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10 Books Every Man Should Read Before the Age of 30

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Being well-read is just a good idea in general, not to mention how attractive it makes you to the ladies. Whatever your preference for reading material, there are some staples that every man should have checked off by the time he reaches the big 3-0. Our list includes various topics and tropes that will equip you well for your fourth decade. There will be a quiz on the assigned material at a later date. (No there won't.)



Marcus Aurelius

He’s way fresher than Confucius. Written 150 B.C. this collection of thoughts, meditations and comments is the ultimate bathroom read. Ancient wisdom, social insight and life lessons in porcelain sized bites.


The Old Man and the Sea

Ernest Hemingway

It’s Hemingway. You can’t be a man and not read Hemingway; he is the manliest of men and in a masculine cliche, he was of few words. His short sentences are evocative, with nary a word to waste. He didn’t need flowery phrases, he lets your your imagination color in the subtext. And while 'To Have and Have Not' is our favorite of his books, this book is more important. Plus, it’s a book about being endlessly at sea that’s short enough to read in the bathtub.


The Complete Book of Etiquette

Amy Vanderbilt

There is nothing sexier than a confident, competent man. This book will prepare you to handle literally any situation with grace. Knowing that you have the tools to navigate any social situation with ease makes your dude parts instantly grow bigger. It's science.


Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Truman Capote

Rhythmic and insightful, it is the kind of book that demands to be read over and over again, and it's the perfect size to slip into your jacket pocket. The most important thing about this book is that it’s an observation of the particular quirkiness of spectacular women, and we love them cray ladies. If you do too, it's just good practice to read the manual.


On the Road

Jack Kerouac

It’s about the journey, man. The story of an individual making a life outside the norm. A cliche but key read for those that are blazing their own trail. Quintessentially beat with the whispers of the hippy era to come, this book perfectly represents a pivotal moment in literary and artistic history.


Master and Commander

Patrick O’Brian

So perfect that the New York Times calls them “The best historical novels ever written.” Twenty completed novels of friendship, tenacity and adventure on the high seas. This is the ultimate bromance, and unlike this article, beautifully written. Tangible proof that a great turn-of-phrase really can rock your world.


The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

Michael Chabon

This novel has it all: war, love, secrets, intrigue and many other iterations of the American dream. K&C reinforces the importance of being true to yourself and loyal to your loves, whether those loves are people or passions. Once you read this book, you will be buying and giving away copies for the rest of your life.



Jean-Paul Sartre

Read it because life before thirty is chock full of existential crisis and this is THE existential book of self-examination. Winner of the Nobel Prize and the most readable of Sartre’s books.



Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon

If you’ve never read a comic book, this is the series you start on. Critically acclaimed, blasphemous and aspirational, the Preacher series is perpetually on must-read lists like this one. It’s about true love and religion, and drives home the point that it’s important to ask questions, which is a good lesson to learn early.


Tropic of Cancer

Henry Miller

Read it because you like sex, we know you do. Originally banned when released in 1934,TOC won a landmark legal victory in the early 60s, and changed obscenity laws in the US, opening the door for many other graphic works of literature and art. This victory coincided with the market introduction of the birth control pill, and helped to kickstart the sexual revolution. It’s an excellent novel written in an experimental style that delves into the human condition.


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