Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

January 11, 2009

SEX SECRETS OF BARBIE & KEN

Page Six Photo

January 8, 2009 —

BARBIE and Ken are beloved by millions of children – but the people behind the world’s most popular dolls were involved in unsavory sexual behavior they kept secret for years, a new book reveals. (more…)

Top 10 Existential Novels

November 3, 2008

FIGHT CLUB [1996] Chuck Palahniuk Image

“It’s easy to cry when you realize that everyone you love will reject you or die. On a long enough time line, the survival rate for everyone will drop to zero.” (more…)

100 books to read

July 27, 2008

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Set on the East Coast in the roaring 20’s, this American novel is a classic. From it we learn that often the wanting of something is better than actually having it. It is relevant to every man’s life. Furthermore, one true friend is worth infinitely more than a multitude of acquaintances.

“He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles… It faced–or seemed to face–the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor.”

The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

Considered by most to be the authoritative text on statesmanship and power (how to obtain it as well as an illustration of its trappings), although certainly a shrewd one.

From this arises an argument: whether it is better to be loved than feared. I reply that one should like to be both one and the other; but since it is difficult to join them together, it is much safer to be feared than to be loved when one of the two must be lacking.

Essentially, Machiavelli advocates letting your people have their property and women, but making sure that they know what you are capable of doing if they step out of line.

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Through the beloved Billy Pilgrim, we see the central theme’s of Vonnegut’s humanism along with his satirical take on how disgusting it is when humans don’t use their (limited) free will to prevent simple atrocities. A great example of how we use humor to deal with hardship, and the conflict between the way heroism is conveyed through stories for actions that perhaps could have been avoided altogether.

“So then I understood. It was war that made her so angry. She didn’t want her babies or anybody else’s babies killed in wars. And she thought wars were partly encouraged by books and movies.”

1984 by George Orwell

If you are already worried about the information that your computer is collecting from you, re-read this one and you will feel much better! Or, perhaps, you will throw your computer in a river. This is the classic text for the will of the individual to maintain his privacy and free will, and how easy it is at the end of it all to just try to blend in and go with the flow to avoid making things even worse by speaking out.

“But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”

The Republic by Plato

Since every man can use a fair portion of philosophy in his literary diet, the origin of legitimate western thought might be a good place to start. Plato’s most well known work breaks down topics of which you should have a fundamental understanding such as government, justice, and political theory.

Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The final work of Dostoevsky (commonly accepted English spelling of the name) has a lot of meat to chew on…it strikes at the core of who we are and what drives us. Ultimately, for all of our strength and wisdom as individuals, we are often frustrated by our failures to do what we know we must do (or at least think we should do) and need the power of forgiveness in our lives. Many important thinkers consider this to be one of (if not the most) important masterpiece of literature, including Sigmund Freud and Franz Kafka (who did not think quite alike, to say the least).

“So long as man remains free he strives for nothing so incessantly and so painfully as to find some one to worship.”

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Holden Caufield, if nothing else, should serve as a point of reference for the angst and cynicism that you perhaps once had, or ideally never had. If you thought like him when you were 16 or 17 years old, you are forgiven. If you still identify with him, you need to find some more joy, somehow…fake it ’til you make it. Do something.

The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

The fundamental work on free market policies: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.” Want an education in economics? This book is a great start. (Pictured is the copy that belonged to John Adams).

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

Set in the Spanish Civil War, this novel explores who man becomes when faced with the prospect of his own death. It is worthwhile for all of us to consider what we would give our lives for, as this defines what and who we truly love. This is one of the great examples of how war has shaped men, past and present, and has in part defined the image of a true hero who is courageous even when it has brutal consequences.

