100 books like Masculinities

By R.W. Connell,

Here are 100 books that Masculinities fans have personally recommended if you like Masculinities. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Men and Development: Politicizing Masculinities

Carol J. Pierce Colfer Author Of Masculinities in Forests: Representations of Diversity

From my list on diverse masculinities.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began studying women’s lives in college (1960s), but recently realized that I (like others) passed myself off as a gender specialist, but had been ignoring men’s roles, beliefs, and behaviour in gender dynamics. I was put off by the studies that too consistently showed men as always violent and controlling. Many studies emphasized men at war, men abusing women, and gay men with HIV/AIDS; there seemed no recognition of positive masculine traits. Recognizing also that men had different ideals about their own masculinity in different places, I examined men’s lives among international elites and in communities in the US, Sumatra, and Indonesia, where I’d done ethnographic research. 

Carol's book list on diverse masculinities

Carol J. Pierce Colfer Why did Carol love this book?

This is one of the early books to counter the more common view of a ‘hegemonic masculinity’ that applied to all men. Instead, its 17 chapters provide examples of diverse forms of masculinity – in terms of both ideals and practice from every continent. I particularly appreciated this book for this reason. It reinforced my sense (and evidence) that masculinities vary from place to place and time to time, and it served as an impetus to write my own book on the subject.

By Andrea Cornwall (editor), Jerker Edstrom (editor), Alan Greig (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Men and Development as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A wide-ranging volume featuring contributions from some of today's leading thinkers and practitioners in the field of men, masculinities and development.

Together, contributors challenge the neglect of the structural dimensions of patriarchal power relations in current development policy and practice, and the failure to adequately engage with the effects of inequitable sex and gender orders on both men's and women's lives.

The book calls for renewed engagement in efforts to challenge and change stereotypes of men, to dismantle the structural barriers to gender equality, and to mobilize men to build new alliances with women's movements and other movements for social…


Book cover of Masculinities and Femininities in Latin America's Uneven Development

Carol J. Pierce Colfer Author Of Masculinities in Forests: Representations of Diversity

From my list on diverse masculinities.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began studying women’s lives in college (1960s), but recently realized that I (like others) passed myself off as a gender specialist, but had been ignoring men’s roles, beliefs, and behaviour in gender dynamics. I was put off by the studies that too consistently showed men as always violent and controlling. Many studies emphasized men at war, men abusing women, and gay men with HIV/AIDS; there seemed no recognition of positive masculine traits. Recognizing also that men had different ideals about their own masculinity in different places, I examined men’s lives among international elites and in communities in the US, Sumatra, and Indonesia, where I’d done ethnographic research. 

Carol's book list on diverse masculinities

Carol J. Pierce Colfer Why did Carol love this book?

Masculinities and Femininities in Latin America’s Uneven Development provided further reinforcement for my interest in showing the diversity of masculinities. Paulson’s long history in Latin America and longstanding involvement with gender studies convinced me of her expertise. This was particularly valuable for me, with my limited Latin American experience. Additionally, her discussions of the interactions between notions of masculinity, as perceived and acted out by men with varying degrees of power, was a new way of looking at the issue for me, an eye opener. She clarified some of the dynamics of colonialism as it operates in the present and in that context.

By Susan Paulson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Masculinities and Femininities in Latin America's Uneven Development as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book forges a new approach to historical and geographical change by asking how gender arrangements and dynamics influence the evolution of institutions and environments. This new theoretical approach is applied via mixed methods and a multi-scale framework to bring together unusually diverse phenomena. Regional trends demonstrated with quantitative data include the massive incorporation of women into paid work, demographic masculinization of the countryside and feminization of cities, rapidly increasing gaps that favor women over men in education and life expectancy, and extraordinarily high levels of violence against men. Case studies in Mexico, Chile and Bolivia explore changes influenced by…


