Being a man means so much more than the ability to grow hair on your chest and nether bits. To some, being a man means having the knowledge and ability to be able to and fight for what you believe in, to stand up for those who can’t. To others, it means being able to smoke a cigar and enjoy a fine whiskey. To me, being a man means being comfortable with who I am. These are ten books that helped me decide who I am as a man.
If this book does not change the way you look at your life and your Government, then nothing will. George Orwell wrote 1984 in 1949, but bar a few dated references, this could have been written yesterday as a commentary on the world that we live in today. Once you finish 1984, pick up Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, whichever you like more, you will not look at the world the same way.
On the Road – Jack Kerouac
Love it or hate it, On the Road is the diary of a generation. Kerouac’s novel is the perfect journal of the beat generation who, sick of living in the suburbs, threw off the 9 to 5 shackles and got On the Road.
This is, as the name suggests, a short history of quite a lot of things. Things such as the Earth, the solar system, the Universe, the Big Bang, the human Body, ecology, zoology, physics, chemistry. Like it says, nearly everything. Delivered with Bill Bryson’s clever humor and wit, this is the only way I have ever read about physics and actually enjoyed it.
Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
This is one of those books that you simply must read if you want to consider yourself an educated man. Heart of Darkness is the story of British Imperialism vs. the “Savages” of Africa and the institutionalised racism of colonialism that made it all possible. It takes the reader on a journey downwards, downwards towards the madness and inner turmoil that exists in every one of us. Heart of Darkness is one of the few books to ever make me genuinely uncomfortable about myself, but got re-read nonetheless.
Vonnegut has to have a place on this list somewhere, let us give his masterpiece number 5 on the list. Slaughterhouse Five is ostensibly about war. It asks why we as humans feel the need to destroy whenever we are given the chance. It ponders what it might be like to be of those that we are told to hate. It tells us that any which way we justify war is just as absurd as another.
Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
This book is almost always dismissed as being perverted pornography, but that could not be farther from the truth. It deals with a highly unpleasant subject, paedophilia. But it is so much more than just a porno book for pervs. It is a wonderfully written book that is designed to make you uncomfortable, that is designed to make you question certain things that you know to be true, to delve into the darkest places of the human psyche. Being an adult means being exposed to things that you don’t like, Lolita will certainly do that, but it does it with wit and humour to make this dark trip just that little bit easier.
To me this is the single most heartbreaking book on earth. Every child on earth that plays Call of Duty or Battlefield video games should be forced to read this book first. War is not a game, and All Quiet on the Western Front tells the real story of war. The gruesome, depressing, utter hopelessness of the “Adventure” of man murdering his fellow man.
Tasting Beer: An Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink
This is all getting a bit depressing, so let’s loosen things up. You are a man, you should know not only how to drink and enjoy a beer, but to be able to tell the difference between mass produced swill and actual quality beer. The best part about buying this book is that it gives you a perfect excuse to drink quite a lot of beer.
The Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams.
If the world often seems like it is slowly going crazy and you are the only sane one, fear not, you are not alone. Douglas Adams takes everything that you know to be true, these things that you take for granted, and turns them upside down to show you the pure absurdity of human nature. It’s utterly absurd, it’s absolutely ridiculous, and its bloody good fun.
The Bible/ The Koran – God
Whatever you thoughts on religions place in today’s world may be, these two books have shaped and changed the world more than any other books ever have and perhaps ever will.
If you are religious, you can be saved by a book you didn’t read. St Peter isn’t going to check your library on your way through the pearly gates.
If you are not religious then reading these books can give you a better insight into those that do, and a good look at why civilization developed the way it did, as well as a few good arguing points along the way.