“You learned the dry-mouthed, fear-purged purging ecstasy of battle and you fought that summer and that fall for all the poor in the world against all tyranny, for all the things you believed in and for the new world you had been educated into.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Arguably the best work from the ever-quotable Wilde, this novel is a guide for how to live a life of pure decadence. Packed with impeccable wit, clever one-liners and an excessive amount of egotistical vanity. At the very least, this book will show you the glory and the pitfalls of being the best looking chap around.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

One of the most controversial books of its time, the Joads are “Okies” who head west to the fertile valleys of California during the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s. Because of the social solutions that the book proposed, and its depiction of work camp conditions, some groups attacked the novel as communist propaganda. However, it was widely read as a result of the national attention, and is a classic example of a man doing what he had to do for his family and persevering through all plights and conditions.

“Fear the time when the strikes stop while the great owners live – for every little beaten strike is proof that the step is being taken…fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is the foundation of Manself, and this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe.”

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

With a revolutionary and controversial view of the future, Huxley’s satiric take on the “utopia” of tomorrow has provoked reader’s thoughts for decades. Depictions of genetically enhanced embryos predisposed to a specific social class cast warning signs for technological interference with human life.

How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This is not a Dr. Phil self-help book. Citing intimate examples from the likes of Rockefeller, Charles Schwab and FDR, this comprehensive guide is all about how to get ahead in business, relationships and life. Read one chapter a day for the rest of your life. It will make you a far better man than you would ever be without it.

Call of the Wild by Jack London

The tale of a domesticated dog forced to adapt to a life of work in Alaska during the Yukon gold rush. Most of us can recall rooting for Buck in the ferocious battle to be the leader of the pack. Make sure that you embrace the benefits of competition to push yourself to become better in your work, but do it without biting and/or killing co-workers.

“…men, groping in the Arctic darkness, had found a yellow metal…These men wanted dogs, and the dogs they wanted were heavy dogs, with strong muscles by which to toil, and furry coats to protect them from the frost.”

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt shows what made Theodore Roosevelt the great man he was. Reading this book will inspire you to get off the couch and start moving in your life. Harvard graduate, New York Assemblyman, rancher, historian, author of several books, New York City Police Commissioner, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Governor of New York, and commanding officer of the Rough Riders are all titles that TR had before he became president at 42.

Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

Every boy can stand to learn a bit of old fashioned resourcefulness from their pops. Finding yourself on a deserted island is surely the way to learn these skills in a hurry. Tree forts, treasure hunting, and constant adventure mark the Swiss Family’s 10 year run. Lesson number one? Shipwrecks make for some good literature.

Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac

An idealistic vision from the man who fueled the Beat Generation, a life on the road without concern for wealth or even stability, rather an enjoyment of surroundings, whatever they may be. This is a great book for reminding us to get away from technology, at least for a day, to appreciate nature and some of the more simple pleasures of life. Don’t feel inferior to the beatniks if you still like driving your car…don’t ever let hipsters give you guilt trips.

“I felt like lying down by the side of the trail and remembering it all. The woods do that to you, they always look familiar, long lost, like the face of a long-dead relative, like an old dream…”

The Iliad and Odyssey of Homer

(2 for 1 special) Though the authorship is disputed, the place of these two epics in the man canon is not. Roughly based around the events of the Trojan War, these poems are likely a great collection of common Greek folklore surrounding the events in those days of fierce political turmoil. It is rumored that there were 10 epics in all, and 8 were lost over time. This may be a blessing in disguise, because, if they were around, you would never get to the rest of this list.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

The logic here is simple: any book which has the influence to have coined terminology commonly used in our society for decades on end should be perused based solely on principle. Nothing is worse than a man being caught using language of which he is unfamiliar with its proper meaning or origin. Also, it is a great book.

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

A bit of isolation never hurt any man. Thoreau spent two years, two months and two days writing this book in Walden, a cabin tucked deep in the woods near Concord, Massachusetts. This work of non-fiction describes the changing of the seasons over the course of a year and was intended to give the author an escape from society in order to achieve a more objective point of view. A real man would take this sabbatical himself, but the book should suffice for those of you who are employed.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Primal instincts. With only the most basic of needs to consider, human nature takes a different approach. A fictional study of the struggle for power and the unspeakable things that man (or child) will do when taken outside the order of civilization.

