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Books every man should read - and why

By Kobo • August 08, 2018


We consulted with many, many sources, from Esquire to the Guide to Manliness, to our friends-who-are-men, in order to come up with a full and rich list of the top books every man should read, and why.

In no particular order, here are the best books for men:

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  • Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
    First of all, anything by Sedaris is hilariously funny. Says Esquire: Thought you had it tough? Growing up gay, Greek and with a lisp in North Carolina, USA, Sedaris tells the story of his youth through a series of hilarious essays. Worth it for the pithy one-liners alone.
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
    In case you haven’t burned off the vanity and selfishness of youth as yet, let this be a cautionary tale.
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
    Tartt’s métier is guilt, in all its shapes and sizes. But, this book also demonstrates how gullible the young and insecure can be.
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  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy
    It’s a terse, post-apocalyptic novel that hides a great story of fatherhood.
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
    This is a kind of companion novel to The Catcher in the Rye, but youth and the quest for self-discovery from a female perspective.
  • Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
    Because it is important to know the difference between heroic love and emotional dependence.
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  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
    It’s Thompson’s most famous work of gonzo journalism, which was a thing before the Internet; it’s also one of those occasions where the story is probably better than the reality.
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    This is what the website Cool Material has to say: At the surface, it’s an interesting story about a guy’s cool but manipulative neighbor. Further down, it has something to say about almost every single human vice.
  • The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
    Richly realistic, darkly hilarious, and deeply human, this book peels the layers off of lives of quiet desperation and shows where mercy should be.
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  • Less Than Zero by Brett Easton Ellis
    Says Esquire: “What you wish your youth was like, basically. A tale of unbridled excess and, naturally, subsequent destruction.”
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
    Cool Material says this: If there’s a moral here, it’s gotta be “buck the system, but don’t buck it too hard and know when to lay low. You can always come back for more later.”
  • Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
    Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time, Slaughterhouse-Five is an American classic and one of the world’s great antiwar books.
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  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
    A kind of companion to Slaughterhouse Five - since its publication in 1961, no novel has matched Catch-22’s intensity and brilliance in depicting the brutal insanity of war.
  • White Teeth by Zadie Smith
    It handles big chunky themes like race and immigration, friendship, war and culture-clashes with a light touch. It’s a joy to read.
  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    One of the world's first psychological thrillers, this is a detective story that hinges on ethical dilemmas – including the question of whether doing a bad thing for a good outcome is ever worth it.

What book would you add to this list?

For more content, read The best motivational books of 2018 (so far).

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