The Literary Man Cave

| 12/7/2011 4:02:30 PM

Tags: Reading, books, men, literature, Publishers Weekly, Danielle Magnuson,

Man browsing bookstore

In theory, I love the idea of the newly debuted Man Cave. Hosted by Adams Media, it’s  an online bookstore targeted directly at male readers and those who buy gifts for them, according to Publishers Weekly. How perfect! I’m always looking for great book ideas for my husband, who isn’t a big reader but can be drawn in by a combination of good writing and a nice manly topic like roughing it in the wild.

“Men tend to be the most challenging people to shop for,” says an Adams Media marketer. And the Man Cave site boasts of having the solution: “Yes, guys do read—they like it, in fact. It’s here that you’ll find the perfect gift for the man in your life.” But check out the selection of titles: How Do You Light a Fart?, 100 Sexiest Women in Comics, and Sweet ’Stache: 50 Badass Mustaches and the Faces Who Sport Them, to name just a few.

Ahh, so they didn’t mean literary novels and memoirs that might appeal to not-big-reader guys. They meant gifty books that nobody really wants but that are stamped “For Guys.” Books about farts and mustaches. You know, the book equivalent of a tie printed with golf tees.

I’d love to see a Man Cave bookstore that features post-apocalyptic tales like George Saunders’ CivilWarLand in Bad Decline and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Or books that explore the physical and emotional terrain of the Western mountains, such as Pete Fromm’s Indian Creek Chronicles and James Galvin’s The Meadow. Perhaps some classics like Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon and Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki. (See also All the President’s Books.)

Please add your title suggestions below. We can build our own literary Man Cave, Utne Reader style.

Ken Hodnett
12/18/2011 6:05:16 PM

"The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart", poems for Men, by Robert Bly, James Hillman & Michael Meade.

iro diamandourou
12/16/2011 9:40:00 AM

I haven't read it yet but I believe that "Fecal Matters in Early Modern Literature and Art: Studies in Scatology (Studies in European Cultural Transition)" would be highly interesting for an erudite clientele!

Stan Peterson
12/13/2011 10:25:14 PM

Great choice!..Blue Highways is one of my favorites. I've read it almost as many times as Steinbeck's Travels with Charley.

Mike Norman
12/13/2011 5:59:30 PM

Clear Heart by Joe Cottonwood is a novel about a crew of carpenters building a gigantic house for a man who has too much money and too little taste. There's romance, rivalry, an impossible deadline or else utter bankruptcy, and the occasional body part nailed to a rafter. A fun read about building stuff.

david bradshaw
12/13/2011 3:42:49 PM

Here a few i think are the cat's pajamas: With Fire and Sword by Henryk Sienkiewicz translated by W. S. Kuniczak is the 1st of The Trilogy which is a historical tale of Poland. There's swashbuckling galore, narrow escapes, heroism of epic proportions and humor. Sienkiewicz's Quo Vadis is themost translated book after the Bible, but the Trilogy is far more fun. The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth yes the poet laureate of Maryland and Isaac Newton as you never seen before. Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes translated by Edith Grossman. This translation does justice this great book. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

Jonathan Harms
12/13/2011 5:38:07 AM

Blue Highways, by William Least Heat Moon. The tale of one man's post-breakup solo journey around the country on small, less-traveled roads, and what he discovers along the way.

Robert Gringle
12/13/2011 4:43:11 AM

Robert Penn Warren's All The King's Men, as published in 1946.

Steven Cox
12/13/2011 12:07:35 AM

Anything by Nick Hornby. Ian Rankin's Rebus series. And....nothing by Margaret Atwood.

Charles Walbridge
12/12/2011 7:25:50 PM

"How to Avoid 'Getting Screwed' When Getting Laid" by R K Hendrick, Esq. This is an young man's handbook for recognizing and avoiding predatory women. It was written by an empathetic attorney with a good deal of experience with defending men against these kinds of women. Prevention is a whole lot less expensive than cure.

Kimberly Reeves
12/12/2011 4:36:16 PM

Let's hope I can judge the reading taste of the man in his cave, how about "The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival" by John Vaillant, has anyone out there read it? I'm recommending it to my husband and brother-in-law.

Tom Ogren
12/12/2011 3:55:19 PM

There are so many books that ought to be on this list, but here's an odd one I doubt anyone else will add: For some time now, late each night I like to go out to the garage, pour myself a bit of whiskey, kick back in my own man-cave, surrounded by books, old stuffed animals, rock collections, punching bags, iron weights and fishing poles, and read some old book from the huge collection that my folks left behind. My parents were great readers and I've been finding some real treasures among all these old books. Grand-father Stories, by Samuel Hopkins Adams is just such a book. I finished reading it two nights ago, and every chapter in it impressed me. Adams grew up in the 1800's in upstate New York, near the Erie Canal, and was lucky enough to have both his grandfathers still alive and living nearby. His two grandfathers were very unalike, although both were marvelous old school characters and great story tellers. As I grow older I increasingly enjoy reading historical material. History as a subject interested me not at all as a schoolboy, but now I find it fascinating. This book presents American history in the best possible stories rich with the feel of the time. Each story here, as told by the grandfather to the grandson, each one is fascinating and original. The opulent language of the time, the vast vocabulary used....made me wonder... how was it we managed to lose so many of these words and sayings? Our own vocabulary today seems small in comparison. Perhaps people read more then? Blame it on TV? I don't know...but what I do know is that I loved this fine book. Good read for out in your man cave.

12/12/2011 3:41:38 PM

All books by the following: Hemingway, Emerson, Thoreau, The Beats.

Ken Traugott
12/12/2011 2:49:40 PM

The Heart and the Fist, by Eric Greitens; Matterhorn, by Karl Marlantes; The Passage, by Justin Cronin; A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson; The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson; Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer; A Fraction of the Whole, by Steve Toltz; You Shall Know Our Velocity!, by Dave Eggers; A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess; Black Hawk Down, by Mark Bowden; Spooner, by Pete Dexter; Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer

12/12/2011 2:44:29 PM

Slow Sex: The Art and Craft of the Female Orgasm. And. Lao Tzu. - Tao Te Ching

12/12/2011 2:38:48 PM

Gore Vidal's American empire series (Burr, Lincoln, 1876 etc) as an easy alt to the rosy American progress meme from high school (followed by Zinn's People's History and Saul Alinsky); the complete ouervures of Dashiell Hammet and James M Cain; Ken Burns' Baseball (followed by Mark Harris, Ring Lardner and Ring Lardner)