The best books about a middle age man

19 authors have picked their favorite books about a middle age man and why they recommend each book.

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Lolita

By Vladimir Nabokov,

Book cover of Lolita

This book is an astounding and disturbing look into the mind and heart of a pedophile. Humbert Humbert, with his pretensions of literary brilliance, his ornate use of the French language, and his justification of his illegal and immoral actions, will fascinate the reader. What makes a man make terrible choices? Why can’t he fit into the mold of human respectability? And the victim, Lolita, what makes her go along with his depravity? Written in 1958, Lolita is heavy with internal ramblings but still fascinating.

Lolita

By Vladimir Nabokov,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Lolita as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of my tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.'

Humbert Humbert is a middle-aged, frustrated college professor. In love with his landlady's twelve-year-old daughter Lolita, he'll do anything to possess her. Unable and unwilling to stop himself, he is prepared to commit any crime to get what he wants.

Is he in love or insane? A silver-tongued poet or a pervert? A tortured soul or a monster? Or is he all…


Who am I?

I am a teacher with degrees in Psychology and Special Education. Human emotion and motivation are favorite reading and research themes of mine. Books that explore why we make the choices we do, whether right or wrong, fascinate me. Therapy and the need for self-awareness are also topics close to my heart. Combining literary classics like Jane Eyre, Romeo and Juliet, and Pride and Prejudice into my work is a challenge. I also write books for young adults and have started a novel with LGBTQ themes.


I wrote...

Killing Mr. Darcy

By Felicia Carparelli,

Book cover of Killing Mr. Darcy

What is my book about?

Can a rich, young woman who talks to Jane Austen and who keeps black widow spiders be able to love? And can a handsome, but poor young man who is obsessed with Rosetti’s painting of Beatrice be capable of a lasting relationship? She finds the silver streak in his hair romantic. He finds the scent of her virginity intoxicating.

Emma and Robert have trust issues. Serious issues. But what else are they discovering in college besides literature, psychoses, and sex? Killing Mr. Darcy – sometimes literature and art can enhance a love affair. But not always...

Solar

By Ian McEwan,

Book cover of Solar

I like a good satire and I love Ian McEwan. Set in academia, Professor Beard, with his Nobel prize in physics clutched to his chest, is offended by the idea that art might be as good a tool for curing a sick planet as his analytical facts. For all his scientific knowledge, he fails to understand that art has power. His younger colleague tries his best, explaining how images created by art bypass the modern cerebral cortex and go straight to our ancient limbic brain which controls memory and emotion, the part of the brain where we process value judgments, judgments that exert a strong influence on our behavior. This book makes the case for climate change as an important subject in literature, art, and music, because we need to touch hearts before we can create change. And it’s pretty funny on top of it.

Solar

By Ian McEwan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Michael Beard is a Nobel prize-winning physicist whose best work is behind him. Trading on his reputation, he speaks for enormous fees, lends his name to the letterheads of renowned scientific institutions and half-heartedly heads a government-backed initiative tackling global warming. A compulsive womaniser, Beard finds his fifth marriage floundering. But this time it is different: she is having the affair, and he is still in love with her.

When Beard's professional and personal worlds collide in a freak accident, an opportunity presents itself for Beard to extricate himself from his marital mess, reinvigorate his career and save the world…


Who am I?

Float started out as a comedy of manners set in a coastal Maine town, but the more I learned about fishing and the oceans, the more the characters began to struggle with questions about their responsibility to the natural world. By the time I was finished, Float had morphed into a dark comedy about plastic in the ocean, which is not just unsightly and a killer of sea animals, it is made from fossil fuels. I have stayed active in the fight against plastics ever since, and have participated in a number of programs on the intersection of the arts and climate science.


I wrote...

Float: A Novel

By JoeAnn Hart,

Book cover of Float: A Novel

What is my book about?

Float is a dark satire of financial desperation, conceptual art, and the plight of a plastics-filled ocean. This environmentally smart novel follows Duncan Leland, owner of a Maine dehyde plant that turns fish waste into fertilizer, as he struggles to stay afloat while navigating the murky waters between him and his estranged wife, a chef who is experimental to the point of danger, a racing-obsessed mother, a plant supervisor who puts the needs of marine life over the business, and a shady partner who values the business more than Duncan’s life.

