Reading for men is an interesting conundrum. While books with male leads sell, on average, about 10 million more copies a year than those with female protagonists, the publishing industry tends to treat the average male reader in a pretty basic manner. Non-fiction sells well to the male market, but when it comes to novels and fiction, the options trend towards formulaic reads. Series like Jack Reacher and Jack Ryan, Jason Bourne, or really anything written by Tom Clancy, John Grisham or Dean Koontz, dominate the bestseller lists. They all follow an alpha male, saving the world or a community, usually with a certain vice or inherent flaw, but not with much nuance.
We can’t knock this formula, because it works for the business. But when we got down to writing a suggested list of Summer reading for men, it wasn’t easy. Where are the modern Hemingways? What happened to the idea of a masculine novel that addresses emotions, family, complicated characters, lives well-lived and realistic relationships? What happened to addressing sexuality in a way that involves thought and feeling?
This is a meer thumbnail of the smart, masculine books that are available, but are not easily available on bookshelves, and which should be. They cover a wide array of topics and genres, but as a whole what was important was to create a list that treats men like the smart, thoughtful, complicated readers that we are.
by Scott Reardon
Released: June 8th
A sharp-witted narrative about a fictional, young member of the Kennedy family, struggling with a tragedy in all the wrong ways. The novel has been compared to the work of J.D. Salinger and Brett Easton Ellis, and is a rare mix of current cultural commentary and literary nostalgia.
by P.J. Vernon
Released: June 15th
It’s important to not forget gay male readers, but what’s really wonderful about what P.J. Vernon has done with this edge-of-your-seat thriller is that he has demonstrated that it’s possible to write a quality thriller, where the characters are just gay… not because the book is pandering to a gay audience… but because those people exist and they are also foolish enough to get themselves into big hot messes. The book has been compared to Gone Girl but with Grindr, and while we absolutely think the first part of this is a spot on comparison, let’s remember that if someone wrote Gone Girl with Match.com, the app wouldn’t even be mentioned. The book is solid, and it is actually for everyone. It has some amazing twists, and also has some really insightful nuances to a dynamic relationship. Buckle up, because it’s a ride.
by Francine Prose
Releases: June 29th
At once, a coming of age story about a young copywriter who gets in over his head in a very hard-hitting world of publishing, and in his sexual awakening with the author with whom he has been tasked with mentoring. This novel is also an exploration of the struggle between morals, family and ambition. Told against the backdrop of the Cold War, the infamous Rosenbergs, and a time in American history where trust was a rare luxury, this thriller will keep you guessing until the last page.
THE BOOK OF ACCIDENTS
by Chuck Wendig
Random House Publishing – Ballantine
Release: July 20th
If you’re a fan of IT or STRANGER THINGS, this Book (with a capital B) offers up the perfect mix of throwback horror and the urban legends that come with living in a small town with a past. While magic can sometimes be distracting in a horror book, where you so desperately want to believe that the story being told is real, it’s used well as a device here. Definitely a great Summer read for horror fans.
THE DARKNESS KNOWS
by Arnaldur Indridason
St. Martins Press – Minotaur Books
Release: August 17th
Even though this thriller takes place in literal tundra, Summer wouldn’t be complete without a killer Nordic noir! As always, it starts with a retired detective returning to a cold case that has haunted him for years—that of a businessman whose body was found frozen in ice after 30 years. The story has the emotional gravity of a hard-hitting drama and the twisted mind of a true, crime-writing master.
THE PRACTICAL NAVIGATOR
by Chris Crowley
Released: March 12th
One of the best crime novels we have read in a long time, this book is intelligent, well-plotted and has characters with so much depth that, once you’re finished, it will be hard not to think of them as people you once knew. Set in the world of 1980’s yacht racing, this legal thriller explores the mythology and real life details, at an extreme, of this insular community, and the way they all mix together in a dizzying spell of sex, power and murder.