The best books about male bonding

42 authors have picked their favorite books about male bonding and why they recommend each book.

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The Last of the Wine

By Mary Renault,

Book cover of The Last of the Wine

The most perfect and poetic of Renault’s brilliant series of novels set in ancient Greece, which incorporates a captivating dramatization of the courting rituals surrounding the Athenian gymnasium that then leads into a lingering and lyrical love story. The whole saga is set against the historically accurate and stirring backdrop of the downfall of the Athenian Empire at the end of the 5th century BC.

The Last of the Wine

By Mary Renault,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Last of the Wine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Athens and Sparta, the mighty city states of ancient Greece, locked together in a quarter century of conflict: the Peloponnesian War. Alexias the Athenian was born, passed through childhood and grew to manhood in those troubled years, that desperate and dangerous epoch when the golden age of Pericles was declining into uncertainty and fear for the future. Of good family, he and his friends are brought up and educated in the things of the intellect and in athletic and martial pursuits. They learn to hunt and to love, to wrestle and to question. And all the time his star of…

Who am I?

When I voyaged into the ancient world in the readings of my youth, it led me to realize that the gay-straight divide in modern perceptions of sexuality and relationships is an artifice. It was constructed by the conceit of the ascetic religions that the only legitimate purpose of sex is the production of children within a sanctified marital relationship. In Antiquity, the divide followed a more natural course between the groups who were the sexually active partners (mainly adult men) and those who were sexually passive (mainly women, youths, and eunuchs). My hope is to disperse some of the confusion that the obscuration of this historical reality has caused.


I wrote...

Alexander's Lovers

By Andrew Chugg,

Book cover of Alexander's Lovers

What is my book about?

Alexander's Lovers reveals the personality of Alexander the Great through the mirror of the lives of his lovers, including his companion and deputy Hephaistion, his queen Roxane, his mistress Barsine and Bagoas the Eunuch. It includes all the intimate details and obscure references that standard modern accounts leave out and reveals a more convincing, realistic, and human picture of the king as opposed to the fake persona of a rampaging conqueror conjured up by many modern accounts. If you would like to get to know Alexander on a more personal level, then this book provides you with a unique opportunity.

The Teammates

By David Halberstam,

Book cover of The Teammates: A Portrait of Friendship

Ted Williams is my favorite baseball player of all time, so naturally, I have read almost every book ever written about him. This book, however, isn’t just about the “Splendid Splinter”. 

The Teammates takes place in the fall of 2001, as Ted Williams is dying and right around one of the most challenging times our country has endured. It revolves around the life-long friendship of 4 aging Red Sox teammates: Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky, and Bobby Doerr.

This is a book about four friends and teammates at the end of their time on this planet, and well-aware of that fact, who demonstrate that they will be there for each other all the way to the end. This is a short book and a fast read at only 218 pages (with pictures), but it is impactful far beyond its word count.

The Teammates

By David Halberstam,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Teammates as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

Before he became a bestselling author with his debut novel, Before We Ever Spoke, Dan Largent spent the better part of two decades as a high school baseball coach. In 2010, he guided Olmsted Falls High School to its first-ever State Final Four and was subsequently named Greater Cleveland Division I Coach of the Year. Dan stepped away from his duties as a baseball coach in 2017 to spend more time with his wife, April, and their three children Brooke, Grace, and Luke. He has, however, remained close to the game he loves by turning doubles into singles as a member of Cleveland’s finest 35 and over baseball league.


I wrote...

Before We Ever Spoke: A Novel

By Dan Largent,

Book cover of Before We Ever Spoke: A Novel

What is my book about?

Cleveland, Ohio. 2006. After a chance encounter, three people soon find out that life can sometimes thrust us into the public eye - even when taking great measures to avoid it. Cooper Madison was the best pitcher in baseball after being drafted number one overall in 1996 from the small Gulf Coast town of Pass Christian, Mississippi. One year after announcing his sudden and shocking retirement, he finds himself seeking anonymity in Cleveland, Ohio. Cara Knox is the youngest sibling to three older brothers. After a tragic work accident to her closest relative, she has built up a tough exterior as she begins her final year of college at Cleveland State University. Jason Knox, Cara's oldest brother, is the lead detective on Cleveland's Edgewater Park Killer case. After months without a suspect, he is feeling the heat from his media-hungry chief. Serendipity intervenes, and all three learn that perception and reality are paths that rarely ever intersect.

