Looking for a book recommendation for the men in your life? Check out these 30 great reads!
For the History Buff
“After his humiliating election defeat in 1912, Roosevelt set his sights on the most punishing physical challenge he could find, the first descent of an unmapped, rapids-choked tributary of the Amazon. Together with his son Kermit and Brazil’s most famous explorer, Cândido Mariano da Silva Rondon, Roosevelt accomplished a feat so great that many at the time refused to believe it. In the process, he changed the map of the western hemisphere forever.” Buy the book.
“Bill’s storytelling skill makes the “How?” and, just as importantly, the “Who?” of scientific discovery entertaining and accessible for all ages. He covers the wonder and mystery of time and space, the frequently bizarre and often obsessive scientists and the methods they used, and the mind-boggling fact that, somehow, the universe exists and against all odds, life came to be on this wondrous planet we call home” Buy the book.
“Known for its lively, clear prose as well as its scholarly research, A People’s History of the United States is the only volume to tell America’s story from the point of view of – and in the words of – America’s women, factory workers, African Americans, Native Americans, working poor, and immigrant laborers.” Buy the book.
“A global account of the rise of civilization that is also a stunning refutation of ideas of human development based on race.
Until around 11,000 b.c., all peoples were still Stone Age hunter/gatherers. At that point, a great divide occurred in the rates that human societies evolved. In Eurasia, parts of the Americas, and Africa, farming became the prevailing mode of existence when indigenous wild plants and animals were domesticated by prehistoric planters and herders. As Jared Diamond vividly reveals, the very people who gained a head start in producing food would collide with preliterate cultures, shaping the modern world through conquest, displacement, and genocide.” Buy the book
“September 1938. Spain’s Civil War has been raging for two years, the outcome still in the balance. But rebel General Franco is so confident of winning that he has opened up battlefield tourism along the country’s north coast. Jack Telford, a left-wing reporter, finds himself with an eccentric group of tourists on one of the War Route’s yellow Chrysler buses. Driven by his passion for peace, Telford attempts to uncover the hidden truths beneath the conflict. But Jack must contend first with his own gullibility, the tragic death of a fellow passenger, capture by Republican guerrilleros, a final showdown at Spain’s most holy shrine and the possibility that he has been badly betrayed. Betrayed and in serious danger.” Buy the book.
For the Tried-But True
“When Babbitt was first published in 1922, fans gleefully hailed its scathing portrait of a crass, materialistic nation; critics denounced it as an unfair skewering of the American businessman. Sparking heated literary debate, Babbitt became a controversial classic, securing Sinclair Lewis’s place as one of America’s preeminent social commentators. Businessman George F. Babbitt loves the latest appliances, brand names, and the Republican Party. In fact, he loves being a solid citizen even more than he loves his wife. But Babbitt comes to resent the middle-class trappings he has worked so hard to acquire. Realizing that his life is devoid of meaning, he grows determined to transcend his trivial existence and search for greater purpose. Raising thought-provoking questions while yielding hilarious consequences, and just as relevant today as ever, Babbitt’s quest for meaning forces us to confront the Babbitt in ourselves—and ponder what it truly means to be an American.” Buy the book.
“A novel you will never forget… This powerful and breathtaking novel is the story of four cadets who have become bloodbrothers. Together they will encounter the hell of hazing and the rabid, raunchy and dangerously secretive atmosphere of an arrogant and proud military institute. They will experience the violence. The passion. The rage. The friendship. The loyalty. The betrayal. Together, they will brace themselves for the brutal transition to manhood… and one will not survive. With all the dramatic brilliance he brought to The Great Santini, Pat Conroy sweeps you into the turbulent world of these four friends — and draws you deep into the heart of his rebellious hero, Will McLean, an outsider forging his personal code of honor, who falls in love with a whimsical beauty… and who undergoes a transition more remarkable then he ever imagined possible.” Buy the book.
“John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany is the inspiring modern classic that introduced two of the author’s most unforgettable characters, boys bonded forever in childhood: the stunted Owen Meany, whose life is touched by God, and the orphaned Johnny Wheelwright, whose life is touched by Owen. From the accident that links them to the mystery that follows them–and the martyrdom that parts them–the events of their lives form a tapestry of fate and faith in a novel that is Irving at his irresistible best.” Buy the book.