The Master and Margarita by by Mikhail Bulgakov

There is nothing more manly than a bout with the Devil. An entertaining commentary on the atheistic social bureaucracy in Moscow in the 1930’s wherein Lucifer himself pays the town a visit to make light of their skepticism regarding the spiritual realm.

“As a result he decided to abandon the main thoroughfares and make his way through the side streets and back alleys where people were less nosy, and there was less chance that a barefoot man would be pestered about long johns that stubbornly refused to look like trousers.”

Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut

Written as the autobiography of Rabo Karabekian, of course with Vonnegut’s own war experiences drawn upon as inspiration to the aging artist who narrates his own story. It is a hilarious take on abstract art, and takes jabs at both the inflated self-importance of the artist and the people who simply refuse to look beneath the surface.

“My soul knows my meat is doing bad things, and is embarrassed. But my meat just keeps right on doing bad, dumb things.”

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Exploring the “virtue” of living for ourselves, this monster of a book (1,084 pages in my version) is certainly worth plowing through as it is simply a great story. The fundamental concept is that our world falls apart when individuals stop seeking their own satisfaction through personal achievement and feel a sense of entitlement to the accomplishments and work of others. This book challenges us on many levels…you may find it conflicting with your value of other people, her treatment of God, or any other beliefs you already hold. Yet, who can argue with “The most depraved type of human being … (is) the man without a purpose.”

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.

None of us want this to happen. Well, most of us don’t. Kafka employed terms from law and politics, and was always concerned about some vague, oppressive bureaucracy that sought his ruin, though seeming cool and detached. We can take something from the very approach of Kafka to his work and find a balance between reading too much meaning into an event and, on the contrary, caring too little and being completely disillusioned.


Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins

Just like The DaVinci Code, but on hallucinogenic mushrooms…and written 30 years prior. A psychedelic story of a wandering musical troupe that settle down to open “Captain Kendrick’s Memorial Hot Dog Wildlife Preserve,” and somehow get mixed up with the Vatican. The motto:

“The principal difference between an adventurer and a suicide is that the adventurer leaves himself a margin of escape (the narrower the margin, the greater the adventure).”

White Noise by Don Delillo

This National Book Award winner was more right on in 1985 than Delillo could have possibly known. The drug Dylar is the supposed answer to man’s fear of death, yet causes users to lose their minds. This is an extremely enjoyable read, particularly relevant and funny in its examination of how people act in a climate of fear (hello Homeland Security) and under a “hail of bullets” from advertisers and imaginary enemies alike. The lesson: secretly hold out for the wonder drug and/or fountain of youth, but live each day like it might be your last…in a good way…and still show up to work unless you really, really know it is your last day on earth.

Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy

This Western novel written in 1985 is not only considered to be McCarthy’s personal masterpiece, but also one of the greatest books of the 20th century. As the title suggests, the story is marked by extreme violence and contains many religious references. Isn’t that what the history of man is all about?

Seek: Reports from the Edges of America & Beyond by Denis Johnson

Through a collection of short stories that take you from a Bikers for Jesus convention to the 13 year olds with semi-automatic machine guns in Liberia, Johnson uses rich prose to examine the role of a man as a potted plant, observing his surroundings and soaking it up. In this story, horrific violence in seeming other worlds contrasts with the comparatively safe process of self-discovery in different U.S. subcultures. This will absolutely open your eyes to the simultaneous beauty and horror of our world, and remarkably, he does it without sounding condescending, jaded and bitter…he is just there, and you will absolutely see everything that he sees.

“In the Ogaden, life comes hard, but these have won through yet another day, unlike all the others they’ve lost to sickness, famine, massacres, battles. The villagers sit close together, everyone touching someone else, steeped in a contentment that seems, at this moment, perpetual. It occurs to the writer that the secret way to happiness is in knowing a lot of dead people.”