Brideshead Revisited

By Evelyn Waugh,

Book cover of Brideshead Revisited

I fell in love with Evelyn Waugh’s novel when I was studying abroad in Scotland as an undergraduate. A friend living in the dodgy flat across the way from my dodgy flat lent me his paperback copy, and I read it voraciously while wrapped in a cocoon of blankets and spare clothing in my drafty bedroom. 

At its heart, Brideshead is a novel about a great friendship, a great love, and a great family’s darkness. It follows artist Charles Ryder as he falls in love with the wealthy, aristocratic Marchmain family and their beautiful English estate in the decades in the decades before World War II.

I owe Waugh (and my Scottish friend) a great debt, because nearly 10 years after I first read it, Brideshead inspired my first book.

Brideshead Revisited

By Evelyn Waugh,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Brideshead Revisited as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is WW2 and Captain Charles Ryder reflects on his time at Oxford during the twenties and a world now changed. As a lonely student Charles was captivated by the outrageous and decadent Sebastian Flyte and invited to spend time at the Flyte's family home - the magnificent Brideshead. Here Charles becomes infatuated by its eccentric, aristocratic inhabitants, and in particular with Julia, Sebastian's startling and remote sister. But as his own spiritual and social distance becomes marked, Charles discovers a crueller world, where duty and desire, faith and happiness can only ever conflict.

Who am I?

I spent most of my childhood running amok and creating imaginary worlds with my three siblings on a small farm in New Hampshire. Because of my large family, I’ve always loved reading about charismatic, complicated families in literature. In fact, I had to struggle to edit this list down from 15 books to five. Before I wrote my first book, I didn’t think of all the family-centric novels I read as anything more than reading. But working on Even in Paradise helped me realize that all my reading was actually research for the first fictional family I would create, the “Great Buchanans.”


I wrote...

Even in Paradise

By Chelsey Philpot,

Book cover of Even in Paradise

What is my book about?

The Great Gatsby meets Looking for Alaska in this stunning debut from Chelsey Philpot. With inspiration drawn from Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, this novel perfectly captures the love and heartbreak that can change us most.

When Julia Buchanan enrolls at St. Anne’s at the beginning of junior year, Charlotte Ryder already knows all about her. Most people do... or think they do. But as Charlotte is pulled into the larger-than-life new girl’s world—a world of midnight rendezvous, dazzling parties, palatial vacation homes, and fizzy champagne cocktails—she realizes that behind Julia’s self-assured smiles and toasts to the future, she is still suffering from a tragedy. A tragedy that the Buchanan family has kept hidden... until now.

The Nickel Boys

By Colson Whitehead,

Book cover of The Nickel Boys

An unflinching and raw look at the early twentieth-century juvenile justice system for two, young Black boys named Elwood and Turner. The Nickel Boys explores how Elwood and Turner come to depend on one another through times of unimaginable trauma, loss of innocence, and grief. Sometimes your family is the one person standing right next to you and that bond not even the evilest of actions can break.

The Nickel Boys

By Colson Whitehead,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Nickel Boys as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

Catherine Adel West was born and raised in Chicago, IL where she currently resides. She graduated with both her Bachelor and Master of Science in Journalism from the University of Illinois - Urbana. Her debut novel, Saving Ruby King, was published in June 2020. Her work is also published in Black Fox Literary Magazine, Five2One, Better than Starbucks, Doors Ajar, 805 Lit + Art, The Helix Magazine, Lunch Ticket, and Gay MagazineThe Two Lives of Sara is her sophomore novel.


I wrote...

The Two Lives of Sara

By Catherine Adel West,

Book cover of The Two Lives of Sara

What is my book about?

