The roles we men play are as vast as the stars under which all the great leaders, warriors, generals, psychologists and altruists were born. We’ve compiled an extensive collection of what the best books are for personal development, character refinement, and intellectual pursuits. Here is our list of the 12 best books every man should read. Along with a few honorable mentions.
A few months ago a poll was taken in a popular men’s group. The question was simple: What books would you recommend to make a better man out of you? The extensive list of over 100 books to be a better man was voted on by a facebook group of over 90,000. These were the top 12 books these guys chose to be a better man, a better father, friend, son, colleague, boss or employee. A lot of these are work for women as well, and ladies should be encouraged to provide their man with some if not all of these books. Here are 12 books every man should read to improve themselves.
1.) Extreme Ownership. – Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
This book documents the scenarios and situations experienced of two men that have become somewhat of cult legends themselves. Jocko Willink, and Leif Babin were leaders of SEAL team Three’s task unit bruiser. This book chronicles their extremely dangerous missions, in one of the most treacherous parts of the world, during the most perilous time that the United States had combat troops in Iraq, that battle of Rahmadi in and around 2009. Jocko and Leif compare their situations, to real world scenarios, and in retrospect, set a new precedent for leadership development. This is not a book about war. Rather, this is a book of how extreme situations caused Jocko and Leif to implement strategies to effectively lead their team, and have been able to apply these lessons to real world scenarios. Meticulous details, comparisons to the real world, and applicable situations make this a must read for any man looking to better himself in sales, as a father, as a boss, a brother, a leader: and just plain all around Man of honor. This is my personal #1 pick, if you were to read any book on this list, choose this book. 10/10. Perfect score.
2.) How to win friends and Influence people – Dale Carnegie
Some call this the grandfather of all self help books. Yet all the lessons in this book can be applied in the modern day. Published by the millionaire Dale Carnegie, this book is just as relevant today as it was over 80 years ago. Carnegie had a deep understanding of human nature, emotion and want that he laid the principles and foundations down in this book. Whether you want to be better at speaking to people from a managerial perspective or just be better at making and keeping lasting friendships, this book comes at number 2 on our list but that is a DAMN close number two. The overall theme of this book is not people manipulation, but rather, to understand what people want and why they want it. To cultivate strategies such as leading with a compliment but then giving honest criticism to an employee that has under-delivered, or first admiring the traits and benefits an employee, friend, or colleague has, before rocking their boat with the truth. Talk about your own mistakes and shortcomings before criticizing anyone else. This book is filled with gems that are applicable today. 10/10. Perfect score
3.) As a Man Thinketh – James Allen
Just as a gardener cultivates his plot, keeping it free from weeds, and growing the flowers and fruits which he requires, so may a man tend the garden of his mind, weeding out all the wrong, useless, and impure thoughts, and cultivating toward perfection, the flowers and fruits of right, useful, and pure thoughts. By pursuing this process, a man sooner or later discovers that he is the master-gardener of his soul, the director of his life. As a man thinketh provides deep insight into the psyche of the male mind provides explanations for true happiness, questions like “why am I here” and garners peace of mind. For a little over $6 for the hardcover and an absolute steal at $0.46 for the kindle, this book will go a long way if the applications are used ably and with intelligence. 9/10. Damn near perfect score.
4.) Meditations – Marcus Aurelius
Nicknamed the warrior king, Marcus Aurelius was a Roman emperor that ruled Rome 161 – 180 A.D. His book was meant to be his meditations on questions of virtue, human rationality, the nature of gods and friendship. Though what was meant as a sort of daily journal for this enlightened Emperor became one of the more widely celebrated pieces of Philosophy that holds up nearly 2000 years later. A practitioner of Stoicism, Aurelius in his own contemplation and search for meaning strengthens the ideals of virtue, honor, honesty, and a proclivity for good. Pick the kindle version up for a mere $2.89, or click the image below for the hardcover. 8.9/10 Fabulous score.
5.) Wild At Heart – John Eldredge
-Fellow author Cindy Crosby had this to say about this book:
“Eldredge throws down the gauntlet–men are bored; they fear risk, they refuse to pay attention to their deepest desires. He challenges Christian men to return to authentic masculinity without resorting to a “macho man” mentality. Men often seek validation in venues such as work, or in the conquest of women, Eldredge observes. He urges men to take time out and come to grips with the “secret longings” of their hearts. Although the book succeeds best in its slant toward a male audience, it also strives to help women understand the implications of authentic masculinity in their relationships with men.”
This book emphasizes that in a world without cause or absolution. Men question themselves and their work, they strive to achieve excellence yet fall short and cannot understand why. Though this book is glazed with a religious aspect, it still comes off as a great read for the man on the path to better himself. 8.7/10 Fabulous score.
6.) The Art of War – Sun Tzu
The art of war is a classical book of military strategy, based on the cunning Chinese war strategist Sun Tzu. He offers principles on resourcefulness, cunning, speed, momentum, the profit motive, flexibility, integrity, grace, positioning surprise among countless other subjects that can be applied to everyday life. Therefore, being one of the most notable books that speak to survival and effective movement in today’s hectic and chaotic world.
“Thought effective, appear innefective” -Sun Tzu. 7.9/10. A great read.
