Friday, April 9, 2010

Manly Library: A Reading List (Part 1/4)

Just because school is soon to be out doesn't mean we can neglect reading for three months!  Consider this my public service message for reading! The more you know!

Butterfly in the sky...I can fly twice as high! Take a look! Its in a book! Its


On the Art of Manliness website, I have discovered a list of the 100 Books every man should read.

Being both a man and literate, I decided to see how I am doing thus far in my man-life.  It seems I have quite a bit of reading to do before I die.

100. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald                    Status: Read
I remember reading this one in high school and finding it tolerable.  It does, however, teach the man-lesson that often times the wanting is better than the having.
“He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles… It faced–or seemed to face–the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor.”

99. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli                                Status: Read
Loved this one.  Machiavelli gets a bad rap, but really he's just putting forward a neo-realistic's guide to gettingn power and keeping it.

"From this arises an argument: whether it is better to be loved than feared. I reply that one should like to be both one and the other; but since it is difficult to join them together, it is much safer to be feared than to be loved when one of the two must be lacking."

98. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut                       Status: Unread.  Want to Read.

I think I'm the only person in the world who didn't have to read this book in high school.  From what I heard, I missed out.

97. 1984 by George Orwell                                                 Status: Read

Loved  this one.  Rarely is a book so influential that the author's name becomes an adjective to describe an entire concept, but 1984 introduces the "Orwellian" future dystopia to modern readers.

“But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”

96. The Republic by Plato                                                 Status: Read

I not only read this, I was a student teacher for a class based around it.  Every man should be a philosopher, and there's no better place to start than with Plato, the foundation of western thought.

95. Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky              Status: Unread. Ambivalent.

This one is mostly intimidating by its bulk, though thankfully its not War and Peace.  I hope to get around to this one eventually, but its not high on the priority list.

94. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger                    Status: Unread. Ambivalent.

I think I missed the window of opportunity here.  When I was 16 or 17 I might've had enough angst and cynicism to be on board, but that ship has sailed.

93. The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith                     Status: Read

Another gem of my college education, this little book of common sense set the wheels of modern economics turning.  

“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.” 

92. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway        Status: Unread. Curious

Hemingway is one of those authors so manly that even his semi-auto-biographical adventure books turn out to be rather tame compared to the adventure that was his actual life.

91. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde           Status: Unread. Want to read.

For all of you dapper gents and debonair swashbucklers, this book is full of impeccable wit and clever one-liners guaranteed to put the Bond back into your game.  Its a novel about pure decadence, and that's straightup interesting.  Its one of the reasons I loved "Dangerous Liaisons".

90. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck                 Status: Read.

Another high school English book, I remember it being long and dry, perhaps not unlike California grapes left too long on the vine in the sun.  It does have some manly qualities, most notably the lenghts a man will go to provide for his family.

“Fear the time when the strikes stop while the great owners live – for every little beaten strike is proof that the step is being taken…fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is the foundation of Manself, and this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe.”

89. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley                       Status: Unread. Curious.

I'm always a sucker for a dystopian future..

88. How to Win Friends and Influence People  by Dale Carnegie             Status: Unread. Ambivalent

I've never been a fan of self-help books, but this one pre-dates that craze.  This is a subject I've never had much trouble with, thanks to a liberal dotage of wit and  charisma, but there's always room for improvement.  

87. Call of the Wild  by Jack London                            Status: Unread. Ambivalent

I'm a little tired of the 'man vs. nature' survival novel, but if I were to go back and read one, I'd select this one.  I love me some Alaskan sled dogs.

86. The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris                 Status: Unread.  HOLY CRAP THIS BOOK EXISTS?!

Theodore Roosevelt is the manliest American president ever! Even his biography doesn't have a lame title like "The Life of Theodore Roosevelt" or even "Theodore Roosevelt: Bear Killer".  Its the RISE of THEODORE ROOSEVELT.  Like its the ascension of a new epoch of manliness and mustaches, which, in a way, it was. I can't believe I never knew about this book!

85. Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss                          Status: Unread. Ambivalent

I might've liked this one as a boy but the magic of building tree houses and fighting pirates is something that doesn't quite grasp my imagination anymore.

84. Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac                                                 Status: Unread. Curious.

A book about escaping the pressures of modern life and getting back to appreciating the simple things.  I'm basically living that life right now in my poverty...after reading this book I can say its more of a beatnik disdain for wealth and stability and less the result of student loans.

83. The Illiad and Odyssey of Homer                                            Status: Read

(2 for 1 special). The first thing I did after learning how to read was devour all the Dr. Seuss books in the kindergarten library.  Once that was done, the SECOND thing I did was wander into the Mythology section and start reading everything I could get my hands on in Greek and Roman mythology.  I've loved it ever since, and these two books do not disappoint my thirst for the epic.

82. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller                                                      Status: Unread. Curious.

Another book that influenced modern terminology.  Don't be a Michael Scott and use this phrase without a passing familiarity of its origins.  

81. Walden by Henry David Thoreau                                           Status: Read

This one goes back to my teenage years, sitting outside in a tree in the summer waxing philosophical and even sentimental about the tranquility of nature.  Though I'm not totally on board with the Transcendental movement, I think ever man deserves a sabbatical from the this modern life at least once.

80.  Lord of the Flies  by William Golding                                   Status: Unread. Want to read.

Another high school classic that I missed out on.  I've always been fascinated by sociology and human behavior, as well as what happens when you strip the veneer of civilization from our brutal natures.

79.  The Master and the Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov        Status: Unread. Curious.

My exposure to Russian literature is sadly lacking, but this one sounds good.  The devil visits Moscow and makes fun of their enlightened skepticism. 

78.  Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut                                              Status: Unread. Curious.

Written as a fake autobiography, its supposed to be a hillarious take on abstract art that makes fun of the inflated self-importance of the artists and the high brow elite who consume it.

77.  Atlas Shrugged by  Ayn Rand                                           Status: Read.

An intimidating read at 1,084 pages, this was the perfect companion for one of my trans-atlantic flights to Europe.  The fundamental concept is that our world falls apart when individuals stop seeking their own satisfaction through personal achievement and feel a sense of entitlement to the accomplishments and work of others. This book challenges us on many levels…you may find it conflicting with your value of other people, her treatment of God, or any other beliefs you already hold. Yet, who can argue with “The most depraved type of human being … (is) the man without a purpose.” 

76.  The Metamorphosis by  Frank Kafka                                Status: Unread. Curious

A man wakes up in his bed finding himself transformed into monstrous vermin? Interesting premise..

Considering the bulk of my university education has been based around French literature, I'd say I'm not doing too badly.  Still, there's a lot left to read...  Next post I will look at 75-51 on the list.  In the meantime, what books have you read? Are there any on the list that I haven't read that you think aren't worth the read?  Men, what books on this list are on your "to read" bucket list?  Which ones have you read and enjoyed?  Which of my unread books should be highest on the priority list? Lowest?

Ladies, what about you?  Its a Manly Library, but there's no surer way to learn how we think than to read the compilation of literature on the subject of manliness.

And with that, I'm off to go sit in the park and read.


  1. Go read Dorian Gray, at once! "Women represent the triumph of matter over mind, just as men represent the triumph of mind over morals." You would love it.

    La Duchesse du Rogier

  2. I would actually recommend How to Win Friends and Influence People. Its title makes it sounds like it's written for losers and loners, but it's actually more like a leadership manual, discussing tactics in dealing with delicate situations and gaining clout and respect as a mover of people.

    Catch-22 is also a good one. It explores the psychology of young men dying while old men talk.

  3. Ok, I'm going to give you more information that you probably want because I'm enjoying sitting down for the first time today and want an excuse to not get up for a few minutes. :) Also, I like reading and weighing in on books.

    I won't feel guilty about not having read the books I haven't read since I'm not a man and the list is for men.

