For Young Men:
#16: Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
Blood Meridian is the single most violent book I have ever read. I want my boys to understand what kind of violence is out there. THIS IS NOT A KID BOOK. I don’t recommend this book to anyone under 18. It is the story of what people can do, and be capable of to stay alive. And revenge. And Apache Indians, who wear the bloody gowns of brides they have murdered. This book is said to Be McCarthy’s masterpiece, and was voted as one of the 100 greatest English Language novels by Time magazine. Dark, Violent, Gritty, Beautiful.
#17: The Long Walk by Robert Downing
The Long Walk is the greatest survival story I have ever read, or have even heard about. Słavomir Rawicz was a Polish officer, imprisoned during WW2. He was shipped to a Russian Gulag (a prisoner work camp) in Northeast Siberia. So, basically the shittiest place on the planet. He and a few others escape on foot. Like total badasses, they WALK from Northern Siberia, through Mongolia, across the Gobi desert, over the Himalayas, and into British controlled India. Although, there has been accusations that this never actually happened or that it was someone else, I don’t give a crap. This book shows you what the human body can endure, and what the human spirit is capable of. Boys will be blown away.
#17: Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally
Most of you have probably seen the movie. It’s horribly fantastic. Like most movies based on books, the book is better. A German WW2 war profiteer’s soul evolves when he truly realizes the value of human life. As The Long Walk shows you what the human body can endure, Schindler’s List shows you what human beings are capable of doing to each other, and how everyone is the same; a person. All young men should be aware of this. This is a hard book to get through, you know, if you have a soul.
#18: The Road by Cormac McCarthy
As a father, this one hit home. It tells you the lengths a father will go to protect his son. Set in a post-apocalyptic time, a father has to make it from the East coast to the West coast; as the weather is imperative for survival. Along the way, they encounter the types of people that only the apocalypse would create. It helped me understand how much my father loved me, and could help a young man understand his father’s love for him. This is the single most depressing book I have ever read. I fell in love with it. I would actually love for those of you that are parents to read this book and tell me how you felt. You’ll either thank me or want to kick me in the dick.
#19: A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean
I have read this book 4 times. This book is about fly fishing. Or maybe it is about brothers. Or maybe it is about religion. Or family. Or all of that. The first line of the book is “In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.” I love to fish, so there was a romantic quality to this book for me. I love to fish with my boys, so I kind of hope it has the same effect on them. Some of you may have brothers you don’t understand. Some of you may have sons that fight like crazy and are total opposites. Somewhere, hidden amongst all the space between is a common ground. Most of us don’t realize what something truly means to us until it is gone.
Even though I can’t stand Esquire magazine, I will give them credit. They did a profile on Norman Maclean in 1981. The Esquire author summed up this book better than I can, so I will borrow his words:
“It is a story about Maclean and his brother, Paul, who was beaten to death with a gun butt in 1942. It is about not understanding what you love, about not being able to help. It is the truest story I ever read; it might be the best written. And to this day it won’t leave me alone.” Read this damn book, and take your kids fishing.
#20: The 5 Love Languages by Gary D. Chapman
This, in my opinion, is the single most important book on here. This book teaches you that love is different for every human being. Each person receives and gives love in a different way. As a husband, you learn how you give and receive love, and how your spouse gives and receives love. As a father, it shows you how your children give and receive love. It was a huge stepping stone in finding common ground with a wife that is the polar opposite of me. In matters of the heart, communication, sex, and respect. I’m just still working on the implementation of all this. It also helped me to understand 3 boys that were vastly different from me. Every man should strive to make their children feel loved and secure. If you aren’t doing that, you Sir, are a fucking asshole. For all my single guys, use this book as you see fit. Just remember that with great power, comes great responsibility……
#21: Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Contemporary Americans by Malachi Martin
Holy. Shit. This is the single most terrifying thing I have ever read. I just don’t “do” demon books, movies, shows. That subject scares the shit out of me. And like the colossal asshole I am, I read this book in the middle of the most desolate COP in Afghanistan. It was so frightening that I would put the book away for days at a time. I read things that were so sickening they made me gag.
Malachi Martin was an ex-Jesuit priest who wanted to become an Exorcist do exorcisms. OF COURSE, the Catholic church told him no, and denied the phenomenon of exorcisms. He quit because that is complete bullshit. It delves into a world most human beings will never even think about or could even comprehend. The book covers how demons work, how they gain a foothold inside your soul, the horrific damage they cause to the past, the different types, and why they possess. He also talks about the 3 stages of exorcism. He basically interviews possessed people. NOPE! They tell him about how they think the possession happened and what their life is currently like. He then ATTENDS, and RECORDS, the fucking exorcisms. NOPE! This book is a test of will to just read. It is definitely not for immature, or sensitive readers. I wholeheartedly believe and am terrified by, this subject. I want my sons to be armed with knowledge on this subject. Because the reality of it is that they are in an external battle for their mortal soul. Deep, I know.
#22: No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
Yes, I have a thing for McCarthy. This is one of my favorite books. This is also a great movie. It is the closest a movie has ever come to the book. It is pretty violent and dark, as is most of McCarthy’s writing. Even assassins have a moral code. In a sick way, it shows you that having a moral code is important. Also, there are consequences for your actions, no matter how small. Kids today seem to not understand this. I want my kids to understand the consequences. My dad taught me this. I screwed up, I picked up rotten apples in the rain.
This is by no means a complete list. It will continue to evolve and grow. I hope it brought back some memories of books you’ve read as a child or books you’ve read that stuck with you. Let me know what you think. Do you have other books that you think are a “must-read” for young men? Let’s hear them.
This first appeared in The Havok Journal on February 21, 2019.