Read Like A Man

A book blog for men

Welcome!

Real men read books. We read good books, bad books, short books, long books, fiction, and non-fiction. One thing we do not read are books for girls. And before I get in trouble, let me clarify what I mean.

My wife and I read a lot. We read a lot of the same books. However, when I take a look through our shared Kindle account or scan one of the many bookshelves in our house, one thing stands out – while we have a fair bit of overlap, we have very obvious difference in our taste in books.

I judge a book by its cover, despite what my mother may have told me to the contrary. And I can tell you quite confidently that I’ll never be picking up “Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants” by Ann Brashares. And let me tell you something….that’s OK!

The idea behind this blog is pretty simple. I want to help guys broaden their reading horizons by seeking out quality reading material. I will be exploring both fiction and non-fiction, as I believe a healthy dose of both lead to a well balanced life.

The reviews will be quick and to the point. No drawn out summaries of the plot and character development. If I can’t recommend a book in 2 paragraphs or less, I won’t. It’s that simple.

I’d love to get some feedback from you, the reader! What are you reading right now…what are your rules for picking books?

Read on gentlemen,

Ryan

Endurance, by Alfred Lansing

The Man Quote:

No matter what the odds, a man does not pin his last hope for survival on something and then expect that it will fail. –  Ernest Shackleton

After reading this book, I tried to describe it to my wife (who shockingly hand’t managed to read it before me). “Imagine that a  Hollywood producer played God with a group of men trying to reach the South Pole” – that’s exactly what this is. A true story of extraordinary leadership that will have you exclaiming out loud “You’ve got to be shitting me” time and time again.

The qualities Shackleton displays will leave you feeling either inspired or unworthy. Regardless, I can guarantee you’ll be learning a few lessons on what it is to be a leader of men.

The $100 Startup, by Chris Guillebeau

The Man Quote: 

Catch a man a fish, and you can sell it to him. Teach a man to fish, and you ruin a wonderful business opportunity. – Karl Marx

There has never been a better time or place to start a business than right here and right now. Chris Guillebeau’s book is your best place to start. It’s literally a step by step guide to take an idea to a business, without wasting time or money.

If you’re on the fence about starting your own business, or content to just live with the dream of “one day”, this book will be the kick in the ass you need to get moving in the right direction. Chris keeps things simple, and encourages you to always keep trying new things to push your business forward. From idea generation, to product conception and launch, to fine tuning your business model this book is packed full of good info. I’d highly recommend it even if you’re just thinking about starting a business, it may just be the push you need.

How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

The Man Quote

When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures bristling with prejudice and motivated by pride and vanity. – Dale Carnegie

Now normally just the title of this book would make me pass it by intentionally, but since so many people I know and trust recommend this book, I thought I’d better give it a whirl. First off, let me say this. If you’re a cantankerous old ogre with no desire to get along with people, then this book is not for you. If, however, you find yourself interacting with a lot of people, especially in the workplace, pay attention.

Carnegie breaks things down into how to get people to like you, how to get them on board with what you’re thinking, and how to change people without making them hate you for it. Now a lot the ideas put forth in this book are not groundbreaking, or even things you didn’t learn in school. What makes this book special is the way in which Carnegie can boil down the basic truths about human nature. We all want to be appreciated, want to talk about ourselves, think that every idea is our own, and not admit our mistakes. That’s it. If you’re looking at developing relationships to help propel you forward in your personal and professional life, read this book and apply the principles.

Beating the Odds: 7 True Tales of Survival

There is something about a survival story that thrills and entertains us as readers. The human body, and sometimes more importantly, the human mind pushed beyond the limits of what we believe possible. I’ve put together a list of some of the best. A few I’ve read and loved, and a few that are on my list to read. You’ll notice a common theme with most of these selections – oceans and mountains are two of my favorite places to be.

Be sure to add any of your favorites in the comments section!


#1 – Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, by Alfred Lansing

After reading this book, I tried to describe it to my wife (who shockingly hand’t managed to read it before me). “Imagine that a  Hollywood producer played God with a group of men trying to reach the South Pole” – that’s exactly what this is. A true story of extraordinary leadership that will have you exclaiming out loud “You’ve got to be shitting me” time and time again.

The qualities Shackleton displays will leave you feeling either inspired or unworthy. Regardless, I can guarantee you’ll be learning a few lessons on what it is to be a leader of men.


#2 – Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, by Laura Hillenbrand

Whenever a superstar author releases a new book to great fanfare, my cynical mind automatically puts up defenses. When (or if) I decide to go and read it, I feel that the author must somehow prove it to me. Laura Hillenbrand had me hooked in 5 minutes.

This story twists and turns from juvenile delinquency to Olympic running, from being shot down over the Pacific to being interred at a Japanese  POW camp. Thrown into the middle of all this is Louis Zamperini, and by God you can’t help but root for him.

