Giving suitable gifts to friends can be tricky, more so if that pal is a guy. In times of indecision, books can be your best option.
The following memorable reads are some of the biggest bestsellers in the past decades, written by a diverse set of authors. You will find the perfect present for that gentleman friend of yours.
- Top pick: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
- Runner up: What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: Stories
- Also great: The Fall
“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” revolves around the main character, Raoul Duke, a journalist who embarks on a long weekend road trip with his friend and lawyer, Dr. Gonzo.
The pair sets for Las Vegas in a convertible they dubbed the “Great Red Shark.” In the trunk are bags of hallucinogenic drugs and booze that they manage to consume during their short tour.
Duke plans to cover the Mint 400 as an assignment from a sports magazine but finds he is unable – to no one's surprise.
Instead, he and Gonzo commit a series of wild depravities, including terrorizing the locals and vandalizing their hotel room.
In the end, Duke manages to remember the entire experience, penning it with miraculous clarity and wit.
A roman à clef, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” is based on Thompson's autobiographical incidents during his heyday.
It is illustrated by British artist Ralph Steadman.
The book is now a major motion picture from Universal, starring Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro.
Written by American story writer and poet Raymond Carver, the book delves into the mundane days – a haunting meditation that leaves you yearning for more superficial things in life.
You will find stories on fishing, drinking, playing bingo, and other real-life situations.
There are also tales about alcoholism, dysfunctional relationships, and unpleasant things many people deal with daily.
The stories are varied, from “The Calm” set at a barbershop to “The Bath,” featuring two parents forced to deal with an unexpected strategy.
Carver's distinctive spare style of writing shines through, powerfully capturing ordinary events.
His stories invoke the feeling of living more fearlessly and finding your way through the dark.
“What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: Stories” contains the iconic title story featured in “Birdman,” an Academy Award-winning film directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu.
The movie draws many melodramatic scenes from Carver's story, including the protagonist's painful recollection of the car crash.
Your male friend will definitely appreciate this gift.
“The Fall” centers on Jean-Baptiste Clamence, a successful barrister whose fall from wealth and society's high regard reveals his dark self.
Clamence recounts his life story to a man he meets at a bar. He believed himself righteous, a champion of the less fortunate, until that incident left him reeling.
The lawyer witnessed a woman falling to her death but was unable to act and help her. He then speaks about how his past started to haunt him at every turn and his subsequent fall from grace.
Camus wrote in the second person, appearing as if the protagonist was speaking directly with the reader.
It makes you question your own moral assumptions and the things you often take for granted.
His is a modern take on the theatrical monologue, touching on the themes of truth, non-existence, and innocence.
A highly philosophical novel, “The Fall” demonstrates how everyone has faults of their own and the dangers of living without restraint.
It is compelling work that deserves to be read.
“The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao” follows the story of Oscar, a second-generation Dominican who grew up in New Jersey and the family black sheep.
Armed with his impeccable knowledge about science fiction and comics, Oscar aspires to impress a girl and be loved.
If he ends up becoming the Dominican version of J.R.R. Tolkien, all the better.
Despite his efforts, Oscar is unfortunately still considered an outsider.
This is mainly due to his lack of masculinity so often expected of the Latino men, being the nerdy, overweight kid from the ghetto.
Oscar also blames the fukú, a curse that has followed his family from Santo Domingo to America.
“The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao” touches on the Wao family saga, exploring the traumatic experiences of Oscar's grandmother, mother, and sister.
Funny and tragic, it will open your eyes to the harsh realities of life and reveal human’s endless capacity to preserve.
The book contains 19 stories, comprising Smith's best-loved pieces and new, unpublished ones, creating a varied collection unlike no other.
The settings bounce from London in the 1950s to modern-day Manhattan.
It masterfully moves across genres, delving on the historical and the dystopian while touching on themes like identity and rebirth.
Smith talked about the relics of the past that continue to haunt your present self, side by side with the uncertain future rushing to greet you.
“Grand Union: Stories” is the best selling author’s first short story anthology, showcasing her strength as an observer to analyze human’s complex experiences in the modern world.
It features Smith’s brilliance in experimenting with form and language, cementing her place as one of the critically respected writers of her generation.
You will find pieces of autofiction and speculative fiction fused together with current events.
This is a delightful book that will stay with you (and your male friend) long after you finish reading it.
“First Person Singular: Stories” consists of eight stories, all penned from the viewpoint of a desolate old man.
In some of the pieces, the narrator looks back on his years as a young man. In others, he ruminates about his life as an adult.
