Saturday, November 15, 2008

Esquire's 75 Books Every Man Should Read

As much as I enjoy book lists of all sorts, I don't tend to post them too often here on Book Chase. And then, of course, when I do post a list I always find myself embarrassed by how few books on the list I've actually read. That's why I wanted to see what would happen with this one, figuring I might do a little better than I usually do because it is specifically aimed at male readers.

This is Esquire Magazine's "The 75 Books Every Man Should Read: An unranked, incomplete, utterly biased list of the greatest works of literature ever published"
1. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, by Raymond Carver
2. Collected Stories of John Cheever
3. Deliverance, by James Dickey
4. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
5. Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy

6. The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
7. The Known World, by Edward P. Jones
8. The Good War, by Studs Terkel
9. American Pastoral, by Philip Roth
10. A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories, by Flannery O’Connor

11. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
12. A Sport and a Pastime, by James Salter
13. The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
14. Time’s Arrow, by Martin Amis
15. A Sense of Where You Are, by John McPhee

16. Hell’s Angels, by Hunter S. Thompson
17. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
18. Dubliners, by James Joyce
19. Rabbit, Run, by John Updike
20. The Postman Always Rings Twice, by James M. Cain

21. Dog Soldiers, by Robert Stone
22. Winter’s Bone, by Daniel Woodrell
23. Legends of the Fall, by Jim Harrison
24. Under the Volcano, by Malcolm Lowry
25. The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer

26. The Professional, by W.C. Heinz
27. For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
28. Dispatches, by Michael Herr
29. Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller
30. Revolutionary Road, by Richard Yates

31. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
32. The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara
33. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
34. All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren
35. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey

36. Sophie’s Choice, by William Styron
37. A Fan’s Notes, by Frederick Exley
38. Lucky Jim, by Kingsley Amis
39. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami
40. Master and Commander, by Patrick O’Brian

41. Plainsong, by Kent Haruf
42. A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole
43. Affliction, by Russell Banks
44. This Boy’s Life, by Tobias Wolff
45. Winter’s Tale, by Mark Helprin

46. The Adventures of Augie March, by Saul Bellow
47. Women, by Charles Bukowski
48. Going Native, by Stephen Wright
49. Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
50. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, by John LeCarré

51. The Crack-Up, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
52. CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, by George Saunders
53. War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy
54. The Shining, by Stephen King
55. Winesburg, Ohio, by Sherwood Anderson

56. Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
57. Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie
58. Labyrinths, by Jorge Luis Borges
59. The Right Stuff, by Tom Wolfe
60. The Sportswriter, by Richard Ford

61. American Tabloid, by James Ellroy
62. The Autobiography of Malcolm X, by Alex Haley
63. What It Takes, by Richard Ben Cramer
64. The Continental Op, by Dashiell Hammett
65. The Power and the Glory, by Graham Greene

66. So Long, See You Tomorrow, by William Maxwell
67. Native Son, by Richard Wright
68. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, by James Agee and Walker Evans
69. Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner
70. The Great Bridge, by David McCullough

71. The Dharma Bums, by Jack Kerouac
72. Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry
73. Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
74. Underworld, by Don DeLillo
75. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
Well there it is and, if I've counted correctly, I can only claim 28 of the 75 books listed. But, hey, I'm the proud owner of another nine of them, so that total might go up in a few years.

Now I'm wondering why the magazine is convinced that these particular books "should" be read by every man.


  1. Can't say I did much better myself.

    A few titles I wonder about: Why The Crack Up by Fitzgerald and not Gatsby? We have Legends of the Fall, but no River Runs Through It? I'd put Catcher in the Rye before Cuckoo's Nest. A couple other notable literary omissions for their "guy appeal": Pillars of the Earth, Hunt for Red October, Presumed Innocent, The Corrections, In Cold Blood, The House of Sand and Fog, I Know This Much is True, Lords of Discipline, Lesson Before Dying, Crime & Punishment, Last of the Mohicans, Of Mice and Men, Cry the Beloved Country, The Godfather, etc.

    Everyone will have their own list, I'm sure (and that is exactly why lists ARE dangerous). But it's fun to think about....

  2. I'm not a guy, but I really like this list...I guess I have guy taste. I'm currently reading 69. Picked up some good ideas from this list...thanks, Sam!

  3. Unless I missed someone, Flannery O'Connor is the only female author on the list! Is that one deemed acceptable because it has "man" in the title? What s silly gender bias-- as if men shouldn't read women authors.

  4. That's a great point, John, and one I hadn't noticed. My own reading comes in at somewhere between 40% and 45% from female authors - a lot more than 1/75th. Makes me wonder how it breaks down for the average male reader...

  5. Absolutely right, Sean...great alternate books for the authors listed. For me, lists are usually the jumping off point for seeing books and writers in a different light, often leading me to books and authors not on the original list. That's what makes them fun for me.

  6. Bybee, I loved that book and really enjoy Wallace Stegner's writing. This reminds me of how long it's been since I've read some of his fiction, in fact - time for some rereading, I think.

  7. Well, I'm glad I'm female because if I highlighted that list, it would probably be a bit thin. I have read Winter's Bone and would highly recommend it. While it isn't written BY a female, it does focus on a female character. The same goes for Cuckoo's Nest - SOOOO far better than that God-awful movie. I'm quite surprised no Pat Conroy or John Irving novels made the list, though.

  8. Maybe Conroy and Irving are a little to "touchy-feely" for men, least according to the editors over at Esquire. :-)

    BTW, they are two of my very favorite writers.

  9. What?!? No Harry Crews!!! A man's man writer!

    I have read 9 on the list and hubby has read 22 with only a couple of overlaps. Looking at the list, I want to read at least 50 of them. Oh, and I bet the list makers had no idea Flannery was a woman. ;) Or, maybe it's the prosthetic-stealer salesman.

  10. Great points, Maggie, especially the thought that the list makers may not have even known that Flannery was a female...wouldn't surprise me at all.