Given the whirlwind of emerging cultural biases around patriarchy, feminism, gender and sexual identity, political power, etc., the subject of healthy masculinity has been overshadowed, if not lost sight of completely. I have found these five books to be rather valuable in discovering what it means to be a man.
No More Mr. Nice Guy by Robert Glover. For the domesticated man (“the pleaser”) living inside all of us. This has been my most recommended book in recent years and more than one client has given me feedback that they found themselves utterly exposed after reading this book, as if it was written specifically about them. This book provides practical applications for the issues men today face, as well as the overall practice of authentic living.
Iron John by Robert Bly. Recognized as a classic in men’s work, Bly offers his insights on an old Grimm fairy tale about the Wild Man and other male archetypes. While this book struck me as more heady and theoretical than practical, I I did find it an interesting and worthwhile read on men’s developmental stages.
The Alabaster Girl by Zan Perrion. A man I know best described this as a romance novel for men. The main takeaway I received is that on some level, feminine energy simply wants to radiate beauty and be adored. One of the aims of masculine energy is to notice and appreciate (adore) the beauty of femininity. At a certain point, I felt I “got the message” and put the book down, only to return now and then for reminders. I did eventually find it worthwhile to keep reading in order to reach some deeper material on purpose towards the back of the book.
The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida. Deida can come across as rather hard core on the subject of masculinity and this book tend to be rather polarizing – folks tend to either love it or hate it (like licorice) In my opinion it’s best to go in with and open and skeptical mind, taking in the parts that seem beneficial, and leaving behind what doesn’t seem helpful at the time. That said, I found this book to be a very worthwhile read on the subjects of purpose and masculine & feminine energy.
To Be A Man by Robert Augustus Masers. This book goes into rigorous detail on the distinction between anger and aggression, which was well worth the read for me as it seems many men’s struggles revolve around anger, addictions, and/or relationships. While there was far more to it, the anger-addictions piece stands out most in my mind.
I also recommend The New Man podcast with Tripp Lanier on iTunes and Stitcher.
Honorable Mentions (These books, like the one’s above, are commonly regarded as “must reads” in the subject of manhood, masculinity, and men’s issues, but because I haven’t read these cover to cover yet, I can’t fully endorse them.)
He by Robert Johnson (Like Iron John, but an interpretation of the Grail legends as metaphor for masculine development)
King, Warrior, Magician, Lover by Robert Moore (Another archetypal application to masculine development and maturation)
Fire in the Belly by Sam Keen (This book receives mixed reviews, but as it’s often mentioned in the context of men’s work, I’ve included it on the list.)
I Don’t Want to Talk About It by Terrence Real (On male depression)