Friday, February 27, 2015

80 Books Every Man Should Read

 I came across this list of "The 80 Books Every Man Should Read" (I guess they are optional reading for women?) in Esquire magazine. Naturally, I had to take a look and see how I rate. In the interest of making things easier for my four readers to read, I am copying the list here without the usual commercial website bullshit. I will mark in bold books I have read. I will mark in bold also authors I have read (in other words, as often happens for me, I may not have read the book on the list, but I have read something else by that author). I will then add my usual commentary and snark.By the way, as often happens with high fallutin' lists like this, they are often mostly "classics" or literary stuff others think you ought to read, but that I could not care less about.

  1. Raymond Carver, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.
  2. John Cheever, Collected Stories of John Cheever. (I read something here or there in college, but I barely remember it.)
  3. James Dickey, Deliverance. 
  4. John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath. (I have read Steinbeck, just not this).
  5. Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian
  6. Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
  7. Edward P. Jones, The Known World
  8. Studs Terkel, The Good War
  9. Philip Roth, American Pastoral. (This is one of those I honestly could not care less.) 
  10. Flannery O'Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find. (Earlier in life I might have joked she is not looking hard enough. These days, I definitely concur. Then again, a good woman can also be hard to find, which makes one wonder how hard can it be for the good ones to find each other.)
  11. Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried.
  12. James Salter, A Sport and a Pastime. (To be honest, never heard of this one  until this list.)
  13. Jack London, The Call of the Wild. (Read this as a young lad.) 
  14. Martin Amis, Time's Arrow.
  15. John McPhee, A Sense of Where You Are
  16. Hunter S. Thompson, Hell's Angels
  17. Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man.
  18. James Joyce, Dubliners
  19. John Updike, Rabbit, Run
  20. James M. Cain, The Postman Always Rings Twice
  21. Robert Stone, Dog Soldiers
  22. Daniel Woodrell, Winter's Bone. (Another one I never heard of until this list.)
  23. Jim Harrison, Legends of the Fall
  24. Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano. (These days, there are quite a few folks I would love to toss into a volcano.)
  25. Norman Mailer, The Naked and the Dead
  26. W.C. Heinz, The Professional
  27. Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bells Toll
  28. Michael Herr, Dispatches
  29. Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer
  30. Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road
  31. William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying.
  32. Michael Shaara, The Killer Angels.
  33. Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five. (I read his Breakfast of Champions.)
  34. Robert Penn Warren, All the King's Men
  35. Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
  36. William Styron, Sophie's Choice
  37. Frederick Exley, A Fan's Note. (Another I never heard of, or as we say back in Puerto Rico, "en su casa lo conocen y le guardan comida.")
  38. Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim
  39. Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
  40. Patrick O'Brian, Master and Commander
  41. Kent Haruf, Plainsong
  42. John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces.
  43. Russell Banks, Affliction
  44. Tobias Wolff, This Boy's Life
  45. Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale
  46. Saul Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March. (Curiously enough, I did know a boy named Augie back in middle school. Thought it was the strangest name ever. No idea if he was named after the titular character here or not.)
  47. Charles Bukowski, Women.
  48. Stephen Wright, Going Native
  49. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness.
  50. John LeCarré, The Spy Who Came from the Cold.
  51. F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Crack-Up. (I read what most everyone reads by this guy, namely, The Great Gatsby, which personally I did not think was so great.)
  52. George Sanders, Civilwarland in Bad Decline
  53. Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
  54. Stephen King, The Shining. (I have read quite a bit of King, but this is one of the ones I have not read.)
  55. Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio. (Read it somewhere in graduate school. Don't really remember it.)
  56. Herman Melville, Moby Dick.
  57. Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children
  58. Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths (and by the way, I read it in the original Spanish. As the writers in Esquire write about this book: "Packs more into three pages than most writers pack into a career." I think that gives me a pass on the rest of the pretentious tripe and the unheard of items in this list.) 
  59. Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff
  60. Richard Ford, The Sportswriter
  61. James Ellroy, American Tabloid
  62.  Alex Haley, The Autobiography of Malcolm X. (This has been on my TBR list for a long time. I need to get to it sometime soon.)
  63. Richard Ben Cramer, What It Takes
  64. Dashiell Hammett, The Continental Op. (I have read some of his other stuff, but not this.)
  65. Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory (again, a case of I have read his other stuff. However, unlike Hammett, whom I liked, I could not care less about Greene.)
  66. William Maxwell, So Long, See You Tomorrow
  67. Richard Wright, Native Son
  68. James Agee and Walker Evans, Let Us Know Praise Famous Men
  69. Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose
  70. David McCullough, The Great Bridge. (I have not read any of his books yet. Another bunch of stuff in the TBR list). 
  71. Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums (I read his On the Road. I did not care for it, so I have no intention to pick up the other book.)
  72. Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove
  73. Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
  74. Don DeLillo, Underworld. (I did have to read some DeLillo in graduate school, but I do not recall what the hell it was, which tells you how little an impression he left. Another case of something I was forced to read.)
  75. Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. (I read it in sixth grade, along with Tom Sawyer.)
  76. Don Winslow, Savages
  77. Adam Johnson, The Orphan Master's Son
  78. Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk.
  79. Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin
  80. Cormac McCarthy, The Road

So I read 9 books and add 13 other authors. Good thing I am fairly secure in my masculinity or I would be worried. If this is what passes for what every man should read, I honestly have to wonder about modern manhood.


Eva said...

Let's see: They're all by men and only 3? of these guys have another language than English as their first language.
When it comes to this list words fail me.....

Angel Rivera said...

Eva: Yea, there was that too (the all by men and all, except one or two, in English).

Best, and keep on blogging.