The Sportswriter

By Richard Ford,

Book cover of The Sportswriter: Bascombe Trilogy (1)

I’m not a sports fan. My good friend, Ryan Harty (author of one of my favorite short story compilations: “Bring me your saddest Arizona”) recommended this book to me many years ago. I’m not a sports fan but he assured me it had very little if anything to do with sports. He was right about that! I gave it a shot and was immediately transported into the narrative. It’s still in my top 5 all-time favorite book list. Ford’s ability to communicate existential crises in deeper but simple ways is so, so good. Frank Bascombe, the protagonist is detached in a way that is both beautiful and unsettling.

The Sportswriter

By Richard Ford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As a sportswriter, Frank Bascombe makes his living studying people--men, mostly--who live entirely within themselves. This is a condition that Frank himself aspires to. But at thirty-eight, he suffers from incurable dreaminess, occasional pounding of the heart, and the not-too-distant losses of a career, a son, and a marriage. In the course of the Easter week in which Ford's moving novel transpires, Bascombe will end up losing the remnants of his familiar life, though with his spirits soaring.

Who am I?

This list is specifically “secret” philosophy books. There were plenty of novels (Victor Hugo, Milan Kundera, Robert Pirsig) that I love, but they don’t hide the fact that they’re significantly philosophy books. My degree is in philosophy (BA, UCLA), with a special interest in ethics, ethical questions. I still really love the marriage of fiction and philosophy especially when it’s done subtly and beautifully. I am the author of three books: Approaching the Natural, Raising Healthy Parents. and Six Truths. I hold a BA in Philosophy from UCLA, am a public speaker, podcaster (What Sid Thinks Podcast), certified nutritionist & running coach, Oxygen Advantage breathing instructor, and founder of Small Steppers


I wrote...

Six Truths: Live by These Truths and Be Happy. Don't, and You Won't.

By Sid Garza-Hillman,

Book cover of Six Truths: Live by These Truths and Be Happy. Don't, and You Won't.

What is my book about?

Everyone wants to be happy. Everyone. We certainly have opinions about what choices someone might make to get there but we absolutely want happiness, and as much of it as possible. Six Truths is simple, accessible, cutting edge, edgy, and most of all, necessary. Sid Garza-Hillman has taken all he's learned as a nutritionist, philosopher, speaker, podcaster, Small Steps coach, ultramarathoner, father, and husband, and distilled it into six truths. Six truths that, if you live by them, will deliver you a happy life.

In Six Truths, Garza-Hillman, uses his usual funny, smart, no BS approach to helping you live your best life.

The Sea, the Sea

By Iris Murdoch,

Book cover of The Sea, the Sea

This 1978 Booker-winner is said to be the British philosopher and novelist’s finest work. A celebrated London theater director retires from his dissolute show-business life to the seaside, only to encounter his lost boyhood love, for whom he renews a frightening passion made of equal parts nostalgia and fantasy. In addition to its Nabokovian study in obsession and its poetic air of Shakespearean romance, The Sea, the Sea is also a seminar in the ethics of art: the characters debate their obligations to other people, the viability of art when divorced from ordinary human concerns, and even—this is not strictly a realist novel—the morality of using magic to transform the world. Most novelists don’t face the ethics of art and literature this fearlessly; I love the challenge Murdoch poses to those of us who practice the art.

The Sea, the Sea

By Iris Murdoch,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the prestigious Booker Prize-a tale of the strange obsessions that haunt a playwright as he composes his memoirs

Charles Arrowby, leading light of England's theatrical set, retires from glittering London to an isolated home by the sea. He plans to write a memoir about his great love affair with Clement Makin, his mentor, both professionally and personally, and amuse himself with Lizzie, an actress he has strung along for many years. None of his plans work out, and his memoir evolves into a riveting chronicle of the strange events and unexpected visitors-some real, some spectral-that disrupt his world…

Who am I?

I’ve always been fascinated by philosophical ideas, the more radical and counterintuitive the better. But as someone who’s never excelled at abstract thought, I’ve found these ideas’ expression in argumentative nonfiction both dry and unpersuasive, lacking the human context that would alone test the strength of propositions about spirituality, justice, love, education, and more. The novel of ideas brings concepts to life in the particular personalities and concrete experiences of fictional characters—a much more vivid and convincing way to explore the world of thought. Many readers will be familiar with the genre’s classics (Voltaire, Dostoevsky, Mann, Camus), so I’d like to recommend more recent instances I find personally or artistically inspiring.


