Required Reading List: Ron Swanson


“I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten,” Ralph Waldo Emerson famously quipped, “even so, they have made me.” In this bi-weekly series, Flavorwire plays professor to some of everyone’s favorite pop culture characters, assigning reading lists tailored to their temperaments or — in some cases — designed to make them into slightly better people. After all, even fictional characters can have their lives changed by books. Or so we imagine. This week, in advance of Father’s Day, a few recommendations for dad-of-your-dreams (and, apparently, father-to-be) Ron Swanson.

Ron Swanson’s likes include meat-based breakfast food, making things out of wood, and fishing. Dislikes: lying, skim milk (which is lying about being milk), the government. Needless to say, he’s pretty much the absurdist Platonic ideal of a man’s man. The only thing we know about Ron Swanson’s reading taste is that he likes Patrick O’Brian — and presumably, other books about “old boats.” Accordingly, find some recommendations to both satisfy and expand his mind below.

The Old Man and the Sea , Ernest Hemingway

The closest literary figure to Ron Swanson — at least in the collective imagination — has to be Ernest Hemingway. While Swanson might get some pleasure out of The Sun Also Rises, being as it is mostly alternating episodes of bullfighting and drinking, he might throw the book across the room after one line too many of that Jake Barnes’s existential whining. Thus: the fisherman and the marlin, to be consumed with meat in hand.

The Epicure’s Lament , Kate Christensen

Speaking of meat — Swanson is an epicure, of sorts. But more than that, he might learn some valuable lessons from Christensen’s Hugo Whittier, stubborn and misanthropic, but with a heart that might be melted just in time.

The Fault in Our Stars , John Green

Only John Green could make Ron Swanson cry. And Ron Swanson could probably use a good cry every now and again — if only to water his mustache.

Arguably , Christopher Hitchens

Ron Swanson tends to see things in black and white. He’s also a caustic shrugger. As such, he’d probably appreciate — and perhaps learn something from — Hitchens’s more fine-tuned but no less grouchy cultural commentary, literary journalism, and political writing. Just fuel for the fire.

Moby-Dick , Herman Melville

“Old boats”? Complex catalogs of hunting instruments? General manly pursuits? This one’s a no-brainer.