135 Categorized Books Every Man Should Read

There are hundreds of great book lists out there so what makes this list of book recommendations any different? This reading list contains classic books on 14 different genres that every man should have some understanding of. If you’re looking for a great book to read you’ll find it here with 135 books every man should read.

I’m sorry if your favorite novel doesn’t appear on this list, but I didn’t want to create another list of the most popular best-sellers like Harry Potter or whatever is on the front page of Amazon today.

Instead, this is a resource you can come back to for recommendations of the classic books you must read in each genre, which will change how you think. These are the best books to read to change your life.

Table of Contents

  1. Classic Literature
  2. Philosophy
  3. Ethics & Morality
  4. Psychology
  5. Personal Development
  6. Leadership
  7. Finance
  8. Diet & Nutrition
  9. Productivity
  10. Politics & Economics
  11. Poetry
  12. History
  13. Biography
  14. Relationships

Classic Literature

There’s a lot of nonfiction in this list but I want to start with classic fiction because these books by great novelists tell the stories of people just like us. Reading about the lives of fictional characters teaches us something about ourselves that we can only get from reading novels.

Classic literature is more than just old stories. It’s the shared narrative and language of human culture. Understanding this narrative and language will not only give you a better grasp of more modern writers but will also give you access to a new expressive language.

Instead of saying someone is angry, for example, you could compare them to Achilles after the death of Patroclus. Or saying someone feels like Rodion Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment is much more powerful than simply saying they feel guilty. These comparisons carry with them the entire narrative of their original stories, but only if you’ve read them.

  1. 1984 by George Orwell
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  4. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  5. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  6. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  7. The Stranger by Albert Camus
  8. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  9. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
  10. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Philosophy

Bertrand Russel once defined philosophy as the area of knowledge that science cannot yet answer. Knowing the words of wise sages from centuries past isn’t only a way to avoid looking ignorant when it’s brought up in conversation. It’s an invitation to a conversation our species has been having since consciousness began. Who are we? What are we? What should we do?

  1. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
  2. The Republic by Plato
  3. A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russel
  4. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
  5. The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
  6. Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
  7. Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche
  8. The Art of Living by Epictetus
  9. Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre

Ethics & Morality

Knowing the difference between right and wrong is a subject that goes back to the earliest writings. And although you don’t need to be a philosophy major to understand basic ethics, a good grounding in ethics and morality will be helpful when you face tough decisions or give others good advice.

  1. The Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle
  2. Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals by Immanuel Kant
  3. Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche
  4. The Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith
  5. The Categorical Imperative by Immanuel Kant
  6. The Concept of the Political by Carl Schmitt
  7. Moral Clarity in the Nuclear Age by Robert J. Myers
  8. Moral Relativity by Steven M. Cahn
  9. Moral Psychology by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
  10. The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris

Psychology

The study of psychology is not so old that reading its classics becomes a monumental task, like that of the literature of philosophy. Freud, the father of modern psychology, published his first book in 1891, and if you read a handful of the books below, you will be as well-versed as anyone in the science of how the mind works.

  1. The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud
  2. The Ego and the Id by Sigmund Freud
  3. The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious by Carl Jung
  4. Behaviourism by John B. Watson
  5. Principles of Psychology by William James
  6. Cognitive Psychology by Ulric Neisser
  7. The Nature of Intelligence by Lewis Terman
  8. The Nature-Nurture Debate by Francis Galton
  9. The Humanistic Psychology by Abraham Maslow
  10. The Development of Children by Jean Piaget

Personal Development

Personal development is really just a catch-all for self-help books. Usually, they focus on psychology or motivation, but you’ll often see personal development books with a financial slant too. For this genre, I’ve included self-help books that don’t seem to fit well into the other categories.

  1. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
  2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
  3. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  4. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  5. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  6. The Courage to Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga
  7. The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss

Leadership

Most men desire to become a leader in some area of their life. It could be in their field of expertise, at home, or in the community, but most likely, it will be in the area of business. Leadership is the management of people, essentially trying to get the best out of people while also fulfilling their personal needs. These books offer great insight into how you can become the leader already inside you.

