Top 100 Books for Every Man

76. A Farewell To Arms
Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway’s classic novel of the First World War.  The best American novel to emerge from World War I, A Farewell to Arms is the unforgettable story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and his passion for a beautiful English nurse. Hemingway’s frank portrayal of the love between Lieutenant Henry and Catherine Barkley, caught in the inexorable sweep of war, glows with an intensity unrivaled in modern literature, while his description of the German attack on Caporetto — of lines of fired men marching in the rain, hungry, weary, and demoralized — is one of the greatest moments in literary history. A story of love and pain, of loyalty and desertion, A Farewell to Arms, written when he was 30 years old, represents a new romanticism for Hemingway.

77. The Kite Runner
Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner,a poignant tale of two motherless boys growing up in Kabul, a city teetering on the brink of destruction at the dawn of the Soviet invasion.

Despite their class differences, Amir, the son of a wealthy businessman, and Hassan, his devoted sidekick and the son of Amir’s household servant, play together, cause mischief together, and compete in the annual kite-fighting tournament — Amir flying the kite, and Hassan running down the kites they fell. But one day, Amir betrays Hassan, and his betrayal grows increasingly devastating as their tale continues. Amir will spend much of his life coming to terms with his initial and subsequent acts of cowardice, and finally seek to make reparations.

Hosseini’s depiction of the cruelty children suffer at the hands of their “friends” will break your heart. And his descriptions of Afghanistan both before and after the war will haunt readers long after they’ve read the last page. The Kite Runner is a stunning reminder that the dark hearts of adults are made, step-by-step, by the hatred they learn as children, and that all it takes for evil to triumph is for a good man to stand back and do nothing.

78. A Prayer for Owen Meany
John Irving

In the summer of 1953, during a Little League baseball game, 11-year-old Owen Meany hits a foul ball that kills his best friend’s mother. What happens to him after that fateful day makes A Prayer for Owen Meany extraordinary, terrifying, and unforgettable.

79. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

This splendid collection of mysteries carries readers back to a gas-lit era, when literature’s greatest detective team lived on Baker Street. A dozen of Holmes and Watson’s best-known cases include “The Speckled Band,” “The Red-Headed League,” The Five Orange Pips,” “The Copper Beeches,” and “A Scandal in Bohemia.”

80. Harry Potter Series
J.K. Rowling

Rescued from the outrageous neglect of his aunt and uncle, a young boy with a great destiny proves his worth while attending Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry.

81. Life of Pi
Yann Martel

The son of a zookeeper, Pi Patel has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior and a fervent love of stories. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes.

The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days while lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them “the truth.” After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional–but is it more true?

82. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Douglas Adams

Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.
Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox–the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.

83. Moby Dick
Herman Melville

On a previous voyage, a mysterious white whale had ripped off the leg of a sea captain named Ahab. Now the crew of the Pequod, on a pursuit that features constant adventure and horrendous mishaps, must follow the mad Ahab into the abyss to satisfy his unslakeable thirst for vengeance. Narrated by the cunningly observant crew member Ishmael, Moby-Dick is the tale of the hunt for the elusive, omnipotent, and ultimately mystifying white whale—Moby Dick.

84. The Three Musketeers

Alexandre Dumas

Mixing a bit of seventeenth-century French history with a great deal of invention, Alexandre Dumas tells the tale of young D’Artagnan and his musketeer comrades, Porthos, Athos and Aramis. Together they fight to foil the schemes of the brilliant, dangerous Cardinal Richelieu, who pretends to support the king while plotting to advance his own power. Bursting with swirling swordplay, swooning romance, and unforgettable figures such as the seductively beautiful but deadly femme fatale, Milady, and D’Artagnan’s equally beautiful love, Madame Bonacieux, The Three Musketeers continues, after a century and a half of continuous publication, to define the genre of swashbuckling romance and historical adventure.

85. Of Mice and Men
John Steinbeck

An intimate portrait of two men who cherish the slim bond between them and the dream they share in a world marred by petty tyranny, misunderstanding, jealousy, and callousness. Clinging to each other in their loneliness and alienation, George and his simple-minded friend Lennie dream, as drifters will, of a place to call their own—a couple of acres and a few pigs, chickens, and rabbits back in Hill Country where land is cheap. But after they come to work on a ranch in the fertile Salinas Valley of California, their hopes, like “the best laid schemes o’mice an’ men,” begin to go awry. A rarity in American letters, Of Mice and Menachieved remarkable success as a novel, a Broadway play, and three acclaimed films.