Book cover of Erotic Triangles: Sundanese Dance and Masculinity in West Java

Carol J. Pierce Colfer Author Of Masculinities in Forests: Representations of Diversity

From my list on diverse masculinities.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began studying women’s lives in college (1960s), but recently realized that I (like others) passed myself off as a gender specialist, but had been ignoring men’s roles, beliefs, and behaviour in gender dynamics. I was put off by the studies that too consistently showed men as always violent and controlling. Many studies emphasized men at war, men abusing women, and gay men with HIV/AIDS; there seemed no recognition of positive masculine traits. Recognizing also that men had different ideals about their own masculinity in different places, I examined men’s lives among international elites and in communities in the US, Sumatra, and Indonesia, where I’d done ethnographic research. 

Carol's book list on diverse masculinities

Carol J. Pierce Colfer Why did Carol love this book?

Erotic Triangles returns to a part of the world I know well, though the topic is alien to my own natural resource emphasis. Yet I found it fascinating for its symbolic analyses of West Java’s musical and art worlds – intertwined intimately with the relations between men and women and among men. Its emphasis on triangles was the inspiration for me to structure my own analyses as a harp (another ‘triangle’), within which the strings signify traits that men value in a given culture. Spiller’s analysis inspired my own analogy between the creation of harp music and the clusters of values that influence men’s identities, their personal and cultural ‘songs.’

By Henry Spiller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Erotic Triangles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In West Java, Indonesia, all it takes is a woman's voice and a drumbeat to make a man get up and dance. Every day, men there - be they students, pedicab drivers, civil servants, or businessmen - breach ordinary standards of decorum and succumb to the rhythm at village ceremonies, weddings, political rallies, and nightclubs. The music the men dance to varies from traditional gong ensembles to the contemporary pop known as dangdut, but they consistently dance with great enthusiasm. In "Erotic Triangles", Henry Spiller draws on decades of ethnographic research to explore the reasons behind this phenomenon, arguing that…


Book cover of Gridiron Gourmet: Gender and Food at the Football Tailgate

Carol J. Pierce Colfer Author Of Masculinities in Forests: Representations of Diversity

From my list on diverse masculinities.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began studying women’s lives in college (1960s), but recently realized that I (like others) passed myself off as a gender specialist, but had been ignoring men’s roles, beliefs, and behaviour in gender dynamics. I was put off by the studies that too consistently showed men as always violent and controlling. Many studies emphasized men at war, men abusing women, and gay men with HIV/AIDS; there seemed no recognition of positive masculine traits. Recognizing also that men had different ideals about their own masculinity in different places, I examined men’s lives among international elites and in communities in the US, Sumatra, and Indonesia, where I’d done ethnographic research. 

Carol's book list on diverse masculinities

Carol J. Pierce Colfer Why did Carol love this book?

Gridiron Gourmet likewise returns to a world somewhat familiar to me. Having grown up American, with a father and brother seriously enamored of football, I understood a certain amount about American ideas of sports and manhood. Football (and other men’s sports) had also played an important role in the community of Bushler Bay (on the Olympic Peninsula), where I had lived and conducted ethnographic research among loggers in the 1970s. At that time, folks there had seen football as one important avenue for young men to learn teamwork, competition, and discipline – traits considered key in making a livelihood. Gridiron Gourmet builds on my own understanding, adding the current emphasis on foods men consider appropriate and ‘manly’ to eat. Although I had some sense of this preference, this book clarifies common perspectives among American men in much more detail.

By Maria J. Veri, Rita Liberti,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gridiron Gourmet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On football weekends in the United States, thousands of fans gather in the parking lots outside of stadiums, where they park their trucks, let down the gates, and begin a pregame ritual of drinking and grilling.

Tailgating, which began in the early 1900s as a quaint picnic lunch outside of the stadium, has evolved into a massive public social event with complex menus, extravagant creative fare, and state-of-art grilling equipment. Unlike traditional notions of the home kitchen, the blacktop is a highly masculine culinary environment in which men and the food they cook are often the star attractions.