Crime And Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

One of the most amazing aspects of this masterpiece is that it was written by Dostoevsky as part of his resolve to deal with some serious financial hardships. The lesson isn’t to quit your job and write that novel you’ve been meaning to write…but many of us can relate to that sense of personal ambition and pride in the face of fear and financial stress. Again, take the moral lessons from the characters’ mistakes, don’t model your life after them.

“‘Oh God, how loathsome it all is! and can I, can I possibly….No, it’s nonsense, it’s rubbish!’ he added resolutely. ‘And how could such an atrocious thing come into my head? What filthy things my heart is capable of.’”

…Ah, the classic moral dilemma arising from something as simple as a justified murder.

Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse

The mysterious drifter is always an intriguing protagonist. One of Hesse’s best known works, Steppenwolf gained much popularity through the Beat and hippy genenerations of the 50’s and 60’s which related to his common theme of search for spirituality outside the boundaries of society.

The Book of Deeds of Arms and of Chivalry by Christine De Pizan

An example of what we can learn about being better men from the perspective of a woman (de Pizan pictured above, instructing her son). She wrote this classic in the 15th Century, a time period not known as the peak of gender equality. Of course, we can project this into our work and not use the text as the foundation to build a neighborhood militia group.

“No one is afraid to do what he is confident of having learned well. A small force which is highly trained in the conflicts of war is more apt to victory: a raw and untrained horde is always exposed to slaughter.”

The Art of Warfare by Sun Tzu

Written in the 6th Century, this has been one of the most influential texts in strategy and planning, especially emphasizing an ability to adapt to changing circumstances and environments rather than having a rigid plan and staying the course through to disaster.

“So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will fight without danger in battles.
If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose.
If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.”

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Considered by many to be the greatest work of fiction, it is a goldmine of quotes surrounding a central theme that could be summed up by “all that glisters is not gold.” This is also a great reminder that it is great to be a dreamer and a visionary, but remember to keep (at least somewhat) grounded in reality.

“I would do what I pleased, and doing what I pleased, I should have my will, and having my will, I should be contented; and when one is contented, there is no more to be desired; and when there is no more to be desired, there is an end of it.”

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

This one is tough, because you want it but you don’t…but a wise friend once said, upon being flattered for his world travels “yeah, well you go to all these places always knowing that one day you will come back to somewhere.” We all have friends who are, or some of us may be personally, drifters, soaking up each place like a sponge, and then leaving for the next whistlestop. It is the classic battle between stability/same vs. mobility/change. In the end, the self-centered opting out of human interaction might not be quite as romantic as you hoped. All good things in proportion dear friends. His realization (”Happiness Only Real When Shared”) is the great counter-balance to that primitive urge to walk alone into the wild. Or at least think about the fact that snow melts, and rivers get higher.

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

This epic vision of afterlife is valuable because it challenges us to examine the roots of what we believe and why, and the role of faith in our lives. Further, it is a vision of a world (or worlds) beyond our every day concerns, which is particularly fascinating because it was very much influenced by both Muslim and Catholic thoughts, beliefs and history.

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Considered by Steinbeck himself to be the work that he had been preparing for throughout his entire life. If you have had the chance to read this, or if anyone has ever talked about this book to you…perhaps you have been graced to read or even hear an excerpt from the legendary opening to Chapter 13:

Sometimes a kind of glory lights up the mind of a man. It happens to nearly everyone. You can feel it growing or preparing like a fuse burning toward dynamite[…]Then a man pours outward, a torrent of him, and yet he is not diminished. And I guess a man’s importance in the world can be measured by the quality and number of his glories. It is a lonely thing but it relates us to the world. It is the mother of all creativeness, and it sets each man separate from all other men.

Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes

Written during the English Civil War, Hobbes’ work is one of the foremost authorities in political theory and contributed greatly to Enlightenment philosophy. Leviathan’s primary concern is the centralized power of the sovereign state existing to maintain order and peace both within and without. A valuable resource, as a man never knows when he is going to be commissioned with the task of forming a new government.

“In the first place, I put for a general inclination of all mankind, a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death.”

