original article gathering comments on ‘why to read fiction’ and not a different book list, from what I understand. For example, The Great Gatsby is represented here and in the “100 Essential Books for a Man’s Library” article, so I think there was the opportunity for representing literature more strongly, if we the readers had had a mind to do so. For what it’s worth, my girlfriend reads mostly critically-acclaimed modern fiction novels, but often stops midway through because of frustrations with poor quality. I rarely have that problem with literature.

I think those of us who wanted more literature are just trying to express the disappointment that there is not enough time in life to read all of the books you would like. Given limited time (and patience) for fiction, why read anything but the best?

223 Phillip Shuart May 25, 2013 at 9:13 pm

The works of Mickey Spillane

224 Alan May 26, 2013 at 12:55 am

The Godfather?

225 Richard May 26, 2013 at 6:12 am

“True Grit”. The latest movie was fantastic, but the book is on another level. It is tough, witty and touching and written brilliantly. Every man should own a copy.

226 Zack F May 26, 2013 at 11:43 am

It’s not fiction, but “Lone Survivor” by Marcus Luttrell is a must read.

227 Mark DelMaramo May 26, 2013 at 2:57 pm

A fine list here, and I would add three:
1. “Edwin Mullhouse: The Life and Death of an American Writer 1943-1954 by Jeffrey Cartwright.” That’s the whole title of this novel by Steven Millhauser (1972) which celebrates a friendship of opposites, sort of like ” A Separate Peace.” It is also a walk down memory lane for us older men and our awkward attempts at being 3rd grade Valentinos.
2. Anything by the English humorist P.G.Wodehouse, whose books about Bertie Wooster and Jeeves are laugh out loud funny but present a clear picture of what was expected from a man during the Edwardian period: You dressed for dinner, you stood up when a lady entered the room, and you learned to keep a stiff upper lip. Wodehouse’s golf stories featuring the “Oldest Member” are timeless.
3. No list couls possibly be complete without Arthur Conan Doyle–Sherlock Holmes, of course, and Professor Challenger, and others. Stories simply about the time when men were men.

228 Matt Harper May 26, 2013 at 4:13 pm

I see a critical omission – To Kill A Mockingbird. There is no better model for true manhood than the character of Atticus FInch. His heroic defense of a black man in the deeply racial south of the early 20th century shows how true men face the challenges of manhood that cannot be solved with a fist or a gun. A must read.

229 josh May 26, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Where is Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged? Hello, there is only one book that has sold more copies than this , and that would be The Bible!!

230 Jesse Wolf May 27, 2013 at 12:57 am

I know Stephen King got a nod here already and maybe it’s not the best place to start (better actually if you’ve read several of his other books, including The Stand), but his Dark Tower series of books cuts an epic swath across his entire literary career and features characters, locations and details from as many as 20 of his other stories. It’s up to 8 books now, last I counted and full of manly stuff, from the Gunslinger’s introduction and long quest across the desert to a Seven Samurai style interlude and the vanquishing of countless evils, including his own inner demons. Highly recommended. I read the original 7 books in about 6 months.

231 Statesboro May 27, 2013 at 1:45 pm

As a pole myself I’m very touched to see Sienkiewicz’s Trilogy on the list. On that note, I would like to notice that Poland had a very interesting history regarding art in the XIXth century, centered around the enslavement by neighbouring superpowers and the ways society dealt with it, so to speak. It’s a very fascinating field and, among other niche topics, a very refreshing look on political influences in literature among so many WWII and WWI inspired novels.

232 Mike May 27, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Anything by George Pelecanos would be great for this list. I would suggest some of his more recent works as an entry point, such as:
– “The Cut”: The first in a new series of thrillers featuring Spero Lucas, a young man making his place in the world one battle and one mission at a time.
– “The Way Home”: A brilliant new novel about fathers and sons and the dangers of modern life.
– “The Turnaround”: On a hot summer afternoon in 1972, three teenagers drove into an unfamiliar neighborhood and six lives were altered forever.
– “The Night Gardener”: The haunting story of three cops—one good, one bad, one broken—and the murder that reunites them in a showdown decades in the making.
– “Drama City”: A novel about two scarred and human people who must navigate one of life’s most brutal passages.

