12 Great Books To Start The New Year
The Perfect NY Resolution - Reading!
Men, it’s okay, we all do it - we all tell people we love reading even though we know deep down (and not so deep down) we haven’t picked up a book since GCSE English. It’s not that we don’t want to read; it’s just that we’re too busy to get around to all the books we want to read. The idea of slipping into a wingback leather chair, pouring yourself a glass of something single malt and Scottish, and picking up a book is grand in theory but, in reality, there are only two places a bloke actually reads: on vacay and in the bathroom. And even then, there’s the whole “what books should I be reading?” struggle.
It’s such a hard decision it makes choosing a movie on Netflix look easier than breathing in your sleep. Should you get into YA novels? Try your hand at Sci-Fi? Dedicate your toilet-time to biographies? Save space in your suitcase for thrillers-only? What? What should a man read in his spare-minutes.
Well, to help you, we’ve come up with a whole new-genre - it’s called gentleman-reads. Think about it. Being called a gent is like the greatest compliment you can ever receive, and wanting to be a gentleman is like the greatest ambition you can ever chase. But for all the traits that make up a gentleman, there’s only one thing they all have in common: books. Being well-read.
Think of it like this: if you want to be a world leader, there are certain books you should read. If you want to be an entrepreneur, there are niches to dive into. If you want to be a writer, there are authors whose words you should almost-definitely worship, and the same goes for explorers, scientists and politicians alike. But if you want to be a modern-day gent, then you need to pop these 12 books into your bedside-library and start checking them off one bathroom-trip at a time.
- The Classics
by Patricia Highsmith
On paper, this novel is proof that psychopaths-as-heroes make incredible protagonists. Using that same philosophy, however, this book probably shouldn’t make a very good read for aspiring gentlemen. Yet it does. It really does. Ignoring Tom’s ability to climb the social ladder by telling lies, forging signatures and impersonating people, this books is set against the backdrop of New York City, the Italian island of Ischia and the glamorous San Remo, and offers the reader a masterclass in fine wine, good tailoring and beautiful paintings. Even Tom Ripley’s taste in killing is quite genteel.
by James Joyce
This may sound kind of confusing, but there is not a single gentleman in this novel. Nope. Not one. Instead, there is a crummy-but-cultured writer and an advertising salesman whose lives intertwine one day while wandering the cobbled streets of Dublin in 1904. We know what you’re thinking, “Why does every gentleman need to read this then?” Well, that’s simple: it’s the finest novel ever written in the English language, a novel that’s as powerful as it is important, a novel that touches on the human consciousness like nothing else that came before or after. It is a marvel to read and one book everyone should fawn over at some point in their lives, especially soi-disant gentlemen.
- The Americans
By Scott F. Fitzgerald
This novel is electric, set at a time in history every single one of us would visit if time-travel was possible - New York City in the rip-roaring ‘20s. The fashion, the music, the pace of life, the uncertainty and hope, the beating heart of a refined adventure, the feel of euphoria, the parties and the mysterious billionaire neighbour. Yes, beneath all the delicate metaphors and the incredible writing, this is a cautionary tale and one that sort of reminds us not to get above ourselves. But it’s the journey to that conclusion that every gentleman can benefit from. And, if nothing else, the jazz-age backdrop coupled with lavish over-indulgence will provide you with some serious inspiration when it comes to hosting an epic party.
by Jack Kerouac
Okay, so this book is more about two boys road-tripping across America than it is about gentlemen. But it’s still an epic read. It’s a journey set against the mesmeric counter-culture embraced by a nation, the two friends looking for something they can’t describe as they dance through drunken revelries, back-alley bars and envy-inducing speakeasies. Don’t get us wrong, gentlemen appear in moments and flashes and from unexpected places with unexpected characteristics, and the magic of jazz and poetry takes centre stage page after page. But, it’s the coming of age journey these two chaps are on that makes it an essential read; a search for freedom and ambition, hope and authenticity, and what makes life a frenzy of fun.
- The Sci-Fi
by George Orwell
This is one of those books that everyone has heard of; a book everyone knows they should read; a book about Big Brother’s control; of Oceania and Winston Smith; and a book of social science fiction about a totalitarian future. But these aren’t the reasons you need to flick through the pages as fast as you can. No. You need to do that because this is a true, thought-provoking classic that explores propaganda, power and political rebellion. It’s a book that embraces philosophy, dystopian literature, technological predictions, symbolism, a love story like no other and, at the heart of it all, a far from perfect hero - and it’s the latter that makes this book so disarming and charming. It’s the story of a human that’s been broken by the small corruptions of day-to-day life, something that will stimulate you to try and do more with your life.
by Cormac McCarthy
The greatest adventure a gentleman can ever go on is fatherhood, and nothing touches on that relationship better than The Road. Man and Boy wander south through a post-apocalyptic wasteland, searching for food and water while trying to avoid the horrendous turn society has taken, the other survivors doing horrendous things to make it through the coming winter. But despite all the skin-crawling moments, the tension and fear and anxiety, the what ifs and please no’s, the thrills and chills, and the grim grey backdrop of a world in catastrophe, it’s the great story of fatherhood at the spine of this epic that makes it a modern masterclass and, a big part of that is, well, it’s more tactful than anything else we’ve read in a very long time.
