15 Slam Dunk Books You Should Own If You Don't Already

Conroy, Steinbeck, Hiaasen, O'Rourke... a non-summer reading list with mind-blowing stories. Plus, a primer on which authors to stack your bookshelf with to make you seem deeper than you are

I’m a very, very harsh critic of books. But, when I read a book and it’s genuinely superior, I buy a hardback copy and include it in my “hallowed” library. My library is so important to me, even my bride won’t touch it.


Here are some of the best of the best. As an added bonus, you can print this out and use it as a guide for “what to buy for a person who has everything.”


Trust me, these are worth the investment of time.



{ 1. Double Whammy by Carl Hiaasen } Laugh-out-loud mystery thriller. One of the main characters is a crooked televangelist who develops Lunker Lakes, a vast community catering to the nation-wide army of Large Mouth Bass fishermen. Bonus: Once you get hooked, Hiaasen is a prolific writer.




{ 2. Lamb by Christopher Moore } It’s the story of Jesus’ childhood buddy, Biff. Somehow manages to be screamingly funny without being overly heretical. Also a prolific writer.




{ 3. Unbroken: A WWII Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand } If this wasn’t a true story, you’d quit reading one-third of the way through because it’s so unbelievable. Equally enjoyable for men and women. (Wife tested)




{ 4. Flyboys by James Bradley } Another WWII nonfiction book for men and women. You simply won’t believe what you’re reading.




{ 5. Sex on the Moon by Ben Mezrich } True story of a NASA intern who pulls off the heist of the world’s rarest thing: moon rocks.




{ 6. East of Eden by John Steinbeck } A classic that you’ll actually think, “I understand why this is a classic.” Awesome.



{ 7. Rising Sun by Michael Crichton } A semi-terrifying look into the Japanese business culture and thinking. It’s a research-based novel. (The pathetic movie doesn’t count.)




{ 8. Don't Vote: It Just Encourages the Bastards by P.J. O'Rourke } Nobody writes about politics like O’Rourke. You will laugh until you cry. Note: If you still believe in politicians (not ideals, the actual elected men and women), don’t read this. O’Rourke lays them out for what they are.




{ 9. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams } …a four book trilogy. The most creative writer who ever lived. Bonus: You will learn the answer to life, the universe, and everything.




{ 10. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaman } An angel and a demon work to ward off God’s impending apocalypse because they’ve grown to enjoy life on earth.




{ 11. A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe } Wolfe is, of course, a genius. Feel free to read I Am Charlotte Simmons instead if you want be horrified about life on college campuses. You will certainly “have the dust knocked off” your current perspective.




{ 12. The Great Santini by Pat Conroy } Mostly a dude book, it follows the life of Marine fighter pilot Bull Meachum… his rise, fall, and redemption. Funny as hell, too.




{ 13. Cadillac Beach by Tim Dorsey } Dorsey’s main character is Serge Storms, a lovable, hilarious serial killer who makes Dexter look like a choir boy. There’s an entire Serge series.




{ 14. Strega by Andrew Vachss } Vachss, in real life, prosecutes child molesters in NYC. His character, Burke, does what Vachss wishes he could do. Bonus: Extremely creative form of prose.




{ 15. The Last Stand of Fox Company by Bob Drury & Tom Clavin } A nonfiction account of Marines in the Korean War. Dude book. You’ll think they are making it up.


Bonus Note: If you want to have some books in your library that make you look cool but are very intensive and sometimes-very-hard-to-read, acquire anything by Cormac McCarthy, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, Robert Persig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and some C.S. Lewis


Cons: None of these cool-image books make for beach reading. You have to concentrate.


Pros: When you die, people visiting the house will think you were deep.


But… remember the rule: You gotta read it if you’re gonna put it on the wall.