It goes without saying that well-read men often have superior intellect in comparison to men who flirt with the funny pages. When I took writing from a pastime to a career one piece of advice I got that stuck with me was to just keep reading.Read everything, regardless of what it’s about. The stack of magazines in my bathroom and the book shelves in my home and office are proof of that advice come alive. I’ve always been a reader, and granted my tastes have changed over the years, there are certain books that stick out as the best reading experiences I’ve ever had. There are millions of published books for sale at any given time. So many that it would be impossible to read them all. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of what I think are the top thirty books that every man must read, regardless of whether you read a lot or a little. Since we already created a post about 100 Men’s Fashion books, we did not mention them here again, but check it out!
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
My favorite book of all time, this is the tale of the incredibly wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the enchanting and sophisticated Daisy Buchanan. It takes place in the 1920s and regales you with stories of lavish parties at Gatsby’s mansion. It’s a true tale for the gentleman and a glimpse into the high life of the roaring twenties. It’s magical and majestic. Exceptionally well written. For the latest movie review, click here. For a copy of the book, get it here.
Lord of the Flies by William Goulding
Before Survivor and the Hunger Games came Lord of the Flies, the iconic and passionate tale of a group of British schoolboys who are stranded on an island and the struggles that ensue. It’s as provocative a book today as it was when it was first published. A must read for anyone with a bit of wit and a sense of adventure. If you want to read it, check here.
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
This classic coming-of-age tale is without question one of the top five books I’ve ever read. It’s a story about a young man and his funny and often touching life experiences. It is a magnificent read and one worthy of your attention. Click here to get a copy.
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
This is the ultimate adventure about pirates. Something every young man should read. As a boy named Jim Hawkins searches for hidden treasure, the all-star cast of pirates and sailors keep this story afloat. It’s a fantastic story and hunt that will keep you on the edge of your seat from cover to cover. Read it here.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This Pulitzer Prize winning novel takes place in the deep south of Alabama in the 1930s. Scout Finch is a young girl whose father is a lawyer working on the case of a black man who has been charged with the rape of a white woman. It’s an intense read shockingly full of rich humor and unabashed honesty as it looks at the case through the eyes of a child. Read the book here.
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
A gripping story about good and evil, this classic is the tale of a terrifying future where sociopathic criminals take over the cold, dark night. Using invented slang, this is one of the most brilliant stories ever written and despite being typecast as horror, it takes a very philosophical view that makes you think. Click here for the chance to read the book
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
A book about choices, this incredible novel, takes place in Russia and follows the story of an impoverished student who decides to rob and kill a pawn broker in a well laid, meticulously planned out crime. It’s thought provoking and entertaining throughout. An excellent read. For a copy, go here.
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
This is one of the greatest war novels ever written. Hands down. It follows the story of a young American in Spain named Robert Jordan who is in the International Brigades as a member of a special commando unit. The story is inspiring, a tale of courage, love, loyalty and defeat. It’s one of the most spectacular books you’ll ever read. I guarantee it. Go here for a copy.
The Art of Warfare by Sun Tzu
This is without question the most well-read war book in history. It focuses on the philosophy of winning a war and can easily translate into business, everyday life and relationships. Thought provoking and insightful, it’s one book that every man should have on his shelf. Don’t miss out and read it here.
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Arguably one of the greatest plays ever written if you are going to read just one of Shakespeare’s works this is the one you should read. It’s the tragic story of a prince named Hamlet who learns that his uncle has killed his father in an attempt to marry his mother and take over the throne. It’s a moving tale, of profound sadness and great complexity. A must read for any well-read gentleman. If you have not read it, get the book here.
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
An excellent film as well, this true story is about a man named Christopher McCandless, who in 1992, gave his life savings to charity, abandoned his home and car, left all his possessions and burned his wallet to find himself in the wild. Just four months later, he was found dead. The book is supremely good, the movie excellent as well. I highly recommend both of them. If you want to get the book, click here.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
An irresistible cult classic, this is the unusual tale of Arthur Dent, who is plucked off the planet by his friend, a researcher, seconds before Earth is demolished. Together, they journey through deep space in a journey that will excite you and keep you on your feet. It may sound like this book is off its rocker, and it is, but it’s still, nevertheless, one whimsical book every man should read. Get the book here.
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution, this is the tale of the French peasantry as it comes under the demoralization of the aristocracy leading up to the revolution. It’s a brutal look that focuses on the various social statures of men and tracks the lives of several characters coming from different lineages. Want to have your copy? Check here.
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
In one of the most famous novels ever written, Moby Dick is the story of a whaling ship’s grizzled captain who charts a course for revenge against Moby Dick, a sperm whale that destroyed his last ship and left the embattled captain crippled. It’s a provocative journey that focuses on right and wrong and the blurred gray line that divides them. An exemplary read. For your own copy, check it here.
