BOOKS EVERY MAN MUST READ Date: 11/27/2013 Views: 49.003
Reading. Sadly, this is an activity that often falls by the wayside in our current cultural climate – since reading a computer screen doesn’t count, not by a long-shot – despite the fact that it is perhaps one of the most satisfying things a man can spend his time doing. Here at EveryGuyed we’ve debated and discussed some books that every man should read at some point in his life; books that speak to our past, present and future selves. These are the first 5 selections in a weekly series that will total 50 books in all.
Head to your local bookstore, order them off Amazon or search out a dog-eared copy from a thrift shop or library. If you must, use an e-reader of your choosing, but understand in the minimal inches and grams that you save going digital you will lose something ethereal and wholly essential. Read on, gentleman, read on.
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
Considered by most to be the authoritative text on statesmanship and power (how to obtain it as well as an illustration of its trappings), this is a book that’s as relevant in the boardroom as it is in the bedroom.
Essentially, Machiavelli advocates letting your people have their property and women, but making sure that they know what you are capable of doing if they step out of line.
1984 by George Orwell
If you are already worried about the information that your computer is collecting from you, this book will provide no solace. This is the prototype for the will of the individual to maintain his privacy and free will, and how dangerous it is to be blind to not only the machines we use, but the machinery of existence itself.
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
A bit of isolation never hurt any man. Thoreau spent two years, two months and two days writing this book in Walden, a cabin tucked deep in the woods near Concord, Massachusetts. This work of non-fiction describes the changing of the seasons over the course of a year and was intended to give the author an escape from society in order to achieve a more objective point of view.
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
The stream of consciousness drifting has helped us experience that sacred institution of just going, and using our own language to experience the rapid unfolding of a new town as a rich flash in a pan. Lucky for all of us, he has saved us the trouble of popping Benzedrine for 3 weeks and experiencing our own mad visions, and we can simply join his world without ferociously grinding our teeth (though Kerouac said it was made possible by coffee alone). If you haven’t read it, get it now please. If you have, you know that you will never complain about a long drive again, whether alone or with the boys.
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
There’s nothing more manly than a good hard-boiled detective novel. The Maltese Falcon is filled with ambiguities in morality. Sam Spade, the main character in the book is a hardened and cynical man, but underneath his rough exterior is a man with a sense of idealism. Is it possible to do good even if you’re a bad person? It’s a book that will entertain as well as make you think.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Set on the East Coast in the roaring 20′s, this American novel is a classic. From it we learn that often the wanting of something is better than actually having it. It is relevant to every man’s life. Furthermore, one true friend is worth infinitely more than a multitude of acquaintances. One of the great novels addressing the decline of the ‘American Dream’, The Great Gatsby is as relevant today was it was when it was first published in 1925.
The Republic by Plato
This is a book that most men will never read unless they find themselves being forced to for a freshman year philosophy credit, but it’s a fundamental text that serves as a cornerstone of Western thought. Working through topics like justice, government and political theory this text is essential reading because although you may never quote from it, the ideas and thought processes you take form it will likely shape how you think about the world. Being a fairly dense philosophical work, the process of reading is its own lesson in commitment and reward.
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
Considered McCarthy’s masterpiece (which is saying something, since by most standards he deals in ‘masterpieces’), Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West is a book so vividly violent and well written that even hardened men have been known to have nightmares while reading it. McCarthy is a master of the written word, creating characters so real that even physical, let alone emotional reactions to the book are par for the course. Reading Blood Meridian is to the be in the grip of something captivating, giving yourself up to the world captured in its pages.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
One of the great ‘post-colonial’ novels to come out of Africa, Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is a beautifully poignant examination of the role of the individual in society and vice-versa. The main character Okonkwo is a man torn between a culture he feels deeply connected to and the pervasive changes which inevitably come as time passes. It’s a book that still maintains relevancy today as colonial actions are more pervasively taken up by corporations and the process of globalization.
The Kentucky Derby is Decadent & Depraved by Hunter S. Thompson
This actually isn’t a book, but since the Kentucky Derby happens to be this coming Saturday, we here at EveryGuyed decided to include it in the list. Notable for being one of Thompson’s earliest forays into the ‘Gonzo’ style of journalism that would characterize his body of work, The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved also marked the beginning of his life-long collaboration with English artist Ralph Steadman. In classic Thompson style, the alcohol-fueled piece scarcely makes mention of the actual race, opting to instead examine the true ‘beasts’ of the event; the crowd. You can – and of course should – read the entire essay in Ralph Steadman’s archives.