“What are the best books for men to read?” is a question I am often asked, and I do have a great range of suggestions, but I admit it’s tough to categorize the best books for men to read, as it requires so many generalizations about men and what they like.
With that in mind, I have compiled my own thoughts, as well as sought suggestions from my readers and other men, including my husband, and came up with this list of best books for men to read (although, like all of my posts, I will continue to update it with new books over time.)
First, I highlight the books that made the cut for the best books for men to read based on my own reading and the input of others. Then, I highlight classic books that men tend to like, and a few authors that came up repeatedly in my research.
Of note, I specified what “type” of man I think would particularly like each book (i.e., the sports fanatic, the adventurous man, the businessman). Again, I know this still involves generalizations and I hate that, but it’s the best way I can think of to recommend these books in response to a very popular, yet very overbroad, question.
Best Books for Men to Read
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
For the man who likes historical biographies and/or Hamilton the Musical
Alexander Hamilton is the #1 New York Times bestseller, and the inspiration for the hit Broadway musical Hamilton! This book has it all about Hamilton’s life: his illegitimate, self-taught orphan beginnings in the Caribbean, his rise to become George Washington’s aide-de-camp in the Continental Army, his coauthoring of The Federalist Papers, his founding of the Bank of New York, his leading the Federalist Party, his becoming the first Treasury Secretary of the United States and, of course, his famous duel with Aaron Burr. I purchased this one for my husband!
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
For the man interested in tech startups
Bad Blood is a New York Times best seller and was named one of the best books of the year by: NPR, The New York Times Book Review, Time, Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. It’s the compulsively readable non-fiction story of the rise and fall of medical technology startup Theranos and CEO Elizabeth Holmes, who branded herself as the female Steve Jobs. While the company was valued at more than $9 billion, there was one glaring problem: the technology didn’t work. My husband and I both loved this one!
Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark T. Sullivan
For the man who enjoys historical fiction, suspense and/or cars
Beneath a Scarlet Sky is one of my favorite fiction books set in Italy and to recommend to men. It’s soon to be a television event starring Tom Holland as is a USA Today and #1 Amazon Charts bestseller. It’s based on the true story of Italian Pino Lella, who played two major roles in World War II: first, in the Italian Alps, he joins the underground railroad, led by a group of Catholic priests, and helps Jews escape by traversing the Alps. Second, to avoid being drafted and sent to the front lines for Italy and also to operate as an Italian spy, he enlists as a German and becomes the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand man in Italy. It’s a page-turning, epic tale with an Italian bent.
Beartown by Fredrik Backman
For the man who likes hockey and/or Friday Night Lights
Beartown is one of my personal favorite books and one of my favorite books set in Winter. It was named one of the best books of the year by LibraryReads, BookBrowse and Goodreads. It’s about a small community whose lives revolve around hockey and are all intertwined with drama and complexity. In short, it’s Friday Night Lights with a hockey twist, and it’s the type of book that’s exquisitely written and really makes an impact on you.
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
For the man interested in historical non-fiction and/or sports
The Boys in the Boat is the #1 New York Times bestselling story about American Olympians in Nazi Germany, which is now the inspiration for the PBS documentary The Boys of ‘36. It’s a non-fiction book I would compare to Seabiscuit and, while I found it to be slow-moving, I know so many people, both men and women, who regard it as one of their all time favorites.
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
For the man interested in current events and/or social issues
Hillbilly Elegy is a memoir I absolutely devoured and still think about to this day. It’s a #1 New York Times bestseller and now a film on Netflix. It’s the story of a man who grew up in poor Appalachia to become a Yale-educated lawyer, but what’s really nuanced about this book is it’s commentary on modern America and the prevailing struggles of economics and addiction. It’s a must read.
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
For the man who is a foodie
My love of Anthony Bourdain runs so deep, I wrote an entire tribute to Kitchen Confidential. This book is for the foodie and/or fan of Bourdain, who misses his unique voice. Kitchen Confidential was his foray into stardom, and is filled with a fast-based, no nonsense, behind the scenes look at life in the kitchen in New York City. You will learn a few tips and be entertained along the way.
A Man & His Car: Iconic Cars and Stories from the Men Who Love Them by Matt Hranek
For the man who loves classic cars
I purchased A Man and His Car (as well as A Man and His Watch) as coffee table book gifts for my husband, and he said they were his favorite Christmas gifts! They are really sleek and handsome, with lots of gorgeous imagery and interesting stories about unique cars and their owners. They also look really good displayed.
Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss
For the man who is a negotiator
Never Split the Difference is a book I have actually seen men reading, and it’s the book on which I have taken the most notes myself, as a lawyer by day. It’s jam packed with negotiation tips for every day life from a former FBI hostage negotiator for whom conceding wasn’t an option. His tales from the job will keep you on the edge of your seat, but you will absorb so much practical advice at the same time.
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam M. Grant
For the man who is a leader
Originals is a #1 New York Times bestseller that I loved so much I recommended it both to my husband and as one of the best books for graduates. Drawing upon real life examples, it explores and provides insight about the modern workplace and initiatives like recognizing a good idea, speaking up without being silenced, building a team of allies, knowing when to act, managing your fear and doubt and welcoming dissent. It’s about what workplace leadership and success looks like in a more modern context.
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight
For the entrepreneurial man
Shoe Dog is a #1 New York Times bestseller, one of my husband’s favorite books, and it’s the ONE book I most often hear men say is their favorite. As my husband says, it’s not just about the business of Nike, it’s also a genuinely good story. It shows the very long decades of ups and downs, unknowns and sacrifices it takes to be a business owner. At times, the book was very emotional and contained unexpected, tragic events as well. So much happened over decades to potentially cause the Nike business to crumble that I had to ask myself, was Phil Knight (the author) totally crazy or absolutely genius for sticking with his dream? The man in your life is almost guaranteed to love this one.
This Tender Land by William, Krueger Kent
For the man who is adventurous and/or loves Huck Finn
When I was recently reading New York Times bestseller This Tender Land, I kept thinking to myself that it was definitely one of the best books for men to read. Also one of the best books about Native Americans, it’s a very Huck Finn like story of a group of vagabond children in Summer 1932, traveling along the banks of Minnesota’s Gilead River. Two were orphaned brothers confined at the Lincoln Indian Training School, and forced to flee after a terrible crime. Along with their friend, a mute Native American named Mose, and a broken little girl named Emmy, they head on a string of memorable adventures towards the Mississippi, seeking to find their place in the world.
If you are doing a 50 States of America reading challenge, this also makes a great book for Minnesota.
Classic Books for Men to Read
Additionally, below are a few classics often beloved by men:
- Catch 22 – World War II historical fiction that inspired the catchphrase
- Catcher in the Rye – the beloved classic about a depressed student
- For Whom the Bell Tolls – just one of Hemingway’s classics, about an American in the Spanish Civil War
- Slaughterhouse Five – a Vonnegut masterpiece about the infamous firebombing of Dresden and fictional Billy Pilgrim’s odyssey
Reader Favorite Books for Men to Read
Below are three authors who were repeatedly recommended by readers. I’ve only read Gladwell’s books to date, and I did like them!
- David McCullough’s historical non-fiction books
- Erik Larson’s Devil in the White City and The Splendid and the Vile
- Malcolm Gladwell’s non-fiction books that reflect upon psychology and society
Those are the best books for men to read. Pin this post to Pinterest because you can refer back to it when shopping for the male reader in your life.