Enough with Sex in the City movie, Dancing With the Stars on TV, American Idol singing competitions, and cooking shows. Enough with Oprah’s Book Club, self-help books, professional reading, books by the oppressed, and alternative literary voices. Wimpiness is pervading our culture. It’s time to man up and read stuff for men. Over the past thirty years, the publishing world has opened its doors for a variety of diverse voices. It’s a long overdue development. But, in the cacaphony of new voices, literature by, of, and for traditional men seems to have been lost. It’s unfortunate, because reading is a doorway to endless adventure. The literacy scores of boys and young men are steadily declining. In part, because schools are assigning boring books to read. Don’t confine your reading to what your English teacher thinks you should read. Men should be able to read manly literature. It’s time to leave namby-pamby land and man up your household’s library.
First, man up your magazines. If your house is filled with People, Us, InStyle, Oprah, and the gossip rags, you are on your way to wimp-ville. Any magazine that has articles about what celebrities wore to a red carpet function, needs to be pitched or claimed by your woman. Women’s magazines are to be owned by women. Men’s magazines generally focus on adventure, adventure gear, sports, boats, cars, or guns. A man can read a woman’s magazine only if he has read every men’s magazine in the house three times including all the advertisements. The acceptable men’s magazines include titles like Astronomy, Car and Driver, Fortune, Guns and Ammo, Maximum PC, Motor Trend, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Road and Track, Sailing, Shotgun News, Soldier of Fortune, Sports Afield, and Sports Illustrated. At least some of your magazines must be stored in your favorite bathroom. If you can reach a jar of pot-pouri quicker than a dog-eared copy of Guns and Ammo, you have a serious problem.
Second, man up your fiction library. Unless claimed by a woman in your household, go Fahrenheit 451 on anything that has ever been recommended by Oprah Winfrey. In fact, almost anything with a female protagonist, must be immediately tossed. Anything that centers exclusively around a romance can also be tossed. Manly reading often involves quest-oriented plots and includes mysteries, espionage thrillers, military conflicts, nautical adventure, and science fiction. A real man reads books by Ian Fleming, Tom Clancy, Bernard Cornwell, C.S. Forester, Patrick O’brian, and Robert Heinlein. You don’t have to avoid serious literature when you man up your library. It just means that titles from Homer’s Iliad and Oddysey through Nicholas Monsarratt’s The Cruel Sea will have their proper place. It means that Shakespeare’s Henry V gets the same respect as Romeo and Juliet.
Third, pay attention to your non-fiction library. Men’s non-fiction addresses manly stuff. If you are a man, you need to know manly history and you need to know how to fix stuff. You need to know happened at Gettysburg, you need to know about PT109, you need to know about the astronauts, you need to read Stephen Ambrose and learn about the “Band of Brothers” and you also need to know about the history of business and industry. As a man, you also need to know how to fix everything from a computer to a toilet. So, your non-fiction library should include plenty of manuals and fix-it books. Finally, you should have books on sports in your library. As a man, you should know the ins and outs of every sport except for figure skating.
Finally, you need to know when to read. When “Dancing with the Stars” comes on, pick up a good book.