I wrote...

The Quarantine of St. Sebastian House

By John Pistelli,

Book cover of The Quarantine of St. Sebastian House

What is my book about?

I wrote The Quarantine of St. Sebastian House between March and April 2020. I wanted to capture not the factual history of those early pandemic days, but to record the period’s apocalyptic atmosphere—fears of impending doom amid the eerie quietude; the chaos of contradictory information and ideology in a society suddenly transported online; and above all how it felt for normal life to be suspended in an existential crisis, with all our values and priorities suddenly up for debate.

My story of one quarantined apartment building whose tenants face off over art, politics, and philosophy—a struggle that builds to terrible revelations, climactic violence, and redemptive love—is about how social crisis reveals the conflicting truths at the bloody heart of our individual and social lives.

A House for Mr. Biswas

By V.S. Naipaul,

Book cover of A House for Mr. Biswas

Shiva Naipaul is a truly major Caribbean writer. He captures the volatile essence of that extremely unstable society. One added bonus is his inter-racial perspective, to which his Indian origins contributes decisively. This work ‘views a colonial world sharply with postcolonial perspectives.’ Any reader of West Indies fiction should combine a sense of history with some grasp of contemporary conditions. Although the novel was written in the 1960s, it still has a sense of contemporary relevance. Obviously, readers must keep their eyes open for younger writers in this mode. Naipaul’s works have rightly been integrated into the Educational System.      

A House for Mr. Biswas

By V.S. Naipaul,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked A House for Mr. Biswas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of BBC's 100 Novels That Shaped Our World.

Heart-rending and darkly comic, V. S. Naipaul's A House for Mr Biswas has been hailed as one of the twentieth century's finest novels, a classic that evokes a man's quest for autonomy against the backdrop of post-colonial Trinidad.

Part of the Macmillan Collector's Library, a series of stunning, clothbound, pocket-sized classics with gold-foiled edges and ribbon markers. These beautiful books make perfect gifts or a treat for any book lover. This edition features an introduction by writer Teju Cole.

Mr Biswas has been told since the day of his birth that…


Who am I?

I have always had a lifelong passion for all things maritime. In the early 1980s, I crossed the Atlantic Ocean as a crew companion to the late famous Captain Ted Falcon Barker, author of The Devil’s Gold. The expedition made landfall in the Bahamas, so this area became a focus of fascination. I also have a very strong historical sense, reflected in my poetry and two of my other works of fiction, the novels Charity Amour and No Gentle Bondage


I wrote...

No Gentle Bondage: A Tale of Historic Jamaica

By Joy Sheridan,

Book cover of No Gentle Bondage: A Tale of Historic Jamaica

What is my book about?

The sub-title is A Tale of Historic Jamaica. It is set in the eighteenth century and explores the context of the slave trade, the plantation system, and piracy in the West Indies. There are some forceful characters: Eboinée had been a princess or chieftainess in Africa before her kidnapping. Once settled, she wields great power, including her command of Obeah magic. Equally impressive is the ‘Pirate Queen’ Kate Goshawke, who manages to be ultra-macho and ultra-feminine. Some interracial reference here: ‘hero’ En Jon Dow is of mixed Indian and Caucasian blood. The renegade women characters are counterpointed against plantation owner Esmé Durrance. There is a web of ‘cross-cultural’ intrigue, embracing treasure and assassination attempts. No Gentle Bondage pulls no punches: a Caribbean feast indeed!

Mickelsson's Ghosts

By John Gardner,

Book cover of Mickelsson's Ghosts

Mickelson’s Ghosts was the final book of famous novelist and equally famous writing teacher John Gardner, published a few months before his death in a motorcycle accident at the too-young age of 49. It tells the story of Peter Mickelson, a once-famous philosopher nearing the end of his career, and finding himself buying a run-down house he can't afford with his ex-wife and the I.R.S. breathing down his neck. Soon the rationalist philosopher finds himself living in a world of bad decisions, sex, hauntings and ghosts, and religious cults—a world where rationalism can’t save him from his own creeping madness and mortality. 

Mickelsson's Ghosts

By John Gardner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mickelsson's Ghosts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hoping to pull his life back together, a distraught philosophy professor rents an old Pennsylvania farm house and is haunted by ghosts reiterating an old murder

Who am I?