  1. Good to Great by Jim Collins
  2. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
  3. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell
  4. Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
  5. Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
  6. The Leader Who Had No Title by Robin Sharma
  7. Start With Why by Simon Sinek
  8. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink
  9. Leadership in War by Andrew Roberts
  10. Leadership and Self-Deception by The Arbinger Institute

Finance

As a man, you are traditionally seen as the family’s breadwinner, so the more bread you can win, the more successful you will seem. But, unfortunately, so much is written about making money and becoming rich now that it’s difficult to separate the good from the bad.

With these finance classics, you won’t regret the time you spend reading them.

  1. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kawasaki
  2. I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
  3. Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez
  4. The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
  5. The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel
  6. The Behavior Gap by Carl Richards
  7. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  8. The One Page Financial Plan by Carl Richards
  9. The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach
  10. The Opposite of Spoiled by Ron Lieber

Diet & Nutrition

With so much money and research constantly going into the field of diet and nutrition, it seems strange no universally accepted dieting protocol exists. Instead, most research indicates that genetic and individual factors are much more of an influence on how our bodies react to different foods than anyone expected.

So rather than looking for the ultimate diet, find the one that works for you. Here are ten candidates.

  1. The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss
  2. The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain
  3. The Keto Diet by Leanne Vogel
  4. The Mediterranean Diet by Michael Ozner
  5. The DASH Diet by Marla Heller
  6. The China Study by T. Colin Campbell
  7. The Whole 30 by Melissa Hartwig
  8. The Blood Sugar Solution by Dr. Mark Hyman
  9. The Metabolic Approach to Cancer by Dr. Nasha Winters
  10. The Carnivore Diet by Dr. Shawn Baker

Productivity

What you know doesn’t matter if you’re not doing anything with it. Productivity is the study of how to not only get more done but to get the right things done. Use these books to ensure you’re focusing on the right things, and then go full steam ahead and crush your goals.

  1. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
  2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
  3. The Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo
  4. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  5. The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
  6. Deep Work by Cal Newport
  7. The Now Habit by Neil Fiore
  8. The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey
  9. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink
  10. The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

Politics & Economics

Politics and economics are the number one topic people talk about online and offline, yet very few have read the classics. It is almost impossible to make a convincing political argument if you don’t understand the basics.

  1. The Republic by Plato
  2. The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay
  3. The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
  4. The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
  5. Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville
  6. The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  7. Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
  8. The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money by John Maynard Keynes
  9. The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
  10. On Liberty by John Stuart Mill

Poetry

Is reading poetry going to help your life in the 21st century? Probably not. But something is captivating about a successful man who can also quote a stanza or two whenever he wants to bring a point home.

  1. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
  2. The Iliad by Homer
  3. The Odyssey by Homer
  4. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
  5. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
  6. The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot
  7. Howl by Allen Ginsberg
  8. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot
  9. The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
  10. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  11. The Aeneid by Virgil
  12. Paradise Lost by John Milton
  13. Songs of Innocence and of Experience by William Blake

History

“Those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it.” It’s an overused quote, but it makes a good point. Most political, economic, ethical, and other ideas have already been tried out somewhere in the past, so you don’t have to figure out if they work. Read a history book instead.

  1. A World Made by Hand: A Simple Path from the Prehistoric to the Modern by J.R. McNeill
  2. The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman
  3. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer
  4. The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides
  5. The History of Rome by Livy
  6. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
  7. The History of England by Peter Ackroyd
  8. Tragedy and Hope by Carroll Quigley
  9. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Biography

Picking the lives of ten people that every man should read is a tough task. Of course, there are many others I could have included, but here are ten you won’t regret reading.

  1. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  2. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
  3. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
  4. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
  5. Chronicles Volume 1 by Bob Dylan
  6. Churchill: A Life by Martin Gilbert
  7. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
  8. The Story of My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi
  9. The Education of Henry Adams
  10. Miles by Miles Davis

Relationships

Maintaining a good relationship with anyone over a long period of time is difficult. People have different expectations, life goals, and ways of thinking. But it’s even harder when you spend your life together. Understanding where relationships go wrong, how to get them back on track, and what a healthy, loving relationship looks like is something every man should know.

  1. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman
  2. The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman
  3. The Power of Communication: Skills to Build Trust, Inspire Loyalty, and Lead Effectively by Helio Fred Garcia
  4. Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray
  5. The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships by John M. Gottman
  6. The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism by Olivia Fox Cabane
  7. The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm