The best books that explore masculinity in some way

Michael Kimmel Author Of Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men
By Michael Kimmel

Who am I?

Michael Kimmel is one of the world’s leading experts on men and masculinities. He was the SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University. Among his many books are Manhood in America, Angry White Men, The Politics of Manhood, The Gendered Society, and the best seller Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men. With funding from the MacArthur Foundation, he founded the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook in 2013.


I wrote...

Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men

By Michael Kimmel,

Book cover of Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men

What is my book about?

The passage from adolescence to adulthood was once clear. Today, growing up has become more complex and confusing, as young men drift casually through college and beyond—hanging out, partying, playing with tech toys, watching sports. But beneath the appearance of a simple extended boyhood, a more dangerous social world has developed, far away from the traditional signposts and cultural signals that once helped boys navigate their way to manhood—a territory Michael Kimmel has identified as "Guyland."


In mapping the troubling social world where men are now made, Kimmel offers a view into the minds and times of America's sons, brothers, and boyfriends, and he works toward redefining what it means to be a man today—and tomorrow. Only by understanding this world and this life stage can we enable young men to chart their own paths, stay true to themselves, and emerge safely from Guyland as responsible and fully formed male adults.


The books I picked & why

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China Boy

By Gus Lee,

Book cover of China Boy

Why this book?

Lee depicts the world of San Francisco through the eyes of a young Chinese-American boy, navigating the grownup world of race, class, and urban life, and trying to find the place where he fits, in between his family and ethnicity, and his modern American sensibility.  Also worth noting, Kai-Ting’s encounters with African-Americans, Chicanos and other Chinese people, in a novel that has nary a white person in it. 


Affliction

By Russell Banks,

Book cover of Affliction

Why this book?

I’ve rarely read a book that explores the pain of the white working class better.  If you’ve ever wondered about the lives of those grizzled gas station attendants with their faded baseball hats, this book is a small masterpiece.


Recent History

By Anthony Giardina,

Book cover of Recent History

Why this book?

The novel has a remarkable twist on the traditional coming of age story; it’s also a novel about a straight guy coming to terms with his own homophobia.  It’s not a novel about a gay boy, but more a novel about a sraight boy’s understanding of how deeply homophobia has infected his life. 


Death of a Salesman

By Arthur Miller,

Book cover of Death of a Salesman

Why this book?

This play has so many layers: men’s relationship to work, marriage, fatherhood, unrealized ambitions, and the costs of buying your own bullshit.  See it with Dustin Hoffman or Philip Seymour Hoffman.


Moby-Dick

By Herman Melville,

Book cover of Moby-Dick

Why this book?

Moby Dick looks at the world of men from the perspective of a young initiate – like Nick Carroway and dozens of other youthful entrants to manhood. The book revels in the casual intimacy and homosocial bonding among men in the workplace, exposes the catastrophic dangers of hubris, and provides a multi-layered dissection of racial hierarchy.  A work of literature generally hailed as the great American novel that has precisely two female characters (both servants).  What does that say about us?  A question worth thinking about.  Oh, and such a great story, with a description so thick you can practically smell the whale oil. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in masculinity, Chinese Americans, and mental disorders?

5,810 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about masculinity, Chinese Americans, and mental disorders.

Masculinity Explore 19 books about masculinity
Chinese Americans Explore 29 books about Chinese Americans
Mental Disorders Explore 98 books about mental disorders

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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