233 Sergei May 27, 2013 at 4:31 pm

And Richard Matheson’s I’m legend?

234 Matt May 27, 2013 at 5:23 pm


235 Steve May 28, 2013 at 3:47 am

Three suggestions: a classic, a little-known, and one that’s almost impossible to find.

The classic: “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain. Entertaining and thoughtful.

A little-known: “No Great Mischief” by Alistair McLeod. One of my all-time favourites. A story of a hard-bitten family of Scottish immigrants to the East Coast, touching on multiple generations. It touches on how men adapt to a world of not only changing technology, but changing values. Self-sacrifice, hard-work, and love of nature are all touched on.

The Out of Print: “Free as a Running Fox” by T.D. Calnan. The true story of a British POW in WWII, as he tries again and again to escape the prison camp. So entertaining.

236 Drake May 28, 2013 at 8:17 am

I can’t believe this collection doesn’t include anything by Ayn Rand.

“Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead” are must reads for any man who values being free and industrious.

Also, as far as Michael Crichton goes, “The Great Train Robbery” and “Sphere” are better than “Jurassic Park”–personal opinion.

I completely agree with Zack F about “Lone Survivor.” Two others that go with that are “American Sniper” and “Band of Brothers.”

Very glad to see “Killer Angels” is on the list.

237 Matt May 28, 2013 at 3:24 pm

“One Second After” is a great story about a great example of masculine leadership in a small town in the midst of an EMP attack on the US.

HIGHLY recommended

238 Matt May 28, 2013 at 5:47 pm

Soild list. I recommend my favorite all-time novel, A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole. I guarantee you’ll like it.

239 Andrew May 28, 2013 at 8:07 pm

Gotta have Kerouac “On the Road’

240 wesley May 28, 2013 at 9:29 pm

arthur c clarke and alexandr solzhenitysn are my favorite authors. solid list.

241 Josh May 29, 2013 at 2:59 am

What a great list, some smashing reads there! But i’d add Bernard Cornwell’s ENTIRE Sharpe’s series. For any gent that enjoys a historical-war based fiction, this series is truly worthy of note. Deep characters, good humour, and almost always fast paced. Enjoy.

242 Sam May 29, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Great list! However it is a travesty that “Fields of Fire” by James Webb isn’t on here. A fictional account of Marines in Vietnam it was written by James Webb, one of the most powerful and entertaining books I’ve ever read. James Webb was a Naval Academy graduate, decorated Lieutenant in Vietnam, and eventually the Secretary of the Navy. This book is required reading for USMC officer candidate school and the Naval Academy. Great book defiantly deserves its place on this list.

243 Albert Hernandez May 29, 2013 at 10:38 pm

So glad to see The Shadow of the Wind made it into the list. Such a great book. Ive read alot of these books and the shadow of the wind is a great story of redemption. You should check out The Angel’s Game which is the prequel to the shadow of the wind and is more of a story about damnation.

244 Shawn Stanford May 30, 2013 at 10:14 am

I simply cannot recommend Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers” strongly enough. Ignore the ridiculous movie: it was nothing like, nor did it have anything on, Heinlein’s masterpiece. I read a lot and I don’t reread many books, but I have read this book several dozen times. It has informed my thinking about politics, government, and the relationship between the individual and the State more than anything else I’ve read. I can honestly say I get something from it every single time I’ve read it.

And, to “manly it up” a little further, it has long been required reading for United States Marines.


245 Kevin May 30, 2013 at 8:30 pm

I have to say this list makes me sad. While I am a fan of Lee Childs, Zombie thrillers, and the like this list is pretty much empty without the book “Once and Eagle” by Anton Myrer. There is a reason that this was a required read at West Point. A book that teaches true morales and ethics!

