Friday, May 23, 2008

The "Muy Macho" Reading List

Hey! Hey! Hey, hey, hey!
Macho, macho man (macho man)
I've got to be, a macho man
Macho, macho man
I've got to be a macho! (dig the hair on my chest)

--Lyrics to "Macho Man" by Village People

I came across this "100 Must-Read Books: The Essential Man's Library" from The Art of Manliness site. It is practically guaranteed to make you grow some chest hair if you are lacking it (or in my case, it could get even more hairy). Seriously folks, as one commenter on LISNews, where I first got the link, says, "Real Men read whatever they want to and don't give a fat crap about some list or what other people think." The list overall seems to be geared mostly to dead authors and thick classics that I highly doubt a lot of men these days would read unless forced to. But it is a list that contains, according to the blogger, "the top 100 books that have shaped the lives of individual men while also helping define broader cultural ideas of what it means to be a man." Sure, if you say so. I think some books may do a bit of that. Others are just plain fun like H. Rider Haggard, but there are authors missing, like Jules Verne. How can you have adventure books and not have Jules Verne? Anyhow, I think a lot of the choices here are somewhat predictable for a manly kind of list. You know I have to ask if a 100 list for women is coming. Any ladies out there making one? Let us know. I will make a note to see if I read them too or not.

So, here is the actual list, which I took the time to compile in a simple list for your convenience, with my usual snarky comments in parenthesis:

