This article, initially published in 2009, has been updated in May 2014.
If you’re new to the world of cigars, you may not only be overwhelmed by the number of stogies out there, but also by the number of cigar books. Like cigars themselves, some cigar books are good, some of them are less good and some of them are, let's admit it, almost useless. I've been checking out some books lately and I also asked people around to recommend their favorites, so we came up with this list. Feel free to let us know if we missed some in the comments area. We’ll update the article accordingly!
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The Ultimate Cigar Book
This is the all-time bestseller and considered by many readers in the cigar world to be the definitive guide on the subject. It is indeed quite a nice read, not too simple and not too technical. The author concentrates mostly on non-Cuban cigars. The 2003 edition is quite expensive, but you can get the old one cheap (check the used prices in particular if you want to save money).
Cigars: Revised & Updated
Written by a renowned cigar expert, Vahé Gérard, Cigars: Revised & Updated deals with the history and traditions of cigars. There are some great photographs made by Matthieu Prier. Cigars: Revised & Updated concentrates mostly on Cuban cigars. Unfortunately, this one is pretty expensive, but it makes a great coffee table book for any aficionado who is looking for a great collector’s item.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cigars
This is, in our opinion, the best book for newbies. It is not an expensive title, unlike some of the other books we’ve listed here. If you have more than one year experience in cigar smoking, then you probably won't learn much from this read, but if you're just getting started, there's a ton of valuable information. Extremely easy to read and understand, it will make a nice gift.
The Illustrated History of Cigars
This appears to be the best all-around coffee-table book about cigars. Thorough explanations, interesting history, great illustrations - we should also mention the quality translation. The authors seem to overestimate Cuban cigars, but we'll pardon them. The price isn’t bad either.
Playboy: The Book of Cigars
This coffee table book includes a lot of information about the history of cigars, how they are made, and tips for cutting and smoking. Sprinkled with photos of celebrities and Playboy ladies, this book offers a fun look at the cigar world and a nostalgic tone.
The Complete Guide to Cigars
This hardcover book offers a comprehensive look at the history of cigars and a detailed directory of well-established premium brands. A lot of the information is focused on New World settlement history, so if you are a history buff, this one’s for you. You will also learn how cigars are made step by step from start to finish, and there is some good general advice on choosing cigars for beginners.
Nat Sherman's Passion for Cigars
This one was a recommendation from one of our readers. One of the most renowned cigar makers/shop owners in the world describes his passion for cigars in a simple, accessible, un-snobbish manner. A very enjoyable read that provides inside insights into the cigar industry and also includes some great graphics.
Tobakkonacht - The Antismoking Endgame
Tobakkonacht is a must-read for any cigar aficionado concerned with all the hatred his or her hobby receives all over the world. The book explains how statistical data is misused to promote smoking bans, who benefits from this, and what the real dangers of tobacco are. You can read our full review of Tobakkonacht here.
Blowing Smoke: Being a Compendium of Amusing Anecdotes, Witty Ripostes, and Lengthy Literary Passages on the Glories of the Cigar
Blowing Smoke is a nice collection of anecdotes, quotes and stories about cigars. Suitable for smokers and non-smokers alike, this little book is a good addition to your library.
This is not actually a “book” in the standard sense. It is probably the best pre-filled cigar journal. If you are too lazy to make one, this hardcover, stylish book will help you record your experiences with different cigars. It is extremely easy to use and has enough pages to store hundreds of reviews. This is an excellent choice if you want to easily keep track of the cigars you’ve smoked, brands, tobacco leaves, and notes you have enjoyed, and start discovering patterns in your tastes.
Bonus: Cigar Guide
Again, this is not a book, but a Quick Reference Guide (if you were in school at all recently, you may remember purchasing some of these for calculus, chemistry, and other classes that required a lot of formulas or memorization). It’s a laminated sheet which includes a summary of information on the front and back which is perfect for a novice to check while visiting the tobacconist. As one laminated sheet, it is easy to carry, and can help a newbie make informed decisions about purchases.
As you can see, we didn't include any "cigar encyclopedias" in our list (though several books on this list contain similar sections). There are several reasons for this - first of all, there are so many released and discontinued cigars each year that it is really impossible to have a very reliable printed resource that doesn’t just go out of date again a year later. Secondly, this information (most of it) can be easily found online in an up-to-date form.
I hope you enjoyed this selection. Don't forget to let us know about your favorite cigar books!