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
What begins as what seems almost comedic, the novel is a philosophical look that explores all points of deception as the errant knight, with his faithful squire roam the world taking on quests that are sure to taunt you as you read. It’s a glorious read that will make you think, and rethink as you go. Read it here.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
As relevant as it was when it was released in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People is an advice guide that many leading men claim to have helped them reach their goals and succeed. Broken into groups, you’ll learn the six ways to make people like you, the nine ways to change people without them resenting you and the twelve ways to make people think like you do. Its principles are simple and if there is one “self-help” book every man needs to have it’s this one. For your own copy, click here.
Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
Originally banned in the United States for being what censors called obscene, this classic is the tale of a young writer and his friends in 1930’s Paris and their bawdy adventures with the people they meet. Remarkably well written and unapologetic, this is one-page turner that is sure to arouse you from your slumber. Click here to read now.
Ulysses by James Joyce
The tale of adultery, this once, deemed offensive book is now a true literary classic. The story chronicles the events on June 16th, 1904 and how they effect a man named Leopold Bloom and another named Stephen Dedalus when Bloom’s very attractive wife, Molly, has an extramarital affair. This is one book that could change your life. It’s been hailed as a work of genius and is so eloquent and engaging that it’s sure to change your perspective of what defines a good book. For the chance to read it, go here.
Animal Farm by George Orwell
A remarkable and controversial story of a society of animals that are abused and overworked and their journey to find equality and justice as they rise against the humans. Considered a satire, this book is one of the most controversial novels ever written. It is indicative of how tyranny and power can corrupt even the noblest cause. If you want to read it, get it here.
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
A book about the famous fire bombing of Dresden, this anti-war story showcases the life of Billy Pilgrim during WII as he confronts his own demons in a search for meaning. An incredibly well written and forward-thinking book, it is one that every man should read at some point in their lives. Do you want to read it? Get the book here.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
This is the spirited and ultimately devastating story of inmates at a mental hospital and the nurse that one patient is determined to challenge. The novel is somewhat heroic and completely unrestrained. It’s a unique look into the mental wards of the mid-1960s and the patients and staff that inhabited them. If you would like to read this, check here.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The classic story of an ordinary young man who due to a chain of unusual events is taken from his peasant roots and into the upper echelons of society. As he strives to become a proper gentleman, we watch his life intertwine with London’s aristocrats and underworld. A truly mesmerizing story, it will be one book you’ll have trouble putting down. Read it here.
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
When Ernest Hemingway went to war in 1918, he served as an ambulance driver in Italy where he was wounded and received medals for his bravery. This book charts his experiences as he vividly shows us the fear, camaraderie and courage the men in his unit persevered through. It is a love story, a drama and a passionate and vivid account of his experience in the war to end all wars. Get a copy here.
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
A tale of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812, this novel focuses on a selection of characters from all classes including noblemen, peasants, soldiers and civilians. It details their struggles, their passions and the fight they did and did not believe in. It is a moving story full of passion, grit and intrigue. I guarantee your local library has a copy of this somewhere. Click here to read now.
The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Davis Wyss
One of my favorite stories as a child and still one worthy of a read from time to time, this heroic adventure details the plight of a family who is shipwrecked on a desert island and the life they make for themselves as they await rescue. It’s a dynamic tale of passion and courage thoughtfully written and perfect for younger men who crave a sense of adventure in their reading. Check it here.
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
A gripping thriller, this is the story of a unique pair of men, one small and quick while the other is large with the mind of a child. As they work in the California vegetable fields, they labor with a plan in place to own their acre of land and a shack they can call home. This is one book you won’t be able to put down. Click here to get a copy of the book.
Dracula by Bram Stoker
An epistolary novel, this is the story of the world’s most famous vampire and the people who encounter him. A gripping tale, it is uniquely written with focuses on sexuality, folklore, post-colonialism and gothic romanticism. It’s an exceptional tale and has led to an entire genre of vampire books, movies and stories that we love to tell. For your copy, gclick here.
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
The tale of a young Englishman who sets sail to find adventure. When he’s shipwrecked on a deserted island for thirty-five years, the story takes a turn to focus on the ingenuity of man, and the natural skill one possesses to stay alive. It is a story of determination, survival and a passion for life that will take you in and capture your heart. A must read for every adventurer. For your very own copy, click here.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The story of a boy and a runaway slave who travel down the Mississippi River on a raft in what turns out to be the greatest adventure of their lives. As they encounter obstacles we are shown a unique perspective of the realities of a boy’s mind and ones will to survive. If you didn’t read this book as a child, this is one you’ll still certainly enjoy today. Read it here.
Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
The story of a man on the run after stealing a loaf of bread and the lawman who chases him over the course of many decades. This is the book that inspired the hit Broadway musical and it’s a shattering story full of hope, despair and love. Exceptionally well written, it will take you on a journey of emotions as you follow the life of a man who made a mistake and is judged on it rather than how he lives his life. Grab a copy here.
I could have easily written a book detailing all the novels that have inspired me and changed my life dramatically. A good novel can do that. It can break you, repair you and inspire you in ways that a movie cannot. I hope that you enjoyed this article and get as much from these books as I have over the years.