Manly Vacation Books

Last week, I posted my favorite travel books, and I’ve gotten some feedback from my male readers, most notably my husband, that the list was far too girly.  In my defense, I happen to be a woman.  But, I can understand that a man might not want to take the Twilight series on his business trips.  Edward and Bella’s forbidden love affair won’t capture his attention as well as other books.  I get it.

So, I challenged my husband to make things right, to recommend a manly travel reading list, what he’d take with him on vacation.  This was good timing because we went to the Oregon seashore this week, and he took along his own stack of books.

Here’s Dan’s recommended travel reading list:


1. A Sci-Fi Book.  Example: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Sci-Fi is great for vacation because he says it’s one of the fastest ways to separate from the stresses of normal life (going to another world has a way of doing that). Ender’s Game is one of his favorites in the genre.  It’s a fast read, creative, and futuristic.  Card has written several books in this series, as well as other series and offshoots of this same series. So, it’s good for several trips (Dan took a new Card one along for this vacation, as a matter of fact).  Card is also known for his creation of unique and well rounded characters, something rare in popular fiction. Just be aware that Card is a devout Mormon, and some of his unorthodox theology/philosophy can creep into his books.


2. Historical Fiction.  Example: The Pendragon Cycle (Beginning with Taliesin), by Stephen Lawhead

Lawhead does his homework about whatever historical period he’s writing about, so it feels a little educational but with a good story driving it.  The Pendragon Cycle trilogy is a retelling of the Arthur legend.  Lawhead is also a Christian author with very subtle Christian messages, not “the smack you over the head conversion tales” (we won’t name names).


3. Best-Selling Page-Turners.  Example: Map of Bones by James Rollins

Dan never turns down the chance to read about “doctor spies.”  Yes, you heard it right.  They are a group of doctors (MDs and PhDs) running around, blowing things up, and saving the world.  Think of James Bond with a graduate degree.

He also suggests Nelson DeMille books, in particular Plum Island, which introduces a wise cracking, sarcastic NYPD detective who fights terrorists.  Charm School is another great choice, but it’s a stand alone book, not part of a series.

John Grisham, Michael Chrichton, and Clive Cussler best-sellers also fall into this category.


4. Christian Fiction.  Example: The Last Jihand by Joel Rosenberg

The character’s aren’t as fully developed, nor are the books as well written as some of the other books I’ve suggested (sad but true), Rosenberg’s books in this series are a lot of fun.  According to Dan, “They mention apocalyptic events but aren’t as pathetic as the Left Behind series.”

Dan and I both like the Bill Myers books, especially the Fire of Heaven trilogy, beginning with Blood of Heaven.  We like reading those out loud to each other on car trips.


5. Political/Military Fiction.  Example: Clear and Present Danger by Tom Clancy

These books reek of testosterone.  And Dan says, “It’s a great way to learn military ranks and acronyms without serving in the military.” He also likes how Clancy gets multiple plot lines going at once that neatly intersect at the end. Dan again: “Be forewarned, your wife will hate these books.  These are the anti-Austen.  These have the benefit of having several movie adaptations, so read the book, then watch the movie.  Just think twice before dragging your wife along, otherwise you’re going to owe her several chick flicks. ”

Dan would love any suggestions for manly vacation books.  Put your suggestions in the comments section, and I’ll make sure he gets them.

I’ve got a long list of book reviews, including several that I’ve mentioned in this post.  If you’d like to see all my reviews, visit this link.  And if you like the book lists, you can see all of those here.

If I recommend any books that you’d like to purchase, consider buying them through Amazon using the links on my site, so I get a percent of the purchase price back to buy more books to review!


The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Glad you asked:

    Summer vacations call for reading mysteries, as in James Lee Burke (“Crusader’s Cross”), Michael Connelly (“The Poet”), Peter Robinson (“Cold Is The Grave”) and Ian Rankin (“Exit Music”)…and if you really need a fast read, try Steve Hamilton (“Blood Is the Sky”.

    And for those people that want male testosterone mixed with sweat, read “Lonesome Dove”.

    One question for you: doctor spies? Nobody reads books about doctor spies, do they?

    AL: Thanks for the suggestions! Dr. Dan says the doctor spies books “target a very specific audience, either doctors or spies or both.” I read the Map of Bones one and thought it was very much like The DaVinci Code, a fast read, with a mystery to uncover.

