I own and/or have read 29 of the American 78, though I wouldn't say I'm a huge fan of many of even the ones I've read. I was surprised by some omissions too: if we're going to play Normative Gun-Totin' Yankee Bookshelves I'd have expected some PJ O'Rourke for the Republicans, or Bill Hicks if you're a Democrat, biographies of Hugh Hefner, Rush Limbaugh and various Fox presenters, and a lot more Stephen King.
Joking aside for a second, fiction is one of the main sources of normative identity models. From them we learn how we're expected to behave. The American list is basically men ruling, killing and shagging things, or feeling bad because times have changed and the usual suspects aren't letting them kill, rule and/or shag with quite the same impunity. Playboy, for instance, was a work of genius in the 70s, constructing an ideal masculinity out of gazing on naked women, wearing good tailoring, listening to sophisticated music on expensive stereo equipment, buying big cars and being smooth: masculinity as a commodity product furthering the interests of capitalism.
What would a British Bloke's Bookshelf bear, excluding the American texts which might well make it over here? Here's my guess - feel free to add more in the comments section.
PS: I like some of these works. Guess which ones.
1. The World According to Clarkson. Punchy man, punchy prose! He's got opinions you know, and some of them are deliberately calculated to annoy people he doesn't like (females, the poor, lefties, liberals, homosexuals, foreigners, the state-educated, Midlanders, cyclists, pedestrians, ethnic minorities) for money. This is the kind of freedom of speech Theresa May is going to keep!
2-7. More Clarkson, obviously.
8. Andy McNab, Bravo Two Zero. Real men kill people and describe their guns in pornographic detail. But they sometimes feel bloody conflicted about it. Not for long though. He's been there, and you can too, vicariously.
9. Andy McNab, Bravo Two One
10. Andy McNab, Bravo Three Zero.
11. Nick Hornby, About A Boy. The message being that if you let boys like Joni Mitchell, they'll end up voting Labour, sympathising with Caroline Criado-Perez and never punching anyone. Girls are yucky. But you can't live without them.
12-25. Everything by Kingsley Amis. Particularly Difficulties With Girls and anything that mentions how absolutely bloody women, lefty pinkoes and foreigners are. Especially those who are all three. Oh, and the Welsh.
26. Martin Amis. Not the tricky stuff, just Money perhaps or the one about the police. Or where he has a go at chavs or Muslims.
27. Tony Parsons, Man and Boy. Cos men have feelings too, so long as they 'ave 'em a) in demotic and b) at the football.
28. A novelisation of The Italian Job.
29. Vinnie Jones's autobiography. Proper naughty.
30. The Bumper Book of British Breasts or some such, free with Nuts.
31. The Complete Poems of Philip Larkin. Not the soppy stuff mind. Just the stuff about birds being horrid and being emotionally damaged.
32. Fatherland by Robert Harris. Nazis! In Britain!
33. Jamie Oliver's Cookbook. You don't even need to cook anything from it. Just let the dollybird see it and she'll think you're on the right side of metrosexuality. Bish bash bosh.
|Insert cock joke here|
34. Bear Grylls' Survival Guide to the M25 or whatever.
35. Motley Crüe: the Dirt.
36. A Clockwork Orange. Nothing wrong with a bit of ultra-violence and the old in-out, in-out.
37. Ken Follett. Fall of Giants. Proper story, clever bloke, knows his history.
38. Roddy Doyle, The Commitments. We don't mind Paddies so long as they're not bombing stuff. They're the blacks of Europe you know. Good songs too. Guinness. Stag weekends in Temple Bar. The Wild Rover.
39-67. More books about the Nazis, Churchill, the Paras etc. Anything to remind you of the days when it was easy to spot who the bad guys were (the ones with the cool uniforms but bad moustaches and monocles).
68. Ben Elton, Popcorn. Bit of a smart-arse but got better once he stopped slagging off Maggie and that.
69. James Hawes. Funny hard-boiled stuff with good sex'n'drugs but no soppy stuff.
70. John Wyndham, The Day of the Triffids. When the chips are down, you need a stiff upper lip. And a penis. Apocalypse is perfectly survivable if you have an officer-class penis.
71. An Ian Rankin or Christopher Brookmyre. They're both funny, clever and not afraid of a bit of claret on the carpet.
72. Frankie Fraser, Mad Frank's Diaries. He'd rape your grandmother but he'd say thank you afterwards. Diamond geezer. They broke the mould with him etc. etc.
73. Howard Marks, Mr Nice. Never harmed anybody, liked a bit of waccy-baccy. Good old Howard.
and of course if you're Irish:
Patrick McCabe, The Butcher Boy
The Complete Works of Ross O'Carroll Kelly.
You stick to those, my son, and you'll be alright. None of your ethnic/alternative sexualities malarkey or women's writing. Just bourgeois class tourism and a spot of fisticuffs.