There are more than 10 books that are worthy of inclusion here and it’s probably there will be some follow ups with worthy additions. But here, in no particular order, are 10 books every man in America should read.
The first of our ten books every man in America should read is the most important. This is one you need to read several times. I know some of you are out there rolling your eyes, but before you skim down to the next item on the list answer a couple questions for me. If you’re not sure about the answers, consider being a good citizen and reading it over again. Don’t be one of those assholes who can’t name the three branches of government, let alone accurately describe their different functions. Read it twice, it’ll take you fifteen minutes and you’ll be a better man for it.
Which amendment specifically gives you your right to privacy? Does the Constitution grant everyone the right to vote?
The answers: No amendments give you a specific right to privacy. The courts invented that for you under the ninth amendment which says more or less that other rights may exist that are not explicitly mentioned elsewhere. And the Constitution does not grant everyone the right to vote. Felons, for example, cannot vote in many states. If the constitution provided the right to vote for all, they’d be able to regardless of their criminal history.
This is a great book. It’s simple, but engrossing and along the way you learn as much about people as you do about wolves. I don’t feel the need to explain this one much. Read it.
For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway
I’m sure everyone has heard the cliché, “War is hell.” Unfortunately it’s a hell that seems to crop up an awful lot, and one that most Americans have misconceptions of. There are more losers than winners, more pain and loss than there is gain. Hemingway does an outstanding job of conveying that war is not a glorious experience and right and wrong are not always black and white. In the face of that, For Whom the Bell Tolls also explores the sacrifices men will make for their comrades and their love of country.
Michael Shaara wrote an entire book about the battle of Gettysburg, and it’s well worth reading. The battle is told from the point of view of both sides and from varied perspectives across the field including Robert E. Lee and Joshua Chamberlain. Gettysburg was the turning point in the Civil War and is a battle that we all know of yet know little about. Michael Shaara did his homework and it shows. His book is extremely educational but also a real page-turner. It captures the consequences, both good and bad, a commanders decision on the field can have for those below him as well as the terrible losses that come for both sides of the field.
I admit a bit of favoritism here. I discovered Patrick O’Brian’s work at a young age and spent almost an entire semester of school lost in his books. In fact I damn well almost failed the seventh grade because of this man. Aside from captivating me he greatly enhanced my reading ability and my vocabulary. If reading is a struggle for you, I would recommend working up to him after Twain, London, Shaara, and Oates.
Moby Dick – Herman Melville
As iconic a work of American Literature as any, Moby Dick needs no explanation. It’s an excellent yarn that is well told and can deliver a powerful message if you let it. If you don’t, it’s still a damn good story. Also a difficult read for some, I reckon if you’ve read O’Brian you can probably tackle this one.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
This one should also require no explanation. Twain’s writing style has a way of being accessible to the young while still engaging for the mature.
The Wealth of Nations – Adam Smith
Adam Smith’s book is here because we live in a free market society. If you want to thrive and do well in that environment, you should understand its underpinnings. Know what the invisible hand means and how it operates, and then you can use that knowledge to your advantage. Much like many people will rattle on and on about politics but are completely ignorant of the Constitution, folks like to talk about capitalism and economics who have never heard of Adam Smith. Don’t be one of those people.
Let the Trumpet Sound: A Life of Martin Luther King, Jr – Stephen B. Oates
This is the most complete, well researched and well written biography of a man who we all have heard of, but know very little about. Sure, he helped to grow and then led the civil rights movement. He was killed while giving a speech. He famously said “I have a dream.” Beyond that most Americans can’t tell you much about him, and they should be able to. This book is particularly good because it does not attempt to deify him, or to bestow any honors upon him.
The book leaves you with the knowledge that he was a great leader and orator, but also a man who for example, cheated on his wife. Oates doesn’t present us with the image of a saint, but with that of a great, but imperfect man. We can all aspire to that and that’s why it makes our list of 10 books every man in America should read.
Don Quixote – Cervantes
Don Quixote is considered to be the great-great granddaddy of all novels. Within its pages you will no doubt find yourself reading along and thinking that the current subplot sounds familiar. It is, because Cervantes was the first man to come up with many of your basic, common story lines in novels today. This is without a doubt the most difficult book on this list, and that in and of itself is one of the reasons I advocate that all men should read this book.
Let me put it like this – reading this book is to western literature as reading the Constitution is to American government or reading the Bible is to Christianity.
And you know that snobby fucker you always run into, with the air of superiority and a fancy degree from a big name school? You know who I mean, there’s always one of those guys around. Probably has an English degree or maybe he majored in political “science”? Odds are he never read Cervantes cover to cover because it was too damn hard for him. This is a tough one and the last of my ten books every man in America should read.