4 Actionable Personal Development Books Every Man Should Read

4 Actionable Personal Development Books Every Man Should Read
The right book is to a man’s potential what gasoline is to fire.

Although lifestyle magazines act like men only care about six-packs, fast cars, and “how to pick up more chicks brah,” many are open to more advanced and profound readings – but there’s a teeny-tiny problem.

According to Google, there are 130 million different books. Most reads aimed at men form a jungle of guides focusing on how to get ripped, hustle hard, and discovering the secrets to stacking women on your bed like pancakes on a breakfast plate. Finding one that doesn’t sound like a broken record is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

As an avid reader and men’s coach, I’ve come across a few masterpieces addressing the unique challenges and deep topics we men deal with.

We want to show up as our authentic selves instead of putting on a show to please others. We need to conquer our egos to thrive. We crave to understand women so we can build a healthy and loving relationship. Last but not least, we strive to live a meaningful life with purpose instead of watching it fly past us while we’re stuck on the sidelines.

Here are four of my favorite books on these subjects that any man should read at least once in his life.

“The Mask Of Masculinity” by Lewis Howes

The Mask of Masculinity book cover

“Many of us have worn our masks for so long that we’re not even sure what’s actually underneath anymore. We’ve lost track of where we end and the mask begins, of who we really are.” – Lewis Howes

Every day, billions of men put on a self-betraying show.

You pretend you’re fine when life knocks you down, unphased by the curveball that hit you straight in your metaphorical nuts, even though you want to cry and scream on the inside.

You buy fancy big boy toys because the fast car, expensive watch, and $500 Yeezys make you feel like you finally matter and are worthy of love and connection.

You deflect with jokes and “it’s all good bro” instead of opening up about your issues because you’re afraid of making yourself vulnerable and seeming weak.

I know this because I’ve been one of the many who’s gone to ridiculous lengths to prove he’s a “real man.” When I split up with my first girlfriend, I buried all the sadness instead of letting it out. When my supposed friends bullied me at school, I acted unphased and swallowed it instead of seeking help. Like billions of men, I was wearing a mask every day, hiding my real self behind. This gets you through life but makes your existence feel empty and fake.

What would your life look like if you could finally take off the masks you’re hiding behind? Express your feelings? Talk about what moves you? Stop with the compulsive, self-destructive behaviors that supposedly make you a “real man?”

You could live a life that’s true to your authentic self instead of succumbing to societal pressure. As the old adage goes:

Would you rather be at peace with the world and at war with yourself, or at war with the world and at peace with yourself?

In The Mask of Masculinity, Lewis Howes showcases eight masks most men wear every day, providing logical explanations for why you put them on and actionable advice for taking them off.

While letting go of your façade can be a long and strenuous process, every step I’ve walked on this path has led me to a fuller, richer, and more authentic life.

Who this book is for:

The man who wants to finally show up as his authentic self instead of faking it. The man who wants to face and conquer his inner demons so he can build deeper relationships with both himself and others. The man who wants to live a life true to himself instead of what society expects from him.

We all wear our masks every day – it’s time to take them off and show the world your real face.

“Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” by John Gray

men are from mars book cover

“When men and women are able to respect and accept their differences then love has a chance to blossom.” – John Gray

If you asked men to choose between understanding women and emptying Lake Tahoe with a teaspoon, most would ask where to put all the water.

Women are fascinating, miraculous, and beautiful creatures, but there’s a simple reason why many relationships explode like Mount St. Helens in 1980. Men and women are fundamentally different and understanding each other sometimes feels like making a vegan be best friends with a butcher. That’s why we men often bang our heads against the same walls again and again.

Have you ever asked yourself why women…

  • …say “it’s nothing” when it’s clearly something?
  • …accuse you of never listening even though you did?
  • …are unpredictably moody and seem to change their perspective and attitude on a whim?

In my past relationships, I racked my brain about these and many more. Time after time, fight after fight, reconciliation after reconciliation, I thought I had it figured out, only to hit the same wall again a few months later. Most of my neck gains came from shaking my head – until I read the timeless classic by John Gray.

In Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, he explains the differences between the sexes in a calming, non-blaming, and insightful way, guaranteeing a lot of “ahhh, that’s why they do that” moments.

Let’s be real here – no relationship can survive on love alone. If you don’t understand each other and compromise, you’re trying to steer a ship blindfolded. Your passionate love might get you through a few storms, but you’ll inevitably end up lost at sea or crashing on a cliff.

The book’s content is spot-on, but Gray’s phrasing is a little stereotypical, so take it with a grain of salt. His writing isn’t about who’s right or wrong, but understanding each other better. Both you and your better half will learn to have a thriving, loving, and healthy relationship.

Who this book is for:

For the man who wants to make his relationships thrive. For the man who doesn’t seem to “get it” and is frustrated about how things played out in the past, unable to understand why their undying love kicked the bucket all too sudden. For the man who wants to stop being clueless, take responsibility, and get his relationships to the next level.

