Wednesday, September 28, 2011

75 Books every man should read, according to Esquire. I don't think so.

Here we go with one of those pretentious lists that tell you what you have to read. This is another one of those telling men what they should read in order to be more manly or sophisticated or whatever. As I quoted when I blogged about another list, which I labeled "The 'Muy Macho' Reading List" back in 2008, "Real Men read whatever they want to and don't give a fat crap about some list or what other people think." I still agree with that. I read whatever I want, and I care little for what others think. I especially care little for lists that emphasize dead white males and/or "classics" that in some cases are better off forgotten. Anyhow, here is Esquire's list "The 75 Books Every Man Should Read." They claim it is "an unranked, incomplete, utterly biased list of the greatest works of literature ever published." Since they ask how many people have read, and I am a sucker for replying to that kind of question, here is the list. Any items in bold are items I have read. I will add an asterisk (*) next to ones I would consider reading in some not so near future. For most, odds are good I probably do not give a hoot. As I have said in other posts, for a lot of classics I may not have read, I already know the basic plot points, so I see no point in bothering to spend the time to read a book I already know what it's about and know the major references. I've usually learned this information from helping students researching such works, or from my time spent studying tools like Masterplots. As usual for me, my snarky comments are included.

The list:

  • Raymond Carver, What we talk about when we talk about love.
  • John Cheever, Collected Stories of John Cheever
  • James Dickey, Deliverance. (Seen the movie. Often, I feel curious about reading a book that a movie was based on, but this I think I will skip. Humans turning into animals--as in behavior, not transformation-- just is not appealing to me. Same reason I pretty much do not care for Lord of the Flies).
  • John Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath. (I know I read some Steinbeck when I was in graduate school, but goes to show what little impression he left since I can't quite recall. I feel no major urgency to read this, but who knows. Maybe some day).
  • Cormac McCarthy. Blood Meridian.* (I feel I should read at least one book by this guy. May be this one, or something else). 
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov.* (My mother always said I should read this at one point. I may have to take her up on the suggestion sometime).
  • Edward P. Jones, The Known World
  • Studs Terkel, The Good War
  • Philip Roth, American Pastoral. (I honestly do not give a rodent's derriere about Roth).
  • Flannery O'Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories. (I have not read this particular anthology, but I have read her work. What I have read is enough to make me hate her).
  • Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried. (I did enjoy this one).
  • James Salter, A Sport and a Pastime. 
  • Jack London, The Call of the Wild. (Read it sometime in middle school).
  • Martin Amis, Time's Arrow. (Him and Kingsley are two more writers I do not give a hoot about. I had to read Martin Amis' Money in graduate school. Another book I hated).
  • John McPhee, A Sense of Where You Are
  • Hunter S. Thompson, Hell's Angels.* (I may pick this one up or a different Hunter S. Thompson up. We'll see).
  • Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
  • James Joyce, Dubliners. (This bloated, overrated tripe, and his other works, can go in the bin of forgetfulness as far as I am concerned. Why so-called snobs and scholars swoon over this unreadable guy is beyond me).
  • John Updike, Rabbit, Run.(Another white American I could not care less about).
  • James M. Cain, The Postman Always Rings Twice
  • Robert Stone, Dog Soldiers
  • Daniel Woodrell, Winter's Bone
  • Jim Harrison, Legends of the Fall. (Did see the movie they made of this, and even though the genre not my usual cup of tea, I did like. I may or not give the book a chance someday).
  • Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano
  • Norman Mailer, The Naked and the Dead
  • W.C. Heinz, The Professional
  • Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bells Toll.*
  • Michael Herr, Dispatches
  • Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer. (I am told I have to read Henry Miller at least once. We'll see. Seems a bit too literary for what I tend to like. Don't get me wrong, I do like some literary fiction, but it is rare and far between).
  • Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road
  • William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying. (The fact that I had this inflicted on me in graduate school assured that I will never, ever read Faulkner again).