Behind every cloud, a silver lining, right? You have to take the good days with the bad. But those clichés miss that life is funny, sad, hilarious, mournful, at the same time. We understand that the happiest of days have a tinge of sadness about them. Conversely, real sadness or missing someone possesses a strange beauty. But sometimes we forget that when it comes to our books. We want our novels to be “a comedy,” or “a romance,” a “laugh riot,” or “tear-jerker,” even though Life doesn’t put itself into those separate boxes. Funny, sad, romantic–all have informed my own writing, and all are present in this list of books as well.


I wrote...

Another Perfect Catastrophe and Other Stories

By Brad Barkley,

Book cover of Another Perfect Catastrophe and Other Stories

What is my book about?

With his keen ability to evoke characters in the South and Middle America who find themselves in reduced circumstances, Brad Barkley restores our faith in human beings to endure the ravages of time with decency and humor. Out of intense loyalty, Reed feels reluctant to leave his crippled friend when his girlfriend pressures him to move on. Mourning their baby's death, a couple takes up dancing lessons to recapture their closeness. Two drifters, Bosco and Ray, scheme to murder an old man, steal his diamonds, and pay a doctor to save Bosco's life.

The Full Ridiculous

By Mark Lamprell,

Book cover of The Full Ridiculous

In a similar vein to the previous book, this novel focuses on a man whose life is spiralling out of control. His professional life begins to crumble, he nearly gets run over by a car and his two teenage children get themselves into angst-causing strife. What I love the most about this book is that it’s narrated in the second person by the main character Michael who’s essentially having a mid-life crisis breakdown. This can be hard to pull off, but it works here as it’s like Michael’s providing commentary on himself and his life as if observing someone else. It makes for some hilarious writing, despite the serious theme. The author shows that sometimes to really appreciate the highs of life, you need to hit rock bottom first. 

The Full Ridiculous

By Mark Lamprell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Michaelo O’Dell is hit by a car, and when he doesn’t die, he is surprised and pleased. But he can’t seem to move, frozen in the crash position. He can’t concentrate, or control his anger and grief, or work out what to do about much of anything. His professional life begins to crumble, and although his wife Wendy is heroically supportive, his teenage children only exacerbate his post-accident angst. His daughter Rosie punches out a vindictive schoolmate, plunging the family into a special parent-teacher hell. Meanwhile, his son Declan is found with a stash of illicit drugs, and a strange…

Who am I?

I like to read and write novels that are uplifting and life-affirming where the main character, who's often quirky and upbeat, must find their way out of the drama and chaos life has dealt them. Growing up in a family where humor – often black – reigned supreme, with a father who penned silly limericks, I’m drawn to seeing the funny side of things. Showing the light and dark of life in a comedic yet poignant way not only makes for entertaining reading but is enlightening and inspiring. I believe novels should reflect us and our failings while offering hope that it’ll all be alright in the end. 


I wrote...

The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock

By Jane Riley,

Book cover of The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock

What is my book about?

Oliver Clock has everything arranged just so. A steady job running the family funeral home. A fridge stocked with ready meals. A drawer full of colour-coded socks. A plan (of sorts) to stay trim enough for a standard-sized coffin. And in florist Marie, he’s found the love of his life – not that she’s aware of it.

When a tragedy takes Marie out of his life, he discovers too late that she secretly loved him. Now faced with an empty love life, a family funeral business in trouble, a fast-approaching fortieth birthday, and a notebook of resolutions he’s never achieved, Oliver resolves to open himself up to life and love—and all the mess that comes with it.

Saturday

By Ian McEwan,

Book cover of Saturday

McEwan has always numbered among my favorite fiction writers, not only because he knows how to spin a tale, but I enjoy his immaculate prose. I was amazed by the way McEwan creates an exciting and brilliant story all in a one-day narrative. Unusual happenings occur in a famous neurosurgeon’s free Saturday following an exhausting week of intricate surgery. His mundane routine explodes into an unusual, complex situation when a minor car accident leads to a scene of violence and confrontation with a gang of youths. I was so drawn in to this story that I found myself almost being there and sweating in a state of anxiety. 

Saturday

By Ian McEwan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The stunning new novel from the Booker Prize winning novelist.