246 Robert May 30, 2013 at 10:53 pm

Confederacy of Dunces is the best piece of “unknown” fiction i have ever read. It won the big awards, but due to the low profile and untimely death of its author has not received the attention it deserves. Its truly a quixotic tale better than even the original Don Quixote

247 Eddie June 1, 2013 at 11:27 am

Was glad to see Vince Flynn’s inclusion in this list. I always look forward to the next Mitch Rapp mission! Also would like to mention the Joel Rosenberg series that began with The Last Jihad as well as the greatest wordsman of all time, William F. Buckley, Jr., and his Blackford Oakes series.

248 Eli leonard June 1, 2013 at 9:30 pm

Jeff Shaara’s books. He covers everything from the American Revolution to the Second World War.

Cormac McCarthy’s novels are absolutely amazing. “No Country for Old Men” is one of the best.

Also, Bernard Cornwell’s Richard Sharpe novels.

Great work. Keep it up!

249 Matthew June 2, 2013 at 5:23 am

I’ve read quite a few of these and know of most of the others. I’m going to make it a point to read some of these this summer.

Although it’s actually an autobiography, the Little Britches series, by Ralph Moody, is absolutely fantastic! Little Britches and Man of the Family really epitomize many aspects of how a man should live his life. I highly recommend them.

250 The week June 2, 2013 at 7:29 pm
251 SGK June 2, 2013 at 11:16 pm

Good list but altogether incomplete without Ayn Rand — perhaps the most profound writer of the twentieth century.

252 Jonny June 3, 2013 at 6:21 pm

I’d recommend the Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay. The first season of the TV series is based on the first book but after that they go in different directions and even the end of the first book/season are completely different from one another. A great premise that gets you rooting for the serial killer for a change.

253 Tom June 3, 2013 at 9:13 pm

You forgot War and Peace.

254 Derek June 3, 2013 at 10:37 pm

This list is broken. The Name of the Wind, is being toted as the best high fantasy novel written in the last 20 years. I can not recommend it enough.

255 PantherScott June 4, 2013 at 10:14 am

I’m currently reading The Shining by Stephen King.

One I suggest is also for teen readers but has a lot of good stuff to it is the Lanover Series, specifically Magic Kingdom for Sale. Sold!

It’s about moral lawyer Ben “Doc” Holiday. After a bout of depression he buys a kingdom for a million dollars expecting a vacation in some interactive play thing. Instead he finds himself a King in a land that’s dying, the local lords don’t want him because of in fighting and politics. There’s a dragon running amok. A witch has sworn to kill him personally. A demon wants to destroy every man who steps up to be king. And all he has for allies is a legend that turns out to be a rusty suit, a scribe that’s a dog with human hands and can talk, a court magician that can barely cast a single spell, two cooks/bodyguards, and a woman who falls in love with him immediately and turns into a tree every month.

Instead of getting the hell out of Dodge as most people would, he sticks through it because he doesn’t believe in quitting even when the chips are down.

While targeting teens, it teaches a lot of great qualities like perseverence, loyalty, coping with loss, and belief in oneself. All wrapped up in light hearted if a bit dark at times fantasy.

The Legends and Chronicles Dragonlance series’ by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman are both great books too. I won’t go too into them because it’s already TL:DR but suffice it to say, despite being Dungeons and Dragons books, if Lord of the Rings is too dry for you as it was for me then these are right up your alley.

256 DMiller June 4, 2013 at 3:50 pm

2 words – Horatio Hornblower. I know that Master and Commander is the recommended Age of Sail book on this list but I gotta say that HH just rocks. Read the series as he advances in rank in the British Navy during the war with Napoleon. For Horatio Hornblower in space read Honor Harrington by David Weber another great series.

257 Mountain_Man_Dan June 4, 2013 at 5:36 pm

The Big Sky, and the rest of the trilogy by A.B. Guthrie, Jr.

