Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. What hogwash. To say we both share the same galaxy is an appallingly optimistic assumption.
Since the dawn of time men have struggled to break free of the shackles of ordinary life. We want to be allowed to do things we enjoy, like getting drunk or chasing frogs. Just as women have yearned for space away from male madness so they can talk about Florence and the Machine and opening a furniture reupholstering store. (Don’t hit me!)
The difference is only widened within the world of literature. Whilst one of my favourite books of all time is the ground breaking Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, I must also confess I would pick up Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson with a similar amount of enthusiasm.
So ladies, from a bloke, here’s my top five books to give to your fella. I assure you this collection will open his mind to a more sensitive world of literature and in due course, with the right amount of nourishment, he’ll be quoting passages of Pride and Prejudice with the best of them.
by Bret Easton Ellis
Words can’t describe how incredible this book is. Within its folds is a portrait of youth, excess and alienation the like of which may never be seen again.
In 1985 a 21 year-old Bret Easton Ellis submitted it to be published while still in college and it stands as the most striking example of what his writing is all about. Navigating through countless parties and heavy lunches, Easton Ellis turns a summer in LA in the 1980’s into a near horror story with his signature minimalist isolation of scenes and events.
It stands as a warning for what happens if you hang out with that guy who’s always wired in your Art History lecture, or a memory of when MTV used to play music. A must for a man who must begin to gravitate towards a book that evokes the emotions, and lets be honest, this is an absolute belter of a novel.
by Cormac McCarthy
Consistently talked about as one of the finest novels of the last decade, Cormac McCarthy’s apocalyptic masterpiece was inspired by his 11 year-old son and the sacred relationship between father and child.
A consistent source of male blubbering everywhere, the harrowing tale of survival against all odds is extraordinary and can turn even the most stony faced man into a deep puddle of emotions.
A wonderful novel with an incredible insight into the human condition in the most alien of surroundings.
by Nick Hornby
Nick Hornby’s opus is still a great read, even if the hipster crowd described in the book as an underground movement has now begun to take over the world one chai latte at a time.
Relevant to all men and an insight into the strange male creature for women, Hornby’s humour and monologues on life, love and Peter Frampton are a joy, and an engrossing neurotic journey ensues with just the right amount of relationship ups and downs to shine a mirror onto the fickle mistress that is the male brain.
by A.B. Facey
Make no mistake, to open a jar you sometimes need to give it a thump, and for a bloke no book hits the nail harder on hardship, loss, friendship and love than this incredible memoir from AB Facey.
Rest assured, many young boys were told to read this at school when they wore short pants and perhaps they’ll find, as I did, that under duress the amazing events of Facey’s life don’t seem as iridescent as now, in the light of adulthood.
Facey taught himself to read and write at 14 and thank goodness he did, for without those life skills we would have never heard of his encounters with childhood poverty, war, droving, working on the railway, and boxing in a travelling tent. Yep, you heard me, boxing in a travelling tent.
I challenge you to find a bloke who doesn’t want to read about nomadic pugilism. A timeless classic and one of the greatest Australian books of all time.
by Phillip Roth
Even the thought of this book makes me laugh. A guilty pleasure for young men the world over, Phillip Roth’s 1969 classic is painfully funny. I’ve never laughed out loud more than when reading this novel, and I suggest not giving it to your bloke while on public transport lest people think you’re sitting next to a crazy person.
In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Portnoy’s Complaint 52nd on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century and rightly so. Rude, crude, bereft of ambivalent attitudes, words just can’t describe how wonderfully perverse and brilliant this novel is. It stands alone as a portrait of an odd young man saying everything on his mind.
As an odd young man myself I can assure you, it’s a frightening proposition.
So there it is. Give your fella one of these, or preferably all five, and he’ll be putty in your literary hands, ready to explore emotions and shoes at your beck and call.
About the Contributor
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
Follow Andrew: Twitter