If you start looking at the really successful and influential men throughout history, you will find that almost all of them dressed incredibly well, but also shared a common hobby: books.
Most eminent men of history were insatiable readers. Their own philosophy is usually represented through all the great works they devoured and fed into their minds. Abraham Lincoln read everything he could get his hands on – often recording passages he liked on spare boards because he didn’t have paper at hand. Theodore Roosevelt carried a dozen books with him on his perilous exploration of the River of Doubt in Brazil, and Napoleon had a library of some 3,500 books with him at St. Helena, and before that had a traveling library he took on campaigns.
The point is that successful people read. A lot. The question is: what should we read? These days, it’s just as common for successful modern men to publishing their own thoughts on a blog or online journal, but for those who wish to delve deeper, here is a list of books for men who are curious about life and eager to live.
1. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
Ultimately a book on self-discipline, personal ethics, humility, self-actualisation, and strength. Bill Clinton supposedly reads it every year, and so have countless other leaders, statesmen, and soldiers. It is a book written by one of the most powerful men ever, who lived on the lessons that power, responsibility, and philosophy teach us. This book will make you a better person and better able to manage the success you desire.
2. Letters From A Self-Made Merchant To His Son by George Horace Lorimer
Dating back to 1890, these are preserved letters from John “Old Gorgon” Graham, a self-made millionaire in Chicago, and his son who is coming of age and entering the family business. His letters are a perceptive and enlightening tutorial in entrepreneurship, responsibility, and leadership. Jim Paul, who made it to Governor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, was convinced that he was special, different, and exempt from the rules. It turned out he was wrong. This book helps to understand how letting arrogance and pride getting to your head is the beginning of your unravelling. Learn from stories like this instead of by your own trial and error.
3. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Irony is omnipresent in this book. It is therefore one of the best contemporary reflections upon masculinity, centring on a narrative about what it means to be a son or a father. Getting through this book is truly a life experience, and to play off the theme of hard-working men, you can flex your muscles after you finish this weighty tome.
4. Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
A modern classic and coming-of-age tale of a minister’s stepson struggling with his identity and faith. A masterclass in perspective and prose, this book will undoubtedly expand your horizons and change the way you view yourself. Divided in sections narrated by different members of one family, it’s one of many eloquent and powerful portrayals of the black American experience.
5. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
A wonderful look at masculinity from the perspective of a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who – from the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother and rebellious sister – dreams of becoming a great writer and, most of all, finding love.