3 Books for Men that Want to Read
Reading is the best pastime. There shall be no discussion on the matter. If you don’t read then you really should. Let’s get you started.
Our very own editor, Malcolm, has a belief that you simply cannot trust anyone who doesn’t have books in the house. Not that he’s overly judgemental but he does struggle when he enters somebody’s home and cannot see a single bookcase.
Reading is (or at least should be) inexpensive, portable, educational and rewarding. Next time you think about sitting down to play FIFA think about the potential conversations you could have on your next date if you had some insight into an author and their work!
Women, certainly in my experience, are avid readers. Rarely do you find an exception to this rule. Men on the other hand seem reluctant. Perhaps it’s a macho thing; only whimps read. But this is not true. Real men are knowledgable and intelligent. Reading feeds those things in abundance.
So where do you start? You want to be a reader and enjoy the written word but you just don’t know what books will grab you.
This is a fair and fine question. I’ll start with three (what I think are) classic novellas (extended short stories) that should kick start your reading habits.
The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
There you go. Right off the bat we have the man’s man of literature. Hemingway was a proper bloke who wrote about his experiences in conflict, on safari, out at sea, in the bull ring and yes, sipping wine in cafes in Paris. He was the complete writer and somebody with an incredible story to tell.
The Old Man and the Sea is a classic novella that probably received more attention after the author’s death in 1961. It tells the story of an ageing fisherman, ridiculed by the younger men in the village and living on scraps with his best years behind him. He befriends a young boy who seems to offer the old man some hope. One last time he would venture out into the wide open seas in search of a prized Marlin. What happens is remarkable and captivating and ultimately saddening. But the heart of the story is solid and will place you right there in the boat with the old man as he battles the elements and all that the ocean can throw at him.
Animal Farm – George Orwell
Eric Arthur Blair, or George Orwell is famous for two politically charged pieces of work; 1984 and Animal Farm. In Animal Farm the intelligent beings are animals and pigs are the most intelligent. Yet somehow all animals are equal.
The premise of the book is simple; utopia leads to dystopia all too easily. The perfect world that we vote for or buy in to (because somebody tells us) is all to often eroded and we are left with a living hell.
Orwell used this novella to criticise the Soviet Union. The farm itself is intended to represent the USSR at a time when Stalin’s totalitarianism saw a country ruthlessly murdering its own people. Orwell himself held largely socialist / communist views and indeed fought in the Spanish Civil war on the side of the communists. The weight of his political ideals are laid bare within Animal Farm where he doesn’t appear to hold back on his disdain for Stalin’s regime following the Russian revolution.
You’ll score some serious knowledge points with this one under your belt.
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
A simple, innocent and tragic story of love in many forms. Originally published in 1937 Steinbeck captures the mood of the US great depression with two characters; George and Lennie, who travel from ranch to ranch in search of work at a time when work was nigh on impossible to come by.
George was smart. Lennie was not. Lennie, despite being a great lummox of a man with remarkable strength, had the mental ability of a child. George was his carer.
What Steinbeck sets out so beautifully in the story right from the outset is the dreams that the two men have. They want to stop wandering and settle down in a place of their own. George for his part seems able to secure the work. Lennie, the big handed, big hearted labourer, is more than capable of performing his duties. It should work and they should, at some point, achieve their dreams.
But these things are never easy. Steinbeck masterfully places a privileged antagonist in the way. The boss’s son is a frightful and small man with a devilish Napoleon complex. At every opportunity he seeks to undermine Lennie’s confidence.
When allegations of rape are thrown into the mix there can be only one outcome.
The story is so beautifully told that you cannot help but feel the joys and gut-wrenching heartaches that unfold.
To quote Steinbeck in your repetroire will present you with a sizeable amount of knowledge points.
So there you have it. You don’t have to default to Stephen King like everybody else. Though King’s work is outstanding in the main it shouldn’t by any means be an automatic choice for the wannabe reader of cool fiction.
You’ll certainly score some serious points reading King’s work but there are others that you may find more palatable.
Work up to Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (major points bonus).
Dabble with one or two of H.P. Lovecrafts otherworldly tales such as The Dunwich Horror (serious nerd points)
Go even further back in time and engage in H.G. Wells’ classics like The Time Machine or War of the Worlds (many points to be had here)
Or quite simply grab a Kindle or download the app and look around for something that grabs you. Reading is far better than not reading.