Bold= read it

  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (read in college)
  • The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli (anyone interested in leadership without the touchy-feely kumbaya crap should read this.)
  • Slaughter-house Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • 1984 by George Orwell (read it when I was teaching in high school, so likely won't be reading it again anytime soon. Good book, but dissecting it for teens sort of ruined it for me).
  • The Republic by Plato
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (been meaning to read some Dostoevsky.)
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (hated this. I read it to say I did. I should have skipped it. I have mentioned before: this book is way overrated. What people see in its loser protagonist is beyond me.)
  • The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (skip this. Read P.J. O'Rourke's On The Wealth of Nations instead. It has a good overview, plus some humor, and easier to digest).
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway (I have mostly read his short fiction. One of these days I may pick up one of his novels.)
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (another guy I read the short works.)
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.
  • How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  • The Call of the Wild by Jack London. (I did read this as a boy.)
  • The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris
  • The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann D. Wyss.
  • The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac.
  • The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer.
  • Catch-22: A Novel by Joseph Heller.
  • Walden by Henry David Thoreau.
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  • Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. (I read it. Hated it. By the way, The Fountainhead is not on this list, curiously enough, which might be a bit more appropriate. Not that The Fountainhead is great either, but if you have to read Rand, it is better than Atlas Shrugged, and shorter.)
  • The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
  • Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins
  • White Noise by Don DeLillo
  • Ulysses by James Joyce
  • Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy
  • Seek: Reports from the Edges of America & Beyond by Denis Johnson
  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Steppenwolf: A Novel by Hermann Hesse
  • The Book of Deeds of Arms and of Chivalry by Christine de Pizan
  • The Art of Warfare by Sun Tzu. (I read it and own it. This is definitely a must-read not just for guys, but anybody interested in leadership.)
  • Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes. (I read this in Spanish, in high school. And by the way, I read it in that original 1600s Spanish, not some modern rewrite. That little fact is what stops a lot of people from reading it. Ha! If you can actually read this as Cervantes wrote it, it will definitely make your chest hairs grow. Ladies? I am sure if you read it, something will grow too.)
  • Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.
  • The Divine Comedy (The Inferno, The Purgatorio, and The Paradiso) by Dante Alighieri. (Yep, read all of this too).
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. (read The Lord of the Rings trilogy too.)
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck (I did read Harry Harrison's West of Eden years ago. Does that count?)
  • Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
  • The Thin Red Line by James Jones.
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. (I also read Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I read both of these back in 6th grade.)
  • Politics by Aristotle
  • Boy Scouts Handbook: The Official Handbook for Boys , The Original Edition by Boy Scouts of America (have not read the original, but I did read the handbook at one point since I am an Eagle Scout).
  • Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
  • Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
  • The Crisis by Winston Churchill
  • The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell.
  • Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche
  • The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton.
  • Moby-Dick or, The Whale by Herman Melville.
  • Essential Manners for Men: What to Do, When to Do It, and Why by Peter Post (have not read this one, but I have read enough to know my manners. Plus my parents actually made sure I knew my manners. I think these days a good number of parents fail severely in teaching manners to their kids.)
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. (What? No Dracula? No Jekyll and Hyde? And yes, I have read those two as well.)
  • The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn
  • A Separate Peace by John Knowles
  • A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  • The Stranger by Albert Camus
  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe.
  • John Steinbeck's the Pearl (Barron's Book Notes) by Carol Forman. (I have read The Pearl. Not sure why the blogger picked a Book Notes text of all things.)
  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac. (read it. Another overrated book.)
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.
  • A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  • Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco. (I did read The Name of the Rose. Pretty good actually, but it is a book you have to make time for.)
  • The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux
  • Fear and Trembling/Repetition : Kierkegaard's Writings, Vol. 6 by Soren Kierkegaard
  • Undaunted Courage : Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West by Stephen Ambrose. (have not read any Ambrose, and after some of the recent plagiarism allegations, not sure I will. I pretty much dislike plagiarists.)
  • Paradise Lost by John Milton.
  • Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
  • The American Boy's Handy Book: Build a Fort, Sail a Boat, Set a Trap, Throw a Boomerang, Make a Telescope, Fish in the Ice, Camp Without a Tent and Discover 150 Other Adventurous Activities by Daniel Carter Beard (have not read it, but sounds like a cool book.)
  • Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer
  • King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard. (And I also read Allan Quartermain. I have She on the TBR pile. By the way, I also notice that Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs is also missing from this list. And no Carter of Mars series either? What gives? It does not get any more manly than Edgar Rice Burroughs. And while we are at it, no Robert E. Howard either? There is some serious lack of manliness in this list it seems.).
  • The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • A River Runs through It and Other Stories by Norman Maclean
  • The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells.
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X. (ooh look, a Black guy. Needed to have some diversity I guess?)
  • Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas père.
  • All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque.
  • The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (after reading a lot of Crane's other stuff, such as Maggie, I think I can do without this for a while.)
  • Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans, Plutarch's Lives by Plutarch.
  • The Strenuous Life: Essays and Addresses by Theodore Roosevelt
  • Holy Bible. (Yep. I actually read the Bible cover to cover. And by the way, as a recovering Catholic, I read the Catholic version when I was younger, so that means a few extras protestants leave out. I think regardless of religious belief or heathenism, one should read the Bible just to have an idea what the book contains as well as other religious works.)
  • Lonesome Dove: A Novel by Larry McMurtry (This is one I would like to read.)
  • The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett. (I have read some of his other short works. Cool stuff. Have to read this sometime. And what, no Mickey Spillane? What would be more macho than Mike Hammer?)
  • The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler. (Read his short fiction too.)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
  • The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn Iggulden
  • The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. (This is one of my favorite books.)
  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin.
  • The Histories by Herodotus.
  • From Here to Eternity by James Jones
  • The Frontier In American History by Frederick Jackson Turner
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values by Robert M. Pirsig
  • Self-Reliance and Other Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Well, I have read 35 books on the list. The issue with classics for me is that for a good number of them I already know the plot. Thus I have no incentive to pick them up. For other authors, I have read their short works, so not as urgent for me to read the work listed, or I have read a different novel. And, as with many lists like these, I always notice works missing, or rather works I would have included instead. Some of those I noted above. Anyhow, a nice look at some of the things I have read.

P.S. John Klima picked on this list as well.

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