86. The Shadow of the WindCarlos Ruiz Zafon

Daniel Sempere, the son of a widowed bookstore owner, is 10 when he discovers a novel, The Shadow of the Wind, by Julián Carax. The novel is rare, the author obscure, and rumors tell of a horribly disfigured man who has been burning every copy he can find of Carax’s novels. The man calls himself Laín Coubert-the name of the devil in one of Carax’s novels. As he grows up, Daniel’s fascination with the mysterious Carax links him to a blind femme fatale with a “porcelain gaze,” Clara Barceló; another fan, a leftist jack-of-all-trades, Fermín Romero de Torres; his best friend’s sister, the delectable Beatriz Aguilar; and, as he begins investigating the life and death of Carax, a cast of characters with secrets to hide. Officially, Carax’s dead body was dumped in an alley in 1936. But discrepancies in this story surface. Meanwhile, Daniel and Fermín are being harried by a sadistic policeman, Carax’s childhood friend. As Daniel’s quest continues, frightening parallels between his own life and Carax’s begin to emerge. Ruiz Zafón strives for a literary tone, and no scene goes by without its complement of florid, cute and inexact similes and metaphors (snow is “God’s dandruff”; servants obey orders with “the efficiency and submissiveness of a body of well-trained insects”). Yet the colorful cast of characters, the gothic turns and the straining for effect only give the book the feel of para-literature or the Hollywood version of a great 19th-century novel.

87. Catch-22Joseph Heller

Catch-22 is like no other novel we have ever read. It has its own style, its own rationale, its own extraordinary character. It moves back and forth from hilarity to horror. It is outrageously funny and strangely affecting. It is totally original.

It is set in the closing months of World War II, in an American bomber squadron on a small island off Italy. Its hero is a bombardier named Yossarian, who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he hasn’t even met keep trying to kill him. (He has decided to live forever even if he has to die in the attempt.)  Catch-22 is a microcosm of the twentieth-century world as it might look to someone dangerously sane. It is a novel that lives and moves and grows with astonishing power and vitality. It is, we believe, one of the strongest creations of the mid-century.

88. The Count of Monte CristoAlexandre Dumas

Falsely accused of treason, the young sailor Edmond Dantes is arrested on his wedding day and imprisoned in the island fortress of the Chateau d’If. Having endured years of incarceration, he stages a daring and dramatic escape and sets out to discover the fabulous treasure of Monte Cristo, and to catch up with his enemies. A novel of enormous tension and excitement, The Count of Monte Cristo is also a tale of obsession and revenge. Believing himself to be an ‘Angel of Providence’, Dantes pursues his vengeance to the bitter end, only then realizing that he himself is a victim of fate. One of the great thrillers of all time.

89. Robinson CrusoeDaniel Dafoe

Who has not dreamed of life on an exotic isle, far away from civilization? Here is the novel which has inspired countless imitations by lesser writers, none of which equal the power and originality of Defoe’s famous book. Robinson Crusoe, set ashore on an island after a terrible storm at sea, is forced to make do with only a knife, some tobacco, and a pipe. He learns how to build a canoe, make bread, and endure endless solitude. That is, until, twenty-four years later, when he confronts another human being. First published in 1719, Robinson Crusoe has been praised by such writers as James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Samuel Johnson as one of the greatest novels in the English language.

90. The Alchemist
Paul Coelho

The charming tale of Santiago, a shepherd boy, who dreams of seeing the world, is compelling in its own right, but gains resonance through the many lessons Santiago learns during his adventures. He journeys from Spain to Morocco in search of worldly success, and eventually to Egypt, where a fateful encounter with an alchemist brings him at last to self-understanding and spiritual enlightenment. The story has the comic charm, dramatic tension and psychological intensity of a fairy tale, but it’s full of specific wisdom as well, about becoming self-empowered, overcoming depression, and believing in dreams. The cumulative effect is like hearing a wonderful bedtime story from an inspirational psychiatrist. Comparisons to The Little Prince are appropriate; this is a sweetly exotic tale for young and old alike.

91. Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPNJames Andrew Miller and Tom Shales

ESPN began as an outrageous gamble with a lineup that included Australian Rules Football, rodeo, and a rinky-dinky clip show called Sports Center. Today the empire stretches far beyond television into radio, magazines, mobile phones, restaurants, video games and more, while ESPN’s personalities have become global superstars to rival the sports icons they cover.

Chris Berman, Robin Roberts, Keith Olbermann, Hannah Storm, Bill Simmons, Tony Kornheiser, Stuart Scott, Erin Andrews, Mike Ditka, Bob Knight, and scores of others speak openly about the games, shows, scandals, gambling addictions, bitter rivalries, and sudden suspensions that make up the network’s soaring and stormy history. The result is a wild, smart, effervescent story of triumph, genius, ego, and the rise of an empire unlike any television had ever seen.

92. The Art of Racing in the RainGarth Stein

Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn’t simply about going fast. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life’s ordeals.

