Reading a good book is just like spending time with a fine woman—it’s engaging, entertaining, and can teach you a lot about life and the human condition (or even test your patience). It’s one of the many acts that separate man from beast. So don’t just stare at your computer screen or mobile phone, stick your nose into some real literature for a change. In fact, we’ve got the perfect reading list for you right here, a veritable tome of titles that every man needs to read. And hey, if you’ve already read most of these, pat yourself on the back. You’re on your way to becoming a modern-day literati.
1) Moby Dick by Herman Melville
It’s big. It’s meaty. It dives. Is there a manlier book is out there? We never know why the whale is called Moby Dick. Or why Ahab can’t get over the fact that it ate his leg. But from the first line, “Call Me Ishmael,” we’re hooked.
2) Why We Can’t Wait by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Freedom of speech and expression also means defending the freedom to read whatever you want. Best quote: “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” Makes you wonder why we haven’t ousted a president lately.
3) Wealth Within Your Reach: Pera Mo, Palaguin Mo by Francisco
Quit bitching about your empty wallet and bank account. Learn to make some money for yourself in the long-term.
4) Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
Ever asked why the rich are rich and you are not? Kiyosaki says poor people are poor because nobody taught them how to make money. Start your education here.
5) The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
The movie versions were fantastic. But the original novels are way better.
6) A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
Before there was the epic HBO series, there was this! Sex, violence, and political turmoil set in a fantasy realm? Pledge your allegiance, stat!
7) The Art of War by Sun Tzu
Still the book for strategy in actual war, business, or for overcoming other challenges by manipulating resources and people. Learn to be a strategist at work and in your personal life.
8) The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi
Sun-Tzu’s book teaches collective strategy while Musashi wrote his book of strategy for the individual warrior. The two books complement each other—and we don’t mean that they say nice words to one another, geez.
9) Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal
Incredibly, after reading this, you realize how little the Philippines has changed since 1887—same problems, same traitors, and same cowards, same lucky evil people lording above us when not moderating their greed. It’s irritating, true, what do we do about it?
10) Dracula by Bram Stoker
Screw Stephenie Meyer for ruining vampires! This is the most enduring vampire tale of all-time, featuring literature’s most evil, hypnotic, sensual sucker.
11) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Started the ball rolling for every “Man Plays God” book and film that came along. Frankenstein’s monster has been updated into The Terminator, The Fly, The Island of Dr. Moreau, and Blade Runner.
12) The Trilogy of Saint Lazarus by Cirilo Bautista
A contemporary epic on the history of the Filipino nation that took Bautista nearly 30 years to write. It will feel that long to actually finish reading this. So read it in parts, aloud and feel that epic sensation.
13) Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert
Of all the wanton women in Western literature, Madame Bovary’s adulterous exploits endure. And with good reason.
14) On The Road by Jack Kerouac
Kerouac and the rest of the Beat writers (Ginsberg, Burroughs, Cassidy, etc.) did for literature what The Beatles did for music. The Fab Four, in fact, would not exist without the Beat Generation’s influence on rock and roll.
15) Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
Sex, drugs, and culinary exploits. Celebrity chef Bourdain’s now-classic exposé of the restaurant industry’s underbelly was seductive to say the least. It changed the game for chefs everywhere.
16) Memories, Dreams and Reflections by Carl Jung
Read this for a crash course on the collective unconscious. Then ask a honey to spend the night over so you can “read” her dreams.
17) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
A twisted and subversive meditation (which also acts a cautionary tale) on modern marriage disguised as a salacious thriller. The David Fincher movie adaptation is equally arresting.
18) The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
This Pulitzer Prize-winning page-turner chronicles the highs and lows of a Dominican geek struggling to assimilate himself in, of all places, New Jersey. Expect themes on the trappings of diaspora, identity crisis, and, of course, falling in love.
19) The Fight by Norman Mailer
Mailer creates art from the savage, sweet spectacle of the iconic Muhammad Ali-George Foreman fight in Zaire, Africa. Includes the history of Ali’s “Rope-A-Dope” technique.
20) The Art of Expressing the Human Body and Jeet Kune Do by Bruce Lee
Discover how Lee trained to get the incredibly fit body he showed off in his films. These books reveal Lee as fitness guru, martial arts scholar and innovator who desired nothing less than perfection in his combat philosophy.
21) The Multi-Orgasmic Man by Mantak Chia co-authored with Douglas Abrams
Believe it or not, sexual ecstasy is possible for men over and over again. Contains exercises that could work—if you keep yourself from laughing long enough. Many attest to Chia’s tantric sex teachings, including the owner of a motel chain who is a practitioner.
22) The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort
It’s the Kama Sutra without the exotic, hard-to-understand words. This landmark book made sexual knowledge as homey, comfortable and casual as Martha Stewart—not that we’re advocating sex with the former prison inmate, okay?
23) The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The original, creep-fest haunted house story. Still delivers the scares after nearly 400 years.
24) Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
Classic novel on the spiritual quest. One believes enlightenment could be overrated. His friend thinks they’re just not working hard enough. Guess which one becomes the Buddha.
25) Rainer Maria Rilke (Selected Poems, Vintage Edition), Translated by Stephen Mitchell
If you plan to only read one poet in your life, get this book, which includes The Sonnets to Orpheus and the Duino Elegies. Stephen Mitchell provides absolutely the best translations for this god of German literature.