“Ego Is The Enemy” by Ryan Holiday

ego is the enemy book cover

“Ego is the enemy of what you want and of what you have: Of mastering a craft. Of real creative insight. Of working well with others. Of building loyalty and support. Of longevity. Of repeating and retaining your success. It repulses advantages and opportunities. It’s a magnet for enemies and errors. It is Scylla and Charybdis.” – Ryan Holiday

A man’s biggest enemy isn’t society, the economy, or the “system,” but himself.

Your ego is the core of your identity. It’s the sum of all your experiences, beliefs, and perspectives. By itself, this is nothing bad, but an inflated ego makes things a lot harder for you than they should be.

Numerous talented and intelligent men have stunted their careers by refusing to adopt a beginner’s mindset and made learning and improvement impossible.

When I was 18 years old, I got drunk and sped off on my bike, yelling at a friend that he “can’t keep up with me.” About nine seconds later, my front tire slipped in a corner. My ego made me think I was better, but gravity brought me down to earth with enough force to crack my wrist.

A few years before that, a few friends dared another one to make a handstand on a barbecue grate while the coals were still glowing – and to prove himself, he did. Imagine the sizzling sound of a chicken breast dropped on a hot grill. He was young and dumb, but the scars were still there when he was older and wiser.

Before you dismiss these behaviors as boys will be boys, consider that one in five men in the America’s die before they’re 50 due to macho behaviors like excessive drinking, reckless driving, and not seeing their doctor when their arm turns blue. Men feel invincible, but the real world proves they aren’t.

Due to our inherent predisposition towards competitive behaviors, society’s nearly impossible-to-reach standard for a “real man,” and the erroneous belief that a big ego is needed for any achievement in life, we men suffer the negative consequences all too often.

By conquering your ego, you allow yourself to…

  • …grow both on a personal and professional level. As Epictetus said: “It’s impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.”
  • …make better decisions. Instead of trying to prove yourself or keep up a perfect image, you can decide with rationality.
  • …build better relationships. Nobody likes to be with someone whose ego is the size of Mount Rushmore. Being able to admit your flaws and find common ground instead of pressing on your point is the essence of building trust and deep connections.

In his bestselling book, Ryan Holiday uses enticing storytelling to show where ego lurks and gives you practical lessons to overcome yours every day.

Who this book is for:

The man who has an ego, which is virtually all of us. Especially the man who thinks he’s better, above others, or special in any way. I’ve been there and Holiday’s lessons have humbled me like Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Conor McGregor in 2018.

“The Way Of The Superior Man” by David Deida

way of the superior man cover

“It never ends. As long as life continues, the creative challenge is to tussle, play, and make love with the present moment while giving your unique gift.”

Few topics enjoy such a multifaceted debate as the meaning of life. While there is no universal answer to the question, The Way of the Superior Man will get you a lot closer.

For most men, life can be pretty confusing and complicated.

  • Be successful in your job.
  • Keep your partner happy and your relationship thriving.
  • Stay fit, work on yourself, and be a good example to others.

At one point, you inevitably ask yourself “what for?”

This lack of a guiding principle can make your life and the things you do seem meaningless, dull, and empty. It spreads into all areas of your life, disconnecting you from your masculine essence. But instead of numbing yourself with yet another distraction or meaningless pursuit, you have to reconnect with your core.

Deida calls his book a “spiritual guide to mastering the challenges of women, work, and sexual desire,” but it’s much more than that. Instead of preaching vibrational frequencies and esoteric claptrap, he explains the concept of masculine purpose in clear and actionable words.

All woo-woo wording aside, his ideas, principles, and reasoning will give you a much-needed new perspective on many aspects of your life.

With its many short and actionable chapters, The Way of the Superior Man makes for a great read and shows you how to find meaning in all areas of your life – or, as Deida put it, give your gift to the world.

Who this book is for:

The man who’s open to exploring new paths and perspectives. The man who wants to reconnect with his masculine essence and express his purpose in all areas. The man who’s tired of aimless wandering, ready to live a more meaningful life, and determined to embrace his potential.

The Man Who Reads Chooses A Better Life

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you will go.” – Dr. Seuss

We men face lots of challenges, both in our environments and within ourselves. Mainstream media and society provide superficial solutions, but you need to go deeper. This is why books hold such powerful magic – the right words and ideas can do to your personal and professional growth what a family pack of Mentos does to a king-size Coca-Cola.

Take off your masks. Build a healthy and thriving relationship. Conquer your ego. Find meaning in your masculine purpose.

The life-changing insight you’re looking for could be just one flip of a page away.

Authentic Masculinity | Helping men to build unshakable confidence, iron discipline, and a meaningful life | Let's connect on Twitter.