Five Books To Make A Man – From L.A. Larkin

This September we’ve been running Operation GMR, Get Men Reading. To celebrate, we’ve asked some of our favourite Australian authors to give us Five Books Every Man Should Read.

Today’s guest is the one of Australia’s finest thriller writers, L.A. Larkin.

Thrillers are a hugely popular genre with both men and women, so I work hard to please both sexes, constantly asking myself: are these characters and themes engaging and credible? Would I follow this hero to hell and back? But, I’ve not been asked to consider a male only audience before. The title of this blog, How To Make A Man, implies there may be five books that can somehow make him, whoever he is, a better man. This reminds me of Rudyard Kipling’s poem If. I decided I was ill-equipped for such an enormous task.

Instead, I thought about the topic this way: which five books have moved me and stayed with me long after I finished reading them, and, most important of all, I have really enjoyed? Then I asked myself if they might equally satisfy a male reader, even if they may not be an obviously male choice. If the answer was yes, they made it to my somewhat eclectic list, and here it is:


To Kill A Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

Atticus said, ‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it’.

This stunning novel, published in 1960, taps into injustice, racism, growing up to be a well-rounded human being, standing up for what is right despite the opposition, how to be a good father, and so many other issues we still face today.

‘I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.’

Words to live by.  A beautiful, inspiring, challenging, profound book.

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Pride & Prejudice

by Jane Austen

Look past the cottage industry and Colin Firth obsessives to see one of the most sharply observed and perceptive works on relationships and marriage in the English language.

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Oryx & Crake

by Margaret Atwood

This speculative fiction novel is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which we have genetically engineered ourselves out of existence – bar one man, known as Snowman.

Ingenious, thought-provoking and funny, it asks some profound questions: when does science go too far and should man play God?

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The Bourne Identity

by Robert Ludlum

Forget the movie, which bears little resemblance to the novel. In my opinion Robert Ludlum is one of the greatest action/ conspiracy thriller authors of all time.

The novel has an unusual premise – an assassin doesn’t know who he is or what he has done and goes on a journey fraught with danger to discover his identity. He only knows that some powerful people want him dead, including an assassin, Carlos.

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A Game of Thrones

by George R.R. Martin

A Game of Thrones is the first novel in a series of high fantasy novels about warring kingdoms, packed full of treachery, ruthless ambition, betrayal, battles, murder and dragons.

If you don’t usually read novels but enjoy high-octane action/fantasy movies then this novel, that’s sold millions of copies around the world, could be for you.

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Five Books Every Man Should Read – From Hannah Richell

This September we’ve been running Operation GMR, Get Men Reading. To celebrate, we’ve asked some of our favourite Australian authors to give us Five Books Every Man Should Read.

Today’s guest is Hannah Richell, author of the award-winning Secrets of The Tides and The Shadow Year.

Hannah, take it away…


The Stand

by Stephen King

No man should be allowed to reach adulthood without reading a Stephen King novel and The Stand is one of his finest.

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The Catcher in the Rye

by J. D. Salinger

As well as being a timeless classic, The Catcher in the Rye is also one of my Dad’s favourite books and that swings it for this list as far as I’m concerned.

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The Yellow Birds

by Kevin Powers

An honest exploration of modern-day warfare and its impact on soldiers, written by a man with the heart and soul of a poet who has experienced action first hand.

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Cloud Atlas

by David Mitchell

Forget the film; the book is where it’s at.

Dazzling and imaginative, Cloud Atlas is like reading six novels in one, and yet somehow Mitchell avoids being either pretentious or intimidating.

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A Short History of Nearly Everything

by Bill Bryson

Because we all need a little help, from time to time, in the knowledge stakes.

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Five Books Every Man Should Read – From Favel Parrett

This September we’ve been running Operation GMR, Get Men Reading. To celebrate, we’ve asked some of our favourite Australian authors to give us Five Books Every Man Should Read.

Today’s guest is the one of Australia’s most exciting new writers and author of the exquisite Past The Shallows, Favel Parrett.

Favel, take it away…


The Road

by Cormac McCarthy

McCarthy is one of the greatest writers of our time.

The Road is a love story between a father and his son.

There is also not one word too many or one too few.

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Out Stealing Horses

by Per Petterson

Also It’s Fine By Me – or anything by Per Petterson.

Petterson is easily my favourite writer.

I can read his work over and over and I am always inspired.

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Slaughterhouse 5

by Kurt Vonnegut

Wow!

I only just re-read this incredible book.

Funny sad and so moving.

A must read.

