Five Books Every Man Should Read

A hallmark of a true gentleman is being well read, but King Solomon of Israel put it best when he said, “To the making of books there is no end.”  So which books should every man read? Developing a “top 5 books every man should read” post is quite hard to do. Therefore this list isn’t a top 5 list, rather it is a simple list of 5 books that every man should take the time to read. (If you want an ambitious look at the top 100 books every man should read, visit The Art of Manliness blog, and make sure you check out the comments section as well.)

  1. Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand. One of my favorite books of all time, Atlas Shrugged is a bear, but easy to read thanks to an excellent storyline. The book challenges the most basic ways we perceive the world and holds the view that, “The most depraved type of human being…(is) the man without a purpose.”
  2. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens. David Copperfield… Charles Dickens… need I say more?
  3. War and Peace – Tolstoy. No list of must read books can be complete without Tolstoy. This one was a tough call for me between Anna Karenina and War and Peace. In the end, either Tolstoy novel will do.
  4. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich – William Shirer. This one makes my list perhaps because of my mild obsession with the history of World War II. Whatever the case may be, it is an interesting, almost unadulterated look into totalitarianism.
  5. Catch-22 – Joseph Heller. The cover says it all, “Read it… and you’ll never be quite the same again.” Not to mention the fact that this book has heavily influenced language we still use today and no gentleman should use a term when he is not aware of its meaning or origin.
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  1. I realize this post was over 7 months ago – but I couldn’t resist…

    1. Not just everyman, but every English speaking person should read “Beowulf”. Though, yes it is a poem and not really a ‘book’ – it should be read by all.
    2. For a glimpse into the dark side of the human condition, I recommend “Something Wicked This Way Comes”. Preferably for the young gentleman for it is a bit whimsical in some places – it prepares one for the real world. Not everything is a bed of roses.
    3. “Common Sense” – the pamphlet by Thomas Paine
    4. “The Origin of Species” – C. Darwin. Most people know what is in it, but few have read it. Darwin was a masterful writer and brilliant at crafting a message and argumentation. A truly wonderful read. “The Descent of Man…” is also quite provocative.
    5. “Dune” – Frank Herbert. Fiction with a little bit for everyone. There is political intrigue, war, strategy, infighting, adventure, action, science, ecology and sci-fi all rolled into a colorful and brilliant story.

  2. I have to second Doug’s comment about Unbroken. Probably one of the best books I have read in the past decade or two. Such an amazing story that it is hard to believe it actually happened. Usually don’t like nonfiction, but this book was really a great read. Oh, and part of it does take place during WWII so it will help with your “mild obsession with the history of World War II”

  3. To add to your knowledge of World War Two I highly recommend these three books.

    The Ciano Diaries by Count Galeazzo Ciano published 1946

    Inside The Third Reich by Albert Speer published 1969

    Last Train From Berlin by Howard K Smith published 1942

    These are first hand perspectives and not rewritten history.

    I will have to look through my library to determine which of my five books would be of the most value to a man.

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