educator, writer, speaker, devoted family man, amateur philosopher, chess enthusiast, basketball junkie, connoisseur of fine hip hop, and purveyor of wit and wisdom

20th Anniversary of “Being a Man”

Over the past couple decades or so, there have been several books written on manhood or, most recently, the arrested development of manhood.  One of my favorite websites (The Art of Manliness) compiled a fairly good list of 34 books about being a man. (Click HERE to see the list.)

It’s a good list, but I wonder how it’s possible to have a list titled “34 Books About Being a Man” and not include THE quintessential book on being a man that’s actually called Being a Man.

This year is the 20th Anniversary of one of my favorite books, Being a Man: A Guide to the New Masculinity, co-written by Dr. Matthew McKay and his best friend Patrick Fanning.  It is a great read and, by far, one of the most comprehensive books I’ve read on any subject.

There are three reasons why I like this book so much.  First, it’s a true guide.  The chapters provide a solid enough background on why things may be the way they are.  But the heart of the book is its practical exercises to get you moving in the right direction.  You can simply read the book as it is, or you can put the book to work with the journals to write and the worksheets to complete.

A second reason why I love the book is because it is truly comprehensive. Fanning and McKay address all sorts of topics in a man’s life, including the general improvement of a man’s emotional, sexual, and physical health.  For me, one of the highlights of the book is having the reader carefully examine his relationship with own father.  It’s difficult to consider what it means to be a man without taking a look at one’s first example of manhood.  Another highlight was taking a sneak peek into the story of how the authors became best friends.  Their story is a reflection on the need for men to maintain healthy friendships with other men.

A third reason why I love this book is because the focus is on being.  Being a man is important, but so is learning how to simply be.  Take a look below at how the book’s 14 chapters are broken down:

Part 1: A Starting Place

  • Being a Man: Appreciating Gender Differences
  • Being a Son: Relating to Your Father

Part 2: Where Are You Going?

  • Being Whole: Enriching Your Inner Life
  • Being Trustworthy: Achieving Male Integrity
  • Being Useful: Finding Meaningful Work

Part 3: Who Will Go With You?

  • Being a Friend: Making and Keeping Male Friends
  • Being Sexual: Enjoying Responsible Sex
  • Being Two: Making Partnership Work
  • Being a Father: Raising Your Children

Part 4: What Does It Feel Like?

  • Being Aware: Clarifying Your Feelings
  • Being Open: Expressing Your Feelings
  • Being Assertive: Asking for What You Want
  • Being Strong: Controlling Your Anger
  • Being Healthy: Taking Care of Your Body

For all of you (men and women) looking for books on masculinity, don’t start with the recent “pop topic” books out there on contemporary subjects like masculine fashion or guides to meeting women in the club.  I suggest you first dive into Fanning and McKay’s Being a Man to ground your thinking in something with more substance.


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This entry was posted on April 7, 2013 by in Book Reviews, Men Fathers Brothers Sons and tagged , , , , .

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