We will not burden you with a list of classics and politically heavy books often mentioned when searching for “Books Every Man Should (Have Already) Read” online, (well, maybe just one). Instead, here are rather light-hearted novels as forms of leisure on this day that celebrates the physical form of literature – with bonus links to purchase them online.
1. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club; but we are not in Fight Club, so here we are, getting things out of the way first and foremost. The cult favourite is as surreal and gripping as the beloved 1999 film starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, which was released at a time when bookshelves were filled with literature of togetherness for the women (The Joy Luck Club and The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood), but none for the men.
Granted, “togetherness” is rarely a resolution for most alpha males out there at that time, as men were commonly stereotyped as individuals who like to go through bumps on their own, instead of falling into the empathic arms of their friends like women would typically. However, instead of playing to the stereotype, Palahniuk gave the male existentialism a bit of a spin. The result is a literature of humanity’s animalistic nature confined within the walls of a post-industrial consumerist society.
2. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
Told from the point of view of a Wall Street businessman who moonlights as a serial killer, this transgressive fiction brings forth everything that one might hate about oneself in submission to capitalism, but might not want to admit to it.
Disturbingly honest and brutally gory, American Psycho hit the bookshelves in the early ‘90s to raving reviews in indicting the yuppie culture back then (even now), and the consumerism one falls back on over and over again despite the continuous disappointment it presents after every card swipe.
3. The Family Law by Benjamin Law
The recent surge of LGBT films and books in the media nowadays are all good, but they may be farfetch for the Asian market, when there is a lacked of representation on our much beloved Tiger Moms and Asian Dads, (and we doubt Crazy Rich Asians is relatable to the majority of the population). The Family Law is your everyday boy growing up in a traditions-stricken Chinese family, as he tries to make sense of everything that is “unconventional” about his sexuality – with a dash of humour.
4. Animal Farm by George Orwell
We know we said “modern literature” and “light-hearted reads”, but we feel that we are obliged to throw this classic into the mix due to the ongoing political turmoil happening around the world.
If the jargons thrown around by the news broadcasters confuse you, but you’re too ashamed to ask someone about it, lest it shows your ignorance towards the “things that matter” in the world, perhaps Orwell’s 1945 allegorical book could help simplify things for you: whilst the politics depicted in the book happens in somewhere a tad backwards like the Manor Farm amongst – well, animals, as the title of the book stated, Orwell did mention that it reflects the Russian Revolution back in 1917, and the Stalinism that happened after in the Soviet Union.
5. Man and Boy by Tony Parsons
A romance novel for the men? Sure, why not. The British author is the person responsible for nurturing a new genre for the modern men, Men Lit, a play off the usual Chick Lit genre for the modern women.
Practically a memoir of sorts that mirrors his first marriage, which ended in 1984, the single parenthood he was thrown into, and the subsequent marriage to his current Japanese wife that follows, Parson’s bestselling novel carries a rather simple storyline, but one peppered with relatable issues commonly faced by the modern men, particularly in relationships.
6. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Cline’s debut novel encapsulated nostalgia as a whole for anyone who grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s playing arcade/computer/video games, and immersed yourself in the pop culture back then.
For anyone who has gone through the notions of blowing dust off the game cartridge, and the frantic execution of “up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start” on the game controller, this is familiar grounds to fall back on, with namedrops of familiar games and characters of yesteryear, set in a future that evolves around nothing but a past that has faded in our real world.
7. World War Z by Max Brooks
If you are a fan of zombies, you can expect nothing less of a page turner from an author who takes the zombie apocalypse seriously in real life, (he already has an outhouse on standby somewhere in the woods loaded with everything one needs to survive the cataclysm).
The film adaptation of the book (starring Brad Pitt), is but the tip of the living dead iceberg, as the book surveys the world’s nations after the zombie apocalypse, filled with minutiae interviews with governmental bodies on the isolationism of different countries, to privatised institutions profiting from the plague, to many individuals’ personal accounts on the near escapes from the zombies themselves.
8. Miss Peregrine’s Home For the Peculiar Children by Random Riggs
Pitched amongst serial novels for young adults like The Hunger Games, Divergent and Maze Runner, this first novel of its series (followed by Hollow City and Library of Souls) stands out from the lot, not only with its captivating writing style for the contemporary fantasy genre, but the ambitious research Random Riggs put on himself while composing the narrative.
Based on the often disturbing vernacular photographs Riggs collected during his visits to the Rose Bowl flea market in California, the novel starts off the journey of main protagonist Jacob Portman in discovering the peculiar history of his grandfather Abraham Portman’s past; a journey that leads him to another world stuck on a loop, where Jacob meets Miss Peregrine and her Peculiars, and rather unfortunately, creatures who are after the children.
9. William Shakespeare’s The Force Doth Awaken by Ian Doescher
Many would have started dozing off before we finish merely uttering the Bard’s name, but this well-versed parody should awaken (no pun intended) the senses a tad. Not so long ago (say, about four years ago), in a galaxy not so far away, the author has come up with the brilliant idea to re-dub the Star Wars films, not only in the novelistic format, but in Shakespearean blank verses.
If the nine other recommended books on this list don’t interest you to want to head to the bookstore over lunch or after work or click on the link, perhaps this will do the trick, as Doescher already has seven books to date to complement the ongoing Star Wars film series, with the upcoming one, Jedi The Last, about to hit the bookshelves in July.
10. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
This particular novel by Hornby goes to show how much music plays its part in our relationships with other people: how, for some strange reason, Nickelback’s Photograph will always remind you of that girl from high school you have lost touch with, and how you can never bring yourself to listen to Armin van Buuren’s Burned with Desire because it’s your latest ex-girlfriend’s favourite song.
The ladies have all sorts of chick flicks and literature to tell them how to deal with relationships, men have this to turn to when getting through a heartache in the manliest manner – with a little bit of truth you might not want to hear, and songs that you might want to hear.