I wasn’t around Germany in the 1800s to hear guys talking about Goethe, didn’t live through Victorian London to hear the chaps discussing Dickens, and I wasn’t alive during the early part of the 20th century to hear what the average American thought of the Modernist writers; but I’m here now, and while I do know a lot of guys who read and talk about books, for just about all of them, it’s part of their job. I don’t know many other men that have time to read novels for pleasure. I especially don’t really understand who the Buzzfeed post “27 Broiest Books That Bros Like To Read” is aimed at — but I’ll admit that the post did list a number of the books I love. So, does that make me a “bro”?
After I moved past that, my mind went down the wormhole of trying to discern what the hell a “bro” actually is. The conclusion: I spend way too much time thinking about “bros,” men that read, and how “bro” has become a word as dumb and pointless as hipster.
I truly doubt that somewhere a group of guys are sitting around with their backwards baseball caps on underneath their posters of Bob Marley discussing how Barry Hannah is totally one of the greatest Southern writers of the last hundred years. That post, along with other, similar entries like, “The 21 Books from the 21st Century Every Man Should Read,” and “The 75 Books Every Man Should Read,” are actually worse for books and literature than they look. This idea that we should claim certain books for a specific gender is a silly one that hardly helps encourage a broader discussion or foster an inclusive literary community. These lists only highlight the fact that men, males, dudes, and bros have already dominated our bookshelves for way too long, and now that we ought to know better, any attempts to do the same just seem a little sad.