Great Western themed novels, impossible to put down. Hard to get manlier than these!

258 JT June 4, 2013 at 10:36 pm

Chaim Potak – My Name is Asher Lev and The Gift of Asher Lev. The Promise and the Chosen.

Steinback – Of Mice and Men

Gilead – Marilynne Robinson

Life After God – Douglas Coupland My road trip book.

Vonnegut – Timequake

Mark Twain – I prefer the humor myself.

Blue Like Jazz – Donald Millar

Stephen Leacock – humorous short stories – (My Financial Career, My Remarkable Uncle, The Awful Fate of Melpomenus Jones)

Farley Mowat – Lost in the Barrens (aka Two Against the North)

259 Ryan June 5, 2013 at 3:27 am

After reading this article, I bought Lonesome Dove and wow, thank you! This book is absolutely magnificent, watching the different paths the men take, and McMurtry isn’t afraid to kill off his characters either. Awesome story about the power of mateship.

260 leelu June 5, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Just finished reading Jack 1939 by Francine Mathews. Historical fiction, Jack Kennedy get to spy for FDR under cover of researching his senior thesis.

261 butwhynot June 6, 2013 at 9:35 pm

I’m clearly late to the party, but my favorite novel is “The Brothers K” by David James Duncan. Many people compare it to Dostoevsky’s “Karamazov”, but other than the title and references to Russian literature, I would not consider it to be the same at all. Major themes include The 1960′s, baseball, religion, war, anti-war, life in a mill town, coming-of-age, lost and then re-found dreams, and most importantly – family. It’s been at the top of my list (Last of the Mohicans is second, and The Virginian is third) since I first read it in 1998.

262 Jared June 7, 2013 at 10:34 am

Great list!
Though I’d like to add Richard Morgan’s
Altered Carbon. It is a great book, that along with its two sequels guaranteed is guaranteed to make your head spin.
It is a classic crime-noir set in a sci-fi world that instead of focusing the main story on a few, raises dozens of questions.
I Also miss the works of Asimov and
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
PS: I’d be most glad to see a similar list on poetry.

263 Albert June 7, 2013 at 11:40 am

Awesome list. So glad you put in Lord of the Rings, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Game of Thrones. Some of my favorite book series ever.

264 Ro June 8, 2013 at 7:13 pm

I scanned through you list kind of fast, but I didn’t see I book that I think should be on there – Shogun by James Clavell. Definitely a great historical fiction novel based on the rise of the Tokugawa Shogunate in Japan and the story of the real life historical person William Adams, the first English man in Japan. This book definitely display’s the main character Blackthorne’s (William Adams’) manliness as he managed to be shipwrecked in a foreign land (Japan) and culture and somehow survive (amongst warring samurai factions), learn the language, fall in love with a native (Japanese) woman, and become samurai.

265 Mac June 8, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Really surprised “The Red Badge of Courage” by Stephen Crane wasn’t here or “Hatchet” by Gary Paulsen or “The Old Man and The Boy” by Robert Ruark or “Where The Red Fern Grows” by Wilson Rawls …

266 Arian June 9, 2013 at 8:52 pm

Why isn’t every book on this list written Hemingway?

267 Sasha June 12, 2013 at 1:26 am

I scrolled halfway down the list in dismay, seeing no Russian authors. Believe me, ANYTHING written by a russian author is great for men. When I finally saw a couple russians I was disappointed that neither Dostoevsky or Tolstoy made the list, or Pasternak. They are famous for a reason. Some of the best literature ever written, especially for men, IMHO.