“John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression follows the western movement of one family & a nation in search of work & human dignity. Perhaps the most American of American classics. The novel focuses on the Joads, a poor family of sharecroppers driven from their Oklahoma home by drought, economic hardship, & changes in financial & agricultural industries. Due to their nearly hopeless situation, & in part because they were trapped in the Dust Bowl, the Joads set out for California. Along with thousands of other “Okies”, they sought jobs, land, dignity & a future. When preparing to write the novel, Steinbeck wrote: “I want to put a tag of shame on the greedy bastards who are responsible for this [the Great Depression & its effects].” The book won Steinbeck a large following among the working class, perhaps due to the book’s sympathy to the workers’ movement & its accessible prose style.The Grapes of Wrath is frequently read in American high school & college literature classes. A celebrated Hollywood film version, starring Henry Fonda & directed by John Ford, was made in 1940.” Buy the book.
“Shipwrecked passengers on a deserted island: how will they survive? After their ship founders at sea, the Robinsons—father, mother, and four sons—find themselves stranded in an uninhabited, idyllic land. Young readers will enjoy watching them handle every crisis with cleverness and skill.” Buy the book.
For the Sports Fan
“Billy Beane, general manager of MLB’s Oakland A’s and protagonist of Michael Lewis’s Moneyball, had a problem: how to win in the Major Leagues with a budget that’s smaller than that of nearly every other team. Conventional wisdom long held that big name, highly athletic hitters and young pitchers with rocket arms were the ticket to success. But Beane and his staff, buoyed by massive amounts of carefully interpreted statistical data, believed that wins could be had by more affordable methods such as hitters with high on-base percentage and pitchers who get lots of ground outs. Given this information and a tight budget, Beane defied tradition and his own scouting department to build winning teams of young affordable players and inexpensive castoff veterans.” Buy the book.
“Babe Ruth is without a doubt the most famous character ever produced by the sport of baseball. A legendary player, world-famous for his hitting prowess, he transcended the sport to enter the mainstream of American life as an authentic folk hero.
In this extraordinary biography, noted sportswriter Robert W. Creamer reveals the complex man behind the sports legend. From Ruth’s early days in a Baltimore orphanage, to the glory days with the Yankees, to his later years, Creamer has drawn a classic portrait of an American original.” Buy the book.
“In this fascinating book, Sperber uses original research culled from students, faculty, and administrators around the country, to argue that what universities offer instead of a meaningful undergraduate education is a meager and dangerous substitute: the party scene surrounding college sports that Sperber calls “beer and circus” and which serves to keep the students happy while tuition dollars keep rolling in. He explodes cherished myths about college sports, showing, for instance, that contrary to popular belief the money coming in to universities from sports programs never makes it to academic departments.” Buy the book.
“In this controversial and engaging exploration of athletic success, Sports Illustrated senior writer David Epstein tackles the great nature vs. nurture debate and traces how far science has come in solving this great riddle. He investigates the so-called 10,000-hour rule to uncover whether rigorous and consistent practice from a young age is the only route to athletic excellence. Along the way, Epstein dispels many of our perceptions about why top athletes excel. He shows why some skills that we assume are innate, like the bullet-fast reactions of a baseball or cricket batter, are not, and why other characteristics that we assume are entirely voluntary, like an athlete’s will to train, might in fact have important genetic components.” Buy the book.
“Daniel James Brown’s robust book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.” Buy the book.
For the Tinkerer
“From his unique vantage point as editor-in-chief of MAKE magazine, the hub of the newly invigorated do-it-yourself movement, Mark Frauenfelder takes readers on an inspiring and surprising tour of the vibrant world of DIY. The Internet has brought together large communities of people who share ideas, tips, and blueprints for making everything from unmanned aerial vehicles to pedal- powered iPhone chargers to an automatic cat feeder jury-rigged from a VCR.”