Saturday, February 15, 2003 - Henry Perowne wakes before dawn to find himself already in motion, drawn to the window of his bedroom. He is a contented man - a successful neurosurgeon, the devoted husband of Rosalind, and proud father of two grown-up children. What troubles Perowne as he stands at his window is the state of the world - the impending war against Iraq, and a general darkening and gathering pessimism since the attacks on New York and Washington eighteen months before.

Later during this particular Saturday morning, Perowne…


Who am I?

History is my passion. I’m a graduate of medieval history from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and post-graduate of London University. Former high school history teacher, and previously held the post of assistant researcher at the Museum of the Diaspora, Tel Aviv. I was commissioned by the Council of Zambian Jewry to research and write the history of Northern Rhodesian/Zambian Jewry. I have lectured frequently on my subjects and have contributed diverse historical articles in newspapers and journals. I have published six books, fiction, and non-fiction.  


I wrote...

The Conspiracy against Mary Magdalene

By Frank Shapiro,

Book cover of The Conspiracy against Mary Magdalene

What is my book about?

This is a case demonstrating the bending of truth in history. Read how Mary Magdalene, Jesus’ closest companion, was metaphorically crucified! In one dramatic act of interpretation and condemnation the role model of Mary Magdalene was severed from the axis of Christianity. The Apostle of the Apostle was suddenly considered undesirable and dangerous. Yet, at the crucifixion while all Jesus’ disciples scattered in fear, Mary stayed by his side. Later, she was the driving spirit encouraging the followers to return to build the movement. It was Mary Magdalene who saved Christianity from becoming just another marginal sect. Mary Magdalene was certainly most fitting to be the first bishop of Rome. Yet as we know, no female pope waves at us from the Vatican window in St. Peter’s Square.

Less

By Andrew Sean Greer,

Book cover of Less

The happiest people are over fifty years old. At fifty, I realized I had more days behind than I had ahead of me. I began to throw off what was expected of me.

At fifty, Arthur Less, the failed novelist in Greer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, felt the same urgency. He hoped to find new meaning as he traveled to Paris, Berlin, Morocco, and India. In time, he transitions from measuring time to experiencing it and discovers love.

Less is a satire that artfully wraps humor around Greer’s poignancy. While reading what masks as a travelogue, one hardly realizes one is reading about the hard stuff like loneliness and the fear of aging.

Less

By Andrew Sean Greer,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Less as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION 2018

'You will sob little tears of joy' Nell Zink

'I recommend it with my whole heart' Ann Patchett

'This book is basically perfect' Dolly Alderton

'Charming, languid and incredibly funny, I absolutely adored Arthur' Jenny Colgan

'Marvellously, endearingly, unexpectedly funny' Gary Shteyngart

'I adore this book' Armistead Maupin

'Bedazzling, bewitching and be-wonderful' New York Times Book Review

'A fast and rocketing read . . . a wonderful, wonderful book!' Karen Joy Fowler

'Hilarious, and wise, and abundantly funny' Adam Haslett

WHO SAYS YOU CAN'T RUN AWAY FROM YOUR PROBLEMS?

Arthur Less is…


Who am I?

I’ve been gay for half my life; the other half I was confused, questioning, and considered a pathologic deviant by the American Psychiatric Association. I am no longer confused, or considered pathologic or deviant. I’m a father, psychiatrist, and author who grew up in Nebraska. I was a good boy, followed all the rules, and lived the life that was expected of me. I fit in but I never felt like I belonged. I took back control of my life and threw off expectations of what I should be. I want others to believe that they can have a richer life by living the life they were meant to live.


I wrote...

No More Neckties: A Memoir in Essays

By Loren A. Olson, M. D.,

Book cover of No More Neckties: A Memoir in Essays

What is my book about?

In No More Neckties: A Memoir in Essays, Loren A. Olson, MD writes that fitting in is not belonging. Growing up, he tried to fit in, but he felt lonely due to conflicted sexual feelings and a poor body image.

In No More Neckties, Dr. Olson shares the story of his life and its hard lessons. He writes about intensely personal events: tragedy and loss, love and heartbreak, infidelity and betrayal, and the fear of aging. He explores being gay in rural America, stereotypes and misconceptions, religious dogma, empathy and forgiveness, and the need for self-acceptance. Through the memoir’s essay format, Dr. Olson invites the reader to reflect on their own life. He believes that sharing our stories removes the loneliness and isolation we feel and changes peoples’ minds about who we are.

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