Often, I get asked, “What are the best books for men to read?” I have a lot of ideas, but it’s hard to figure out which books are the best for men because it requires so many generalizations about men and what they like. When I think about that, I’ve thought about what I think about books, and I’ve asked readers and other men, like my husband, for ideas. I came up with this list of the best books for men to read (although, like all of my posts, I will continue to update it with new books over time.)
It’s important to know which men’s books have been chosen as the best by both myself and other people. Then, I talk about classic books that are good for men to read, and a few authors who came up over and over again when I looked for non-fiction books for men. Of note, I told you which “type” of man I thought would enjoy each book (i.e., the sports fanatic, the adventurous man, the businessman). The best way I can think of to recommend these top books for men in response to a very common, but very broad, question is to make generalizations. This is the best way I can think of to do that. Men should read the best books. Here are the best fiction books for men and the best non-fiction books for men, in that order. They would also be great for men’s book clubs!
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
In case he is a history buff and/or a big fan of Hamilton the Musical. Alexander Hamilton is the best-selling book on the New York Times bestseller list, and he is the inspiration for the Broadway show Hamilton! As far as I know, it’s one of the most popular non-fiction books for men out there right now.
In this book, we learn about all of Hamilton’s life, from his illegitimate, self-taught orphan beginnings in the Caribbean to his rise to become George Washington’s aide de camp, to his co-writing of The Federalist Papers, to founding the Bank of New York and leading the Federalist Party, to becoming the first Treasury Secretary of the United States. I bought this one for my husband, and he loves it!
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
For the man who is interested in tech start-ups.
Among other things, NPR, the New York Times Book Review, Time, and Wall Street Journal all named it one of the best books of 2013. Bad Blood is a New York Times best-seller. It’s the story of the rise and fall of the medical technology company Theranos and its CEO, Elizabeth Holmes, who called herself “the female Steve Jobs.” It was worth more than $9 billion, but the technology didn’t work. The one we both liked was great!
Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark T. Sullivan
For a man who likes history, suspense, and/or cars, this book is for him. It is one of the best books for men to read and one of the best books set in Italy and for men to recommend to other men. Beneath a Scarlet Sky is one of the best. It’s going to be on TV soon, and Tom Holland will be in it. It’s been a USA Today and Amazon Charts bestseller. An Italian named Pino Lella played two important roles in World War II. First, he was part of an underground railroad led by Catholic priests. He helped Jews escape by crossing the Alps.
Second, to avoid being drafted and sent to the front lines for Italy and also to act as an Italian spy, he joins the Germans and drives Adolf Hitler’s left-hand man in Italy. Page-turning, epic story with an Italian twist: This is a book that will keep you reading. It would also be one of the best books for men’s book clubs to talk about.
Beartown by Fredrik Backman
People who like hockey and/or FNL should buy this for their man who likes these things. Beartown is a great book for men. It is one of my favorite books and one of my favorite books set in Winter. Is one of the best books of the year by LibraryReads, BookBrowse, and Goodreads, as well as the New York Times.
It’s about a small group of people who all live their lives around hockey. There is a lot of drama and complexity in it. Friday Night Lights with a hockey twist. It’s a book that’s well-written and makes you think. More: To see even more, read my full review of Beartown and the follow-up Us Against You!
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
Man who likes history and/or sports should read this.
The Boys in the Boat is the best-selling book about American Olympians in Nazi Germany. The Boys of ’36 is based on that story. It’s a non-fiction book for men that I would compare to Seabiscuit. I found it to be a little slow-moving, but I know a lot of people, both men and women, who love it.
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
This book is for the man who is interested in current events and/or social issues. Hillbilly Elegy is a memoir that I read from cover to cover and still think about to this day. New York Times bestseller: It’s now a movie on Netflix, and you can watch it for free.
It’s the story of a man who grew up in poor Appalachia and went on to become a Yale-educated lawyer. But what’s really interesting about this book is how it talks about modern America and the problems of economics and addiction. In short, it’s a must-read!
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
It’s for the man who likes to eat.
As a way to show how much I love Anthony Bourdain, I wrote a whole tribute to his book, Kitchen Confidential. In the New York Times, this book is one of the best sellers for people who love food and who miss the unique way that Bourdain spoke. ‘Kitchen Confidential’ was the first book he wrote that made him famous. It’s based on his life in the kitchen in New York City and shows how fast and simple things can be there. You will learn a few things and have a good time.
A Man & His Car: Iconic Cars and Stories from the Men Who Love Them by Matt Hranek
For the man who likes old cars.
As gifts for Christmas, I bought my husband A Man and His Car and A Man and His Watch as coffee table books. He loved them! They are very sleek and beautiful, with a lot of beautiful pictures and interesting stories about unique cars and their owners that are worth reading. Another thing about them: They look great when they’re on show.
Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss
A negotiator is someone who talks with people about what they want to do.
As a lawyer, I’ve taken the most notes on the book Never Split the Difference. I’ve seen men reading it, and it’s the one I’ve taken the most notes on. In this book, a former FBI hostage negotiator gives advice on how to negotiate in the real world. He didn’t want to give up. When he talks about his job, you’ll be on the edge of your seat. At the same time, you’ll learn a lot of useful information.
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam M. Grant
He is a leader.
ORIGINALS is a #1 New York Times bestseller that I loved so much that I recommended it to both my husband and as one of the best books for graduates. I also told my husband about the book. It looks at how the modern workplace works and gives advice on things like how to recognize a good idea, speak up without being silenced, build a team of allies, know when to act, manage your fear and doubt, and welcome dissent. It talks about what leadership and success look like in a more modern work setting.
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight
People who want to start their own business
Shoe Dog is a New York Times best-seller, one of my husband’s favorite books, and the book that most men say is their favorite. As my husband says, it’s not just about Nike’s business. It’s also a good story. It shows how long it takes to be a business owner. There are a lot of ups and downs, unknowns, and sacrifices that go into running one. At times, the book was very sad and had a lot of unexpected, tragic things happen as well. Phil Knight, the author of the book, kept his dream alive through a lot of bad things that could have caused Nike’s business to fall apart. The man in your life is likely to love this one.
This Tender Land by William Krueger Kent
In case you’re a man who likes Huck Finn or who likes to go on trips.
If you’re a man and you want to read a good book, This Tender Land is a great choice. It would also be one of the best books for men’s book clubs to talk about.
Even though it’s one of the best books about Native Americans, this is also one of the most Huck Finn-like stories about kids who were on the run in 1932. They were on the banks of the Gilead River in Minnesota at the time. They were orphaned brothers who had to stay at the Lincoln Indian Training School because they did something bad. They had to run away after they did something bad. Among them are Mose, the mute Native American, and Emmy, a broken little girl who wants to find her place in the world.