7 Books You Must Read to Grow as a Man

Meet Gregory, a writer and the brains behind Face Dragons. He's the go-to guy for getting things done. Gregory's been living the digital nomad life in Asia for as long as anyone can remember, helping clients smash their goals. He writes on topics like software, personal knowledge management (PKM), and personal development. When he's not writing, you'll catch him at the local MMA gym, nose buried in a book, or just chilling with the family.

As men, we must grow. We grow stronger, smarter, and more capable. But you must commit to growth, and one way is by reading quality books with the power to change you. Don’t waste your time reading trash. These are the best books you must read this year to grow as a man.

Without new ideas, you’re trapped to repeat mistakes, never even knowing there’s a better way. Collect the ideas trapped in these books and break free this year.

Actionable Books You Can Implement Today

Experts like Tony Robbins maintain that you empower yourself through action. That’s why your bookshelf must include actionable books.

There are different types of books, and they all have their place. Novels and knowledge-based nonfiction books are great, but you must make sure you read some books each year that you can actually implement. So I’ve included these actionable books.

By the end of reading these three books, you’ll be able to do something, not just know something.

Making It All Work

At Face Dragons, we love Getting Things Done, but we love David Allen’s follow-up, Making It All Work, even more. This book is a peek into the world of genuinely advanced productivity. You can read this book dozens of times and find new ways to improve your workflow, efficiency, and, most importantly, where you end up in life.

Making It All Work isn’t only a book about creating a task management system. It’s a philosophy to help you live the way you want, whatever that may be.

You have ideas all the time that never get acted upon: a new restaurant to try, a cool hobby to start, a skill you should learn. But a moment after they pop up in your mind, it moves on to something else, and the idea gets lost, and what could have been the start of something fun and different in your life ends up being another day of doing the same things.

Making It All Work allows you to turn those ideas into reality. It helps you create a framework for the life you want in the future, and the day you want tomorrow.

If you have never read this book (or the bestselling Getting Things Done), your life simply won’t be what it could be, which would be a terrible shame. Add it to your reading list!

The $100 Startup

I debated whether to include this book or one of the many other books that showed you how to start a business. But I settled on this one not because it’s necessarily the best, but because it emphasizes better than the other the idea that you can start a business with nothing (or $100.)

When you really take this on board, that you can start a business with nothing, today, a question will haunt you: Why don’t I have a business?

If someone was handing out free Macbooks at a stall in the mall, and all you had to do was take one, but instead, you just kept wandering around window shopping, something inside would be screaming GO GET THE FREE MACBOOK. It’s the same for having your own company.

If you can have a company that costs you nothing, why not?

The details aren’t so important. Sure, you need a product or service, and you need to find customers and clients, create branding, and all that. But none of that matters until you take the plunge and decide to become an entrepreneur.

By starting your own business, you take control of your finances and your work life. You may need to continue working your day job for years till your business becomes profitable, but you’ve taken that step.

The Case for Keto

You’ve undoubtedly heard of the ketogenic diet and may even know people who have tried it. If you don’t know what it is, how it works, or whether it’s for you, this is a book you should pick up. Even if you do not intend to go keto, you should read this book to always have the option.

Keto is a tool, but you need to understand it to use it.

I love the ketogenic diet and always find myself returning to it for a few reasons.

  • It makes my brain work better
  • It keeps my bodyfat low
  • It gives me tons of energy
  • It makes me feel good
  • I get to eat steak every day!

I’m not a diet extremist who thinks everyone should switch to a keto, paleo, or vegan diet. Different diets obviously work better for different people (probably based on your ancestry), but if you don’t try other diets, you’ll never know which one is best for you.

For years, I thought that my diet was fine. I ate vegetables and meat and not too much junk and felt fine. Only after going keto for the first time in 2018 did I realize how much better I could feel. I felt great all the time, and my mind was sharper than ever. I memorized chapters from the Bible without any effort, Chapters! I even wrote my first book while homeschooling my son and working my job from home.

So this year, read this book, and you’ll always have keto as an option or tool in your toolbelt that you can use whenever you need it.

See the World Differently

According to Plato, “Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.” So ensure your opinions are founded in knowledge from books that help you see the world for what it is.

Action isn’t everything. Sometimes, a shift in the way you see the world is enough to change everything. You need to allow yourself the time to read books that might help make that reality shift for you. Here are four books that might help.