Sara King has nothing, save for her secrets and the baby in her belly, as she boards the bus to Memphis, hoping to outrun her past in Chicago. She is welcomed with open arms by Mama Sugar, a kindly matriarch and owner of the popular boardinghouse The Scarlet Poplar. Like many cities in early 1960s America, Memphis is still segregated, but change is in the air. Black literature and music provide the stories and soundtrack for these turbulent and hopeful times. 

Romance blooms between Sara and Jonas, a local schoolteacher, but secrets from Mama Sugar’s past threaten their newfound happiness with Sara and Jonas soon caught in the crosshairs, leading Sara to make decisions that will reshape the rest of their lives.

The Kite Runner

By Khaled Hosseini,

Book cover of The Kite Runner

I could relate to the character who witnessed something wrong and did nothing about it. Most of us encounter that kind of situation and we fail to act for a variety of reasons. Usually we find justifications for our failure to act, which are really excuses. The underlying reason for our failure is usually fear, which is hard for us to acknowledge. So we find ways of deflecting our guilt or covering it up, usually with lies that sooner or later will come back to haunt us. When we seek redemption, it’s always a challenge.

The Kite Runner

By Khaled Hosseini,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Kite Runner as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Afghanistan, 1975: Twelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament and his loyal friend Hassan promises to help him. But neither of the boys can foresee what will happen to Hassan that afternoon, an event that is to shatter their lives. After the Russians invade and the family is forced to flee to America, Amir realises that one day he must return to Afghanistan under Taliban rule to find the one thing that his new world cannot grant him: redemption.

Who am I?

I have a passion for this theme because I have spent my whole adult life trying to redeem myself from things I did or failed to do in the past. I have learned that for me the only path to redemption is forgiveness, and the only path to forgiving oneself is forgiving others. I try to act on this passion in my professional life as a college professor and published novelist. My novels reflect my experiences with other people, especially young people trying to do the right thing under difficult if not impossible circumstances.


I wrote...

A Contrite Heart

By Tom Milton,

Book cover of A Contrite Heart

What is my book about?

The story of a woman who committed a major crime against the military government in Argentina during the Dirty War in the 1970s. After twenty-five years she still feels guilty for what she did, and since it led to the deaths of other people, including the father of her child, she's unable to forgive herself. She's living in New York City now, and as she's leaving for work one morning she confronts a young man who addresses her with the alias she used in her crime.

So what does this guy want from her? Does he want to arrest her? Does he want revenge? Although it was dormant, her feeling of guilt was always alive in the bottom of her heart, and now it has been aroused.

Bang the Drum Slowly

By Mark Harris,

Book cover of Bang the Drum Slowly

Okay, two books--but they’re really one. The Southpaw is about Henry Wiggen the baseball player finding his way in the major leagues.  A sports book by and large.  And then the fastball to the heart--Bang the Drum Slowly. The vagaries and tragedies of life intrude on the pristine baseball field, and Wiggen and the rest have to deal with reality:  boys grow into men; men sicken, men die. These books inspired me when I decided to become a writer of sports novels. They showed me that not only could I write a sports book about more than sports, but also that I needed to write a sports book about more than sports. Why bother otherwise? 

Bang the Drum Slowly

By Mark Harris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bang the Drum Slowly as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Henry Wiggen, hero of The Southpaw and the best-known fictional baseball player in America, is back again, throwing a baseball "with his arm and his brain and his memory and his bluff for the sake of his pocket and his family." More than a novel about baseball, Bang the Drum Slowly is about the friendship and the lives of a group of men as they each learn that a teammate is dying of cancer. Bang the Drum Slowly was chosen as one of the top one hundred sports books of all time by Sports Illustrated and appears on numerous other…

Who am I?

For 20 years, I tried to write politically relevant, “important” novels. I teach. One day I told my students that to succeed as a writer, they needed to write about things they knew and loved. Honesty was the key. That night, I resumed work on a novel set in Prague involving Cold War intrigue, capitalism, communism, and some other "isms" I’ve forgotten. I wrote a paragraph and then stopped. My advice was good. Write about things you know and love. So why not follow it myself? What section of the newspaper did I read first? The sports page. Did I live and die with my favorite sports teams? Yes. I put my hopeless Prague novel aside and started On the Devil’s Court. For better or worse, a sportswriter is who I am.