Gridiron Gourmet…


Book cover of Beyond Combat: Women and Gender in the Vietnam War Era

Doug Bradley Author Of We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War

From my list on the Vietnam War that strike a different note.

Why am I passionate about this?

Until today’s multiple catastrophes, the Vietnam War was the most harrowing moment in the lives of my fellow baby boomers and me. Drafted into the U.S. Army in early 1970, I spent 365 days in Vietnam as a combat correspondent. That experience changed my life, because as the Argentinian writer Jose Narosky has pointed out, “in war, there are no unwounded soldiers.” I have spent the past five decades trying to heal those wounds, writing three books grounded in my Vietnam experience, and have devoted my life to listening to the voices of our veterans, distilling their memories (often music-based), and sharing their words. 

Doug's book list on the Vietnam War that strike a different note

Doug Bradley Why did Doug love this book?

(Spoiler alert: I appear in Ms. Stur’s book, albeit briefly)

Beyond Combat is one of the few books that examines the role of the more than 60,000 women who served in military and civilian capacities in Vietnam and the gender stereotypes that accompanied them. In addition to nurses, who formed the largest group of U.S. military women in Vietnam, Stur highlights those who served under the auspices of the Red Cross Supplemental Recreational Activities Overseas program. These young college graduates were commonly known as “donut dollies” because of their girl-next-door appeal. “Our job was to lift the guys’ spirits,” recalls donut dollie Jeanne Christie. Music was one way the donut dollies did that. “Some of us DJ’d at various bases during our time in-country,” adds Bobbi McDaniel Stephens. “I took dedications from the guys,” a playlist she says included “Get Back,” “My Girl,” and “He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother,”…

By Heather Marie Stur,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Beyond Combat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Beyond Combat investigates how the Vietnam War both reinforced and challenged the gender roles that were key components of American Cold War ideology. Refocusing attention onto women and gender paints a more complex and accurate picture of the war's far-reaching impact beyond the battlefields. Encounters between Americans and Vietnamese were shaped by a cluster of intertwined images used to make sense of and justify American intervention and use of force in Vietnam. These images included the girl next door, a wholesome reminder of why the United States was committed to defeating Communism, and the treacherous and mysterious 'dragon lady', who…


Book cover of Kiwis Might Fly: A New Zealand Adventure

Patrick Forsyth Author Of Smile Because It Happened: Antidotes to Melancholy in Thailand, the Land of Smiles

From my list on feeding your lust for travel.

Why am I passionate about this?

I worked for many years in business consultancy before branching into other genres, including fiction. Through working regularly in Singapore I was able to travel around the region, finding I loved that part of the world. I came to regard Thailand as the jewel of Southeast Asia. I continue to visit and aim for my light-hearted travel writing to encourage others to enjoy the area and be ambitious in their travel plans. I regard my book as an invitation to share my love of a unique place and was delighted when one reviewer described my writing of it as “Brysonish.”

Patrick's book list on feeding your lust for travel

Patrick Forsyth Why did Patrick love this book?

This writer wrote a series of delightful travel books, but I have found nothing new from her recently, sadly. This book starts wonderfully; the author passes her test to ride a full-size motorbike, which she can barely hold upright and decides (as you do) to test out her newly acquired skills by riding throughout New Zealand.

There is a good description here about a great country and humour too–all enhanced by the struggle to make progress with this, for her, a new form of transport.

By Polly Evans,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kiwis Might Fly as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Polly Evans was a woman with a mission. Before the traditional New Zealand male hung up his sheep shears for good, Polly wanted to see this vanishing species with her own eyes. Venturing into the land of giant kauri trees and smaller kiwi birds, she explores the country once inhabited by fierce Maori who carved their enemies’ bones into cutlery, bushwhacking pioneers, and gold miners who lit their pipes with banknotes—and comes face-to-face with their surprisingly tame descendants. So what had become of the mighty Kiwi warrior?

