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10 Manly Books All Fathers Should Read

Hey, Sunday is Father’s Day if you live in the U.S!

With that in mind, I made my best effort in putting together the obligatory “Hey, it’s Father’s Day!” post. What’s a blog without timely, relevant posts that really strike to the heart of what matters most? And sentences that rhyme?

Anyway, in honor of Father’s Day, instead of passing out striped ties, I thought I’d put together a list of some of the more manly books in literature.

These are manly books that every man should read whilst hunting, watching NASCAR, and drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon. That’s a joke. I do none of the above things.

But, still, these are indeed manly books. You’ll need at least three days of stubble to read these novels.

On with it:

Blood Meridian: A group of men wander through an arid desert, scalp Indians, and kill each other. It’s a gore fest that makes a John Wayne western look like Elmo could’ve starred in it.

The Call of the Wild: Most Jack London books would be worthy of this list, but any novel about sled dogs in the harsh Yukon territory, in the middle of a gold rush? Now that’s the stuff a man is made of. Or a manly dog, I guess.

Anything by Hemingway: This really goes without saying. Hemingway is the Michael Jordan of manliness.

Slaughterhouse Five: It’s a war novel and a sci-fi novel at the same time. Aliens make an appearance. Plus, it’s written by Kurt Vonnegut! It’s the manly triumvirate!

Catch 22: Heller’s classic is a much different style of war novel. If you’re a guy who likes satire, you’ll love Catch 22. Yossarrian is one of my favorite characters.

Into The Wild: This is nonfiction, but it’s one of my favorite nonfiction books, so I couldn’t resist. Before Bear Grylls, there was Chris McCandless. The dude LITERALLY lived in a van down by the river in the middle-of-nowhere Alaska. He gave up a bright future and all of his money to hitchhike west and eventually die alone. He’s a sad manly man, but he’s a manly man nonetheless.

All Quiet On The Western Front: World War 1 Germany. Pre-Hitler. This one’s very much about the emotional and psychological toll that war has on soldiers.  And not “soldiers” in the “gangsta rap” sense of the word.

The Bible: I’ll quote the Art of Manliness on this one: “If a Western man desires to understand the culture that surrounds him, he needs to have a thorough understanding of the book that has shaped that culture.” Whether or not you believe the Bible, there’s no doubting it has a heavy influence on literature.

To Kill A Mockingbird: Two words: Atticus Finch. He’s a man who stands for justice, integrity, honor, and all of those other important words. Finch might not be a brutish character from a Cormac McCarthy novel, but he might be the best father in literature.

The Big Sleep: Raymond Chandler is the king of the smooth detective novel and The Big Sleep is one of his best. It reminds me a lot of the LA Confidential movie starring Kevin Spacey and Russell Crowe.

That’s all I’ve got for now.

What are some other manly books you would add to this list?

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30 Comments Post a comment
  1. How about ‘The Road’ by Cromac McCarthy. It’s all about a father and son!

    Like

    June 15, 2012
    • Great suggestion!

      Like

      June 15, 2012
      • My mom actually bought my dad that book, not having read it of course. He doesn’t like books with kids in peril. You can figure out what happened next.

        Like

        June 15, 2012
  2. A book I’ve given to quite a few people is When Did You Last See Your Father by Blake Morrison, which helps make sense of a parent’s death – especially if their health has faded over years/rather than overnight &/or those with dementia/alzeheimers. Perhaps a bit gloomy for Father’s Day, but helped me a lot.

    Like

    June 15, 2012
    • Excellent. My grandmother had alzheimers so I would probably find that very interesting.

      Like

      June 15, 2012
  3. The confusion expressed in this post makes the list of books problematic at best. Is this for Dad to affirm his strength in developing and holding the family together or is it a nod towards the type of stories that once graced the pages of Argosy in between the advertisements for shotgun shells and bowling trophies or does it suggest that being a man automatically means you are steeped in blood and gore, vicious dogs, wars, fast cars, and lynchings?

    Also, do you really consider Billy Pilgrim a man’s man? Have you read Clancy Carlile on Hemingway? Is a naked Yossarian in a tree doing his best to get out of the war actually a good role model for fathers to adopt?

    Besides, don’t you know that real men don’t read books?

    Like

    June 15, 2012
    • Oh, Mike, have a sense of humor, would you? This post was in jest. Manly men come in all forms. I don’t claim to be an expert on “manliness,” though I’ve gone fishing once and got in a fight in 5th grade.

      Like

      June 15, 2012
      • I notice that whenever Rush Limbaugh is caught making a remark which may be inaccurate or hurtful he immediately responds that he was only joking: what percentage of your posts do you suggest are just jokes and people shouldn’t take seriously?

        Besides, the last line in my post should have made it obvious that I was not being completely serious.

        Like

        June 15, 2012
        • love it!

          quiche and books are two things real men would never partake…

          now pass me that pie filled with spinach, egg and cream and where did I leave my Keats?

          Like

          June 15, 2012
          • Quiche is off limits? I never knew.

            Like

            June 15, 2012
  4. It is Dad’s day in Canada too – and I would suggest for Canadians who are proud and have a sense of humour, the book “How To Be A Canadian” by brothers Ian and Will Ferguson. It would also be good for U.S. dads because it might make them understand their neighbours better – though woe to you who really think Canadians are defined by the Fergusons
    Like you choices, by the way.

    Like

    June 15, 2012
  5. Stephen King’s Gunslinger series would definitely qualify, if real men actually read (which we all know they do not). 😛

    Like

    June 15, 2012
  6. sampiper22 #

    Definitely anything by Cormac McCarthy!!

