75 Books Every Man Should Read

Judge Smails: “How do you measure yourself with other golfers?” Ty Webb: “by height.”

I’m a sucker for lists of the “greatest books ever written” if only as a narcissistic measure of how well read I am. This time it’s men’s magazine Esquire with the admonition: “75 books every man should read.” So, now I feel half as well read as I thought I was and my manhood has been challenged.

But, with the honest introduction: “an unranked, incomplete, utterly biased list of the greatest works of literature ever published,” I had to take a look.

  • What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, by Raymond Carver
  • Collected Stories of John Cheever
  • Deliverance, by James Dickey
  • The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
  • Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy
  • The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • The Known World, by Edward P. Jones
  • The Good War, by Studs Terkel
  • American Pastoral, by Philip Roth
  • A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories, by Flannery O’Connor
  • The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
  • A Sport and a Pastime, by James Salter
  • The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
  • Time’s Arrow, by Martin Amis
  • A Sense of Where You Are, by John McPhee
  • Hell’s Angels, by Hunter S. Thompson
  • Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
  • Dubliners, by James Joyce
  • Rabbit, Run, by John Updike
  • The Postman Always Rings Twice, by James M. Cain
  • Dog Soldiers, by Robert Stone
  • Winter’s Bone, by Daniel Woodrell
  • Legends of the Fall, by Jim Harrison
  • Under the Volcano, by Malcolm Lowry
  • The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer
  • The Professional, by W.C. Heinz
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
  • Dispatches, by Michael Herr
  • Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller
  • Revolutionary Road, by Richard Yates
  • As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
  • The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara
  • Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
  • All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
  • Sophie’s Choice, by William Styron
  • A Fan’s Notes, by Frederick Exley
  • Lucky Jim, by Kingsley Amis
  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami
  • Master and Commander, by Patrick O’Brian
  • Plainsong, by Kent Haruf
  • A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole
  • Affliction, by Russell Banks
  • This Boy’s Life, by Tobias Wolff
  • Winter’s Tale, by Mark Helprin
  • The Adventures of Augie March, by Saul Bellow
  • Women, by Charles Bukowski
  • Going Native, by Stephen Wright
  • Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
  • The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, by John LeCarre
  • The Crack-Up, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, by George Saunders
  • War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy
  • The Shining, by Stephen King
  • Winesburg, Ohio, by Sherwood Anderson
  • Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
  • Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie
  • Labyrinths, by Jorge Luis Borges
  • The Right Stuff, by Tom Wolfe
  • The Sportswriter, by Richard Ford
  • American Tabloid, by James Ellroy
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X, by Alex Haley
  • What It Takes, by Richard Ben Cramer
  • The Continental Op, by Dashiell Hammett
  • The Power and the Glory, by Graham Greene
  • So Long, See You Tomorrow, by William Maxwell
  • Native Son, by Richard Wright
  • Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, by James Agee and Walker Evans
  • Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner
  • The Great Bridge, by David McCullough
  • The Dharma Bums, by Jack Kerouac
  • Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry
  • Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Underworld, by Don DeLillo
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

What say you, fair reader? As a Fight Club pugilist, I noticed that there isn’t a non-fiction title in the bunch (see cockamamie Rules of Fight Club). So, not only are we a sissy book club, we’re not even reading manly books. After feeling emasculated, I clicked over to Esquire’s photos of Leryn Franco champion javelin thrower from Paraguay, and forgot all about it.



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