There’s nothing like a good read to take your mind off a long, stressful workday. And trust us, the ladies definitely appreciate a well-read man. But if you’ve already worked your way through the best of Hemingway, Clancy and Melville, where do you turn next for a literary fix that also appeals to your inner caveman?
The Voice-Tribune consulted literature expert Michael Boggs, owner (along with his wife, Carol Bessie) of Carmichael’s Bookstore. He put together a top-five list of “man-bites-dog” must-reads for all of you guys out there. So have at it! Unless, of course, you’re finally ready to pick up that copy of Pride and Prejudice we’ve been recommending…
One of TIME magazine’s 100 best English-language novels, Cormac McCarthy’s western tells the story of “the kid,” a runaway in the 1800s who crosses paths with the Glanton Gang, a group of scalp-hunters responsible for massacring Native American tribes all over the country. Says Boggs, “Cormac McCarthy is a great writer, and he’s a great kind of manly writer. …It’s very dark and violent.”
The collection of stories, all about a platoon of American soldiers in the Vietnam War, is based on the author’s own experiences overseas. “It’s about men in a situation where they’re not all brave, they’re not all courageous,” Boggs explains. “They have moments of panic and weakness and everything. …You get a picture of the humanness of doing something that most women don’t ever do. Going to war is a really complicated thing for a guy.”
This novel tells the story of two very different young men who grow up in a small town in the 1950s and develop an unlikely friendship. “I think that (male friendships aren’t) written very much about,” Boggs points out. “Men are supposed to be tough and not have that kind of sensitivity that you have with your best friend. …These two guys, they’re basically an odd pair. But they have this bond that goes throughout their entire lives. A really good read.”
This 1998 New York Times best-seller is a true account of the author’s experiences as part of a climbing expedition working its way up Mt. Everest when a major storm hits. “It is a gripping story, a minute-by-minute, heart-pounding, everybody’s-on-the-verge-of-dying kind of adventure,” says Boggs. “There’s a lot of internal reflection, a lot of thinking about survival. You’ve got to be smart to survive; bad things happen.”
Another best-seller, and maybe just a little bit of a guilty pleasure, this debut novel is about a man who lives alone in the woods of Wisconsin. He sends off for a mail-order bride, and the person who arrives is not the “simple, honest woman” he expected. “It’s like hormones, sex, loneliness, everything, but from the male side of it,” explains Boggs. “It’s a book that captures certain internal emotions that men have that are different from women. …Reading it as a man, there are things that hit home.”