  2. I consulted Jason’s manly section on the shelf and you already covered a large section of it: Clancy and DeMille.

    But, here are a few others I know the men in my life like:

    -Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, which my dad loved when I was a kid (you gotta throw some wild west in there)
    -historical fiction by James A. Michener (my FIL is into these) – this author covers a whole bunch of different locations (Mexico, Chesapeake, etc.) and starts at the beginning of time until present day, somehow weaving a fictional story through them.I read the description for the book “Alaska” and it includes words like mastadon, wooly mammoth, arctic chill, oil boom, Russians, navigators, etc. Sounds very manly.
    -biographies & autobiographies – books by David McCullough and “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin (FIL)
    – Jason is currently reading “The World is Flat” by Thomas Friedman, though that may be a brain bender for some on vacation who don’t want to think too hard

    AL: Thanks for browsing your shelves for Dan! I asked about the Lonesome Dove book, since he got another recommendation for it. He might try that one out soon. Apparently, he went on a western kick before we met. Something I never knew about him!

  3. Amy,

    I happen to catch your post and my wife’s response since it was on the computer when I came home from my manly job working with concrete. (Ok, so I talk on the phone and send emails, but it is to sell concrete, pretty close.) I figured that I could throw in some manly ideas of my own.

    Clancy, Cussler, Crichton, Grisham are definitely good. On that list, you also can’t forget the Borne series by Robert Ludlum.

    Here is a must read for every guy: “The Power of One” by Bryce Courtenay is a coming of age book about a boxer and his struggles due to racism. It is maybe the best manly book I have ever read, but don’t see the movie, it was awful.

    Blackhawk Down by Mark Bowden is awesome too and it is true. That story of how the Rangers and Delta Force kicked ass is motivating for every guy. Totally manly; there isn’t a single girl in the entire book and this movie rocks.

    The Kite Runner isn’t so much on the “manly” list, but it is a great book regardless. Another coming of age, horrific in its depiction of just how evil “humanity” can be, but thought provoking.

    I could probably keep going, but I will leave it at that.

    Jason, husband to Elisabeth

    AL: Thanks for stopping by Jason! Dan cracked up at your description of Blackhawk Down. Yes, that sounds like his sort of thing. Okay, I have to share what he said in response (jokingly): “Oh, there can be women characters in a book, but only if they need to be rescued, and there’s no character development.” That pretty much rules out everything I read. Sounds like you guys have similar reading tastes.

  4. And let’s not forget some real “He -Men” books like tool catalogs from Home Depot. There’s something about looking at power saws, drills, sanders and such that just makes you want to spit and say, “Shucks!”

    AL: Dan always gets those sections of the Sunday paper. =)

  5. Walk through any airport on a weekday and all traveling business men seem to have some Clancy book in hand. I think that is the only reason business travel still occurs…so guys can keep up with Clancy publications.

    I was THRILLED to see Dan recommend Ender’s Game. It was required reading in library school, as an example of a Young Adult book. It got the Alex award, the YA award that is the equivalant to the children’s Newbery award. I read it in one sitting, then my husband read in one night, then our adult son flew in for a long weekend and we lost 24 hours with him after he picked up the book. OSC books are quite interesting. Did you know he is Mormon originally from Washington state?

    I’ll toss another kid book that adult males love into the mix: Hatchet by Gary Paulsen.
    Award winning…and we listened to it as a book on tape, again with our adult son, during an eight hour car trip. We got to our destination and the guys would NOT get out of the car..they wanted to finish the tapes. Then they talked about what they would have done (in the book senarios) if it had been them.

    And if you want another read in one long night book One Second After by Forstchen. It is a new book, will be a movie, and two months after reading it we are still discussing it.

    Here’s another idea for a list: books to read outloud. We’ve gone away for winter weekends with friends, selected a book to read out loud (Sir Gibbie by George McDonald was the first) and then passed the book around to read outloud, then we talked about it while we cooked dinners, hiked etc.

    Later my husband and I found we enjoy reading one or two books a year out loud to each other in the evening. We’re in the middle of A Place To Call Home by Deborah Smith right right now. LOVING it.

    AL: I think it’s great that you librarians read books from different sections to better know how to serve people in your libraries! Isn’t reading out loud with your hubby fun? We usually save it for car trips, but sometimes, a good book will come out that we’ll argue over who gets to read first. So, instead, we’ll read it together to each other. The Harry Potter books worked that way. =)

  6. My suggestions for a mans holiday reading list: One of my favorite westerns; Buckskin Brigades by L Ron Hubbard (not historical fiction but history told from the indians viewpoint)
    My favorite historical fiction author is Bernard Cornwell. He wrote the books that the TV series “Sharpe’s Rifles” was based on. I saw the TV series but never read any of the books. My favorite by this author was the series; The Saxon Chronicles. (5 books to date) After each one I couldn’t wait for the next one to come out.
    Very manly stuff,
    Jim McGuire

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s