268 Michael June 12, 2013 at 1:30 am

A little late on the comments here… I love these lists… Must say i think the Essential man’s library list was better than the above, but I notice this, and most other lists miss a living great. Ernest J Gaines. People, critics, go on about finding ‘the next Steinbeck” or whichever great, but there has been one quietly writing since (I think) the 50s or 60s. Two more worth note are John Cheever and Richard Yates. But please, if you are into fiction or feel modern/contemporary fiction is missing something, please read Ernest J Gaines.

thank you and enjoy

269 Spartan4Life June 19, 2013 at 4:25 pm

I think you should include “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac and “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” by James Joyce. Though the books are similar in the regard that both main protaganists are trying to “find themselves” throughout the story, they are told in very different styles and settings. One takes place in early 20th century america and the other during late 19th century Ireland. They encounter conflict, adventure and self-doubt along the way. Both great stories by great Authors.

270 Mike July 15, 2013 at 8:43 pm

Great list and comments. I missed the Harry Flashman series…it must be on the list. History, humor, sexual escapades, and wry British wit.

271 Marcus July 17, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Dutch, The DIckens of Detroit, Elmore Leonard! The best crime novelist of all time. Start with “Rum Punch” which Jackie Brown was based off. Then check out Pronto, the beginning of Raylan and the Justified series. Very easy reads. Dutch has the simplicity of Hemingway and the humor of Vonnegut.

272 Pat September 13, 2013 at 1:06 am

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning by Silitoe, A Young Man’s Guide To Late Capitalism by Montford and A Fraction of the Whole by Toltz are three of my favorite. Reall recommend them. I’d have to also agree with a lot of the comments here and say Vonnegut should have bee n represented. I’m partial to Dead Eye Dick and Player Piano.

273 Robert September 27, 2013 at 2:18 am

I saw a recommendation in the comments for Bernard Cornwell’s Richard Sharpe novels, and I strongly second that (as well as his other historical fiction)

for lighter fare for those who enjoy space opera / sci-fi, really anything by David Weber, but in particular the Honor Harrington novels and the Safehold novels.

274 Tim October 25, 2013 at 5:31 am

American Gods is amazing. Thanks for including it.

275 James October 29, 2013 at 9:51 pm

For pirates, humor, new-world America, historical fiction:


On Time Magazine 100 greatest American novels. It’s super good.

276 Gilberto November 26, 2013 at 7:06 am

Great list. I would also add The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov.

The premise of the series is that the scientist Hari Seldon developed a branch of mathematics known as psychohistory that can predict the future, but only on a large scale. With it, he foresees the imminent fall of the Galactic Empire and a dark age lasting thirty thousand years before a second great empire arises (according to Asimov, this was based on on ideas set forth in Edward Gibbon’s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire). He then creates a foundation, destined to become the Second Empire, silently guided by the unknown specifics of The Seldon Plan. The series is highly acclaimed, and the Foundation Trilogy won the one-time Hugo Award for “Best All-Time Series” in 1966.

277 Thomas B December 3, 2013 at 9:45 am

The L.A. Quartet by James Ellroy. Most everyone has heard of L. A. Confidential, but there are 3 other books that are centered around crime in L.A.

Also the Millennium Trilogy by Steig Larsson and The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan

278 Peter Anthony O'Brien December 3, 2013 at 8:06 pm

ANYTHING BY STEPHEN KING. He IS the WORLDS most popular author right now,(look it up).

279 Eric Dekker December 14, 2013 at 9:11 pm

I’d recommend The Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan (and finished by Brandon Sanderson after the death of Jordan). Bit lengthy, but really good, definitely my favourite fantasy series

280 Ben King December 29, 2013 at 7:48 am

“The Eagle in the Snow” by Wallace Breem. The story of a Roman General stationed in Germany in the early 400s trying to hold back the barbarians while his world falls apart around him – and then the Rhine freezes. Great action scenes, but also a fantastic look at a man’s obligations in the face of adversity.

281 Randolph Jacobsen January 1, 2014 at 6:07 pm

“The Commonwealth Saga” two books “Pandora’s Star” and “Judas Unchained” By Peter F. Hamilton. The best scifi story I have ever read, so intense at times I was sweating. I have read all the scifi on this list and The Commonwealth Saga takes it to the next level in action/adventure.

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