    Like

    June 15, 2012
    • Well, maybe not everything: consider Child of God:

      Set in mountainous Sevier County, Tennessee, Child of God tells the story of Lester Ballard, a dispossessed, violent man whom the narrator describes as “a child of God much like yourself perhaps.” Ballard’s life is a disastrous attempt to exist outside the social order. Successively deprived of parents and homes and with few other ties, Ballard descends literally and figuratively to the level of a cave dweller as he falls deeper into crime and degradation. — Wikipedia

      Like

      June 15, 2012
  7. Siuon #

    Seemingly Cormac McCarthy’s books are manly or fatherly, I would recommend No Country for Old Men.

    Like

    June 15, 2012
  8. any book by Ron Rash… they’re great gift-books for men. Those are the books I rely on when I give out books to my male friends, in the hopes that I can force them into reading as a hobby.

    Like

    June 15, 2012
  9. Greg in Denver #

    A little love for Blood Meredian!

    Here’s one for your list, Tom Wolfe’s “The Right Stuff”. Burly, old school kinda manliness set in a space race.

    How about biographies of Theodore Roosevelt? Or books by Teddy…”The Vigorous Life”

    Like

    June 15, 2012
  10. Have you a thought on Ulysses – the worlds most unfinished book. Blooms day today. Manly books? Don’t know, I usually use light fiction for reading material as I get quite enough of real life. On that line, My Uncle Oswald and Legend. Non fiction would have Tom Crean, Unsung Hero and How to Drive a Steam Train.

    Like

    June 16, 2012
    • Oh Dear, and on Bloomsday too. Since Joyce wrote a complete novel, I am assuming you are referring to readers that are not up to the task of completing the novel. That’s such a negative. You could just as easily pointed out that in many venues it is considered the world’s best novel, or the most reread novel, or the most carefully read novel.

      The problematic relationship of Bloom to his dead child and its consequences on his marriage don’t seem to recommend it for this topic involving biting the head off a bottle of Guiness and washing down a fresh-cut slab of bear meat. Interesting, though, with Molly’s orgasmic solo forming an amazing denouement to the novel, it might be better recommended for Mother’s Day.

      Like

      June 16, 2012
      • Wouldn’t know. Didn’t finish it. That is a negative. The inclusion of the first sentence was in a wider refernece to the general blog and the fact that it included Ulysses, as well as that this post was on specific “days”. I looked for a comment as I enjoy reading posts here, and the opinion they represent. I would rather consume Guiness and bear (cooked) than read about it. I have not given up on reading Ulysses, but I will chose my ground for that battle. Thank you for taking the time to give comment to my comment.

        Like

        June 16, 2012
  11. Honestly, I read (present, plural) Russian, French, Arab, German, British, women, men, poetry, prose, drama, essays, etc.and I never read about an onboard Father with his ducks in a row.The drink, the women, the domestic violence the lack of education, the infidelity, the criminal in him whatever;the father never shines or really wins the real lifetime oscar. Is it what I read, or who reared me? Don’t know. I liked the father figures in John Irving’s novels. Most of them. They were crafted so well, and I howled at some of their shortcomings (is that how we say it?) Why do we have Father’s day. Doesn’t commodifying the hell out of their contributions to society make them more money and able to buy us women the gifts we deserve? lol.

    Like

    June 17, 2012
    • Father’s Day and Mothers Day and a few other pseudo-holidays are the result of greeting card industry’s desires to make more and more money. Nowadays they are more in honor of retail sales than of the individuals they are named for. There is even a Grandparents Day but that one never hit the big time (I think it’s in September).

      Like

      June 17, 2012
      • Can u think of one novel (literature) that the father portrays such qualities of stability (balance I suppose) who the family leans upon for his sound judgement. I think TV shows in the 50’s overdid that theme. Literature stuck more to the truth to expose life lies. TV was for sissies.

        Like

        June 18, 2012
        • The “truth” is always problematic in Art (giving a wink at television but including the much-abused medium). I would say that characters in literature tend to have more complexity than most television characters. When Father may know best, it isn’t a matter of truth but of keeping it simple so the least-common denominator American viewer is adequately cushioned from any obligation to think.

          There are many examples of fathers in literature, most are complex and exhibit more than just the “good-father” aspect. It’s also important to remember that in literature, the focus may be outside the “good-father” theme: Fyodor Karamazov might be an excellent father but is that what the novel is all about? Also remember that the definition of “good” changes with the age and the culture. Having a catch with one’s son in Regency England might not elicit the same response as it does today.

          I instantly thought of the Vicar of Wakefield in answer to your question.

          I think what is messy with this discussion is that it starts with a de facto assumption that being a father is the same as liking blood and gore and vampires and fast cars and stuff like that. Obviously false. It’s probably more true that every Dad has their own likes, dislikes, and preferences and a gift should show how much the child understands and appreciates the individual strengths and values of their own Father.

          That being said, I suggest The Odyssey as the ideal gift for next Father’s Day … it has it all and the theme is spot on.

          Like

          June 18, 2012
          • I thought Fyodor Karamazov was a terrible father

            Like

            June 20, 2012
  12. thefilmzone #

    I Would say if your father likes westerns generallyabe anything by louis lamore is a great choice another as prev. Suggested the dark tower series. Or for something a little more fun Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter <•••• really good book

    Like

    June 17, 2012
  13. Kurt Vonnegut is considered manly?

    Like

    June 21, 2012

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