November 7th 2013 | Comments

Great books for men

Books for Gentlemen

We are often asked “What should I, as an aspiring gentleman be reading, Mr Socked, sir?”, and we are happy to offer our advice.

The first thing we tell any young gentleman with the notion of improving their mind is what they should not be reading. The good gentleman does not read what are commonly referred to as “lads’ mags” such as Loaded and Nuts. Not only do they urge the gentleman away from the straight and narrow offering features on dangerous pursuits and shocking behaviour that would make their mothers blush with shame, they also feature photographs of young ladies in various states of undress, which is unchivalrous is the extreme.

Here, then, are the books you should be reading, which are available at such venues as “libraries” or book shops”

Jeeves and Wooster

The tales of young Bertram Wooster and his gentleman’s gentleman Jeeves are the very thing that the young man should aspire toward. Told through the eyes of Wooster by PG Wodehouse – a comic author without compare – they tell of this confirmed bachelor’s attempts to avoid marriage whilst living the easiest life possible. Things never go smoothly for Wooster, and it is always down to the impeccable timing, good taste and diplomacy for Jeeves that saves the day. If Jeeves ever went into politics, we dare say we’d still have the empire.

Jeeves and Wooster books

Flashman

Speaking of which, the Flashman books – twelve in all – are the collected memoirs of a roguish English soldier of the Victorian age. Harry Flashman is a coward, a bully, a toady, a liar and some sort of one-man sex machine, fornicating his way across the Empire and its former colonies.

Very much a warning on how not to behave in polite society yet still come out on top, we would be quite happy to send Flashy a sock subscription for the rest of his days, were he not dead.

War and Peace

What’s this? A 1,400 page blockbuster on the French invasion of Russia and how it struck home to the very heart of the Russian nobility? You have to be built of stern stuff to get through Tolstoy’s classic, and you might be best served watching the film version and bluffing your way through any difficult questions.

However, as a guide to the gentleman on manners it is unsurpassed. What happens if your beloved declines to marry you? (Answer: Run away and freeze to death on a battlefield). What happens if you accidentally get caught up in a battle? (Answer: Stand about gawping, and not get killed). What happens if you invade Russia but get caught out by the frozen winter weather? (Answer: Freeze to death).

There’s a lot of running away from spurned love and a lot of freezing to death, but Tolstoy got it right. It is a true gentleman’s book for the true gentleman. Also good for fixing wobbly table legs.