10 books for Marines who want to learn how to read good
Think of it as a supplement to the Commandant’s Professional Reading list, only Marines may actually want to read these items.
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This Christmas, we at Task & Purpose are saluting the Marine Corps with some good-natured ribbing. We all know that Marines are dedicated professionals, who frequently run to help people in danger, even when they are not on duty.
So, please understand that this holiday guide is completely tongue-in-cheek. Much like actor Adam Baldwin, who played Animal Mother in “Full Metal Jacket,” we would never insult “our beloved Corps.”
Without further ado, let’s get into our recommendations for books to help Marines further their intellectual journey. Think of it as a supplement to the Commandant’s Professional Reading list, only Marines may actually want to read these items.
Traditionally, it’s been an uphill battle to get Marines interested in looking at a book rather than getting tattoos or buying an overpriced car they can’t possibly afford. Former Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller famously said in 2017 that he wanted Marines to “drink less” and “read more.” God love him, he probably meant it too.
If there’s a special Devil Dog in your life who could use a good book this Christmas, here are a few recommendations from Task & Purpose, where we know that all Marines should be able to spell their names correctly on their ASVAB tests.
Marines are used to being in austere environments where there are no proper potties anywhere in sight, whether it’s a field exercise or a long flight in an MV-22B Osprey. Even when Marines have access to indoor plumbing, the bathrooms may not have walls or doors for privacy. That’s why we recommend this classic book about how to take a shit, which should really be part of professional military education.
This book is for poolees (what the Marine Corps calls its newest recruits before boot camp) – and we are so proud of all of them. It’s best to get used to green eggs and ham now so that you’re prepared for what awaits you at the chow hall. While you’re at it, you can also make friends with black mold in your barracks!
What better gift for someone who looks at a Crayola art case as a buffet? To be clear, we know that Marines don’t actually eat crayons. That is just a myth which was most likely invented by the other military branches. But just in case any Marines get hungry, you could also try out the extremely popular story of “The Day the Crayons Quit.”
Congratulations! You have your boots on your feet and a metric ton of gear in your pack! Say goodbye to the last of your qualms as you head to that God-forsaken hell hole known as “Twentynine Palms!” If you’re lucky, they’ll send you to Iraq instead!
A beginner’s guide to embracing the suck. Whether you are being denied permission to go to medical, chewed out by your first sergeant for something you didn’t do, or told to burn a vat of human waste, every day in the Marine Corps provides a new opportunity for you to question why you signed your contract in the first place.
Although this book is not a holiday tale about lance corporals going on temporary duty to Thailand, it contains valuable lessons about friendship and teamwork.
The cream does not always rise to the top. In the Marine Corps, you will have to deal with officers and senior enlisted leaders that have defied gravity and managed to get promoted despite being unqualified or just bad at their jobs. For more on this subject, just Google “Jim Amos.”
Marines like to fart. This got them in trouble a few years ago in Afghanistan. But every Marine has the right to fart like a champion. Oorah!
This story about a dog who doesn’t like the pattern of roses on his sweater is perfect for Marines, because the Corps never promised you a rose garden! In fact, the only flowers that Marines like are named for legendary retired Lt. Gen. Chesty Puller. Everything else is just a POG plant.
This one is a little advanced for Marines still learning to sound out their words, but it comes highly recommended from retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, who also served as defense secretary in 2017 and 2018. Written by former Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the book includes good advice for Marines today, such as this excerpt:
“When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own – not of the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands, and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are obstructions.”
Marcus Aurelius clearly served as a squad leader.