The best books about a middle age man

Who picked these books? Meet our 24 experts.

24 authors created a book list connected to a middle age man, and here are their favorite a middle age man books.
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What type of a middle age man book?


The Full Ridiculous

By Mark Lamprell,

Book cover of The Full Ridiculous

Jane Riley Author Of The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock

From the list on uplifting novels that mix humor with poignancy.

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. 

Jane's book list on uplifting novels that mix humor with poignancy

Discover why each book is one of Jane's favorite books.

Why did Jane love this book?

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. 

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…


By Andrew Sean Greer,

Book cover of Less

Michael Raleigh Author Of The Blue Moon Circus

From the list on making you laugh in a troubled world.

Who am I?

I am a writer living in Chicago, with an interest in both literary novels and mysteries (I write both). I am particularly drawn to books with embattled protagonists who keep on grinding through life, and I like to see some humor in even the most serious books (There’s humor in Moby-Dick and in The Maltese Falcon). I’ve also always enjoyed books in which a group of smart older characters gets the band together one last time – like LeCarre’s Smiley’s People. My book, The Blue Moon Circus, is such a story.

Michael's book list on making you laugh in a troubled world

Discover why each book is one of Michael's favorite books.

Why did Michael love this book?

First, because a novel should surprise us, and Less surprised me greatly. When I started reading this picaresque tale of a middle-aged gay man wandering as far as humanly possible to escape the sadness and embarrassment of his young lover marrying someone else, I knew only that it had won a Pulitzer and that there was some controversy over that. Having read Andrew Sean Greer’s funny and wildly imaginative novel, I believe I understand the problem: books that win a major literary prize are expected to be grim and “major.” They are hardly ever funny. I’m not sure how that jaundiced view of the literary arts came to be, but there it is. 

Less is a comic adventure novel – correction, a misadventure novel, for Arthur Less is well-meaning but naïve, an innocent in the workings of the world, and I kept wondering if his hapless blundering through his travels…

By Andrew Sean Greer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


'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


Arthur Less is…

The Ax

By Donald E. Westlake,

Book cover of The Ax

Jay Bonansinga Author Of Return to Woodbury

From the list on thrillers that begin with a bang.

Who am I?

I am a veteran novelist who believes this over all else: The opening is everything. This has been my modus operandi as a storyteller for over thirty books, as well as a half dozen screenplays. I love a great opening. It is how a reader or viewer will subconsciously decide whether they will devote themselves to a story. It is the first kiss. The first shot over the bow. The ignition, the countdown, and the launch. It is the alpha and omega… because the beginning dictates the ending. Oh my, how I love the beginning! 

Jay's book list on thrillers that begin with a bang

Discover why each book is one of Jay's favorite books.

Why did Jay love this book?

Donald Westlake was the consummate professional, a writer’s writer with more than a hundred novels to his credit. 

Specializing in crime fiction, he created the blockbuster Parker series and was so prolific he needed a half a dozen pseudonyms just to avoid competing with himself in the marketplace. This book is his masterpiece. Period. Full stop. And if the first sentence doesn’t grab you, nothing will:

I’ve never actually killed anybody before, murdered another person, snuffed out another human being.

So let the games begin!

By Donald E. Westlake,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The multi-award-winning, widely-acclaimed mystery master Donald E. Westlake delivers a masterpiece with this brilliant, laser-sharp tale of the deadly consequences of corporate downsizing.

Burke Devore is a middle-aged manager at a paper company when the cost-cutting ax falls, and he is laid off. Eighteen months later and still unemployed, he puts a new spin on his job search -- with agonizing care, Devore finds the seven men in the surrounding area who could take the job that rightfully should be his, and systematically kills them. Transforming himself from mild-mannered middle manager to ruthless murderer, he discovers skills ne never knew…


By Vladimir Nabokov,

Book cover of Lolita

Charles Salzberg Author Of Man on the Run

From the list on reads for valuable lessons as a crime writer.

Who am I?

I was an English major in college and my dream was to write the Great American Novel. My literary heroes were writers like Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Bernard Malamud, Jean Rhys, Margaret Drabble, Truman Capote, and Norman Mailer. They “taught” me how to write. About a dozen years ago, I concentrated on writing crime novels, like Swann’s Last Song and Second Story Man, both of which were nominated for Shamus Awards (Second Story Man won the Beverly Hills Book Award.) I'm a magazine journalist and write nonfiction books, screenplays, plays, and book reviews. I teach writing here in New York City, and I’m on the Board of PrisonWrites and the New York Writers Workshop.

Charles' book list on reads for valuable lessons as a crime writer

Discover why each book is one of Charles' favorite books.

Why did Charles love this book?

Lolita isn’t usually thought of as a crime novel but it is.

Thirty-seven-year-old Humbert Humbert stalks 12-year-old Lolita, then breaks all kinds of laws, moral, ethical, and legal, as he transports her across state lines.

The first time I read Lolita, I was dazzled by Nabokov’s stunning use of language—and remember, English was not his native tongue—word-play, and his ability to create full-blooded characters that leap off the page.

Nabokov pulls off this morally compromised tale with wit and humor, while dealing with the serious topic of pedophilia.

Reading Lolita gave me license to create morally challenged characters like Francis Hoyt, one of the protagonists in my novels.

Nabokov proved you don’t have to like, admire, or even feel a kinship with a character, so long as that character is interesting and compelling enough that readers are fascinated about him or her without being turned off.

By Vladimir Nabokov,

Why should I read it?

9 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…


By Ian McEwan,

Book cover of Saturday

Frank Shapiro Author Of The Conspiracy against Mary Magdalene

From the list on gripping fiction for history enthusiasts.

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.  

Frank's book list on gripping fiction for history enthusiasts

Discover why each book is one of Frank's favorite books.

Why did Frank love this book?

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. 

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…


By Ian McEwan,

Book cover of Solar

JoeAnn Hart Author Of Float: A Novel

From the list on climate chnange that you experience through story.

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.

JoeAnn's book list on climate chnange that you experience through story

Discover why each book is one of JoeAnn's favorite books.

Why did JoeAnn love this book?

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.

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…

Mickelsson's Ghosts

By John Gardner,

Book cover of Mickelsson's Ghosts

Brad Barkley Author Of Another Perfect Catastrophe and Other Stories

From the list on for a melancholy day.

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.

Brad's book list on for a melancholy day

Discover why each book is one of Brad's favorite books.

Why did Brad love this book?

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. 

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

A House for Mr. Biswas

By V.S. Naipaul,

Book cover of A House for Mr. Biswas

Joy Sheridan Author Of No Gentle Bondage: A Tale of Historic Jamaica

From the list on Caribbean history on piracy and the slave trade.

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

Joy's book list on Caribbean history on piracy and the slave trade

Discover why each book is one of Joy's favorite books.

Why did Joy love this book?

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.      

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…

The Sportswriter

By Richard Ford,

Book cover of The Sportswriter

Sid Garza-Hillman Author Of Six Truths: Live by These Truths and Be Happy. Don't, and You Won't.

From the list on fiction books that are secretly philosophy books.

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

Sid's book list on fiction books that are secretly philosophy books

Discover why each book is one of Sid's favorite books.

Why did Sid love this book?

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.

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.

The Sea, the Sea

By Iris Murdoch,

Book cover of The Sea, the Sea

John Pistelli Author Of The Quarantine of St. Sebastian House

From the list on ideas of the last 50 years.

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.

John's book list on ideas of the last 50 years

Discover why each book is one of John's favorite books.

Why did John love this book?

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.

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…