Today’s generation of dads grew up more tech-savvy than ever. Rather than joining the Little League team, many grew up playing computer games, Dungeons and Dragons, and watching Star Wars. Now with kids of their own, these digital-age dads are looking for fresh ways to share their love of science and technology, and help their kids develop a passion for learning and discovery. Enter supergeek, and father of two, Ken Denmead. An engineer and editor of the incredibly popular GeekDad blog on wired.com, Ken has created the ultimate, idea-packed guide guaranteed to help dads and kids alike enjoy the magic of playtime together and tap into the infinite possibility of their imagination. With illustrations throughout, this book offers projects for all ages to suit any timeframe or budget. Buy the book.
“Wired magazine editor and bestselling author Chris Anderson takes you to the front lines of a new industrial revolution as today’s entrepreneurs, using open source design and 3-D printing, bring manufacturing to the desktop. In an age of custom-fabricated, do-it-yourself product design and creation, the collective potential of a million garage tinkerers and enthusiasts is about to be unleashed, driving a resurgence of American manufacturing. A generation of “Makers” using the Web’s innovation model will help drive the next big wave in the global economy, as the new technologies of digital design and rapid prototyping gives everyone the power to invent — creating “the long tail of things”. Buy the book.
“The indispensable reference guide for every homeowner, guaranteed to help you maintain and improve your home while saving time and money. Covering everything from replacing faulty faucets and showerheads to curing the quirks of an air conditioner, this book provides step-by-step illustrated instructions, plus a comprehensive chapter on tools.” Buy the book.
“Invoking the titans of architecture, literature and philosophy, from Vitrivius to Thoreau, from the Chinese masters of feng shui to the revolutionary Frank Lloyd Wright, Pollan brilliantly chronicles a realm of blueprints, joints and trusses as he peers into the ephemeral nature of “houseness” itself. From the spark of an idea to the search for a perfect site to the raising of a ridgepole, Pollan revels in the infinitely detailed, complex process of creating a finished structure. At once superbly written, informative and enormously entertaining, A Place of My Own is for anyone who has ever wondered how the walls around us take shape–and how we might shape them ourselves. A Place of My Own recounts his two-and-a-half-year journey of discovery in an absorbing narrative that deftly weaves the day-to-day work of design and building–from siting to blueprint, from the pouring of foundations to finish carpentry–with reflections on everything form the power of place to shape our lives to the question of what constitutes “real work” in a technological society.” Buy the book.
For the Globally-Minded
“Award-winning journalist Barbara Demick follows the lives of six North Korean citizens over fifteen years–a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung, the rise to power of his son Kim Jong-il, and a devastating famine that killed one-fifth of the population. Demick brings to life what it means to be living under the most repressive totalitarian regime today–an Orwellian world that is by choice not connected to the Internet, where displays of affection are punished, informants are rewarded, and an offhand remark can send a person to the gulag for life. Demick takes us deep inside the country, beyond the reach of government censors, and through meticulous and sensitive reporting, we see her subjects fall in love, raise families, nurture ambitions, and struggle for survival. One by one, we witness their profound, life-altering disillusionment with the government and their realization that, rather than providing them with lives of abundance, their country has betrayed them.” Buy the book.
“The Underground Girls of Kabul is anchored by vivid characters who bring this remarkable story to life…. At the heart of this emotional narrative is a new perspective on the extreme sacrifices of Afghan women and girls against the violent backdrop of America’s longest war. Divided into four parts, the book follows those born as the unwanted sex in Afghanistan, but who live as the socially favored gender through childhood and puberty, only to later be forced into marriage and childbirth. The Underground Girls of Kabulcharts their dramatic life cycles, while examining our own history and the parallels to subversive actions of people who live under oppression everywhere.” Buy the book.
“This new edition of The World Is Flat is Friedman’s account of the great changes taking place in our time, as lightning-swift advances in technology & communications put people all over the globe in touch as never before–creating an explosion of wealth in India & China, & challenging the rest to run even faster just to stay in place. This updated & expanded edition features over a 100 pages of new reporting & commentary, drawn from Friedman’s travels round the world & across the American heartland–from anyplace where the flattening of the world is being felt. The World Is Flat shows “how & why globalization has now shifted into warp drive” (Robert Wright, Slate) & demystifies the new flat world for readers, allowing them to make sense of the often bewildering scene unfolding before their eyes.” Buy the book.