Zamperini is a like a real life Forrest Gump, and his journey through life is punctuated with such extremes that by the end of the book you’re begging God to let off him a bit. Pushed beyond all normal human limits, Louis’ story is both heart-wrenching and hopeful at the same time. Hillenbrand’s narrative is fantastically done, and you need to read it.

 


#3 – Miracle in the Andes, by Nando Parrado

This book has all of the elements of a hard-fought survival story. Airplane crash in the glacier covered Andes: check. Survivors reduced to cannibalism to survive: double check. Parrado’s first hand account of the intense struggle to survive and bring his fellow help is filled with emotion and inspiration.

This one has been on my must read list for a while, and is one I plan to tackle soon.


#4 – In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, by Nathaniel Philbrick

I’ve got two words for you – Moby Dick. Being a whaler in the early part of the nineteenth century would have been a terrifying endeavor, especially after hearing this tale. It’s one of the most well known survival stories of all time, popularized by the novel. Philbrick’s account is painstakingly researched and very highly reviewed. Definitely on my to be read list.


#5 – Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer

When I was about 13 or 14, I watched the IMAX film “Everest” for the first time, and became instantly hooked on all things mountaineering. This book was released shortly before the film, and covers some of the same ground in more detail.

As humans we are always pushing our limits, to go higher and faster and farther than ever before. Sometimes though, we hit our limits, and nature pushes back. This story chronicles one of the worst mountaineering disasters of our time. Krakauer’s deeply personal recollections of what went wrong is a must read for any adventurer.


#6 – No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World’s 14 Highest Peaks, by Ed Viesturs

I’ve added this book to the list not for its drama of high altitude survival, but rather for Viesturs’ approach to a potentially very dangerous obsession. As he says, “Reaching the summit is optional. Getting down is mandatory”. He was a part  of the expedition described in great detail in Jon Krakaeur’s “Into Thin Air”, and talks about his role in that as well.

Viesturs would not allow himself to be put into unmanageable situations, and perhaps the greatest part of this survival story is that he accomplished his goal without being conquered by it.


#7 – Adrift: Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea, by Steven Callahan

If spending 76 days alone, drifting across the Atlantic won’t make you crazy, I don’t know what will. If nothing else, this book will reinforce the need to prepare for the worst, and make sure you know what the hell you’re doing before taking on something like sailing across the ocean.

There is a lot to learn on the human condition, and the ingenuity one can find when you have no other choice.

Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk

The Man Quote: 

You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis. You are all singing, all dancing crap of the world. – Chuck Palahniuk

You’ve probably watched the movie…you know the one where Brad Pitt takes beating after beating and still looks like he could steal your girlfriend with a look? Well surprise, the book is better.

It’s a little difficult to review this book without breaking the first rule of Fight Club, so I’ll keep it short. The author has managed to capture the little anarchist living inside all guys who grew up in any part of the 90s. It’s really just a revolt against the consumer driven, materialistic obsession with what masculinity is supposed to mean in the 20th century. The result may be just a little over the top, but then I guess that’s what makes this such a good read.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey

The Man Quote: 

Man, when you lose your laugh you lose your footing. – Ken Kesey

 

All too often when a book is labelled “a classic”, what they really mean is that you’re in for one hell of a snooze-fest. As Kesey states right in the book, “Good writin’ ain’t necessarily good readin“. Fortunately, this story makes for good writin’ and readin’.

It’s the quintessential story of sticking it to the man (or in this case the woman). You can see the train wreck coming a mile a way, and yet you can’t tear your eyes from it. McMurphy, our tragic hero, barreling down the track, and in his way the villainous Nurse Ratched….you’re about to witness a battle royale, a clash of the titans – in a mental ward. Kesey’s tale is uplifting, depressing, aggravating, satisfying and a plain good read.

An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, by Chris Hadfield

 

The Man Quote: 

If you start thinking that only your biggest and shiniest moments count, you’re setting yourself up to feel like a failure most of the time. – Chris Hadfield

I think at some point in every boy’s life, the dream of becoming an astronaut takes root. After a while, that dream gets replaced by another, whether we like it or not. But what happens if you refuse to let that happen?

This memoir is the story of what happens when you refuse to give up on the dream. Where every action you take leads you closer to your goal. While Colonel Hadfield’s story is remarkable, the real value lies in his take on life in general. Always prepare for the worst and then let go…enjoy the ride. Don’t worry about the things you can’t control.

I felt that his inspirational message was a little over the top at times, but I found his insights into life in space and on earth to be eye opening and thought provoking. Chris Hadfield is a true Canadian hero, and a great role model to the next generation of kids hoping to explore the depths of space.

Oh, and if you have a few minutes to spare…do yourself a favor and watch his music video shot in the ISS –  “Space Oddity“. Thank me later.

 

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