Esquire’s 30 Books Every Man Should Read By 30

Esquire recently published a list of 30 books every man should read by the time he is 30. I’ve decided to take them up on the challenge. Below is the list of books with, where I’ve read them, my thoughts. This post will obviously be updated as I knock books off the list.

For 2014, I plan to have a list of 52 books to read. I’m building the list by polling friends and top book lists. I’m going to include a few from this list.

Unread

30 | Less Than Zero – Bret Easton Ellis
28 | Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris
27 | My Uncle Oswald – Roald Dahl
26 | Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami
25 | One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kessey
24 | The Picture Of Dorian Grey – Oscar Wilde
23 | The Love Song Of Alfred J. Pruflock – T. S. Eliot
22 | Satanic Verses – Salman Rushdie
21 | The Secret History – Donna Tartt
19 | The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Díaz
18 | The Fall – Albert Camus
17 | The Golden Notebook – Doris Lessing
16 | The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand
15 | The Road – Cormac McCarthy
14 | What We Talk About When We Talk About Love – Raymond Carver
13 | Generation X – Douglas Coupland
12 | The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
11 | The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
10 | On The Road – Jack Kerouac
9 | White Teeth – Zadie Smith
8 | Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
6 | High Windows – Philip Larkin
5 | Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas – Hunters S. Thompson
4 | The Line Of Beauty – Alan Hollinghurst
3 | The Catcher In The Rye – J D Salinger
2 | Men Without Women – Ernest Hemingway

Read

29 | How To Lose Friends And Alienate People – Toby Young

I read How To Lose Friends And Alienate People shortly after it was adapted into a Simon Pegg film a few years back. It was absolutely hysterical. Toby Young makes the awful foot-in-mouth mistakes that everyone makes from time-to-time. Except where Toby is concerned, the gap between each time is disturbingly short. In a strange way, he seems to masochistically revel in his own embarrassment. Still, I really liked the book.

20 | Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut

I was disappointed with Slaughterhouse Five. I only read it this year (2013) on the suggestion of my friend Derek, and think I probably read it too late. If I had read it five or six years ago it would likely have had more of an impact on me, but reading it off the back of Martin Amis’s stellar Money, it’s bleak humour just didn’t spark with me; and the sci-fi setting was just odd. The best line in the novel was Billy Pilgrim’s epitaph, “Everything Was Beautiful, And Nothing Hurt”, which will stick with me. The other possibility is much of what made it shocking to fifteen and sixteen year olds in the 70′s, is now much more common place. Money is simply a much darker, harder hitting novel. It was possibly the worst thing to read before it!
I think Slaughterhouse Five was probably too hyped for me to appreciate it on its own merits. I had heard how it was one of the greatest works of literature that had defined people’s lives; all I read was a strange book.

7 | Watchmen – Alan Moore

The Comedian and Rorschach are two of my favourite comic book characters, and Watchmen my favourite graphic novel. Granted, I am not a huge comic fan having read only a few of the more critically acclaimed graphic novels rather than countless super hero arcs. However, Watchmen still stands out to me as an exceptional work. Dark, funny, imaginative, and utterly genre redefining, Watchmen showed me what a superhero tale could do and gave me an appreciation for a subject I’d previously rejected.

1 | 1984 – George Orwell

While I’ve read 1984, I haven’t read it recently. I include it here with the intention of rereading it and then updating this entry.