7.) The subtle art of not giving a F*ck – Mark Manson
This is probably the most counter intuitive “self help books” (if you can call it that) out on the market. Moreover, Mark Mansons’ no nonsense approach, cuts all the dryness and bullsh*t that all the big self help gurus preach: Positivity is bullsh*t says Manson, the best way to live life is not to turn lemons into lemonade, but to learn to stomach lemons better. I call him the modern day Tyler Durden for self help, in that he tells it like it is, straight and to the point without cuddling your ego. Manson claims that “Once we embrace our fears, faults, and uncertainties, once we stop running and avoiding and start confronting painful truths, we can begin to find the courage, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, curiosity, and forgiveness we seek”.
8.) The way of the Superior Man – David Deida
In The Way of the Superior Man, David Deida explores the most important issues in men’s lives-from career and family to women and intimacy to love and spirituality and relationships-to offer a practical guidebook for living a masculine life of integrity, authenticity, and freedom. Though Deida does offer us solutions to how to deal with the inner macho jerk to be more appealing to women, the lessons he offers can be super imposed to your significant other of any sex, religion, or race. Coming off as a modern day Confucius in terms of his vast wealth of understanding of the male psyche, ego, and deepest desires, Deida compiles a plethora of useful tips, insights, and functions to understand what it is to become a superior man in terms of values, virtues, and the kind treatment of others.
9.) No more Mr. Nice guy – Rober A. Glover
Amazons summary of this book:
“Dr. Robert Glover has devoted his career as a psychotherapist to freeing men from what he was dubbed the “Nice Guy Syndrome”-trying too hard to please others while neglecting their own needs, thus causing unhappiness and resentfulness. It’s no wonder that unfulfilled Nice Guys lash out in frustration at their loved ones, claims Dr. Glover. He explains how they can stop seeking approval and start getting what they want in life, by presenting the information and tools to help them ensure their needs are met, to express their emotions, to have a satisfying sex life, to embrace their masculinity and form meaningful relationships with other men, and to live up to their creative potential.”
10.) The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
This book kept popping up in mens forums, recommended books, and must reads. Having read it I understand why. This book though a work of fiction is a beautiful tale of self discovery through the eyes of a shepherd boy. In his quest to reach a promised treasure, the boy realizes that the journey, following your heart, and reading the Universes omens are what are really important in this world. The end is completely unexpected, and well worth the few hour read that this book presents.
11.) The Way of Men – Jack Donovan
This book is similar in the way of the superior man in that it tried to define why masculinity is without the baggage of religion, morality, and politics (not that any of these are a bad thing). If you find yourself at odds with todays over-regulated, over-civilized, and overly politically correct world, this is a great read. For a mere $11 and half of that on Amazon this book is priced too great to pass up.
12.) Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men – Stephen Mansfield
This book quantifies all the characteristics that men aspire to be yet struggle with grasping. This book delves into the echoing caverns of the male mind, and tries to give a platform for what it means to embrace your manhood without remorse or societal bogging it down. Many reviews claim this could be a godsend for how to be a better father. That’s why this book makes our list.
Tools of the Titans – Timothy A. Ferris
“For the last two years, I’ve interviewed more than 200 world-class performers for my podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. The guests range from super celebs (Jamie Foxx, Arnold Schwarzenegger, etc.) and athletes (icons of powerlifting, gymnastics, surfing, etc.) to legendary Special Operations commanders and black-market biochemists. “This book contains the distilled tools, tactics, and ‘inside baseball’ you won’t find anywhere else. It also includes new tips from past guests, and life lessons from new ‘guests’ you haven’t met. – Tim Ferris
Four Hour Work Week – Timothy A. Ferris
Forget the old concept of retirement and the rest of the deferred-life plan–there is no need to wait and every reason not to, especially in unpredictable economic times. Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, experiencing high-end world travel, or earning a monthly five-figure income with zero management, The 4-Hour Workweek is the blueprint.
Tribe: On homecoming and Belonging – Sebastian Junger
Combining history, psychology, and anthropology, TRIBE explores what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty, belonging, and the eternal human quest for meaning. It explains the irony that-for many veterans as well as civilians-war feels better than peace, adversity can turn out to be a blessing, and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations. TRIBE explains why we are stronger when we come together, and how that can be achieved even in today’s divided world.
Books are imperative for any man looking to better himself, no man is an island, and no man is perfect. Remember no man fails if he does his best. So gentlemen, as the great Dr. King said:
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
We must always strive for the best person that we can be. In terms of health, attitude, and mental fortitude. Therefore a strong desire to learn is as impressive as a strong desire to maintain physical and emotional health. There is no excuse for not reading at least 30 minutes every day, now with e-readers like the kindle it becomes easier and easier. So what other books would you add? What books do you think every man should read to improve themselves
I highly recommend everyone pickup the kindle paper-white on Amazon. 50,000+ people have rated it positively. I personally have had one of these for 5 years now and absolutely love it. It is a must for any guy on the go, night reading, or anywhere out on the go. A back-lit screen ensures that no matter how dark it is you will always be able to enhance your mental personal development anywhere. Did I mention its actually not bad on the eyes?