Last modified 28 Mar 2007


Most Essential 50 Books for Men

Below is a collection of classic books for men, most of which are the definitive work in their field. In general the earliest date of publication is listed. Some of the books have remained continuously in print, others have been reissued after a dormant period. Those which are out of print can often be found second-hand on or; alternatively, many of those out of copyright can be found free online or

Embury Book         Embury Book         Embury Book

A few classic men's books.

I have tried to strike a balance between old classics, some of which are no longer printed (but still obtainable second-hand), and more recent publications, where the dust hasn't settled between trendy and trusted. I have no doubt made some major ommissions, and invite suggestions of books to add.

The links below go to or, depending where the book was first published, or a second-hand source if the book is out of print. Sometimes there is a wikipedia page on the book, in which case I link there.

The List

The Book of the Courtier Baldassare Castiglione 1528
The Compleat Angler Izaak Walton 1653
A Hero of Our Time Mikhail Lermontov 1840
Manners for Men Mrs Humphry 1897
Scouting for Boys Robert Baden-Powell 1908
The Stag Cook Book C. Mac Sheridan 1922
The Pipe Book Alfred Dunhill 1924
The Gentleman's Companion, vols 1 & 2 Charles Baker, Jr 1939
The Ashley Book of Knots Clifford Ashley 1944
Brideshead Revisited Evelyn Waugh 1945
The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks David A. Embury 1948
Esquire's Handbook for Hosts Esquire 1949
With or Without Beans Joe Cooper 1952
A Family Album The Duke of Windsor 1960
Dandies James Laver 1968
U.S. Army Survival Manual FM 21-76 Department of Defense 1970
Esquire's Encyclopedia of Men's Fashions O. Schoeffler & W. Gale 1973
Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger 1977
Spirits and Liqueurs Peter Hallgarten 1979
The Gentlemen's Clubs of London Anthony Lejeune 1979
The James Bond Bedside Companion Raymond Benson 1984
Elegance G. Bruce Boyer 1985
Clothes and the Man Alan Flusser 1985
Scarne on Cards John Scarne 1986
The Theory of Poker David Sklansky 1987
The Savile Row Story Richard Walker 1988
The Tie Sarah Gibbings 1990
The Elements of Typographic Style Robert Bringhurst 1992
A History of Men's Fashion Farid Chenoune 1993
Beer Companion Michael Jackson 1993
The Englishman's Suit Hardy Amies 1994
Sex and Suits Anne Hollander 1995
A James Bond Omnibus Ian Fleming 1997
Tree Houses You Can Actually Build D. Stiles & J. Trusty Stiles 1998
Gentleman Bernhard Roetzel 1999
The 85 Ways to Tie a Tie Thomas Fink & Yong Mao 1999
Malt Whisky Companion Peter Jackson 1999
London Man Francis Chichester 2000
The Boutonniere Umberto Angeloni 2000
The Faber Book of Smoking James Walton 2000
The Chap Manifesto G. Temple & V. Darkwood 2001
The Modern Gentleman P. Mollod & J. Tesauro 2002
The Man Manual Ian Banks 2002
Who's a Dandy? George Walden 2002
Sauce Guide to Cocktails Simon Difford 2003
The Game Neil Strauss 2005
Mr Boston Official Bartender's and Party Guide Chris Morris (ed.) 2005
The Dangerous Book for Boys Conn & Hal Iggulden 2006
Manliness Harvey Mansfield 2006
Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book Hugh Johnson 2006

Selected Notes

The Gentleman's Companion &ndash These two volumes were re-released in 2001 as Jigger, Beaker, and Glass: Drinking Around the World; and Knife, Fork, and Spoon: Eating Around the World.

The Ashley Book of Knots &ndash Universally regarded as the most comprehensive and entertaining book on knots, with details on over 3,900.

With or Without Beans &ndash The subtitle is 'Being a compendium to perpetuate the internationally-famous bowl of chili (Texas style) which occupies such an important place in modern civilization'.

Esquire's Encyclopedia of 20th Century Men's Fashions is the full name of the best overview of the trends in men's dress. Copies are now considered prize possessions, and second-hand copies are expensive.

Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder &ndash The best book on weights, even more for its tale of extraordinary mental discipline than its back-to-basics exercise prescriptions. The first half is autobiographical and the second details exercises and lifting routines.

Clothes and the Man &ndash Widely considered to be one of the best books on men's dress. No longer in print but many second-hand copies can be found. Also worth noting are Flusser's Style and the Man (1996), a guide to good men's clothes shops throughout the world, and Dressing the Man (2002), similar to his first book but glossier.

The Elements of Typographic Style &ndash Not an obvious choice, but a welcome lesson in beautiful design, layout and proportion.

The Englishman's Suit &ndash This slim little volume is, word for word, the best book on men's dress. Hardy Amies, the author, was longtime dressmaker to the Queen and founder of the eponymous Savile Row shop.

A James Bond Omnibus is a single-volume collection of the Ian Fleming novels From Russia With Love, Doctor No and Goldfinger, often considered to be the three best Bond novels. There are 14 Bond books by Ian Fleming in all, a list of which can be found here.

The 85 Ways to Tie a Tie is about the history of the knotted neckcloth, the modern necktie, and how to tie both. The authors prove there are exactly 85 ways of tying a necktie and explain how to tie them, with forays into fashion history, topology, knot theory and men's dress along the way.

The Chap Manifesto is 'a rallying point for the classic bloke beleaguered in postmodern confusion, a cri de coeur from the manly bosom, a hail-well-met to gentlemen of all pinstripes.' Written along the lines of The Chap magazine, it is followed by The Chap Almanac (2002) and The Best of The Chap (2005).

Sauce Guide to Cocktails is the best guide to cocktails currently in print. Also noteworthy is Difford's Sauce Guide to Drink & Drinking (2003).

Thomas Fink

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