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The Yellow Birds

by Kevin Powers

I loved this book. The Yellow Birds is about friendship, brotherhood and the absolute madness of the war in Iraq.

And to top it all off, it’s beautifully written.

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Thrill Seekers

by Edwina Shaw

A powerful story about mental heath, mateship and adolescent mayhem.

Great writing with an important message.

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Five Books Every Man Should Read – From Anna Campbell

This September we’re launching Operation GMR, Get Men Reading. To celebrate, we’ve asked some of our favourite Australian authors to give us Five Books Every Man Should Read.

Today’s guest is the Australian Romance Reader’s Favourite Author for 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, Anna Campbell.

You know the eternal question? At least from the male half of the population.

And no, it’s not, “Why does Monday exist?” If Monday didn’t exist, we’d have to invent it!

The eternal question is, “What do women want?”

Guess what? I have an answer! Or at least a theory for where you can find the answer.

Guys, you can discover just what women want if you read romance novels! These are books written by women and bought by women in their millions. The heroes must be doing something right!

So here is your starter reading on what promises to be a long and interesting course of study – my list of the five books every man should read.


Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

Mr. Darcy has fueled a billion female fantasies despite the fact that he’s pushing 230 now. Not bad for an old codger.

I actually think women love him partly because he’s willing to admit when he’s wrong!

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Jane Eyre

by Charlotte Bronte

This one’s all drama and passion.

Mr. Rochester is a harder nut to crack than Mr. Darcy, but he’s so steadfast in his love for Jane that you forgive him the occasional stumble when it comes to social polish.

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War and Peace

by Leo Tolstoy

Just because I think everyone should read this book.

Despite its reputation for being turgid, it’s exciting and romantic and moving, and Prince Andrei is another character to make female hearts beat faster.

(By the way, you’ll notice I’ve started with three books that you won’t be ashamed to put on the Ferrari seat for the world to see.)

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Untouched

by Anna Campbell

Hey, with a million romance novels to choose from and all of them answering the eternal question, why not pick one of my own?

This book was published in 2007 and I still get fan mail for Matthew, the brave, tragic, passionate hero.

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Lord of Scoundrels

by Loretta Chase

This one regularly tops polls listing the best romances ever written.

It’s funny and it’s touching and it’s wise. And Lord Dain is such a fascinating character. I think his self-deprecating humour is particularly attractive.

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Hmm, clearly I think men should read historical romance! Well, I won’t argue with that! There’s something to be said for old-fashioned manners and elegance.

Happy reading, men!

Five Books Every Man Should Read – From Susan Johnson

This September we’re launching Operation GMR, Get Men Reading. To celebrate, we’ve asked some of our favourite Australian authors to give us Five Books Every Man Should Read.

Today’s guest is the one of Australia’s most loved acclaimed writers, Susan Johnson.

Recently I had a conversation with a couple of blokes over lunch about why men don’t read fiction. One affable bloke admitted he never did: he was the classic male reader and liked his books straight and hard, a fluff-free diet of history, biographies and politics. “My wife’s in a book club,” he said. “She’s the one who reads novels.” After a bit of prodding, he admitted that the real reason he didn’t like novels was because they contained nothing but “feelings”. Another bloke at the table suggested a brilliant marketing ploy: all novels should come with a big red sticker that reads WARNING: CONTAINS FEELINGS.

So, in the best interests of blokes who don’t like novels with feelings, here are some suggestions of books with the right kind of feelings. Feelings are everywhere, you see. If you can’t avoid ‘em, at least make sure they’re the right kind.


Blood Meridian

by Cormac McCarthy

A real boys’ book—even my ex-husband, who could never finish one of his ex-wife’s books, no doubt because they contained too many feelings – loved this. I don’t believe there is a single woman character in it, and every dark feeling is submerged and never discussed. The lead character isn’t even named, he’s just known as The Kid, and there is enough random violence and slaughter and misery in it to blow any womanly feelings right out of the water.

The US literary critic Harold Bloom is not alone in regarding it as one of the masterpieces of the twentieth century. The prose is hypnotic, no doubt about it. He is a master writer indeed, the kind of writer who writes books I admire from afar, while longing for something kinder.

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The Sportswriter

by Richard Ford

“My name is Frank Bascombe. I am a sports writer. For the past fourteen years I have lived here at 19 Hoving Road, Haddam, New Jersey…” and so begins the ordinary, sorrowful tale of an ordinary, sorrowful man, a man who tries to keep feelings at bay, and who fails. In finding his feelings, he finds triumph.

