The 80 Books Every Man Should Read by Esquire

An unranked, incomplete, utterly biased list of the greatest works of literature ever published.

  1. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

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    First published in 1851, Melville's masterpiece is, in Elizabeth Hardwick's words, "the greatest novel in American literature." The saga of Captain Ahab and his monomaniacal pursuit of the white wh...


  2. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

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    Epic in scale, War and Peace delineates in graphic detail events leading up to Napoleon's invasion of Russia, and the impact of the Napoleonic era on Tsarist society, as seen through the eyes of fi...


  3. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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    Dostoevsky's last and greatest novel, The Karamazov Brothers, is both a brilliantly told crime story and a passionate philosophical debate. The dissolute landowner Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov is mur...


  4. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

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    Revered by all of the town's children and dreaded by all of its mothers, Huckleberry Finn is indisputably the most appealing child-hero in American literature. Unlike the tall-tale, idyllic worl...


  5. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

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    The story details an incident when Marlow, an Englishman, took a foreign assignment from a Belgian trading company as a ferry-boat captain in Africa. Although Conrad does not specify the name of th...


  6. The Call of the Wild by Jack London

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    The plot concerns a previously domesticated and even somewhat pampered dog named Buck, whose primordial instincts return after a series of events finds him serving as a sled dog in the treacherous...


  7. Dubliners by James Joyce

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    Dubliners is a collection of 15 short stories by James Joyce, first published in 1914. The fifteen stories were meant to be a naturalistic depiction of the Irish middle class life in and around Dub...


  8. Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

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    Before Raymond Carver, John Cheever, and Richard Ford, there was Sherwood Anderson, who, with Winesburg, Ohio, charted a new direction in American fiction — evoking with lyrical simplicity quiet mo...


  9. The Continental Op by Dashiell Hammett


  10. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

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    The book is told in stream of consciousness writing style by 15 different narrators in 59 chapters. It is the story of the death of Addie Bundren and her family's quest—noble or selfish—to honor he...


  11. The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain

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    An amoral young tramp. A beautiful, sullen woman with an inconvenient husband. A problem that has only one grisly solution — a solution that only creates other problems that no one can ever solve. ...


  12. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

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    Set in France (primarily Paris) during the 1930s, it is the tale of Miller's life as a struggling writer. Combining fiction and autobiography, some chapters follow a strict narrative and refer to M...


  13. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

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    Set during the Great Depression, the novel focuses on a poor family of sharecroppers, the Joads, driven from their home by drought, economic hardship, and changes in the agriculture industry. In a ...


  14. Native Son by Richard Wright

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    The novel tells the story of 20-year old Bigger Thomas, an African American living in utter poverty. Bigger lived in Chicago's South Side ghetto in the 1930s. Bigger was always getting into troubl...


  15. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

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    It tells the story of Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades attached to a communist guerilla unit during the Spanish Civil War. As an expert in the use of explosives, he is ...


  16. The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene

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    The novel tells the story of a Roman Catholic priest in the state of Tabasco in Mexico during the 1930s, a time when the Mexican government, still effectively controlled by Plutarco Elías Calles, s...


  17. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee

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    Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is a book with text by American writer James Agee and photographs by American photographer Walker Evans first published in 1941 in the United States. The title is from ...


  18. The Crack-Up by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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    The Crack-Up (1945) is a collection of essays by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald. It consists of previously unpublished letters, notes and also three essays originally written for and published...


  19. All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren

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    All the King's Men portrays the dramatic political ascent and governorship of Willie Stark, a driven, cynical populist in the American South during the 1930s.


  20. Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry

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    To describe his perennial theme, Lowry once borrowed the words of the critic Edmund Wilson: "the forces in man which cause him to be terrified of himself." You see exactly what he means in this cor...

    - Time

  21. The Naked Dead by Norman Mailer

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    The Naked and the Dead is a 1948 novel by Norman Mailer. It was based on his experiences and exaggerations of that experience with the 112th Cavalry Regiment during the Philippines Campaign (1944–4...


  22. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

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    The novel addresses many of the social and intellectual issues facing African-Americans in the early twentieth century, including black nationalism, the relationship between black identity and Marx...


  23. The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow

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    The Adventures of Augie March (1953) is a novel by Saul Bellow. It centers on the eponymous character who grows up during the Great Depression. This picaresque novel is an example of bildungsroman,...


  24. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

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    Set sometime around 1950, Lucky Jim follows the exploits of the eponymous James (Jim) Dixon, a reluctant Medieval history lecturer at an unnamed provincial English university. Having made a bad fir...


  25. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

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    The book is internationally famous for its innovative style and infamous for its controversial subject: the protagonist and unreliable narrator, middle aged Humbert Humbert, becomes obsessed and se...