Surrounded by Idiots

  • Learn: How to communicate with different people more effectively
  • Buy it here: Surrounded by Idiots

If you let it, Surrounded by Idiots by Thomas Erikson will completely change how you communicate with everyone in your life.

Without any training, you talk to people through the lens of your own personality. If you’re quiet and shy, you likely avoid most conversations, and when it’s absolutely necessary, you make it short and awkward. If you’re highly extroverted or an alpha male type, you probably spend too much time talking and not enough listening.

But after reading Surrounded by Idiots, you’ll have the choice of a new method of talking to people, one that doesn’t align with who you are but with who they are.

Instead of dominating a conversation because you’re an alpha male, why not let them dominate it because they’re one, too? If you’re talking to an ambivert or omnivert, keep it short and to the point to keep them from feeling uncomfortable.

How will you know who you’re talking to? Thomas Erikson, author of Surrounded by Idiots, makes it simple. He shows you how to categorize everyone you meet into four personality types:

  • Red – Aggressive leader types
  • Yellow – Social, extroverted types
  • Green – Timid, introverted types
  • Blue – Analytical, perfectionist types

It Didn’t Start with You:

I see my Dad in me sometimes. Occasionally, when a troubling thought comes to mind, I pull a face and instantly think, “That was my Dad.” Our families shape us in so many ways we’ll never truly be able to fully understand, and it goes deeper than the way you talk or your expressions.

Behaviors built generations ago are embedded into our DNA; some are helpful, some aren’t.

It Didn’t Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle by Mark Wolynn helps to unravel your psychology and behavior in the context of your ancestors. It shows how trauma in your family tree could be affecting you today.

Understanding yourself is the best way to take control and build true self-discipline – the ability to do what you want to do rather than being led by whim, temptation, or genetic coding. By reading this book, you’ll get insight into yourself, which is a powerful catalyst for change and reflection, and you’ll look at others differently, too.

When that self-absorbed family member goes on another rant about why his life isn’t what it should be, you may realize he’s just running a bad piece of code he inherited. Or when a friend asks for advice about his drinking, you’ll have a new angle for him to think about.

Tragedy and Hope

You probably won’t find this book on many “books to read this year” lists. But you don’t know great books until they[ve stood the test of time.

First published in 1966, Tragedy and Hope by Carroll Quigley is a history of the world, but not like you’ve read it before. A Georgetown University professor and historian, Quigley, wrote this book, which was banned for pulling the curtain and showing people how the world really worked.

It accounts for the considerable shifts in Western culture we are seeing now and gives the reader a lens through which they can better understand the world.

And that’s the point of this book: understanding the world allows you to make better decisions and ultimately live a better life.

Although this book, because of its age, isn’t going to give you any information about the world we live in today, it will show you how we got here. The cyclical nature of history shines through the pages, too, so you may be able to draw parallels between the world today and the later part of the Roman empire.

For anyone who regrets not paying attention in history class when they were in school or just wants to up their game in politics, culture, and the history of society, this is a brilliant book to pick up this year.

Elon Musk: by Walter Isaacson

  • Learn: What makes one of the most influential men on the planet tick
  • Buy it here: Elon Musk

When I first planned this article, Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson wasn’t out yet; it was only taking preorders. But I included it (despite not having read it) because if there is a biography you should read this year, it must be this one.

Elon Musk is not only a wealthy billionaire. He’s actively pushing the species forward to a new, unknown future more than any other single person on the planet.

His SpaceX company will play a massive part in space technology, travel, and military in the decades to come, just as Tesla and its electric cars are doing right now here on Earth.

Despite its shortcomings and competition, x (formally Twitter) is showing social media companies an alternative route in terms of moderation, privacy, and freedom.

Musk’s insights in interviews are always worth listening to, not only because he’s a billionaire but also because he tends to say what he actually thinks and is willing to take time to think about what he says. This is a rare attribute where so much of what we hear is prescripted answer avoidance and clever rhetoric.

I’ll be picking this book up before the end of this year; I recommend you do the same.

You Can’t Learn Everything From Books

Reading and listening to audiobooks is an essential part of your development, don’t skimp on it! But it’s not the be all and end all, you need to get out and perform, work, and practice too.

Plenty of life skills don’t need much knowledge, just action. You don’t need to read to workout, just get in the gym, you don’t need a book to tell you how to spend time with your family, just go do it.

Skills require practice

Results Require Action