Men are busy creatures. In between perfecting the tastiest marinade and mixing a great glass of Jack n’ Coke, there’s little time for stuff like “showering” or “reading.” But while we fully endorse your shower diet, we actually think you’re missing out on some great reads out there. Since you’re strapped for time, we’ve culled together a list for you — here are the 5 books that every man MUST read.
“Blood Meridian” by Cormac McCarthy.
Man Credentials: It’s set in the old west, it features constant scenes of brutal violence and it’s by the guy who wrote “The Road” and “No Country for Old Men.” Critics begrudgingly call it a masterpiece but say the violence makes them queasy.
In reality, it’s one of the most brutal reading experiences you can find. A mix of apocalyptic images, frank depictions of death and brutality and McCarthy’s undeniably crisp descriptive passages leads the reader down one of the most unique… and undeniably manly… reading experiences ever.
Sample Passage: “It makes no difference what men think of war, said the judge. War endures. As well ask men what they think of stone. War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner. That is the way it was and will be….
War is the ultimate game because war is at last a forcing of the unity of existence. War is god.”
“Post Office” by Charles Bukowski
Man Credentials: Good ol’ Charles Bukowski. Critics hate him. Feminists hate him too. He was a hideously ugly bastard with his lips glued to the bottle for most of his life who somehow managed to eke out one of the most beloved writing careers and a relentless stream of affairs. And though he thought of himself as a poet, it was his prose that was vibrated with masculinity.
And “Post Office,” Bukowski’s first novel, is possibly his best. The book details the life of postal worker Henry Chanski (Bukowski’s thinly veiled alter ego) as he struggled with the menial tasks of his job and the rocky life outside of it for nearly two decades. Watching your 20 years of your life melt away while you solemnly sit in the shadows with a drink in your hand — what’s manlier than that?
Sample Passage: “It began as a mistake.
It was Christmas season and I learned from the drunk up the hill, who did the trick every Christmas, that they would hire damned near anybody, and so I went and the next thing I knew I had this leather sack on my back and was hiking around at my leisure. What a job, I thought.”
“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” by Hunter S. Thompson
Man Credentials: both real and imagined, Thompson’s legacy is the roughly autobiographical mess, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”
When Thompson, on assignment for “Rolling Stone” magazine, headed to Vegas with his attorney (known as Dr. Gonzo in the book), he thought he was simply going to be interviewing a deposed Mexican political activist. Things did not go according to plan. The book is a mess but it’s also brilliant and a must-read for every man.
Sample Passage: “The sporting editors had also given me $300 in cash, most of which was already spent on extremely dangerous drugs. The trunk of the car looked like a mobile police narcotics lab. We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls. Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious drug-collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.”
“A Clockwork Orange” by Anthony Burgess
Man Credentials: You’ve probably seen Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film adaptation of this Anthony Burgess classic. If not — stop what you’re doing and rent the film immediately. The thing is, “A Clockwork Orange” is one of those rare occasions where the novel and the film adaptation are both great and both stand on their own as original and brilliant works of art.
Burgess’ novel follows a teenager named Alex and his gang of friends as they wreak havoc on a weird future version of England. Alex gets caught and undergoes a rare rehabilitation treatment called the Ludovico Technique. It’s about rebellion and society and all that good stuff but it’s also written in a completely bonkers style (the main characters all talk in this slang called “Nadsat” that’s comprised, in part, of Russian words… you’ll need the glossary for this one).
Sample Passage: “The Korova milkbar sold milk-plus, milk plus vellocet or synthemesc or drencrom, which is what we were drinking. This would sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of the old ultraviolence.”
“The Odyssey” by Homer
Man Credentials: A dude, on his way back from war, gets caught up battling crazy monsters, bedding hot chicks and, at the end, returns to his wife so he can fight off some guy who’s trying to make her his wifey.
Homer’s epic poem is the ultimate in manly must reads. We suggest the Richmond Lattimore translation.
“‘O Kyklops! Would you feast on my companions?
Puny, am I, in a Caveman’s hands?
How do you like the beating that we gave you,
you damned cannibal? Eater of guests
under your roof! Zeus and the gods have paid you!'”