  26. A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor

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    The collection that established O'Connor's reputation as one of the american masters of the short story. The volume contains the celebrated title story, a tale of the murderous fugitive "The Misfit...


  27. The Professional by W.C. Heinz


  28. The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac

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    The Dharma Bums is a 1958 novel by Beat Generation author Jack Kerouac. The semi-fictional accounts in the novel are based upon events that occurred years after the events of On the Road. The main ...


  29. Rabbit, Run by John Updike

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    Rabbit, Run depicts five months in the life of a 26-year-old former high school basketball player named Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom, and his attempts to escape the constraints of his life.


  30. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

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    Set in 1955, the novel focuses on the hopes and aspirations of Frank and April Wheeler, self-assured Connecticut suburbanites who see themselves as very different from their neighbors in the Revolu...


  31. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

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    Narrated by the gigantic but docile half-Indian "Chief" Bromden, who has pretended to be a deaf-mute for several years, the story focuses on the antics of the rebellious Randle Patrick McMurphy, a ...


  32. Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges

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    Labyrinths (1962) is an English-language collection of short stories and essays by Jorge Luis Borges.


  33. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John le Carre

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    A Cold War spy novel famous for its intricate plot and its portrait of the West's espionage methods as inconsistent with Western values. The Novel is set in a time of heightened East-West tensions ...


  34. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley

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    This book describes Malcolm X's upbringing in Michigan, his maturation to adulthood in Boston and New York, his time in prison, his conversion to Islam, his ministry, his travels to Africa and to M...


  35. Hell's Angels by Hunter S. Thompson


  36. A Sense of Where You Are by John McPhee


  37. A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter


  38. A Fan's Notes by Frederick Exley

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    A Fan's Notes is a novel by Frederick Exley, first published in 1968. Subtitled "A Fictional Memoir" and categorized as fiction, the book is somewhat autobiographical. In a brief "Note to the reade...


  39. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

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    An anti-war science fiction novel by Kurt Vonnegut about World War II experiences and journeys through time of a soldier called Billy Pilgrim.


  40. Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian

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    Master and Commander is a historical naval novel by Patrick O'Brian. First published in 1969 (US) (1970 in UK), it is first in the Aubrey-Maturin series of stories of Captain Jack Aubrey and the na...


  41. Deliverance by James Dickey

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    Narrated in the first person by one of the main characters, graphic artist Ed Gentry, the novel begins with four middle-aged men in a large Georgia city planning a weekend canoe trip down the ficti...


  42. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

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    Angle of Repose tells the story of Lyman Ward, a retired professor of history and author of books about the Western frontier, who returns to his ancestral home of Grass Valley, California, in the S...


  43. Great Bridge by David McCullough

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    This monumental book is the enthralling story of one of the greatest events in our nation's history, during the Age of Optimism — a period when Americans were convinced in their hearts that all thi...


  44. Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone

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    Dog Soldiers' is a 1974 novel by American novelist Robert Stone. The story revolves around journalist John Converse, Merchant Marine sailor Ray Hicks, Converse's wife Marge, and their involvement i...


  45. The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

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    The Killer Angels (1974) is a historical novel by Michael Shaara that was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1975. The book tells the story of four days of the Battle of Gettysburg in the Am...


  46. Dispatches by Michael Herr

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    Dispatches is a non-fiction book by Michael Herr that describes the author's experiences in Vietnam as a war correspondent for Esquire magazine. First published in 1977, Dispatches was one of the f...


  47. The Shining by Stephen King

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    The Shining is a 1977 horror novel by American author Stephen King. The title was inspired by the John Lennon song "Instant Karma!", which contained the line "We all shine on…". It was King's third...


  48. Women by Charles Bukowski

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    Women is a 1978 novel written by Charles Bukowski, starring his semi-autobiographical character Henry Chinaski. In contrast to Factotum, Post Office and Ham on Rye, Women is centered around Chinask...


  49. The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever

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    The Stories of John Cheever is a 1978 short story collection by American author John Cheever. It contains some of his most famous stories, including "The Enormous Radio," "Goodbye, My Brother," "Th...


  50. The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

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    The Right Stuff is a 1979 book by Tom Wolfe about the pilots engaged in U.S. postwar experiments with experimental rocket-powered, high-speed aircraft as well as documenting the stories of the firs...


  51. Legends of The Fall by Jim Harrison

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  52. Sophie's Choice by William Styron

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    It concerns a young American Southerner, an aspiring writer, who befriends the Jewish Nathan Landau and his beautiful lover Sophie, a Polish (but non-Jewish) survivor of the Nazi concentration camp...


  53. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

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    A Confederacy of Dunces is a picaresque novel written by John Kennedy Toole, published in 1980, 11 years after the author's suicide. The book was published through the efforts of writer Walker Perc...