I wrote...

Golden Arm

By Carl Deuker,

Book cover of Golden Arm

What is my book about?

High school baseball pitcher Laz Weathers has a golden arm. He just needs a major league scout to see it. But when you live in a trailer home and go to a struggling school with a lousy athletic program, how do you do that? Laz’s big break comes when the local high school baseball powerhouse gives him the opportunity to escape his dead-end by moving in with one of their families and thus becoming eligible to join their high-profile team. Great coaching. Scouts at every game. State title is a distinct possibility.

But escape also means leaving home, family, friends, obligations. Is the shiny future worth it if you have to close the door to your past?

The Best Laid Plans

By Terry Fallis,

Book cover of The Best Laid Plans

Terry Fallis makes politics fun. No really. Okay, this isn’t a whodunit as in murder. But the ending is very surprising. Angus McLintock is a crusty old engineering professor who will do anything to avoid teaching English to engineers. The university will give him leave to let his name stand in the election. So, he does; no need to campaign; he is certain to lose. He wants to lose. This campaign had me in stitches. Sometimes you have to branch out from your chosen genre. I did, and I not only learnt a lot, I laughed a lot.

The Best Laid Plans

By Terry Fallis,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Best Laid Plans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

I write whodunits because I love a good mystery and a good puzzle. I like giving clues out to the reader, sometimes red herrings, sometimes not. Three of my mysteries are set in a fictional little town in the Canadian prairies. I like showing the readers rural life with humour and mystery. Two of my mysteries are set in foreign countries I have visited. One takes place in Egypt. The other takes place on a bus tour of the Nordic countries and ends up in Moscow. I like the challenge of showing the readers the sights and the feel of the country without making the book a travel log. 


I wrote...

Wayward Shot

By Joan Havelange,

Book cover of Wayward Shot

What is my book about?

When Mabel slices her golf ball into the town cemetery. She and her best friend Violet think the worst that could happen would be a lost ball. That is until they discover a dead body, and it isn't six feet under. The ladies take it upon themselves to solve the mystery of the dead body in the graveyard. Using the information gleaned from Coffee Row, a collection of eccentric townspeople. This leads them to investigate golfers and relatives of the deceased. Their investigation frustrates a newly appointed RCMP officer, who does his best to put a stop to their interference. But nothing stops the intrepid detectives. They have an uncanny ability to find trouble and dead bodies. Almost getting themselves killed before solving the murders

White Teeth

By Zadie Smith,

Book cover of White Teeth

I learned a lot from reading this book. The scene with the ammonia and the hair falling out; and then pulling out the extensions…I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it for years. It’s so sad. I am a huge fan of Zadie’s. I even love the books she hasn’t written yet.

White Teeth

By Zadie Smith,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked White Teeth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

I'm a bonafide book lover, not a critic. The difference is huge. After getting my degree and writing my book, I developed a sense of how hard authors work to put their art out there. I'm so happy that people put the effort in, even if I don’t find it fun or connect with it on a higher plane. Still, I have my books that I keep going back to because they are just so well-crafted on multiple levels. To me that is what separates the big experiences from the forgettable ones. Does it inspire? Does it stick in the craw? I know when those two answers are yes.


I wrote...

Appletown Nightmare

By Douglas Brannon,

Book cover of Appletown Nightmare

What is my book about?

Herman Glüber is an unethical, athletic, homophobic, cocaine-using, impeccably groomed dealmaker at a Seattle venture capital firm. Herman has just closed a deal on an asset he’s particularly excited about—an apple orchard on the banks of the Wenatchee River that can be sliced into valuable lots—but he encounters a tarot card reader who gives him a dire warning. Madame Laverne Korzha de las Bulgarias tells him that there’s something wrong with the deal, that someone he looks up to will turn into a monster, and that someone will die.

Another problem is the appearance in Seattle of an invasive species of beetle that feeds on electricity. The beetles may well turn Washington into a version of their native region of Inner Mongolia: a technological desert known as Deadland.