- The Adventures
By David Grann
Squint your eyes and history looks like an rustic treasure chest full of awesome stories, plucky adventures and twisting enigmas - and none is more gripping than the one regaled in The Lost City of Z. Quite simply, it is the greatest exploration mystery of the 20th Century. In short, the author is desperate to discover what really happened to Percy Fawcett, whose disappearance made headlines in every corner of the world. But it’s everything that accompanies this audacious journey that makes it a must-read for those gentlemen chasing a great exploit. Death, madness, obsession, disappearances, and the hope of finding a lost civilisation beneath the impenetrable canopy of the Amazon jungle. And that’s not all. To add some gunpowder to the fire, the protagonist is as driven, troubled and flawed as any gentleman you’ve ever read about. It’s a perfect storm.
by Joe Simpson
Set in the unforgiving Peruvian Andes, this book details the heart-stopping, nerve-strangling and truly terrifying adventure of two climbers, Joe and Simon, who reached the 21,000-foot peak of the remote Siula Grande in 1995. Then, at the summit, the worst kind of disaster struck and a few days later Joe was found dragging himself back into Base Camp, alone. Exhaustion, frostbite, starvation, long nights in darkness, snow blinding blizzards, grief and guilt; this book details an impossibly gruelling ordeal, all of it culminating at the moment a man was forced to cut the rope on his best friend. This is an epic story of fear, suffering, torment and survival that will leave you sat in silence for minutes - if not hours - after you’ve turned the final page. But that is a testament to how powerful this book is. On the surface, it is about survival. But dig a little deeper and it becomes a compelling testament of unshakeable courage and friendship, and how two men tried to overcome such torturous elements.
- The Styles
By Potter Style
Oscar Wilde said it best: a well-tied tie is the first serious step in life. That why this book was chosen. It is essential. It is absolutely essential. For a gentleman, it is imperative to present yourself with an unrivalled sense of style. Classic style. The kind that will never fall out of fashion, and that’s where a tie waltzes onto the playing field - it’s the finishing touch to any suit. But you already knew this. What you may not have realised, though, is how many different ways there are to tie a tie, what knots you should learn, how to introduce different fabrics (from soft wool to a thick knit), what colours work best with one another and how cufflinks can add a touch of finesse to your look. How To Tie A Tie explains it all, which is why you need to make space for this modern-day bible on your bedside table and pop a highlighter on top. Like we said, it’s an absolutely essential read.
by Josh Sims
This book suggestion may seem super-obvious given it shines the spotlight on the likes of Steve McQueen, Paul Newman and other infamous style icons. But that isn’t what this book is about. Nope. This book is about the wardrobe essentials every gentleman needs to own: tweed jackets, penny loafers, trench coats, three-piece suits and so much more. But what separates this book from the thousands of others that delve into the origins of timeless style and the history of, let’s say, Desert Boots, is the deft writing. It’s the author’s clever take on classic menswear that makes this a truly interesting blue book and one you need to peruse more than once in your lifetime.
- The Life
by Dale Carnegie
There’s no need to dress this one up with poetic prose because, quite simply, it’s a book that will change your life. That’s its genius. Its allure. That’s why it has been bought by over 16 million people, including Warren Buffett, who found a worn and torn copy of it on his grandfather’s bookshelf when he was just fifteen. Why are we telling you this? Because Mr Buffett credits Carnegie with transforming his life. In no uncertain or unwavering terms, it has everything the young gentleman needs. It has the secrets of success; it has lessons on how to be likeable and persuasive and influential. Yes, the language and the references have become as dated as the Spinning Jenny, but the detail in every section is as applicable now as it was during the Great Depression, if not more so. Empathy, charm, leading with a smile, remembering people’s names, praising the success of others, listening, giving centre stage to self-worth and honesty - everything in this book is timeless, which is why this book has become a must-read classic for everyone that wants to find the best version of themselves.
by Thomas Fink
The way we see it: we saved the best until last because this is the one book every gentleman needs to buy over and over and over again. That’s right. Buy a dozen copies and pop one on your bedside table, one in your bathroom, one on your coffee table, in your kitchen, your briefcase, your overcoat, in your car and somewhere in your office. The reason for this is simple: it has everything a man needs to know about being a man. How to tie a bow tie. How to mix the perfect martini. How to make a potato gun. The 50 essential guy movies of all time. The mathematical equation to help you pick the best urinal when you next visit the little boy’s room. Selecting a beer, growing a beard, shaving your beard, curing your hangover, playing darts, tying a sheepshank, starting a fire in the woods and just about every else you could ever possibly need. It is as much a helping hand as it is a conversation starter and so, if you want to be a quintessential gentleman - and who doesn’t - you need to leave your phone at home and get into the habit of whipping out this exceptionally thorough and hugely entertaining book instead. It pertains everything. In fact, it will make you the most cultivated gentleman in every room you ever stroll into.
And there we have it - a toilet/holiday reading list for all wannabe gents out there hoping to be a little more cultured and whatnot.
Thanks for reading. For more ideas on how to embrace the endless summer, chase the horizon and keep your skin sun-kissed all year round, follow us on Instagram and Facebook, and sign-up for a naughty-little newsletter below! (you’ll get a cheeky 10% off if you do).