93. The SparrowMary Doria Russell

Emilio Sandoz is a remarkable man, a living saint and Jesuit priest who undergoes an experience so harrowing and profound that it makes him question the existence of God. This experience – the first contact between human beings and intelligent extraterrestrial life – begins with a small mistake and ends in a horrible catastrophe.

Sandoz is a part of the crew sent to explore a new planet. What they find is a civilization so alien and incomprehensible that they feel compelled to wonder what it means to be human.

The priest is the only surviving member of the crew and upon his return he is confronted by public inquisition and accusations of the most heinous crimes imaginable. His faith utterly destroyed, crippled and defenseless, his only hope is to tell his tale. Father John Candotti has been charged with discovering the truth, but the truth may be more than Earth is willing to accept.

94. Rules of PreyJohn Stanford

Louis “Maddog” Vullion is a young attorney . . . and a murderer. He kills for the sheer contest, playing an elaborate game for which he has written terrifying rules. Police Lt. Lucas Davenport, a brilliant games inventor, is going to have to outmaneuver the killer’s clever plan–to beat the mad dog at his own deadly craft.

95. Fight ClubChuck Palahnuik

THE FIRST RULE about fight club is you don’t talk about fight club.

Every weekend, in the basements and parking lots of bars across the country, young men with whitecollar jobs and failed lives take off their shoes and shirts and fight each other barehanded just as long as they have to. Then they go back to those jobs with blackened eyes and loosened teeth and the sense that they can handle anything. Fight club is the invention of Tyler Durden, projectionist, waiter, and dark, anarchic genius, and it’s only the beginning of his plans for violent revenge on an empty consumer-culture world.

96. Into the WildJon Krakauer

In April 1992, a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. He had given $25,000 in savings to a charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet and invented a life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter. Jon Krakauer brings Chris McCandless’s uncompromising pilgrimage out of the shadows and illuminates it with meaning in this mesmerizing and heartbreaking tour de force.

97. Maltese FalconDashiell Hammett

A treasure worth killing for. Sam Spade, a slightly shopworn private eye with his own solitary code of ethics. A perfumed grafter named Joel Cairo, a fat man name Gutman, and Brigid O’Shaughnessy, a beautiful and treacherous woman whose loyalties shift at the drop of a dime. These are the ingredients of Dashiell Hammett’s coolly glittering gem of detective fiction, a novel that has haunted three generations of readers.

98. Think and Grow Rich
Napoleon Hill

A must for anyone wanting to improve their lives and their positive thinking. There have been more millionaires and indeed, billionaires, who have made their fortunes as a result of reading this success classic than any other book every printed.

99. On the Road
Jack Kerouac

On the Road chronicles Jack Kerouac’s years traveling the North American continent with his friend Neal Cassady, “a sideburned hero of the snowy West.” As “Sal Paradise” and “Dean Moriarty,” the two roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience. Kerouac’s love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz combine to make On the Road an inspirational work of lasting importance.  Kerouac’s classic novel of freedom and longing defined what it meant to be “Beat” and has inspired every generation since its initial publication more than forty years ago.

100. Chronicles of Narnia
C.S. Lewis

The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis, is one of the very few sets of books that should be read three times: in childhood, early adulthood, and late in life. In brief, four children travel repeatedly to a world in which they are far more than mere children and everything is far more than it seems. Richly told, populated with fascinating characters, perfectly realized in detail of world and pacing of plot, and profoundly allegorical, the story is infused throughout with the timeless issues of good and evil, faith and hope.

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Comments

  1. A mliilon thanks for posting this information.

  2. Great list! There are some really good books hear. Men need to read more and there are tons of manly books out there, the world just needs to be made known about them. I’ve also composed a list of a few on my site that I really like and think are pretty manly.

  3. There are some good books on this list.

    However, there are a few others (including “Life of Pi,” “How to Win Friends and Influence People” [and the other self-help books you have listed], “The Kite Runner,” “The DaVinci Code,” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) that, to me, seem a bit questionable.

    Then again, all lists like these are merely opinions, and, whenever you make them, you’re bound to have some disagreements with others who read them.

    Having written that, here are ten other books that are worth reading:

    * “Anabasis,” by Xenophon – Following the Peloponnesian Wars, Cyrus of Persia hired ten thousand Greek mercenaries to assist him in seizing the Persian throne from his brother Artaxerxes. When he was killed in battle, though, the Ten Thousand suddenly found themselves trapped deep in enemy territory.

    After their leaders were killed by the Persians’ treachery, the Greeks elected three new leaders, including Xenophon, to guide them back to Greece, and to safety. The rest of the story deals with the many adventures they had along the way, including with the Persian army, and with various groups of barbarians.