26) The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
War is all that men are good for. You come away with that thought after reading this novel, based on Mailer’s experiences as a World War II soldier fighting the Japanese in the Philippines. A scarring glimpse into how war twists and brutalizes the human soul.
27) Naked Lunch by William Burroughs
The bastard granddaddy of Trainspotting. Written during states of drug-fuelled insanity and psychosis, Burroughs plumbs the hellish depths of human despair, spinning his tale into a triumph of literature.
28) Total Basketball: The Ultimate Basketball Encyclopedia by Ken Shouler, Bob Ryan, Sam Smith, Leonard Koppett, Bob Belotti
Hardcore basketball fans should have this tome. More than just a collection of history, facts, stats, and trivia, it distills the passion felt for the game by every b-ball junkie.
29) The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Some believe Leo Tolstoy is the greatest Russian novelist. Well, this book was Tolstoy’s personal favorite. No other novel comes close to this, Dostoevsky’s examination of human goodness and human evil.
30) The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Vengeance. Intrigue. This thriller published in French in 1844 combines action and adventure in a suspense-filled package that’s also a whodunit in some parts. You root for hero Edmond Dantes all the way.
31) Selected Poems: Pablo Neruda (Penguin Edition) by Pablo Neruda
It’s a certified chick magnet, just like its Chilean author. Grab a copy, whisper the verses in her ear, and wait for fireworks to happen.
32) Poetry in the Making by Ted Hughes
What’s better than reading Neruda’s poetry to your beloved? Making your own, dedicated just to her. Ted Hughes simplifies the whole process without dumbing it down. This book is still the best basic guide to writing poems.
33) It by Stephen King
Stephen King at his best. It contains all the elements all his fans look for: horror, suspense, attention to detail, and the poignancy of childhood nostalgia, without being consciously “literary.”
34) Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King
The, ehem, King of horror’s latest collection of shorts is like watching a master sharpen his weapon of choice—which in his case is macabre and entertaining storytelling. It also provides readers with notes on each piece, allowing an enlightening peek into his dark process.
35) Collected Poems: Auden by W.H. Auden
“Lay your head, my love/human on my faithless arm.” Auden brings out the splendor of human language and experience in musical pieces with awesome clarity.
36) Nightmare at 20,000 Feet by Richard Matheson
Matheson is the idol of Stephen King and other horror fiction masters. His deceptively easy prose simply terrifies us. He wrote the novel I Am Legend (yes, the Will Smith film).
37) When Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
What’s better than a book you could read purely for laughs? Caution: may draw stares when you start laughing while reading in the train, bus, or your car.
38) How to Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Read this then run for public office. Also useful when pretending to be civilized in front of your girlfriend’s parents.
39) One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
This classic of Latin-American lineage is a huge but engaging book, well-worth the effort. Good for chatting up Latina beauties you might meet in the future.
40) The Four Quartets by T.S. Eliott
Don’t even bother with Eliott’s The Waste Land—not yet, anyway. Go for this shorter, much more mature work from the poet who brought poetry into the modern age.
41) Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings by Jorge Luis Borges
If you have no idea what Magical Realism is, get this book. Borges, born in 1899, predicted the World Wide Web way back in 1941—or so the scholars and critics say.
42) Kingdom Come (Graphic Novel) by Mark Waid and Alex Ross
There’s no better aphrodisiac than surviving an apocalypse: Superman and Wonder Woman finally get it on. A must-read DC Comics epic.
43) Sandman (10-part Graphic Novel) by Neil Gaiman
A landmark, sprawling epic that revived the comics industry in the 1990s. It still rocks even if you don’t get all the mythological, literary references.
44) The Killing Joke by Alan Moore
Barbara Gordon is shot (and possibly raped). The commissioner is kidnapped. Who’s the culprit? Joker, of course. This one-shot graphic novel from the comic book legend is twisted in all the right places.
45) American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Gods and other mythological beings hide in the USA, surviving on scraps of belief. Norse God-King Odin becomes a con artist. A goddess-prostitute literally sucks her clients in. Starz is turning it into a series starring English actor Ian McShane.
46) 300 (Graphic Novel) by Frank MillerIf this isn’t the most super-ultra-über-macho graphic novel ever made, we’ll kick you and your friends into a death-pit. Madness? Sparttttaaaahhhhhrghns…!
47) Mr. Skin’s Skintastic Video Guide: The 501 Greatest Movies for Sex & Nudity on DVD by Jim McBride
A reference book men used to only dream of is now available!
48) The Action Hero's Handbook: How to Catch a Great White Shark, Perform the Vulcan Nerve Pinch, Track a Fugitive, and Dozens of Other TV and Movie Skills by David Borgenicht and Joe Borgenicht
Contains very useful manly information on how to do the following: catch sharks; take a bullet; turn tension into passionate sex; fend off a ghost; fix a space shuttle; do a Jedi mind trick and Vulcan nerve pinch, and much more!
49) Readers Digest Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual
Why pay for a contractor when you can do the job yourself? Warning: some people believe that Readers Digest is a Central Intelligence Agency front.
50) The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White
Ever been the victim of atrociously worded text messages and email? Constantly annoyed by millennial-speak like “tbh” and “atm”? Nowadays, good English is not just a must, it’s absolutely sexy.
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