20 Books Every Man Should Read

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Here are a handful of awesome reads that every man on the planet should check out. They're page turners you'll get hooked on fast and not feel like you need to write a book report at the end of 'em. Accompanied by the official description and some commentary in a few places...

kill or get killed1

This is the best and longest-selling book on close combat in history. Reprinted and in current use by the U.S. Marine Corps as an official training manual, it details methods of self-defense, offensive close combat, combat shooting and crowd-control techniques in riot situations. Colonel Rex Applegate is widely regarded as the father of modern close combat and combat shooting, and this book is considered the standard by which all other books on the subject are judged. Buy here.

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On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War. Buy here.

Moonraker-First-Edition

At least one of Fleming's 007 books needs to be on the list, and the best of the best is definitely Moonraker. As the super patriot and war veteran who’s bankrolling Britain’s top-secret Moonraker rocket program, Sir Hugo Drax, should be above reproach. But there’s more to this enigmatic millionaire than he lets on. When M suspects Drax of cheating at cards in an exclusive gentleman’s club, he sends Bond in to investigate. But exposing the deception only enrages Drax—and now 007 must outwit an angry man with the power to loose a nuclear warhead on London. Buy here.

amazing adventures of kavalier and clay

A young escape artist and budding magician named Joe Kavalier arrives on the doorstep of his cousin, Sammy Clay. While the long shadow of Hitler falls across Europe, America is happily in thrall to the Golden Age of comic books, and in a distant corner of Brooklyn, Sammy is looking for a way to cash in on the craze. He finds the ideal partner in the aloof, artistically gifted Joe, and together they embark on an adventure that takes them deep into the heart of Manhattan, and the heart of old-fashioned American ambition. From the shared fears, dreams, and desires of two teenage boys, they spin comic book tales of the heroic, fascist-fighting Escapist and the beautiful, mysterious Luna Moth, otherworldly mistress of the night. Climbing from the streets of Brooklyn to the top of the Empire State Building, Joe and Sammy carve out lives, and careers, as vivid as cyan and magenta ink. Spanning continents and eras, this superb book by one of America’s finest writers remains one of the defining novels of our modern American age. Buy here.

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The ultimate book on people skills. Buy here.

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On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? Buy here.

theout7

Ponyboy can count on his brothers and his friends, but not on much else besides trouble with the Socs, a vicious gang of rich kids who get away with everything, including beating up greasers like Ponyboy. At least he knows what to expect--until the night someone takes things too far. Buy here.

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Just like a 007 tale, a Jack Ryan/Tom Clancy read is equally as important. The Hunt For Red October is a military thriller so gripping in its action and so convincing in its accuracy that the author was rumored to have been debriefed by the White House. Its theme: the greatest espionage coup in history. Its story: the chase for a top secret Russian missile sub. Buy here.

The-Road

A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other. Buy here.

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Winner of three Eisner Awards and one of the most critically acclaimed, best-selling comic books series of the last decade, is that rare example of a page-turner that is at once humorous, socially relevant and endlessly surprising. It's the saga of Yorick Brown—the only human survivor of a planet-wide plague that instantly kills every mammal possessing a Y chromosome. Accompanied by a mysterious government agent, a brilliant young geneticist and his pet monkey, Ampersand, Yorick travels the world in search of his lost love and the answer to why he's the last man on earth. Buy here.

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The Big Sleep (1939) is Raymond Chandler's classic hard-boiled crime novel. The story is noted for its complexity, with many characters double-crossing one another and many secrets being exposed throughout the narrative. Buy here.

into thin air

A bank of clouds was assembling on the not-so-distant horizon, but journalist-mountaineer Jon Krakauer, standing on the summit of Mt. Everest, saw nothing that "suggested that a murderous storm was bearing down." He was wrong. The storm, which claimed five lives and left countless more--including Krakauer's--in guilt-ridden disarray, would also provide the impetus for Into Thin Air, Krakauer's epic account of the May 1996 disaster. Buy here.

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This is an expansive, warmhearted novel about ambition and its limits, about family and friendship and love, and about commitment--to oneself and to others. It's also about baseball, the greatest sport ever. Buy here.

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Begun in 1959 by a twenty-two-year-old Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary is a brilliantly tangled love story of jealousy, treachery, and violent alcoholic lust in the Caribbean boomtown that was San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the late 1950s. The narrator, freelance journalist Paul Kemp, irresistibly drawn to a sexy, mysterious woman, is soon thrust into a world where corruption and get-rich-quick schemes rule and anything (including murder) is permissible. Exuberant and mad, youthful and energetic, this dazzling comedic romp provides a fictional excursion as riveting and outrageous as Thompson’s Fear and Loathing books. Buy here.

9780330539326

Set in Los Angeles in the early 1980's, this coolly mesmerizing novel is a raw, powerful portrait of a lost generation who have experienced sex, drugs, and disaffection at too early an age, in a world shaped by casual nihilism, passivity, and too much money a place devoid of feeling or hope. Buy here.

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It was the storm of the century, boasting waves over one hundred feet high—a tempest created by so rare a combination of factors that meteorologists deemed it "the perfect storm." In a book that has become a classic, Sebastian Junger explores the history of the fishing industry, the science of storms, and the candid accounts of the people whose lives the storm touched. The Perfect Storm is a real-life thriller that makes us feel like we've been caught, helpless, in the grip of a force of nature beyond our understanding or control. Buy here.

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An immersive entertainment experience unlike any other, A Song of Ice and Fire has earned George R. R. Martin—dubbed “the American Tolkien” by Time magazine—international acclaim and millions of loyal readers. If you have even a passing interest in HBO's Game Of Thrones, the books are a must read. Buy here.

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Originally published in Holland in 1978, The Rider became an instant cult classic, selling over 100,000 copies. Brilliantly conceived and written at a break-neck pace, it is a loving, imaginative, and, above all, passionate tribute to the art of bicycle road racing. Buy here.

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The Old Man and the Sea is one of Hemingway's most enduring works. Told in language of great simplicity and power, it is the story of an old Cuban fisherman, down on his luck, and his supreme ordeal -- a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream. Buy here.

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Originally published in 1958, The Professional is the story of boxer Eddie Brown's quest for the middleweight championship of the world. But it is so much more. W. C. Heinz not only serves up a realistic depiction of the circus-like atmosphere around boxing with its assorted hangers-on, crooked promoters, and jaded journalists, but he gives us two memorable characters in Eddie Brown and in Brown's crusty trainer, Doc Carroll. They are at the heart of this poignant story as they bond together with their eye on the only prize that matters—the middleweight championship. Buy here.