Iron John: A Book About Men
The book that started a lot of naked drumming groups all over the world. In the beginning, Iron John started the mythopoetic men’s movement, and he inspired many of the people who do men-only counseling and retreats to do the same thing. Robert Bly, a poet, used an old Grimm’s fairytale to show how a man grows into a mature man.
To improve yourself as a man, there aren’t going to be many practical ways to do it. Iron John gives you a lot to think about, though! It’s a book you need to read a few times and think about.
Fire in the Belly: On Being a Man
Today, men need to get their “fire in the belly” going again, which the Greeks called thumos. In order for men to do great things, they need to have a strong sense of self. I think some of the questions Keen suggests for self-assessment as a man are very good ones. Do we need to change what it means to be a man? Keen thinks we should. His definition of manliness is very granola, eco-conscious and feminist, and he thinks we should change that. He also likes the myth of the “noble savage,” which is popular with many New Age gurus. They say that we should follow our peaceful, goddess-worshiping ancestors and stop behaving violently like we do now. It’s not the book for you if that makes your blood boil. But if it only annoys you a little, then you should read the book. It doesn’t matter what kind of person you are. There are some bits and pieces of wisdom that anyone can use.
King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine
Authors Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette wrote King, Warrior, Magician, Lover to look at male development through the lens of Jungian archetypes. This book is about how men grow up and change over time. Moore says that masculinity is made up of four different types of male energy that do different things. As the authors point out, it’s important to work on developing all four of a man’s strengths in order to be a complete man.
Moore talks about the characteristics of the four archetypes and gives advice on how to grow them through meditation and ritual rites of passage. KWML has inspired many of the men’s groups that are still around today. I thought the book was a little hard to get through because of the very heavy Jungian-themed rhetoric. There are some things I like about Jung, but I didn’t like how Moore talked about them.
The Way of the Superior Man: A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Women, Work, and Sexual Desire
Fans of AoM have told me this book is good, and so I bought and read it. It’s what David Deida sees as the different polarities of men and women, and how these polarities make people want to be together. Some of the book’s pop psychology ideas were interesting, but most of it was just a waste of time. The author is a well-known figure in New Age and pick-up artist groups. People see him as a spiritual guide for men, but he says that’s not what he does. He’s more of an entertainer than a teacher. I don’t know if I’d trust a guy who thinks he’s just a jester with my spiritual development, though.
No More Mr. Nice Guy!
Do your female friends say that you’d be a great match, but you’re always single on Friday nights? If so, does that happen in your marriage and at work? In the words of Dr. Robert Glover, you have the “Nice Guy Syndrome.” In this book, Dr. Glover talks about why men with the Nice Guy Syndrome have become more common in the West over the last 30 years. A man can do specific things to get over his “Nice Guy Syndrome,” which is even better.
People who think they’re being pushed around in life should read this book. Many people who read AoM have told me how much this book has helped them. But if your life is going well, then the book probably won’t do too much for you.
Listen to my podcast interview with Dr. Glover, and then tell me what you think about it.
Being the Strong Man a Woman Wants: Timeless Wisdom on Being a Man
There are some good ideas in this short book about how to be a strong man for the woman you love. In fact, the book is a story about a young man who just got married and is having problems with his marriage. He goes on a day hike with Grandpa. As he goes, he learns a lot about how to be a good family leader.
OK, but not great. The author used a story to give advice, but it came across as a little cheesy. I had to look past the schmaltz to get anything out of the book.
Elliot Katz, the author of the book, talked to me on my podcast.
Hold on to Your NUTs: The Relationship Manual for Men
He is a men’s counselor and the founder of BetterMen, Wayne Levine. He helps men improve their relationships and become the men they want to be, and he does this through his work. With his book, Hold on to Your NUTs, Wayne gives men the tools they need to become more confident and self-confident. NUTs are terms that can’t be changed or changed. What I like most about this book is how useful it is. Some people like Wayne’s no-nonsense approach, but others don’t like the way he talks. He has written for AoM before, and the comments are always split. Some people like the way Wayne talks, but others don’t. People who know me say that I’m a big fan of the show. Wayne doesn’t like to hold your hand and talk about your problems with you. Instead, he wants you to take action to improve your situation. This book will use the same method. I also like that the book can help men who are in different stages of life. So many of the books about relationships and inner man are written for men who have a lot of problems with their relationships or their own selves. As an adult, you’ll still find something useful in Hold on to Your NUTs.
What Is a Man? 3,000 Years of Wisdom on the Art of Manly Virtue
Professor Waller Newell is a professor of philosophy and political science. He looked through the history of Western thought to find books about manhood. People in the book are called “The Chivalrous Man,” and there are also “The Gentleman,” and “The Statesman.” In each section, you’ll find quotes from people like Shakespeare, Homer, and Locke who talk about what it means to be a man. The result is a 560-page anthology that’s a lot of fun to read.
You should read What is a Man? At the Art of Manliness, we’re trying to help people become more manly. Newell’s idea of this is right in line with what we do. What is Man? had a great start. I had high hopes for the book. But soon after, I was not happy with what I saw. One thing to note is that many of the selections have nothing to do with manliness or even the virtue they were meant to show. Also, most of the selections didn’t move me very much. I also think Newell could have done a better job with his choices. There are a lot of choices that go on for a long time and are very dense. Because of this, he loses the main point he wants to make from the choice. It’s a book that doesn’t get read.
Manvotionals: Timeless Wisdom and Advice on Living the Seven Manly Virtues is in some ways a response to the book, “What Is a Man?,” that we wrote last year. It was hard to make up for the flaws I found in What is a Man?, so I tried to pick excerpts that were on point, full of wisdom, and easy to read. In the end, there’s a book that’s inspiring, educational, and fun to read. Share the book with me. I can’t wait to.
The Code of Man: Love, Courage, Pride, Family, Country
When Waller Newell wrote his first book, What is a Man? It’s a claim made in The Code of Man by Newell that modern men have lost touch with values and virtues that have been important to men for a long time. So, many men (especially young men) are lost and angry because they don’t know what to do. Newell thinks that the five paths to manliness: love, courage, pride, family, and country, are all important. Newell uses Western writers and thinkers like Aristotle and Hemingway, as well as other people, to help men learn how to have a “manly heart.”
I thought The Code of Man was better than What Is a Man? Checking out the book is worth it just because of the great start. When Newell talks about honorable and virtuous manliness in The Code of Man, his ideas are much more clear than they are in What Is a Man? If you like the idea of manliness that we talk about on AoM, I think you’ll like this book.