Beautiful, moving, and filled with the right kind of feelings.

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The Crack-Up

by F Scott Fitzgerald

OK, it’s not a novel, it’s an extended essay, originally published as a three-part series in Esquire in 1936 but it’s as fresh and as relevant and as pitiless as the day it was written.

It’s about the blows of life, which every man experiences, but which no man can explain quite as beautifully as Fitzgerald.

For every man who has had his heart broken or been sacked or lost his children or his money, this book’s for you.

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Herzog

by Saul Bellow

Who hasn’t railed against life’s injustices? Who hasn’t wished bosses, ex-wives, recalcitrant children and ex-friends ill?

If Moses Herzog is mad, then it’s all right with him, and it’s all right with me too. I love Moses Herzog as if he were a dear friend. I dare any man not to love him too.

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Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls

by David Sedaris

Only the brilliant American Sedaris could get away with a non-PC joke about how he once considered buying a Pygmy skeleton.

Have fun with Sedaris’s wicked, linguistic dexterity (he describes the Chinese spitting up “wads of phlegm glistening like freshly shucked oysters”). His parents would not fix their kids’ artwork to the fridge “because our parents recognised it for what it was: crap.”

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Five Books Every Man Should Read – From Jacqueline Harvey

This September we’re launching Operation GMR, Get Men Reading. To celebrate, we’ve asked some of our favourite Australian authors to give us Five Books Every Man Should Read.

Today’s guest is the one of Australia’s most loved children’s authors, Jacqueline Harvey.


Bridge to Terabithia

by Katherine Paterson

As a children’s author it seems only right to offer up a children’s book as my first suggestion.

This one’s a classic about an unlikely friendship between a young boy and girl and his courage when faced with immense loss.  All boys should read this.

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The Book Thief

by Markus Zusak

This book offers a very different take on a much written about subject; World War Two.

The characters are beautifully drawn and the storyline compelling.

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The Secret Keeper

by Kate Morton

This book has a great plot, fabulous twist, strong female characters and when I recommended it to my husband (who loves Lee Child and Vince Flynn) he couldn’t put it down.

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Life of Pi

by Yann Martel

This is a big story of tremendous determination in the face of extraordinary adversity.  Martel takes the reader on an incredible journey.

And in my humble opinion the movie was great too.

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AWW Cook

How to Cook Absolutely Everything

Because every man needs to know the basics!

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Bonus Book!

Anything by Lee Child

I’m throwing in a sixth suggestion – because every man loves a hero and Lee Child does the hero, action, intrigue genre better than most.

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Five Books Every Man Should Read – From Anne Summers

This September we’re launching Operation GMR, Get Men Reading. To celebrate, we’ve asked some of our favourite Australian authors to give us Five Books Every Man Should Read.

Today’s guest is the one of Australia’s most-respected columnists and writers, Anne Summers.

I compiled this list on the 100th anniversary of my father’s birth.

He liked to read when he was younger but, like many men, lost the habit as his family and other responsibilities grew.


The Fortunes of Richard Mahony

by Henry Handel Richardson

Richard Mahony is a familiar Australian, an impulsive and impetuous dreamer whose schemes and dreams never quite work out, and whose family pays a high price for his restlessness.

This great Australian novel is a rich and at times overwhelming sad story set in the formative years of our nation in the Victorian gold fields and the burgeoning metropolis of Melbourne.

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My Brother Jack

by George Johnston

Another Australian classic novel, this one dealing with two brothers, George and Jack Meredith, growing up in Melbourne in the early part of the 20th century who are archetypes for what has come to be seen as the stereotypical Aussie bloke.

A wonderful and very moving book that reflects the country before the surge of post-War immigration and the rise of women’s equality both of which have transformed us into a nation the Meredith brothers would not recognize.

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The Hare with Amber Eye

by Edmund de Waal

Even men who think they are not interested in art are likely be gripped by this compelling book about a family, an art collection, survival through wars and the Holocaust and the ways of men across the centuries.

A totally unique book which is one reason for its enormous international following.

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The Amateur Science of Love

by Craig Sherborne

If George Johnston tells us about blokes in Melbourne in the early part of the 20th century, Craig Sherborne bring to life men – one in particular, Colin Butcher – at the other end of the century.

Men had become different by then, better at expressing emotion, not so worries about exposing their weaknesses. In fact, they were all about redefining what it was to be an Aussie bloke. A sad and witty story, this one.

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 The Misogyny Factor

by Anne Summers

I have included this just so those blokes who don’t already know, get some idea of what we are complaining about.

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