Good nonfiction books/reads for early 20s male?
May 27, 2012 10:06 AM   Subscribe

Good nonfiction books/reads for early 20s male?
posted by nathanm to Education (15 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
What sort of things are you interested in? Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond is a good read for most people, but non fiction is a pretty broad category and it's incredibly tough to recommend things just based on demographic info.
posted by peppermind at 10:13 AM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Anything by John McPhee.
As a random pick, start with the A Fleet of One, an essay from the New Yorker. He's written on geology, basketball, fishing, civil engineering (his essays in Control of Nature are some of my favorite), many other topics.

Norman MacLean, Young Men and Fire
It's a story of firefighters in western forests, and how one famous fire went wrong and killed a bunch of them, leading to changes in how wild fires are fought today.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:16 AM on May 27, 2012

Response by poster: I'm looking for a self help book beneficial for a college graduate about life, love, or money. Anything that you wish you read in your early 20s.
posted by nathanm at 10:16 AM on May 27, 2012

The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke by Suze Orman is very helpful.
posted by SisterHavana at 10:22 AM on May 27, 2012

Is this a gift? Is he interested in self help?

Ann Patchett's What Now? might be good, especially if he's uncertain about what to do next.

Into the Wild is a good just-after-graduating read, in a weird way.
posted by snorkmaiden at 10:25 AM on May 27, 2012

A People's History of the United States, by Howard Zinn.
posted by Flunkie at 10:34 AM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I thought of Alan Watts immediately. Perhaps Become What You Are?
posted by mintcake! at 10:45 AM on May 27, 2012

Michael Korda's amazing reformulation of Machiavelli's The Prince for the glass tower set: Power! How to Get It, How to Use It.
posted by jamjam at 11:08 AM on May 27, 2012


The Conquest of Happiness — Bertrand Russell

Flow (or: Finding Flow) — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

The Upside of Irrationality — Dan Ariely

Stumbling on Happiness — Daniel Gilbert

The Happiness Project — Gretchen Rubin

This Will Make You Smarter — edited by John Brockman


A Random Walk Down Wall Street — Burton G. Malkiel

Making the Most of Your Money Now (or: Smart and Simple Financial Strategies for Busy People) — Jane Bryant Quinn

The Instant Economist — Timothy Taylor

Economic Facts and Fallacies (or: Intellectuals and Society) — Thomas Sowell


Mortal Questions — Thomas Nagel

An Intelligent Person's Guide to Ethics — Mary Warnock

Human, All Too Human — Nietzsche

Discourses — Epictetus


Is There Anything Good About Men? — Roy Baumeister

The Myth of Male Power — Warren Farrell

The Will to Change — Bell Hooks


How to Talk to Anyone — Leil Lowndes

Who's Your City? — Richard Florida

What to Eat — Marion Nestle

The Pocket Oracle and Art of Prudence — Baltasar Gracian
posted by John Cohen at 11:20 AM on May 27, 2012 [5 favorites]

How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen. He applies business theories to life decisions, which although sounds strange, was pretty revealing to me. You can also read the article that inspired the book here or here.
posted by ikaruga at 11:21 AM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Carlos Castaneda's books. Than, after he's gone insane, Robert Anton Wilson, then Alan Watts.
posted by cmoj at 11:44 AM on May 27, 2012

Came here to suggest How Will You Measure Your Life, but ikaruga beat me to it. It's getting lots of press right now, and I've enjoyed the bit I've read so far.

(I'm a mid-30s (yikes!) male, for what it's worth)
posted by griseus at 12:21 PM on May 27, 2012

The Big Short. Inside the Doomsday Machine. — Michael Lewis

about the financial crisis. quick and enjoyable read.
posted by Golden Eternity at 4:36 PM on May 27, 2012

How To Win Friends and Influence People.

I was put off initially by the cheesy title, but the advice really works.

Reflections of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot, by James Stockdale. Stockdale was a POW in Vietnam, and he used the lessons of the Stoic philosophers to endure captivity and torture. This is a collection of essays; some of them are a bit repetitive. You can find some of the essays for free online and get his main ideas.

To Build A Castle, by the Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky. This is a memoir about his activities in the Soviet dissident movement and time in prison. It's a good read, surprisingly funny and fast paced, but I suggest it because you can read it as a manual for attaining inner freedom in the most severe circumstances.
posted by Surprised By Bees at 12:18 AM on May 28, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for all the responses! One of my friends also recommended The Defining Decade by Meg Jay
posted by nathanm at 10:34 AM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

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