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

Extreme Ownership book

“Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin is a book that presents the leadership principles Willink and Babin learned and applied during their time as leaders in the Navy SEALs. These principles are translated into lessons for leaders in any sphere to achieve success.

The book’s central concept, “Extreme Ownership,” posits that leaders must fully accept responsibility for their team, mission, and outcomes. This means not blaming others or circumstances for failures, but instead taking complete ownership to identify and rectify mistakes.

Each chapter in the book covers a specific principle or concept related to leadership, illustrated through experiences from SEAL training and combat operations. These principles include concepts like “Cover and Move,” emphasizing teamwork and mutual support, “Simple,” focusing on clear communication, and “Prioritize and Execute,” about focusing on the most critical tasks in complex situations.

Willink and Babin also translate these military principles to business settings, showing how they can be applied to improve leadership and management in a civilian context. They emphasize that the effectiveness of a leader is measured by how well they lead their team to accomplish the mission and how they handle complex, high-pressure situations.

“Extreme Ownership” is not just about leadership in battle or business; it’s also about personal responsibility and growth. The authors argue that these principles can apply to personal goals and challenges, empowering individuals to take control of their lives.

Overall, the book is a guide to developing leadership skills that drive effective team performance, with principles grounded in discipline, humility, and a relentless focus on victory.

10/10. Perfect score.

Get the kindle version here!

 

2.) Cant hurt me – David Goggins

“Cant Hurt Me” by David Goggins is an autobiographical book that tells the story of Goggins’ journey from a life filled with adversity to becoming a symbol of endurance, perseverance, and self-discipline. The book delves into his troubled childhood, marked by poverty, prejudice, and physical abuse, and how these experiences shaped his resilient mindset.

Goggins describes his transformation from being overweight and stuck in a dead-end job to becoming a U.S. Armed Forces icon and one of the world’s top endurance athletes. He shares his experiences of training for and participating in some of the most grueling endurance events, including ultramarathons and triathlons, despite having no prior experience in these sports.

A central theme of the book is Goggins’ concept of the “40% Rule,” which posits that most people only tap into 40% of their potential and capabilities. He encourages readers to push past their perceived limits, embrace discomfort, and overcome mental barriers to unlock their full potential.

Goggins’ narrative is not just about physical achievements but also a deep exploration of the power of the human mind and the importance of mental toughness. He offers insights into how one can apply the lessons he learned through his challenges to everyday life, emphasizing the importance of self-discipline, hard work, and persistence in achieving personal goals.

Overall, “Can’t Hurt Me” is an inspiring tale of overcoming obstacles and the remarkable potential of human willpower. It serves as a motivational guide for anyone looking to break through their limitations and achieve their highest goals.

10/10. Perfect score.

Get the kindle version here!

3.) How to win friends and Influence people – Dale Carnegie

Known as the grandfather of all self help books. Yet all the lessons in this book can be applied in the modern day. 

“How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie is a classic self-help book that has influenced the way people think about communication and interpersonal relationships since its publication in 1936. The book is centered around the idea that success in life, both personally and professionally, can largely be achieved by how effectively one communicates and interacts with others.

The book is divided into several sections, each focusing on fundamental principles for improving interpersonal skills. Here’s a brief overview:

  1. Fundamental Techniques in Handling People: This section emphasizes the importance of avoiding criticism, giving honest and sincere appreciation, and arousing in the other person an eager want.
  2. Six Ways to Make People Like You: Carnegie suggests principles such as showing genuine interest in other people, smiling, remembering people’s names, being a good listener, discussing what interests others, and making the other person feel important.
  3. How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking: The key points here include avoiding arguments, showing respect for others’ opinions, admitting when you’re wrong, beginning conversations in a friendly way, getting the other person saying “yes” immediately, letting the other person do most of the talking, and trying honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
  4. Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment: This part of the book deals with leading through encouragement, praising every improvement, giving the other person a fine reputation to live up to, using encouragement, and making faults seem easy to correct.

Throughout the book, Carnegie uses anecdotes and real-life examples to illustrate his points, making the book not just informative but also engaging. The core message is about cultivating empathy, understanding, and respect in interactions, which can lead to more meaningful and effective relationships.

10/10. Perfect score 

Get the kindle version here!

 

4.) As a Man Thinketh – James Allen

“As a Man Thinketh” by James Allen is a philosophical work focused on the power of thought and its influence on life. Published in 1903, this book draws from the idea that people are the masters of their own destinies, shaped by the thoughts they choose to harbor.

