50 best books for men of all time

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No one should read a single book, but— books should be read. They educate you, move you, change you, stay with you. Across time, space, language and identity, they offer uncanny access to the minds of others, despite sometimes drastic shifts in text and context. Books can tell you a story you already know, a story you’ve never heard before, a story you didn’t know how to tell. The guideline here is that the books are worth your time, effort, and curiosity. If you take anything from this list, it’s just to read it, what you want and as much as you can.

But lists are designed to—let’s call it discussion. It’s one of the darker editorial arts, partly because it always works on everyone. Even I, a professional listmaker who dwells in the darkest, cynical pits of your old content mines, will find my hairs raised by a steady, steady VH1 countdown.

Lists reveal blind spots. They show your ass. And the authoritative lists of “men’s books” always have a potent whiff of whiskey-soda, baseball mitts and Eames chairs about them. We all want to surround ourselves with beautiful mid-century furniture from time to time. But taking the prompt literally: what books, in the year of grace 2022, will provide you with what you need to know? Who will help you? Who will delight and surprise you? Who will impress people? Who will humiliate you? What should you, a man under 50, read?

Well, if you ask me—

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No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us by Rachel Louise Snyder

How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir by Saeed Jones

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Liberty by David W. Blight

Claudia Rankine

Citizen: An American Song by Claudia Rankine

Man Alive: A true story of violence, forgiveness and becoming a man

Glock: the rise of the American weapon


red or dead by David Peace


Far from the tree: parents, children and the quest for identity by Andrew Solomon

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

The Neapolitan novels of Elena Ferrante

John Jeremiah Sullivan

pulp head by John Jeremiah Sullivan

old books

The Heat of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

Anderson, Montana

The Amazing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Book I: The Pox Party by M. T. Anderson


1491: New revelations of the Americas before Christopher Columbus by Charles C. Mann

Gilead by Marilyn Robinson

The Ghost of King Leopold: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa by Adam Hochschild

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The Wild Detectives by Roberto Bolaño, translated by Natasha Wimmer


How to talk so kids will listen by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russel

William Morrow and company

Take charge of your fertility by Toni Westchler

The parable of the sower by Octavia E. Butler

Brand: William Morrow n Co

lost in the city by Edward P. Jones

watchmen by Alan Moore, illustrated by Dave Gibbons


Come and Gone by Joe Turner by August Wilson

Everyone’s Library

The Midnight Children by Salman Rushdie

Penguin Classics

The Bloody Room: and Other Stories by Angela Carter

The stall by Stephen King

Penguin Classics

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

WW Norton & Company

Death and the King’s Rider by Wole Soyinka

Robert A Caro

The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert Caro

WW Norton & Company

Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian

A hundred years of loneliness by Gabriel García Márquez, translated by Gregory Rabassa

The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley

things are falling apart by Chinua Achebe

John’s room by James Baldwin

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Oxford University Press

The sea around us by Rachel Carson

Dragonfly Books

The little island by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard


The Black Jacobins: Toussaint the Overture and the Revolution of Saint-Domingue by CLR James

Middle-walk by George Eliot

Dover Publications

War and peace by Leo Tolstoy, translated by Constance Garnett

Gibbs Smith

Blades of grass by Walt Whitman

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Dover Publications

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Simon & Schuster

macbeth by William Shakespeare

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, translated by John D. Sinclair

Tuttle Edition

The Margin of the Water: Outlaws of the Swamp by Shi Nai’an, translated by JH Jackson

The Odyssey by Homer, translated by Robert Fitzgerald

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