    * “David Copperfield” – It’s about David Copperfield and how he grew up, and features a number of memorable characters, including Murdstone, Steerforth, and Uriah Heep, that Copperfield encounters through his life. It’s Dickens’ longest novel (and that’s saying something), but is quite a bit richer than “A Tale of Two Cities” and “Great Expectations.”

    * “Journey to the West” – This Chinese epic is about how Sun Wukong (the monkey king) accompanied the monk Sanzang on a 14-year journey from Tang China to India, to recover the Buddhist sutras. Sun Wukong isn’t just any monkey, though: he’s incredibly strong (he can wield a magic staff [weighing 8100 kg / 17881 lb] with little difficulty) and knows 72 supernatural tricks, plus he’s immortal and is very hard to hurt. The novel deals with his many adventures, both before he joined the monk, and during his long journey to the west.

    * Sherlock Holmes – the one you listed had only 12 of his cases. However, other versions (including “Sherlock Holmes: the Complete Novels and Stories, Volumes 1 and 2”) have all four “Sherlock Holmes” novels, and all 56 of Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” short stories.

    * “The Aeneid” – It’s a Roman epic about how Aeneas fled Troy (after the Greeks destroyed it), how his men arrived in Carthage for a time, and how they ended up in Italy.

    * “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin” – About Ben Franklin’s life, up until 1760, and how he came to become successful.

    * “The Iliad” – It’s an epic about the war between the Greeks and the Trojans (though it doesn’t include the Trojan Horse).

    * “The Island of Dr. Moreau” – Dr. Moreau lives on an island, where he performs experiments on animals, to give them speech, and to enable them to think and act like men. However, problems eventually arise…

    * “The Odyssey” – It’s how Odysseus traveled back from Troy to his home on Ithaca, and includes his many adventures along the way.

    * “The Trial” – Josef K. is arrested one day, but is never told what crime he committed, or why he’s been placed under arrest. As the story progresses, he meets a number of people who take his case very seriously, but is never told what, exactly, he did.

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  13. Preston Falls by David Gates would be an interesting book for men.

  14. Michael Fattizzi says:

    this is a particularly fine, well-rounded list…i have a special love of detective and mystery books such as Agatha Christie and Andrea Camileri’s Montalbano series…Of the classics, Stendahl, Manzoni, the Russians and French masters, Leopardi, D’Annunzio in the newest translations. My definition of a classic is a book to be read more than once and so I reread and reread. My book men’s book club recently read The Girl on the Train and it was well received. I recommended Moll Flanders but it didn’t go over well with a couple of members.

    • Lloyd Winston says:

      Our fledgling all-guys book club here in St Louis is a mere few books old. Could you–O, would you?–share a list of titles you’ve read?
      Thanx!

  15. Rosa Jones says:

    Night train to Lisbon by Patrick Mercier, a wonderful book with a misleadingly trivial title. It is about friendship, family and the experience of living under a dictator by a philosophy teacher, and it really made me think.

  16. Lapidaryblue says:

    There should be at least one Jim Harrison book and one Wade Davis and Gerard Cherry Apley and Trask by Don Berry and Edward Abbey and Charles Bowden and Wallace Stegner and JWPowell and Patrick O’Brian!!!

  17. BennettMarco says:

    A “manly” book list with no James Ellroy?

    Start with “American Tabloid.”

  18. lapidaryblue says:

    I find it hard to believe this is a group of men. Where is Larry McMurtry? Doug Peacock? Where John D. MacDonald? There is no mention of Travis McGee. Where Ross McDonald? Where is the GREAT Ross Thomas and his WuDu trilogy? Where is anything about the polar explorations? Nothing about Shackleton? I know it’s fiction but surely someone wants some testosterone! Brett Easton Ellis and the Bolivian marching powder for that matter? How about T.C. Boyle? Heck, what about M. Yourcenar’s Memoirs of Hadrian?

    • The Manliest Man says:

      As your attorney, I recommend you eat the drugs in my suitcase and add these books to your list:
      – A Fan’s Notes by Frederick Exley
      – The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
      – The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson
      – Civilwarland in Bad Decline by George Saunders
      – Clockers by Richard Price

    • Mark Crozier says:

      Lonesome Dove is on the list…

  19. Tom Dunham says:

    Vasily Grossman’s “Life and Fate,” and sequel, “Everything Flows.”
    A brilliant Soviet “War and Peace” Chapters and scenes that will stay with you forever.

  20. Mark Crozier says:

    Very good list, some questionable ones on there but that’s the nature of lists. I am surprised, though, at the exclusion of the great hardboiled crime writers, namely Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. I would also want something from Jim Thompson (probably his masterpiece, The Killer Inside Me), Charles Willeford (take your pick, but The Shark-infested Custard is a favourite of mine and has no less than four male protagonists) and James Ellroy (The Black Dahlia probably). These are manly books of the first order!

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