As Polly tears through the countryside at seventy-five miles…


Book cover of Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880-1917

Erica J. Ryan Author Of When the World Broke in Two: The Roaring Twenties and the Dawn of America's Culture Wars

From my list on culture’s role in shaping race, class, and gender in modern America.

Why am I passionate about this?

How do ideas about gender, sexuality, and race show up in our political culture? And how do people’s political needs play a role in constructions of race, sex, and gender? I’ve been researching the intersections between ideas about gender, sexuality, and political culture in the modern United States for almost twenty years. And I think history can show us the ways ideas about sex, gender, and race suffuse political culture, revealing hierarchies of power that often discriminate, alienate, and silence. By reading books like the ones on this list we can understand how this power works, we can recognize it more clearly in the present, and we can find ways to dismantle it.

Erica's book list on culture’s role in shaping race, class, and gender in modern America

Erica J. Ryan Why did Erica love this book?

Gail Bederman expertly weaves together an analysis of the discourses of manliness and civilization at the turn of the century, highlighting the way ideas about gender and power are constructed with and through ideas about race. Her case study approach really shows how this discourse functioned in multiple ways at the same time, covering Theodore Roosevelt’s hugely impactful connections between race and manliness right alongside Ida B. Wells’ campaign to use civilization discourse against white southerners in a bid to end lynching.  These, along with chapters on G Stanley Hall and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, ably demonstrate the way discourses can be constructed, used, and resisted.  Readers come away understanding how widely accepted notions of progress and national strength hinge on exploitative and damaging ideas about race and gender in American culture.

By Gail Bederman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Manliness and Civilization as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When former heavyweight champion Jim Jeffries came out of retirement on the fourth of July, 1910 to fight current black heavywight champion Jack Johnson in Reno, Nevada, he boasted that he was doing it "for the sole purpose of proving that a white man is better than a negro". Jeffries, though, was trounced and Whites everywhere rioted. The furor, the author of this work seeks to demonstrate, was part of two fundamental and volatile national obsessions: manhood and racial dominance. In turn-of-the-century America, cultural ideals of manhood changed profoundly, as Victorian notions of self-restrained, moral manliness were challenged by ideals…


Book cover of The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love

Michael Kaufman Author Of The Time Has Come: Why Men Must Join the Gender Equality Revolution

From my list on the lives of men in the era of feminism.

Why am I passionate about this?

My work over the past four decades has been to promote women’s rights, end violence against women, promote social justice, and positively transform the lives of men. I’ve worked extensively with the United Nations; presidents, prime ministers, and governments; companies and unions; NGOs and educators in fifty countries. I continue to be inspired by the many incredible people I get to meet. In addition to my talks to communities, companies, and universities, my activism, and my books on this subject, I also write fiction, most recently my mystery The Last Exit.  

Michael's book list on the lives of men in the era of feminism

Michael Kaufman Why did Michael love this book?

The world of individual men is shaped by our continuing social, economic, and political power. But “men” aren’t one uniform group. We experience the world through our socio-economic class, ‘race’, sexual and gender orientations, ethnicity, physical differences, and more. When bell hooks died in 2021, we lost one of the US’s great feminists who long explored the intersectional nature of women’s oppression. She also wrote with great compassion about men, as you can also see in her book, We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity.

By bell hooks,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Will to Change as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Everyone needs to love and be loved-even men. But to know love, men must be able to look at the ways that patriarchal culture keeps them from knowing themselves, from being in touch with their feelings, from loving.

In The Will to Change, bell hooks gets to the heart of the matter and shows men how to express the emotions that are a fundamental part of who they are-whatever their age, marital status, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. But toxic masculinity punishes those fundamental emotions, and it's so deeply ingrained in our society that it's hard for men to not comply-but…


Book cover of Brutes in Suits: Male Sensibility in America, 1890-1920

Marian Lindberg Author Of Scandal on Plum Island: A Commander Becomes the Accused

From my list on power, gender politics, and stereotypes in America.

