BroBible’s Holiday Wish List: The 25 Books Every Guy Should Ask For
“Decoded” by Jay-Z
One of rap's modern-day masters delivers a book that is part memoir, part essay collection, and part deep exploration of the meaning behind his lyrics.
“The Book of Basketball” by Bill Simmons (paperback)
The Sports Guy's bestseller from 2009 is now out in paperback and updated to include LeBron's Decision fiasco and a revised list of the top 96 NBA players of all time. Presumably #97 through #100 will be named in the third edition.
“War” by Sebastian Junger (along with “Restrepo” DVD)
Junger is the author of “The Perfect Storm” and one of the best working journalists we have today. For “War,” he spent 14 months embedded with a platoon of the 173rd Airborne brigade in Afghanistan's incredibly dangerous Korengal Valley between 2007-2008 (that's where SSG Sal Giunta performed his heroic, Medal of Honor-winning acts). Make sure you also ask for the DVD for the accompanying doc*mentary, “Restrepo,” which Junger made with filmmaker Tim Hetherington and which will surely nab an Academy Award nomination this year.
“Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition” by Daniel Okrent
This one's for the diehard “Boardwalk Empire” fans out there. Okrent, who was the former Public Editor of the New York Times, explores the true causes and effects of the passing and ultimate death of Prohibition. Fast fact: The loss of liquor and beer tax revenue was so significant that the federal government was forced to establish an income tax.
“Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen
This is the literary elite's choice for Novel of the Year, by one of modern American literature's most celebrated writers (Franzen's the guy who told Oprah to eff off when she wanted to make his first novel, “The Corrections,” one of her book club books). See what all the fuss is about and tell everyone you read the “Book of the Year.”
“Life” by Keith Richards
Everything you ever wanted to ask a Rolling Stone, Keith answers in this memoir. Whether or not you can trust his memory is another thing.
“City of Thieves” by David Benihoff (paperback)
A favorite of BroBible Godfather Danny Brocean, “City of Thieves” is about two Russians in World War II Leningrad who are tasked to kill a German commander. You might know one of Benioff's other books, “The 25th Hour,” from the Spike Lee movie of the same name.
“The Big Short” by Michael Lewis
The financial crisis book that everyone was talking about in the beginning of 2010 is still just as relevant and fascinating today.
“The 4-Hour Body” by Timothy Ferriss
Ferriss is the author of the wildly popular “The 4-Hour Work Week” and if he actually managed to get your work week down to the length of a few back-to-back episodes of “SportsCenter,” congratulations, you're the only one. This follow-up focuses on getting in shape and performing better in the sack (he promises 15-minute female org*sms), but remember, not every experiment Ferriss tries in the book should be attempted at home.
“Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen” by Christopher McDougall
The Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s Copper Canyon are arguably the greatest distance runners in the world. So how come you've never heard of them, asks McDougall, and what can they teach us about the way our bodies — and minds — work? Every athlete, marathoner or not, should read this book.
“With the Old Breed” by Eugene Sledge (paperback)
When we were doing our Military Week last month, I asked my friend Eric, who's a military history professor, to recommend a war-related must-read. “With the Old Breed” was his top choice, and he's read just about every war book ever written. It was one of the two books upon which HBO's “The Pacific” was based, but as Eric, who has all but memorized “Band of Brothers,” will tell you, Sledge's memoir is infinitely better. “I assigned it to my class over the summer, and even the girls in the class thought it was the best book they'd ever read.”
“My Losing Season” by Pat Conroy (paperback)
Conroy is one of my favorite novelists, but this non-fiction work about his senior year playing for the Citadel basketball team is one of the best books you'll ever read about college hoops, or sports in general. The title, by the way, isn't much of a spoiler: Don't expect Conroy and his team to cut down the nets at the end of the season — and that's what makes it such a good read.
“Earth: A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race” by Jon Stewart and the Staff of “The Daily Show”
A really funny coffee table-esque book by the kings of political (and perhaps now global) satire.
“Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand
The tale of three WWII soldiers who were gunned down over the Pacific, survived more than 40 days at sea despite getting attacked by sharks and Japanese fighter planes, and ultimately washed up on a remote island. Here's your interesting modern-day twist: Last month's issue of Vanity Fair excerpted the book; a few days after the issue hit newsstands, some New Zealand teenagers lost at sea — they were feared dead and already memorialized by their village — were discovered alive after more than 50 days in the Pacific in their boat. They survived using many of the same techniques as the soldiers nearly seven decades earlier. Hillenbrand, by the way, is the author of the excellent “Seabiscuit.”
“Play Their Hearts Out” by George Dohrmann
Just how dirty is AAU basketball? Way more than you think.
“Emperor of Maladies: A Biography of Cancer” by Siddhartha Mukherjee
This one's for all the pre-meds out there. It's an exploration of the history of the war on cancer, but don't for a minute think that it's going to read like your Biology textbook, filled with inscrutable scientific jargon and such. It's supposed to be one of the most lucid, approachable books ever written on the subject.
“Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter” by Tom Bissell
Yes, in the grand scheme of things, days-long marathons of playing “Grand Theft Auto” and its ilk are probably incredible wastes of time; but, as Bissell explains, today's video games are some of the greatest creative achievements in recent memory.
“All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis” by Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera
Who is to blame for the most recent financial crisis? Pretty much everyone, as McLean and Nocera explain, and the root of all the trouble wasn't complex financial instruments or bad policies, but simple human nature.
“Atlantic” by Simon Winchester
How do you write a biography about an ocean? Somehow, Winchester pulls it off, revealing fascinating facts and tidbits about a body of water that a thousand years ago no human ever even ventured into. And don't worry: You don't need to be a sailor or fishing enthusiast to enjoy it.
“The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean” by Susan Casey
Yes, another book about the ocean, but this one focuses on the Pacific and its massive waves in particular. The book alternates between the story of how surfer Laird Hamilton and his friends basically invented giant-wave surfing (by way of Jet-Ski) and that of the scientists who study the awe-inspiring but ultimately incredibly dangerous waves of the ocean. By the end, you'll be cheering as much for the scientists as for Hamilton & Co.
“In 50 Years We’ll All Be Chicks… and Other Complaints from an Angry Middle-Aged White Guy” by Adam Carolla
We didn't actually think that Carolla could read or write, but he turned out one of the funniest books of the year.
“Shunt” by Tom Rubython
When we excerpted this incredible biography about legendary race car driver James Hunt earlier this fall, our headline read “How F1 Racing Legend James Hunt Slept with 33 British Airways Stewardesses.” I mean, how much do you need to know?
“The Rise and Fall of Bear Stearns” by Alan “Ace” Greenberg
Greenberg started at Bear Stearns in 1949, worked his way up through the company until he eventually became CEO and chairman. Now a writer for The New Yorker, he traces his own journey in parallel to the rise and fall of one Wall Street's most stalwart firms.
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Trilogy by Stieg Larsson
For most of the first half of 2010 you couldn't take a subway ride or a plane trip without seeing half a dozen people reading one of these three books about a Swedish investigative journalist who teams up with a superhacker to solve crimes. Everyone was reading them for a reason: they're impossible to put down.
“Assholes Finish First” by Tucker Max
Who are we to argue?