  • Michael Shaara, The Killer Angels. (This is actually one book on this list I have enjoyed enough to count as one of my favorites).
  • Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
  • Robert Penn Warren, All the King's Men
  • Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • William Styron, Sophie's Choice
  • Frederick Exley, A Fan's Notes.
  • Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim. (See my note above for Martin Amis).
  • Haruki Murakami, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle
  • Patrick O'Brien, Master and Commander.* (This maritime adventure genre is one I have to try out sometime).
  • Kent Haruf, Plainsong
  • John Kennedy Tool, A Confederacy of Dunces
  • Russell Banks, Affliction
  • Tobias Wolff, This Boy's Life
  • Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
  • Saul Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March
  • Charles Bukowski, Women
  • Stephen Wright, Going Native
  • Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
  • John Le Carre, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Crack-up. (Having read The Great Gatsby pretty much assures I won't be reading Fitzgerald ever again).
  • George Saunders, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline
  • Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace.* (Hey, it's a big classic. I may or not get to it in this lifetime, but I at least want it as a life goal to read it someday).
  • Stephen King, The Shining. (Have not read this one, but I have read a few other King novels).
  • Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio
  • Herman Melville, Moby Dick
  • Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children.
  • Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths. (As far as I am concerned, Borges can do no wrong. One should read in Spanish).
  • Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff
  • Richard Ford, The Sportswriter.
  • James Ellroy, American Tabloid
  • Alex Haley, The Autobiography of Malcolm X.*
  • Richard Ben Cramer, What It Takes
  • Dashiell Hammett, The Continental Op. (I have read some Hammett, but I have not read this yet. I've got to get to it).
  • Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory. (I read some Greene in grad school. Same as other graduate school inflictions, reading one of his works assures I am not touching another).
  • William Maxwell, So Long, See You Tomorrow
  • Richard Wright, Native Son
  • James Agee and Walker Evans, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
  • Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose
  • David McCullough, The Great Bridge. (I do want to read some McCullough sometime).
  • Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums. (What the appeal of On the Road is clearly is lost on me. I hated that book, so I am certainly skipping this one).
  • Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove. (Well, that was one depressing mini-series, even with the relatively good cast it had. It did have some good pathos, but not enough to make me pick up the book).
  • Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
  • Don DeLillo, Underworld
  • Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. (Read it in 6th grade. Who thought inflicting this on a sixth-grader was a good idea?). 
 I've only read 8 out of the whole sorry bunch. Not surprisingly, I don't feel like I have missed much. There are one or two books I would not mind reading, but nothing I feel urgency about. Anyhow, there they are. If you've read any of these and want to try to convince me they deserve a chance, feel free to comment. If you want to tell me to stay away from any of these, that is fine too.

Now I am getting back to some actually fun reading. So, what I am currently reading? As of this post, I am reading the following:

  • C.S. Goto, Blood Ravens: The Dawn of War Omnibus (Warhammer 40,000). 
  • Will Eisner, The Best of The Spirit.
  • Hardy Green, The Company Town
  • Don Vorhees, The Perfectly Useless Book of Useless Information.
Be honest. Doesn't the stuff I am reading sound a lot more fun than the stuffy books on the list? And I have a nice balance of fiction (science fiction), nonfiction, graphic novel, and trivia. Anyhow, as the old saying goes, "every reader his/her book, and every book its reader." Finally, if you want to see what I am reading at any given time, there is a GoodReads widget on the right hand column of this blog.


    Anonymous said...

    I'll recommend Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, but then I think everything by Kurt Vonnegut is wonderful and I'm a girl, so what do I know.... :-)

    Angel, librarian and educator said...

    Mostraum: Recommendations always welcome. Best, and keep on blogging.

    Mark said...

    I counted 6 or so that I've read. There are a few I still want/intend to read but most of them I do not.

    I agree; choose what you want to read.