Manly Tips 3: Books & Reading

November 26, 2009

Men don’t read. Not if they don’t have to. Magazines are okay, as long as there’s a truck, a soldier or a bikini on the cover. And repair manuals are all right, as long as it’s a last resort.

But books? Not a good idea. As an acquaintance (who was in the process of joining a biker gang) once asked me, “Why are you reading that? Who told you to?”

This was a hard thing for me to change. I like books. I like reading. Hell, I’ve written tons of them, some of which have been published, just with someone else’s name on them, because I didn’t want to admit to writing books. Yeah, that’s what it was.

Roaming packs of extremely macho teenagers have been known to slap the Chuck Kloostermans out of hipsters’ hands at cafes and ripped the Vonneguts out of books carried by non-showering college boys, just for spite. Bring a Dan Brown to your softball game to read between innings? You might as well join the ladies’ slo-pitch league.

I do offer a solution.

Go to the nearest used book store. You probably know where it is, and it’s okay to say so here, but don’t tell the guys when someone asks where to pick up some cheap Berenstain Bears for his new girlfriend’s kid. Anyway, buy a bunch of those men’s series books: The Executioner, The Destroyer, The Terminator (not the Arnold one, the earlier one), Able Team, Stony Man, The Persuader, etc. Take them home. Remove the covers. Trust me, you aren’t doing any harm to our literary culture and history. Glue those covers on the book you actually want to read. And you’re good to go.

  • “Whatcha got?”
  • “The new Mack Bolan. He kills forty guys, then lands a Russian MiG at the Washington Monument and tells the hot blonde woman to get him a sandwich.”
  • “Cool …”
  • “You wanna read it next?”
  • “Fuck, no.”

You can get away with this. Other guys will not understand, but will accept, your love of gruesome action fiction. And they’ll never know you’ve got The Kite Runner in there.


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