Why am I passionate about this?

Based on my experiences as a single parent and worker in traditionally male fields (journalism and law, back when newsrooms and law firms resembled men's clubs), I believe that each person contains both “feminine” and “masculine” behaviors and feelings. Yet socially constructed gender norms discourage people from exhibiting this full range of being. Ben Koehler’s troubling and tragic story presented a way to explore the origins of 20th-century American gender norms while trying to solve the mystery of Ben’s guilt or innocence. A bonus was the opportunity to write about Plum Island, an environmental treasure with a fascinating history that many people, including myself, are seeking to preserve and open to the public.

Marian's book list on power, gender politics, and stereotypes in America

Marian Lindberg Why did Marian love this book?

Pettegrew, a historian, also portrays Roosevelt as brute-in-chief at the turn of the 20th century, but he zooms out and describes other social forces in the United States that contributed to the emergence of the militaristic definition of manhood. These include the mythologizing of the Civil War as a noble display of male honor, divorcing the war from its roots in slavery and mistreatment of Blacks. He shows how the advocates for stronger men—and dependent women—“self-consciously used Darwinian biology to classify brutishness as an essential and natural male trait.” The book provides a fascinating and comprehensive look at the complicated ways in which gender stereotypes have been created and perpetuated in America.

By John Pettegrew,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Brutes in Suits as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Are men truly predisposed to violence and aggression? Is it the biological fate of males to struggle for domination over women and vie against one another endlessly? These and related queries have long vexed philosophers, social scientists, and other students of human behavior. In Brutes in Suits, historian John Pettegrew examines theoretical writings and cultural traditions in the United States to find that, Darwinian arguments to the contrary, masculine aggression can be interpreted as a modern strategy for taking power. Drawing ideas from varied and at times seemingly contradictory sources, Pettegrew argues that traditionally held beliefs about masculinity developed largely…


Book cover of Masculinity and Sexuality in Modern Mexico

Natalia Milanesio Author Of Destape: Sex, Democracy, and Freedom in Postdictatorial Argentina

From my list on the history of sexuality in modern Latin America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of twentieth-century Argentina and a professor of modern Latin American history currently teaching at the University of Houston. Born and raised in Argentina, I completed my undergraduate studies at the National University of Rosario and moved to the United States in 2000 to continue my education. I received my M.A. in history from New York University and my Ph.D. in history from Indiana University, Bloomington. I have written extensively about gender, working-class history, consumer culture, and sexuality in Argentina. I am the author of Workers Go Shopping in Argentina: The Rise of Popular Consumer Culture and Destape! Sex, Democracy, and Freedom in Postdictatorial Argentina.

Natalia's book list on the history of sexuality in modern Latin America

Natalia Milanesio Why did Natalia love this book?

This is a solid edited volume that has contributions from leading scholars of Mexican history exploring straight and gay sexualities from the nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century in different parts of the country. The chapters examine a wide range of interesting topics including cinema and movie going, public bathhouses, prostitution, elopement, and mariachi culture to untangle how masculinities are historically constructed and to interrogate the concepts of macho and machismo.

By Víctor M. Macías-González (editor), Anne Rubenstein (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Masculinity and Sexuality in Modern Mexico as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Masculinity and Sexuality in Modern Mexico, historians and anthropologists explain how evolving notions of the meaning and practice of manhood have shaped Mexican history. In essays that range from Texas to Oaxaca and from the 1880s to the present, contributors write about file clerks and movie stars, wealthy world travelers and ordinary people whose adventures were confined to a bar in the middle of town. The Mexicans we meet in these essays lived out their identities through extraordinary events--committing terrible crimes, writing world-famous songs, and ruling the nation--but also in everyday activities like falling in love, raising families, getting…


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