The Thin Red Line by James Jones

The author’s fictional depiction of the Guadalcanal Campaign during WW2. Portraying various wartime activities most would consider repulsive, Jones gives account without judgment. With the current events of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, this work is very relevant today.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

A satirical depiction of the social climate in the South just before the turn of the century, “Huck Finn” is largely considered to be the first Great American Novel. Twain’s take on the issue of racism and slavery was initially criticized upon publication and remains largely controversial to this day.

The Politics by Aristotle

From the man that gave pointers to Alexander the Great we can all take note. His writings created the first comprehensive system of philosophy, including morality and aesthetics, logic and science, politics and metaphysics. Though it is thought that much of Aristotle’s work has been lost over the years, it is not a bad idea to take in the surviving words from one of the founding figures of Western Philosophy.

“Now if some men excelled others in the same degree in which gods and heroes are supposed to excel mankind in general… so that the superiority of the governors was undisputed and patent to their subjects, it would clearly be better that once for all the one class should rule and the others serve. But since this is unattainable, and kings have no marked superiority over their subjects… it is obviously necessary on many grounds that all the citizens alike should take their turn of governing and being governed.”

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

For its honest and graphic depiction of sex, this book was deemed “pornographic” by state courts upon its New York publishing in 1961. This ruling, however, was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court and the book became very influential in the sexual revolution of the 60’s and 70’s.

Beyond Good and Evil by Freidrich Nietzsche

With his denunciation of philosophers before him as lacking critical thought and mindlessly adhering to Christian tenets, Nietzsche took philosophy beyond religion, thus founding the Existentialist Movement. Questioning even the most basic of truths, Nietzsche writes that “from every point of view the erroneousness of the world in which we believe we live is the surest and firmest thing we can get our eyes on.” Staging a complete overhaul of the philosophical landscape is beyond ambitious and worthy of your attention. No matter what your beliefs, it is good to examine why you believe what you believe without fear of what you might discover.

A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Written from the perspective of Lieutenant “Tenente” Frederic Henry it is a novel of epic manly proportions. As an American ambulance driver with the Italian army in WWI, Henry is injured by a mortar and while in the infirmary falls in love with his British nurse, Catherine Barkley. After healing and having impregnated nurse Barkley, Henry returns to his unit, only to narrowly escape fratricide. Henry goes AWOL and he and his bird flee to neutral Switzerland where they live a peaceful existence until Barkley dies during childbirth. In typical Hemingway fashion, he mourns her death by simply walking back to his hotel in the rain.

The Stranger by Albert Camus

Perhaps the most popular piece of 20th century “existential” literature. The Stranger addresses murder and remorse (or lack thereof) , God and atheism, destiny and justice, and consequently, indifference. Camus’ anti-hero, Meursault is perhaps the ultimate man–unable to cry at his own funeral, and one of the final lines of the novel reads, “… I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate”. Camus gets a special nod for his manliness for being
an active member in the French Resistance during WWII. And you probably thought no Frenchmen would be on this list.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

The stream of consciousness drifting (see the 120 foot long manuscript scroll above) has helped us experience that sacred institution of just going, and using our own language to experience the rapid unfolding of a new town as a rich flash in a pan. Lucky for all of us, he has saved us the trouble of popping Benzedrine for 3 weeks and experiencing our own mad visions, and we can simply join his world without ferociously grinding our teeth (though Kerouac said it was made possible by coffee alone). If you haven’t read it, get it now please. If you have, you know that you will never complain about a long drive again, whether alone or with the boys.

Foucault’s Pendulum – Umberto Eco

Italian novelist and philosopher Umberto Eco first published this work in 1988, which tells the story of three friends who create their own historical conspiracy to entertain themselves. “The Plan” becomes more intelligent and complex, and they begin to make believers of others, and even themselves. As they become wrapped up in a series of events beyond their control, the book displays the inherent credulity of man. Getting lost in a “Choose Your Own Adventure” that becomes a reality is every grown boy’s dream.

Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard

In this book Kierkegard creates a case study from the famous bible story (Genesis 22) from when Abraham is famously commanded by God to sacrifice his son Isaac. Kierkegaard uses the story as an opportunity to question the philosophy of religion, the relationship between philosophy and religion, the nature of God and faith, faith’s relationship with ethics and morality, and the difficulty of being authentically religious. It is manly to ask questions about the bigger things – there is more to life than sports.

by John Milton

John Milton’s Paradise Lost is a timeless hard-to-read classic. Its imagery has shaped how the Western world views Christianity, sin, the fall, life, death, heaven, and hell. Unlike many of his predecessors, Milton concentrated on more humanist elements. Reading Milton might or might not change your view of God and man, but absorbing him will change your love of language. The words are vivid and powerful and beg to be read aloud.

The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Our protagonist here, Myshkin, is an example of a selfless love, moving to marry a woman to save her from falling into the arms of Rogozhin, who represents darkness. Remind any of you good ol’ boys of that girl in high school who kept running back to the man who didn’t deserve her affections? Well, in this case, the girl runs back to Rogozhin, who, in spite of and perhaps because of his deep passion, rewarded her by…killing her. Myshkin is considered the “idiot” because of his innocence and trust in the best of humanity as it could be, and in the end, his optimism and love for humanity are his undoing in the face of a dark, materialistic society. The lesson: don’t marry a woman to save her from another man…although, come to think of the end of Super Mario Bros…

Malcolm X: The Autobiography

Malcolm X is quite possibly one of the most controversial public figures from the Civil Rights Movement. His autobiography shows what a complex individual Malcolm X was. We see his transformation from ignorance and despair to knowledge and spiritual awakening. His emphasis on the principal of self-reliance and taking a stand for your rights resonates with every man.

Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

The ultimate tale of betrayal and revenge, and perhaps one of the best stories of all time. Edmund Dantes, who shortly after being promoted to captain of his ship, and just days before his marriage to his beloved fiance Mercedes, is brutally betrayed by those he trusts, arrested for treason and consequently taken to a prison on an island off the French coast. The story goes on to tell of his life after escape from prison, his finding the greatest treasure in all the world, and re-entering the society as a wealthy, educated and sophisticated Count. He plots his revenge, which he ultimately denies himself when forced to decide between it and his love for his Mercedes. Through this choice his justice is ultimately served. It is a great novel that you most likely won’t be able to put down until you have it finished, even if you have already seen the movie.

All Quiet on The Western Front by Erich Maria Remarq

A classic war novel that depicts how war can destroy a man. The book begins with young, idealistic German men, going of to fight in WWI believing their cause is just. After experiencing the horrors of trench warfare and shell shock these young men leave the war disillusioned and numb.

“I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. I see how peoples are set against one another, and in silence, unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently slay one another.”

The Bible

Despite being one of the most religious Industrialized nations, America’s religious literacy is horrible. If asked to name one of the Ten Commandments or one of Jesus’ apostles, many Americans wouldn’t be able to do it. The problem is half the books on these lists make Biblical references that must be known by the reader for them to understand the message of that book. If a Western man desires to understand the culture that surrounds him, he needs to have a thorough understanding of the Book that has shaped that culture.

In addition, the Bible is full of ancient counsel and advice that is applicable to today’s man, whether you’re a believer in God or not.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things. – I Corinthians 13:11

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

There’s nothing more manly than a good hard-boiled detective novel. The Maltese Falcon is filled with ambiguities in morality. Sam Spade, the main character in the book is a hardened and cynical man. But underneath his rough exterior is a man with a sense of idealism. Is it possible to do good even if you’re a bad person? It’s a book that will entertain as well as make you think.

“When a man’s partner is killed, he’s supposed to do something about it. It doesn’t make any difference what you thought of him. He was your partner and you’re supposed to do something about it.”

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

Quite possibly the most widely read book on philosophy. The book is set as a cross-country motorcycle trip by a father and son. The book focuses on the importance of quality in a culture obsessed with quantity.

Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of America’s greatest philosophers. In his essay, Self Reliance, Emerson stressed the importance of individualism and the importance of living by your conscious. A man should not conform or live a life of false consistency.They should march to the beat of their own drummer.

Books to read

July 2, 2008

Mere ChristianityMere Christianity – C.S. Lewis

Mere Christianity is a Christian apology; in other words, it seeks to explain the belief structure of Christianity in a way palatable to both believers and nonbelievers. Thus, it focuses on only those elements of Christianity that have been part of the belief structure in almost all times and all places and avoids the differences between denominations and also issues with Christian history. It uses a logical structure and follow-through that makes it a wonderful book for both Christians and non-Christians alike to really understand the theological underpinings of Christianity without the strong opposition of an atheistic perspective or the blatant fervor of an evangelical.

Mere Christianity really awoke me to the spiritual dimensions of my life. It didn’t lead me down a blind path directly to Christianity, but it did open me up to the idea that there was more to faith and religion that meets the eye, and it started me on a lifelong quest to find out these answers for myself. To my surprise looking back on it, it actually taught me not to accept the dogma of others, but to seek my own path and truth

The Conscience of a ConservativeThe Conscience of a Conservative – Barry Goldwater

The Conscience of a Conservative basically spells out the political beliefs of Barry Goldwater, a Republican Senator from Arizona who ran for President in 1964. He brought to the table a very clear political perspective, one that is basically completely alien to the “conservatives” today. In a nutshell, this philosophy has only one true litmus test: local governments are better suited to solve local issues, because every person and every community are different. The federal government should solve issues of interstate commerce and national defense and that is all. This enables each state to decide their own path on most controversial issues, enabling like-minded people to live in states that respected their beliefs without federal interference.

Before reading this book, I didn’t have what you would call a political ideology of my own. I just followed what others said without really putting together an overall worldview that represented what I thought was right and what I thought was wrong. The Conscience of a Conservative awoke in me a desire to be more aware of politics around me – and also to be involved in the local political process, a transformation that has altered my life in many, many way

How to Win Friends and Influence PeopleHow to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie

How To Win Friends And Influence People is about how to deal with social situations, nothing more, nothing less. It’s very well written and broken down into small pieces that anyone can follow and accomplish.

So why did it impact my life so strongly? To put it simply, I was not exactly adept at social situations before reading this book. I had a very hard time … well, winning friends or influencing people. As I came into leadership roles, all I had to rely on was pure demonstration of my own abilities to lead, and while that can be a tool for inspiration, it can only carry so much weight – and it certainly doesn’t help when you’re standing up in front of a crowd of people who don’t know you or your record and you have to convince them that what you’re doing is valuable. This book, because it broke down the ability to work through social situations into tiny things that I could practice and learn, made it possible for a complete social train wreck like myself to begin to be able to speak in public venues and relate to other people – which completely changed the rules of how my life worked and what I could do with it.

Getting Things DoneGetting Things Done – David Allen

Getting Things Done is a book on personal productivity for those who really don’t want to (or have the time to) commit themselves to a sticy, compex system of task management. It has one overall guiding principle: write down the stuff you need to do as you think of it, then process that list when you have open time. If you have ongoing projects, keep a list or a folder for that project and check on it regularly to keep it going. That’s the nutshell of it – the book goes on to show examples of how it works and add some detail for specific situations, but that’s really the key.

I found Getting Things Done just as my life was about to move into hyperspeed: my child was born and I began to really kick my writing into high gear. Given the previous inefficient methods that filled my life, I had no idea how I was going to find time to get these things accomplished, but taking the modular materials in this book and applying them to my life in a sensible fashion, I not only became a father and kicked my writing into gear, I found time to found and develop this blog into something great

April 2, 2007 @ 10:30 am – Written by Trent
Categories: 10 Books That Changed My Life, Books
Bookmarks: del.icio.us, reddit

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/category/10-books-that-changed-my-life/

Mother fucker

May 30, 2008

Culture of Deception

WHAT HAPPENED

Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception (more…)