American classics like John Steinback's Of Mice and Men and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird have been dropped from the English literature GCSE syllabus, after Education Secretary Michael Gove insisted that students ought to focus on works by British writers such as Jane Austen and Shakespeare.

Now as much as we love to back the Brits, we can't help but feel this is slightly bonkers.

Even if we spent much of our English classes yawning and drawing cocks on the desks, the bits that we do remember best were when we had a ballsy American classic to work with.

So here's our guide to the eight seminal American paperbacks that will give you a grizzled education in all things masculine. (Best read with a glass of bourbon for full effect.) 

ON THE ROAD (1957)

Jack Kerouac
A drink, sex and jazz-fuelled road trip across North America's bop joints, orange groves and whore houses.
What It'll Learn You: It's never too late to drop it all and embark on a life-changing road trip.

 

EVERYTHING RAVAGED, EVERYTHING BURNED (2009)

Wells Tower
Nine separate tales, all focusing on down-on-their-luck, blue-collar guys struggling to make sense of broken marriages, thwarted dreams and the bitter-sweet reality of growing old.
What It'll Learn You: Being a man is hard and confusing. But it's worth it in the end.

 

ALL THE PRETTY HORSES (1992)

Cormac McCarthy
A Texas teenager and his best mate head off into the great America wilderness. They want to become cowboys. They end up becoming adults.
What It'll Learn You: Romance is for real men.

 

HAM ON RYE (1982)

Charles Bukowski
A smart kid with awful acne fails to fit in at school, at high school, at college and then in the workplace.
What It'll Learn You: Be happy with who you are; fitting in is overrated.

 

THE JUNGLE (1906)

Upton Sinclair
All the blood, froth and gristly of American working-class society, as seen through the eyes of hungry Chicago meat packers.
What It'll Learn You: Never trust the Man. He'll grind you up.


THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA (1952)

Ernest Hemingway
The epic struggle that every man must endure, summed up by a dying fisherman and his great, lost haul.
What It'll Learn You: Life is awesome. Life is cruel.

 

FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS (1971)

Hunter S Thompson
A writer, his Mexican attorney and a car stuffed with hallucinogenic drugs make a mind-bending pilgrimage to America's home of hedonism: Las Vegas.
What It'll Learn You: To hell with the rules. You live but once.

 

TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY (1962)

John Steinbeck
Travelling with his dog, and in his autumn years, Steinbeck undertakes a once-in-a-lifetime journey across the States.
What It'll Learn You: A man needs a dog (ideally a French poodle)

 

Photography by Marco Vittur