    The Great Gatsby - Love this one
    The Prince - Read it a couple times for school. Liked it.
    Slaughterhouse 5 - Started it, wasn't in the right place to finish it.
    1984- In my top 5 favorites
    The Republic - only read part of it.
    Brothers Karamazov - Have not read it.
    The Catcher in the Rye - Also in my top five.
    The Wealth of Nations - Read parts.
    For Whom The Bell Tolls - I actually haven't read this even though I love Hemingway.
    The Picture of Dorian Gray - An amazing book. I love it.
    The Grapes of Wrath - I don't like Steinbeck. I find him dry.
    Brave New World - Another of my favorite books
    How to win friends and influence people - Should read.
    Call of the Wild - No. Probably won't read either, but you never know.
    The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt - Never heard of it.
    Swiss Family Robinson - Nah.
    Dharma Bums - Haven't heard of it.
    The Illiad and Odyssey - Read most of it.
    Catch-22 - Unread
    Walden - I love nature but I don't like Thoreau.
    Lord of the Flies - disturbing but good.

    I haven't read the rest listed.

  4. That's exactly how much information I want. Color me impressed. Even if you were a man, having read that many of them is nothing to sneeze at.

  5. Steinbeck makes me want to poke my eyes out... I had to read Grapes of Wrath in high school- hated it. I also had to read The Red Pony in junior high- hated it.

    This list reminded me of a couple books I wanted to read- Dorian Gray, Great Gatsby, Lord of the Flies.

  6. Ender's Game - Orscon Scott Card
    Great story set in the future. I think you may have read this one, but I can't recall. It's something you MUST read before you die. That is all.

    The Watchmen - Alan Moore
    I think I recall you saying you've read this one. If not, give it a read, but, honestly, the movie was a better depiction of Moore's vision IMO. Really thought-provoking, though.

    The Dialogues of Socrates - Plato
    Socrates doing what he does best. The great thing about these two books (usually split into two books, at least) is that it reads like a witty play, but it also enlightens the living crap out of you. Win-win. It's thick, but entertaining. A man so brilliant he was killed for being too smart. ...not that that's incredibly uncommon in the earlier years of civilization.

    Meditations - Renee Descartes
    A well-written, gentleman philosopher. You've gotta love these guys. You don't even have to bother with all of the topics, really. I mean, he goes off on an inner eye bit that's not particularly cogent. At any rate, you may have already read this as well since it's a big part of French history...?

  7. Ender's Game- Read it, recommended it to you. Met Orson Scott Card at BYU (he's a Mormon, after all, gotta support my peeps)

    The Watchmen- Also read it and recommended it to you. I liked teh movie a lot but I do miss the extras like the parallel castaway comic within the comic.

    Plato- I've read part of this but not all.

    Meditations- Read most of this one for a French literature class. Descartes is kind of a genius.

    It seems our taste in books is similar, Cerebrate.

  8. Wandered onto your blog from Taren's Free Flan (That's what I do in the middle of not writing papers).
    Lord of the Flies--please do it soon. Symbolism is wonderful.
    And never write off Dale Carnegie. He's really good. It's not just about meeting and influencing people--it's also about making others feel important/valued; something we could all be a little more careful with.

  9. Sounds like Carnegie's going on the list next. I just started Oscar Wilde first.

  10. Well, look at all of us drawn together by Flan. How exciting!

    I agree with Liz about Lord of the Flies. It's a great book and a quick read. So, if you're looking for something high-quality that doesn't require a huge time investment, go for it.

    Brothers Karamazov, on the other hand, does require a big investment. I thought the book was great and Dostoyevsky is fantastic, but I always feel like I'm watching a train wreck happen when I read his books. I want to take my eyes away, but I just can't. (I feel the same about Steinbeck, oddly enough.)

    And, if it makes you feel better, I missed out on Slaughterhouse-Five as well. I guess it's time for a trip to the library.

  11. Oh, I love "For Whom The Bell Tolls", totally recommend it!! I think the status should change to 'must read' :)

  12. Brothers Karamazov seems like a perfect candidate for an audio book. That's how I got through the Fountainhead..

    So many good suggestions. It seems the ladies in the blogo-world really know their manly literature!

  13. Look what I found! Your blog!!!

  14. Metamorphosis- creepy, yet interesting. However, protagonist's plight gets a little old after a while.
    Catcher in the Rye- better when read on a rainy day.
    Grapes of Wrath- agreed; long, dry, boring and altogether not worth being required reading.
    Picture of Dorian Gray- totally worth the time, every freakin' second of it.