Thursday, May 19, 2016

Manly Man's Book Club: But how could you pass up these books?

I'm still annoyed by that Manly Men's We-Don't-Read-Women book clubs, even though I should totally get over it because it is NOT that big of a deal. Except letting insignificant things go is not my strong suit. But here's what I've decided to do. I've done a quick scan through my shelves and thought I'd pick out a bunch of books that I think a book club with a manliness rating would enjoy if they weren't so busy making up arbitrary rules about what they will and will not allow.
I'm even going to try to forgo snark and scolding and instead focus on how awesome these books are and how they would be PERFECT for a book club. And now, in groups though no particular order, here are books I think a manly man's book group should read.

Books by women

  • Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach HUMANS AT WAR. War is a "manly" thing. And this is all about science and there is more than one chapter about dude's fav thing, their crotch. 
  • Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison Are you avoiding books by women cos you think they aren't serious? Are you then going to try to argue that Morrison isn't serious? Because that is a patently ridiculous argument, sir. And look, this one is even about a dude, in case you want to ease yourself in. 
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel Apocalypse. Art. Survival, both physical and emotional. Don't you want to get in on this? Or are these things only for the ladies? 
  • Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson Political revolutionary hackers. Discussion of religion and spirituality and some super natural and also it's a thriller. But with a more serious purpose than a typical thriller. (And seriousness is a key here, isn't it?)
  • A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan Rock and roll. Themes of the movement of time and loss of innocence. Interconnected stories from lots of different points of view, which is super fun. Plus it won a fancy award (Pulitzer)
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley MOTHER OF SCIENCE FICTION. No other explanation necessary
  • Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell History and presidents and assassinations and non-fiction. Those are all things typically thought of as guy things, right?
  • Revenge: Eleven Dark Tales by Yoko Ogawa If the fear is women only write chick lit (I will save my rant about that for later) then FEAR NOT with Ogawa, especially not with Revenge. Plus more interconnected short stories FTW

Books starring women

  • True Grit by Charles Portis TRY to say that True Grit is not the definition of a Manly Man's book club pick and ALSO try to say that Mattie is not the star of this one. 
  • Kings and Queens of Roam by Daniel Wallace It's possible this has too much whimsy for a dude's book club. Or at least a book club that would also specifically exclude stuff that is about women. But they shouldn't because this is a great story about family, forgiveness, redemption and the stories we tell ourselves and others
  • Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig BAD ASS MIRIAM BLACK. She is cynical, foul-mouthed, violent without being "action dude but with boobs". 

Books by and starring women

  • We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver Kevin is an important character (we are discussing him, after all) but his mother Eva is the main character. It's a disturbing book full of unreliable narrators and sociopaths and school massacres. And it won a prestigious award (Orange, 2005). Also, since the author's name is Lionel, which is traditionally a boy's name, you can just pretend a guy wrote it and then it fits FINE within your rules. Actually, let's just forget that I mentioned Lionel is a lady.
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison OF COURSE there is more Morrison on here. Most of her other stuff is also about women, I thought it made sense to include her again. And while any of her other books are more than worthy for your book club (Sula, Jazz, etc.) why not go with Beloved which ALSO won a Pulitzer and in 2006 NYTimes listed as the best American novel published in the last 25 years Because go big or go home.
  • Kindred by Octavia E. Butler History and very serious topics (slavery) but also time travel. There is no melodrama here. Butler can see the shades of gray in everyone, even slave owners.
  • Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple This book is hilarious and everyone should read it. EV-RY-ONE

This is OBVIOUSLY not a complete list because to come up with something like that would be ridiculous. This isn't even a complete list from my own books, because I'm sure I could do another scan and find EVEN MORE to recommend.
Ron would read these
So there you go. Consider this a way to ease yourself in. Experience books by and about women and realize they aren't all part of some singular women's/click lit genre. Then maybe you can continue to expand your taste. But hey, small steps.