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Read Like a Man: 10 Essential Summer Books

From crime thrillers to gritty rock memoirs, here’s your Gen X non-required reading

Books on nautical tablecloth
Jeff Elkins

There was a time when putting together a summer reading list for Gen X men meant heavy doses of David Foster Wallace and at least one half-hearted attempt to finally convince you to read House of Leaves … leaving you with not one but two doorstops. We can do better.

Here are 10 new books to keep you occupied this summer, whether you’re lounging by the pool, on a plane or just in your backyard.


All The Sinners Bleed by S.A. Cosby

Cosby is the best new crime writer in a generation. His latest, about a former FBI agent who returns home to take on the role of sheriff and promptly must face down a serial killer and the dark secrets of his small town, is an epic and all-too-timely tale. (Flatiron Books, $27.99)

Drowning: The Rescue of Flight 1421 by TJ Newman

Airplanes are very safe. You have nothing to worry about when you’re flying. Really. You’ll love your vacation. But if you like a little anxiety with your travel, Newman has single-handedly revived the airplane thriller, first with her debut, Falling, and now her latest, Drowning. Need to know more about the plot? Just look at the title and the book cover. A plane. Underwater. Sweating yet? (Avid Reader Press, $28)

I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai

If you’re obsessed with true crime — and you are — then Makkai’s latest novel about a podcaster and filmmaker reinvestigating the 1995 murder of her boarding school classmate will hit all your dopamine receptors. (Viking, $28)

Crook Manifesto: A Novel by Colson Whitehead

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Whitehead takes to the streets of 1970s New York in this sequel to Harlem Shuffle and follows ex-fence Ray Carney as he tries to stay on the straight … but he’s sure not narrow. Whitehead is one the finest Gen X novelists, and this is a masterwork. It’s about criminals, but it’s also about our society at large, how crime and its roots are a mirror of the larger ills of society. (Doubleday, $29)


The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson by Jeff Pearlman

Bo Jackson was maybe the greatest athlete to ever live until a freak injury irreparably altered his Hall of Fame path. In this fascinating biography, Jeff Pearlman digs deep into the life of Jackson, the greatest what-if story in sports history, and reveals the man you only think you know. (Mariner Books, $29.99)


Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements by Bob Mehr

Both a riveting consideration of four beautiful losers hell-bent on destroying themselves and a perfect time capsule of the music industry in the 1980s and early 1990s, in all its sticky-floored glory. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be humming “Alex Chilton” and drinking cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon in honor of the troubled boys from Minnesota. (Da Capo Press, $19.99)

Into the Void: From Birth to Black Sabbath ― and Beyond by Geezer Butler

How is it possible that Geezer Butler, a founding member of Black Sabbath, is still aboveground? Was this written through a Ouija board? Butler has some stories to tell and, gentlemen, they will be the sort of things you re-tell in bars for the rest of your own life. (Dey Street Books, $29.99)


The Kneeling Man: My Father's Life as a Black Spy Who Witnessed the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. by Leta McCollough Seletzky

We all know the terrible history of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, and most of us can conjure the famous photo of him, dead on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, a man kneeling beside him. Who was that man? Why was he there? And what if he was your father? And, it turns out, a spy? A stirring true story about the bit players who witness history, and how their lives have changed our own. (Counterpoint Press, $27)


Brat: An ’80s Story by Andrew McCarthy

Let’s be clear: Jon Cryer’s Duckie and not Andrew McCarthy’s Blane should have ended up with Molly Ringwald’s Andie in Pretty in Pink. With that established, what is also true is that Andrew McCarthy has had a unique career spanning several decades, emerging as a premier travel journalist along the way. Here McCarthy uses his clear-eyed reporting skills to look back on his own life, both on and off the screen, and the results are funny, tragic and illuminating. (Grand Central, $17)


All the Pieces Matter: The Inside Story of “The Wire” by Jonathan Abrams

The Wire is the best television show, ever. We will not entertain debate on this. And its acclaim only grows with each passing year. In this rich, detailed and utterly comprehensive oral history, you’ll learn everything you ever wanted to know about the show. It’ll make you the envy of your living room when you begin your 11th rewatch of Season 4. (Crown, $18)

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