  54. So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell

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    On an Illinois farm in the 1920s, a man is murdered, and in the same moment the tenous friendship between two lonely boys comes to an end. In telling their interconnected stories, American Book Awa...


  55. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver

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    What We Talk About When We Talk About Love is the name of both a 1981 collection of short stories and the title of a story within the collection by the American writer Raymond Carver. Plots from...


  56. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

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    Midnight's Children is a loose allegory for events in India both before and, primarily, after the independence and partition of India, which took place at midnight on 15 August 1947. The protagonis...


  57. Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin

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    Winter's Tale is a 1983 novel by author Mark Helprin. It takes place in a mythical New York City near the turn of the 20th century, markedly different from the world we live in.


  58. The Good War by Studs Terkel

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    "The Good War": An Oral History of World War Two is a telling of the oral history of World War II written by Studs Terkel. The work won the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction. It is a firs...


  59. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

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    Lonesome Dove, written by Larry McMurtry, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning western novel and the first published book of the Lonesome Dove series. The story focuses on the relationship of several retire...


  60. The Sportswriter by Richard Ford

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    The Sportswriter is about a failed novelist turned sportswriter who undergoes a spiritual crisis following the death of his son.


  61. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

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    Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West is a 1985 Western novel by American author Cormac McCarthy. It was McCarthy's fifth book, and was published by Random House. The narrative foll...


  62. What It Takes by Richard Ben Cramer


  63. This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff

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    This Boy's Life is a memoir by Tobias Wolff first published in 1989. It describes the author's adolescence as he wanders the continental United States with his itinerant mother. The first leg of th...


  64. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

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    The Things They Carried is a collection of related stories by Tim O'Brien, about a platoon of American soldiers in the Vietnam War, originally published in hardcover by Houghton Mifflin, 1990. Whil...


  65. Time's Arrow by Martin Amis

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    Time's Arrow: or The Nature of the Offence (1991) is a novel by Martin Amis. It was shortlisted for the Booker Prize (1991).


  66. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

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    The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (ねじまき鳥クロニクル, Nejimaki-dori Kuronikuru?) is a novel by Haruki Murakami. The first published translation was by Alfred Birnbaum. The American translation and its British ad...


  67. Going Native by Stephen Wright

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    This extraordinary work that was met with both critical and popular acclaim in hardcover reads like a frightening, resonant nineties version of Jack Kerouac'sOn The Road. Author Stephen Wright ...


  68. American Tabloid by James Ellroy

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    American Tabloid is a 1995 novel by James Ellroy. The novel chronicles three rogue American law enforcement officers from November 22, 1958 through November 22, 1963. Each becomes involved in a web...


  69. CivilWarLand in Bad Decline by George Saunders


  70. American Pastoral by Philip Roth

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    American Pastoral is a Philip Roth novel concerning Seymour "Swede" Levov, a Jewish-American businessman and former high school athlete from Newark, New Jersey. Levov's happy and conventional upper...


  71. Underworld by Don DeLillo

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    Underworld is a postmodern novel written in 1997 by Don DeLillo. It was nominated for the National Book Award, is one of his better-known novels, and was a best-seller.


  72. Affliction by Russell Banks


  73. Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell


  74. Plainsong by Kent Haruf

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    Plainsong is a bestselling novel by Kent Haruf. Set in the fictional town of Holt, Colorado, it tells the interlocking stories of some of the inhabitants.


  75. The Known World by Edward P. Jones

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    The Known World is a 2003 historical novel by Edward P. Jones. It was his first novel and second book. Set in antebellum Virginia, it examines issues regarding the ownership of black slaves by free...


  76. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

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    The Road is a 2006 novel by American writer Cormac McCarthy. It is a post-apocalyptic tale of a journey taken by a father and his young son over a period of several months, across a landscape blast...


  77. Let the Great World Spin: A Novel by Colum McCann

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    In the dawning light of a late-summer morning, the people of lower Manhattan stand hushed, staring up in disbelief at the Twin Towers. It is August 1974, and a mysterious tightrope walker is runnin...

    - Google

  78. Savages: A Novel by Don Winslow

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    Running a lucrative marijuana operation in Laguna Beach, environmentalist Ben and mercenary Chon confront an adversary in the Mexican Baja cartel who kidnaps their playmate and confidante Ophelia, ...

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  79. The Orphan Master's Son: A Novel by Adam Johnson

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    The son of an influential father who runs an orphan work camp, Pak Jun Do rises to prominence using instinctive talents and eventually becomes a professional kidnapper and romantic rival to Kim Jon...

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  80. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk: A Novel by Ben Fountain

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    A ferocious firefight with Iraqi insurgents at "the battle of Al-Ansakar Canal"—three minutes and forty-three seconds of intense warfare caught on tape by an embedded Fox News crew—has transformed ...

    - Google