The central theme of the book is that a person’s character, circumstances, and happiness are all shaped by their thoughts. Allen suggests that thoughts directly influence events in one’s life; positive thoughts lead to positive outcomes, while negative thoughts bring about negative results.

Allen explores how the mind acts as a garden, which, when cultivated (through the right thoughts), can produce a prosperous and fulfilling life. Neglecting this mental garden, on the other hand, can lead to a life filled with failure and dissatisfaction.

The book is divided into several chapters, each focusing on different aspects of thinking, such as the effect of thought on health and body, purpose, achievement, visions and ideals, and serenity. Allen emphasizes the importance of self-control and self-reliance, urging readers to reflect on their thoughts and actions to cultivate a life of purpose and peace.

“As a Man Thinketh” is often regarded as a foundational work in the self-help genre, and its messages about the importance of inner transformation and the power of thought have continued to resonate with readers over a century after its publication. It’s a concise, thought-provoking read that encourages personal growth and self-improvement. Only $.46 for the kindle version at the time of writing this makes this a MUST BUY.

9/10. Damn near perfect score.

Get the kindle version here!

5.) 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. This work is a remarkable collection of private notes to himself on how to live virtuously and with wisdom.

Consider, Marcus was the most powerful man at the time, in charge of the largest empire in the world, yet he saw the failings and trappings of regular men, and decided to be the opposite of that.

The book is a cornerstone text in the philosophy of Stoicism. Aurelius writes extensively about the importance of applying reason and logic, the significance of self-improvement, and the need to focus on what can be controlled while accepting what cannot be changed. Stoicism, as Aurelius practices and describes, emphasizes virtues such as wisdom, courage, justice, and temperance.

“Meditations” is divided into 12 books, each a series of short reflections and aphorisms. Throughout the text, Aurelius emphasizes the transient nature of life and the importance of focusing on the present moment, while not being overly attached to worldly possessions or external accolades.

Aurelius also stresses the importance of understanding one’s place in the larger context of the universe. He reflects on the nature of the universe and the interconnectedness of all things, advocating for a sense of brotherhood and understanding amongst all people.

Despite its age, “Meditations” remains profoundly relevant, offering insight into handling adversity, the importance of personal integrity, and the need to be mindful of one’s thoughts and actions. Its enduring popularity is a testament to the timeless nature of its wisdom and its applicability to the human condition.

8.9/10 Fabulous score.

Get the kindle version here!

 

6.) 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.

Get the kindle version here!

 

7.) The Art of War – Sun Tzu

“The Art of War” by Sun Tzu is an ancient Chinese military treatise that dates back to the late Spring and Autumn Period (roughly 5th century BC). The work, which is composed of 13 chapters, is one of the most profound studies of strategy and warfare ever written and has been influential both in Eastern and Western military thinking, business tactics, legal strategy, and beyond.

Each chapter of the book is devoted to a distinct aspect of warfare and how it applies to military strategy and tactics. For instance, the first chapter, “Laying Plans,” discusses the importance of planning in military endeavors. Sun Tzu emphasizes the significance of knowing oneself and the enemy, stating that this knowledge is key to victory in war.

Another notable chapter, “Tactics,” discusses the importance of flexibility in strategy, advising that one should adapt to changing circumstances in a fluid manner. The book also delves into the use of deception, espionage, and the importance of quick, decisive action.

A recurring theme in Sun Tzu’s work is the concept of winning without fighting. He argues that the acme of skill is to subdue the enemy without fighting, which is a reflection of the high value he places on avoiding unnecessary conflict and winning through superior strategy.

Overall, “The Art of War” is not just about conflict; it is about how to strategically navigate any competitive environment. Its teachings are applicable to various aspects of life, including business and personal challenges, making it a timeless classic in strategic thinking.

“Thought effective, appear innefective” -Sun Tzu.

8.6/10. A great read.

Get the kindle version here!

 

8.) 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”.

8.5 A great read

Get the kindle version here!

 

9.) 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.

Get the kindle version here!

 

10.) 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.”

Get it on Amazon

11.) 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.

Get the kindle version here!

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.

 

Get the kindle version here!

 

Honorable Mentions:

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

 

Kindle version!

 

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.

 

Kindle version!

 

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.

Kindle Version!

 

Verdict:

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 8 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?