What His Favorite Books Says About Him
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Shelf Life1 of 11
By Katherine Berg
Can you judge a man by his (book) cover? We think so. Whether it's Harry Potter or Atlas Shrugged, a guy's favorite book can give you plenty of insight into his personality. Read on to find out how to read between the lines.
The Philosopher2 of 11
As its title suggests, Robert M. Pirsig's classic is equal parts philosophy, and well, motorcycle. As a mysterious narrator travels across the country on the back of a bike, his son in tow, he makes it his mission to teach us how he's come to reconcile the tensions of man and machine, East and West, mind and heart. The guy who keeps Zen on his bedside table may dream of an epic interstate journey on the back of a Harley. But he's already set out on a quieter path seeking graceful, guiding truths in a complicated world.
The Sensitive Rebel3 of 11
Censored 18 times since it was published in 1969, Kurt Vonnegut's satirical novel is not your typical war story. The narrator is a time-traveling optometrist who refuses to fight. True to form, Vonnegut comes at human tragedy largely by way of absurdity and black humor. The man who loves Slaughterhouse-Five understands that sometimes the only way to wrap your mind around human suffering is to make it bend in strange, uncomfortable ways. He knows that sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying, and then sometimes you cry anyway. So it goes.
The Wanderer4 of 11
If your guy loves On the Road, the copy he owns is most likely a battered paperback with tiny print that can almost fit in his pocket. He travels light because who knows where the day (or night) will take him. Nearly 70 years after it was first published, Kerouac's novel is perhaps the quintessential story of American restlessness and the quest for personal freedom. The guy who treasures his dog-eared copy may be cynical about a lot of things, but he's also a wandering dreamer, always on the trail of pure bliss and that elusive pearl of wisdom.
The Escape Artist5 of 11
OK, so we all love Harry and the gang. But here we're talking about the guy who really, really loves Harry—and wizards and muggles and blibbering humdingers. (What? you ask. Trust us, this guy knows.) This guy still kinda believes in magic. He always roots for the underdog. Most of all, he knows that you never stop coming of age, whether you're 9 or 29. Just don't be surprised if you find him reading under the covers with a flashlight.
The Independent6 of 11
First published in 1957, Ayn Rand's opus is an enduring shout-out to the striving individual, free market capitalism, and what she called "rational selfishness." The guy who loves Rand is fiercely independent, and doesn't really want your help, thank you very much. Nuff said.
The Player7 of 11
Robert Greene's runaway best-seller isn't for the meek. For years, aspiring movers and shakers of all kinds have been studying the 48 lessons of the powerful that Greene has culled from historical figures ranging from Buddha to Machiavelli. Hey, we know, power is sexy. Who doesn't love a guy with ambition? But if your man is obsessed with The 48 Laws of Power, you might want to check his shelves for Greene's other big hit, The Art of Seduction.
The Illiterate8 of 11
Totally joking! Long before this profoundly influential graphic novel became a movie or The Walking Dead came to TV, the guy who loves The Watchmen was hip to the fact that there are things that books with pictures can pull off that plain ole prose just can't. The Watchmen isn't your comic book. It's a work of visual art and literary mastery that examines the problem of trusting too deeply in those we collectively choose as our heroes. Which makes sense, because the guy who cherishes Watchmen has always been a cool skeptic, one step ahead of mainstream taste.
The Believer9 of 11
Lauren Hildebrand's award-winning best-seller tells the true story of Louis Zamperini, a juvenile delinquent turned Olympic sprinter turned Air Force lieutenant. During World War II, Zamperini miraculously survived his bomber's crash only to endure two years of torture in a prison camp. The guy who falls in love with Hildebrand's prose and Zamperini's story puts a lot of stock in the old-school values of grit, faith, and brotherhood. And he believes that sometimes it is true that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
The Optimist10 of 11
When Rhonda Byrne revealed the wonders of the law of attraction and our ability to harness it, a lot of us got on board. The guy who remains a devout believer in Byrne's secret is a willful sort of fellow, who believes intensely in his own power to shape his destiny and his fortune. Weirdly, he may occasionally remind you of a new-agey version of your conservative grandfather, who once told you when you were being whiny for no good reason: "Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry and you cry alone." For The Secret devotee, optimism isn't a state of mind; it's a life philosophy.
The Deep Seeker11 of 11
There's the guy who keeps a copy of Modern Man in Search of a Soul that he bought for psych 101 on his bookshelf because it gives his library a nice touch of gravitas. There's another kind who's scoured every page and keeps going back for more. This guy is not getting his psychological advice from the self-help aisle. He prefers the company of intellectual heavy-hitters as he does his soul-searching. When he zones out on you, he may be pondering questions like: "How can I need God, but not totally believe in God?" Or, "What was the significance of that flying goat in my dream last night?"