This Murakami collection has an enigmatic twist of the plot – a signature ploy by the Japanese writer.
As the narrator addresses himself as Murakami at one point in the book, the lone is blurred if it is a work of fiction or a memoir.
You will find meditations on friendship, love, solitude, and music, especially classical, jazz, and the Beatles.
Murakami also talked about his passion for baseball – a sport he fell in love with and purportedly inspired him to become a writer.
There is also the comeback of the talking monkey he first mentioned about 15 years ago in his previous work.
All short stories are written in the first person, steeped with Murakami's critical themes of nostalgia, time, and memory.
Vividly written, “First Person Singular: Stories” is the ideal gift for someone you cherish.
This is the third book of award-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
In the novel, Adichie explored the intertwined lives of two Nigerians, Ifemelu and Obinze, making their way to America and Britain to start a new life for themselves.
Both were still young when they left Nigeria, which was ruled by the military at that time.
Self-assured Ifemelu travels to America, where she achieved academic success. However, her achievements are dampened by the harsh realities of being black in a strange country.
Obinze hopes to join Ifemelu but is forced to change his path following 9/11.
Instead, he tries his luck in London, where he lives a precarious, undocumented life.
Fifteen years later, the pair reunite in Nigeria, now newly democratic, and reignite their love.
“Americanah” displays Adichie’s unmatched scrutiny on racial identity in contemporary times.
It raises ecumenical questions on culture, society, and identity while digging deep into the effect of African migration.
A spellbinding work, it is a book anyone would appreciate receiving as a gift.
“The Goldfinch” is a coming-of-age story following the life of Theo Decker, a 13-year old New Yorker who deals with the heartbreak of losing his mother.
The young boy is a miraculous survivor of an explosion that killed his remaining parent. His father abandoned them early on.
Left alone, Theo has no choice but to live with the family of a wealthy friend who lives in swanky Park Avenue.
The book will walk you inside the boy's mind and let you experience his life alongside him.
You will witness how Theo deals with his grief while adjusting to a strange new home and meeting new classmates who do not know how to approach him.
All Theo has for comfort is a small painting that reminds him of his mom. This mysterious artwork will draw him into the moneyed art community.
“The Goldfinch” is an old-fashioned story of loss and survival that will take you from the streets of New York to the shady art underworld.
It is infused with sensory details of Theo’s confounding thoughts and emotions, fortified by lively dialogues and escalating action.
The book is a freeform account of Kerouac’s 1950s hedonistic road trip across America with Neal Cassady.
It tells the story of two friends, Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty, who embark on a journey to find life’s true meaning.
Full of wild ambition and naivete, the pair represents the generation of youth eager to go on backpack trips in search of kicks and authenticity.
Kerouac created a character study of two of the most remarkable individuals in modern literature.
Dependable Sal has been enamored by daredevil womanizer Dean ever since they met. This urged him to follow the other man on cross-country trips.
Sal wants to understand how Dean seems to know the secret of life.
“On the Road” is the prototypical American vision of independence. It is an exhilarating piece of work that is highly readable and relatable.
Using an engaging prose style, Kerouac delivered a poignant remembrance of lost youth when everyone feels invincible.
This is a book that should be read at least once in a lifetime.
Initially published in 1989, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change” remains one of the most inspiring books ever written.
It gives concise instructions on how to navigate your life correctly.
This 30th-anniversary edition includes new additions by Stephen's son, Sean Covey, indicating how to apply the habits in the modern age.
Covey's nuggets of wisdom include being proactive, beginning with the end in mind, putting things first, and thinking win/win.
The last three practices are seeking first to understand, then be understood, synergizing, and sharpening the saw.
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” presents a principle-centered approach applicable for solving both personal and professional problems.
You will find practical insights and step-by-step instructions on living fairly, honestly, and with dignity.
There are also valuable lessons on how to adapt to change and take advantage of opportunities.
If you are looking for the best book gift for your guy pal, this is an excellent option.
This international bestseller remains relevant even after more than seven decades.
Based on Frankl’s experience as a psychiatrist, it presents lessons on spiritual survival. The book also dwells on his time in the Nazi concentration camps.
According to Frankl, you cannot avoid suffering because it is part of life. You just need to know how to cope with it, find meaning and go forward.
“Man's Search for Meaning” teaches you to find strength even in hopeless situations.
An insightful exploration of the human's will to find meaning despite adversity, it expounds on why your primary drive is not pleasure but the pursuit of essence.
Even today, as new generations face new challenges in this complex world, Frankl’s teachings offer guidance and solace.
This is a book that should be in everyone’s library.
You will not regret giving this to your male friend.