Say what you will about the current condition of America’s 46,876 miles of highways, but there’s still no denying their status as a marvel of modern engineering and planning. You may recall from middle school social studies (or more recent History Channel binges) that Eisenhower championed the federal highway project as a necessary undertaking for national defense, safety, and commerce. The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways ($16) starts though at the beginning of the quest to connect America, kicking off a surprisingly engaging read that traces how the Good Roads Movement of the 1890s moved to a polarizing debate of local vs. national, and eventually culminated in the intricate network of potholes we use today. As ideal guy-approved book subjects go, a fascinating insight into one of the world’s biggest construction projects (and the famous men behind it) is pretty spot on and worth the price of admission for readers looking for entertaining and educating brain fodder. Truly proving your erudite nature, however, will require you to properly repeat the title back to friends after a few cocktails.

Buy Now: $16