Brokeback Mountain

By Annie Proulx,

Book cover of Brokeback Mountain

I’m pretty sure this was the first story about gay guys that I ever read. I had a book of Annie Proulx’s short stories I’d been meaning to read and stumbled across this particular one by accident. I only saw the film a long time later and that bowled me over too. The story is beautifully written, though find it so sad to read (and watch). Individuals struggling to come to terms with the way they feel is the essence of so many romances and this opened the door to all those that followed. She’s a brilliant writer.

Brokeback Mountain

By Annie Proulx,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Brokeback Mountain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The inspiration behind 'Life of Pi' director Ang Lee's 'Brokeback Mountain' is one of the short stories to be found in this haunting collection of Wyoming tales.

'Brokeback Mountain' is set in the beautiful, wild landscape of Wyoming where cowboys live as they have done for generations. Hard, lonely lives in unforgiving country. Jack Twist and Ennis del Mar are two ranch hands, glad to have found each other's company where none had been expected. But companionship becomes something else on Brokeback Mountain, something not looked for - an intimacy neither can forget.

'Brokeback Mountain' was made into an Academy…


Who am I?

I’m fascinated by men, the way they think and behave, the problems they have in their relationships. The very first gay romance I wrote was a cowboy story – Cowboys Downand who doesn’t love cowboys? They’re enigmatic, strong, rugged, ultra-masculine. But what if they were also gay? I think it’s that challenge, to show another side of a role that has so predominantly been drawn in one particular way in western books and films. I think gay men must have to work even harder to be accepted as a cowboy than in many other industries and exploring that is enthralling.


I wrote...

Edge of Forever

By Barbara Elsborg,

Book cover of Edge of Forever

What is my book about?

Levi thinks his father’s joking when he says for the next six months Levi’s going to be teaching Russians how to be cowboys. Working in the frozen desolation of southwest Russia, he’ll not only earn enough to buy a new barn, but he won’t be sloping off on Saturday nights to gay bars. Result!

Pasha finally pushes his oligarch father too far and is banished to a remote ranch in the middle of a Russian winter. Pasha hates the countryside, hates physical work, hates being cold and cows. Deprived of money, phone, and friends, he’s screwed and not in a good way. He arrives at the ranch wearing eyeliner, and retches every time he walks into a barn. Then he comes face to face with Levi. Opposites don’t attract. Do they?

Me and Ma Gal

By Des Dillon,

Book cover of Me and Ma Gal

A day in the life of two inseparable friends in an impoverished Scottish town where everything seems challenging. They learn what friendship truly means in the face of certain dangers. Dillon’s award-winning debut depicts the vitality and intensity of boyhood friendship, as well as painting a vivid picture of contemporary working-class Scotland.

Me and Ma Gal

By Des Dillon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Me and Ma Gal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A story of boyhood friendship and irrepressible vitality told with the speed of trains and the understanding of the awkwardness, significance and fragility of that time. This is a day in the life of two boys as told by one of them.


Who am I?

Brian Conaghan has written seven Young Adult novels. When Mr. Dog Bites, was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal. The Bombs That Brought Us Together, won the 2016 Costa Children’s Book Award. We Come Apart - a collaboration with Sarah Crossan - won the United Kingdom Literary Award. His novel, The Weight of a Thousand Feathers, won the 2018 An Post YA Irish Book of the Year. The M Word was shortlisted for the An Post YA and Teen Book of the Year. Cardboard Cowboys, to date, has been nominated for the Carnegie Medal. Brian lives and works in the Scottish town of Coatbridge.


I wrote...

When Mr. Dog Bites

By Brian Conaghan,

Book cover of When Mr. Dog Bites

What is my book about?

Dylan Mint has Tourette's. Being sixteen is hard enough, but Dylan's life is a constant battle to keep the bad stuff in - the swearing, the tics, the howling dog that seems to escape whenever he gets stressed... But a routine visit to the hospital changes everything. Overhearing a hushed conversation between the doctor and his mother, Dylan discovers that he's going to die next March. So he grants himself three parting wishes or 'Cool Things To Do Before I Cack It'.

It's not a long list, but it's ambitious, and he doesn't have much time. Sometimes you've just got to go for it – no holding back – and see what happens...

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