“Partners and Rivals, the latest book from acclaimed economist Wendy Dobson, examines the central role that China and the United States will play on the global stage in the next half-century. Dobson provides a balanced and accessibly written understanding of China’s domestic challenges, as well as an analysis of both the United States and China’s goals on the world stage. Demonstrating why neither power will be able to dominate the other, the book emphasizes that they will need to cooperate and work together in the coming decades because of their deep economic interdependence.” Buy the book.
“Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson conclusively show that it is man-made political and economic institutions that underlie economic success (or lack of it). Korea, to take just one of their fascinating examples, is a remarkably homogeneous nation, yet the people of North Korea are among the poorest on earth while their brothers and sisters in South Korea are among the richest. The south forged a society that created incentives, rewarded innovation, and allowed everyone to participate in economic opportunities. The economic success thus spurred was sustained because the government became accountable and responsive to citizens and the great mass of people. Sadly, the people of the north have endured decades of famine, political repression, and very different economic institutions—with no end in sight. The differences between the Koreas is due to the politics that created these completely different institutional trajectories.” Buy the book.
For the Science Dude
“In this daring and original book, Rudder explains how Facebook “likes” can predict, with surprising accuracy, a person’s sexual orientation and even intelligence; how attractive women receive exponentially more interview requests; and why you must have haters to be hot. He charts the rise and fall of America’s most reviled word through Google Search and examines the new dynamics of collaborative rage on Twitter. He shows how people express themselves, both privately and publicly. What is the least Asian thing you can say? Do people bathe more in Vermont or New Jersey? What do black women think about Simon & Garfunkel? (Hint: they don’t think about Simon & Garfunkel.) Rudder also traces human migration over time, showing how groups of people move from certain small towns to the same big cities across the globe. And he grapples with the challenge of maintaining privacy in a world where these explorations are possible.” Buy the book.
“In this bold, fascinating book, Biss investigates the metaphors and myths surrounding our conception of immunity and its implications for the individual and the social body. As she hears more and more fears about vaccines, Biss researches what they mean for her own child, her immediate community, America, and the world, both historically and in the present moment. She extends a conversation with other mothers to meditations on Voltaire’s Candide, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Susan Sontag’s AIDS and Its Metaphors, and beyond.” Buy the book.
“Moonwalking with Einstein draws on cutting-edge research, a surprising cultural history of memory, and venerable tricks of the mentalist’s trade to transform our understanding of human remembering. Under the tutelage of top “mental athletes,” he learns ancient techniques once employed by Cicero to memorize his speeches and by Medieval scholars to memorize entire books. Using methods that have been largely forgotten, Foer discovers that we can all dramatically improve our memories. Immersing himself obsessively in a quirky subculture of competitive memorizers, Foer learns to apply techniques that call on imagination as much as determination–showing that memorization can be anything but rote. From the PAO system, which converts numbers into lurid images, to the memory palace, in which memories are stored in the rooms of imaginary structures, Foer’s experience shows that the World Memory Championships are less a test of memory than of perseverance and creativity.” Buy the book.
“Everyone is born curious. But only some retain the habits of exploring, learning and discovering as they grow older. Which side of the ’curiosity divide’ are you on? In Curious Ian Leslie makes a passionate case for the cultivation of our desire to know. Curious people tend to be smarter, more creative and more successful. But at the very moment when the rewards of curiosity have never been higher, it is misunderstood and undervalued, and increasingly practised only by a cognitive elite. Filled with inspiring stories, case studies and practical advice, Curious will change the way you think about your own mental life, and that of those around you.” Buy the book.
“The Future of the Mind gives us an authoritative and compelling look at the astonishing research being done in top laboratories around the world—all based on the latest advancements in neuroscience and physics. One day we might have a “smart pill” that can enhance our cognition; be able to upload our brain to a computer, neuron for neuron; send thoughts and emotions around the world on a “brain-net”; control computers and robots with our mind; push the very limits of immortality; and perhaps even send our consciousness across the universe.” Buy the book.