9 essential books on healthy masculinities

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I grew up in a home where the expression of emotions was frowned upon. As a child, I was taught not to cry, otherwise others would call me a “girl”. So when I was a teenager, I was pretty… unmoved. I did not talk about my problems with friends and even with family members for fear of being called weak. “Don’t be a baby like that,” they said. This poor upbringing triggered episodes of mental health issues in me that I still struggle to cope with.

My experience is a typical example of traditional masculinity. Like me, other boys and men have been ordered to “stand up” and are even humiliated when they become vulnerable. This makes them less willing to have other male friends to talk to about their poor emotional health. Therefore, it is not surprising that depression is common in men – thanks to a cycle of toxic masculinity.

Below are nine healthy masculinities books that explore a wide range of masculinities and redefine what it means to be a man. This list is not final; there are many books that deal with healthy masculinities, but they are mostly written by white men. In this list, you can find books that feature role models of healthy masculinity, personalities who discuss the topic in depth, and characters who embrace and celebrate male friendships.

Healthy Masculinities Fiction Books


A little life by Hanya Yanagihara

This novel centers on four young men from New York City named Willem, Jude, Malcolm, and JB as they navigate their lives and careers. JB is a painter, Willem is an actor, Malcolm is an architect and Jude is a lawyer. The book addresses sensitive topics such as sexual abuse and mental health issues. It is such a disturbing but rewarding reading at the same time.

What is special is the close friendship between the four; Male friendship is one of the strongest themes in the book. the Sunday opening hours reports that author Yanagihara “had observed the relationship his colleague had with his close male friends at college. “The way they expressed their love and concern was often by joking, struggling or punching. It didn’t mean that there was no depth of feeling, but they were limit in the way they might express it. ‘ This sums up how men today express affection towards their male friends.

Another admirable aspect of the book is the friendship between gay and straight men. Three of them aren’t straight, and Malcolm, who is, loves and respects them all for who they are. Many straight men are said to be reluctant to have gay friends because of homophobia. Gay friendships just aren’t common. But apparently A little life show that time change.

Kill a mockingbird by Harper Lee

This modern classic does not disappoint. I’m sure everyone has read it before, but for those who haven’t yet, Kill a mockingbird takes place in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Great Depression. He follows Jean Louise “Scout” Finch as she shares memories of her childhood in Maycomb. Much of the book also focuses on his father, Atticus Finch, a lawyer, as he defends a black man named Tom Robinson in a case where he is racially prejudiced.

Atticus Finch is a remarkable figure in literature. He is compassionate, respectful, righteous, wise and humble. He is also a good role model for his children because he treats them well. Although he is ridiculed for standing up for Tom, he sticks to his decision. “You never really understand a person until you look at things from their perspective – until you step into their skin and walk in,” Lee writes as Finch.

Call me by your name by André Aciman

Who could forget Elio and Oliver’s erotic love story in Call me by your name? For the uninitiated, the novel follows Elio, son of college parents, and Oliver, a graduate student doing an internship for Elio’s father, Samuel. The book was adapted for cinema in 2017 and received a positive reception.

There is nothing out of the ordinary between their romance, so we should steer the conversation towards Samuel instead. I think he’s a great man being a good father to Elio. When Elio reveals to him that he and Oliver have a special relationship, Samuel does not berate him for this revelation.

Meanwhile, in real life, some fathers may disown their sons for talking about their sexuality; they might even physically abuse them. I know this because there are a lot of similar cases where I live. Others could even expel their sons from their homes and even force them to register with “conversion therapy. “But not Samuel. He understands very well Elio’s difficulties as a young man.

The taste of sugar by Marisel Véra

There is a lot to like about this book. Intriguing premise aside, it captures the heartbreaking experience of Puerto Ricans during the 20e century in the hands of the Americans and the Spaniards. In The taste of sugar, Valentina and Vicente were among the Puerto Ricans devastated by a hurricane in 1899. Due to poverty, they were forced to migrate to Hawaii and work on a sugar cane plantation.

Vicente is an exceptional character. He is very different from his father, Raul, who is a womanizer. Although there are a lot of misfortunes in Vicente’s life – losing his family’s livelihood and two of his children – he does not become aggressive and violent towards Valentina. In fact, he is protecting his family. “I would never do anything that could hurt you or your family,” he told her. It’s refreshing to meet a character who, even after losing everything, still remains sweet.

Young adult

After the shooting drops by Randy Ribay

Told from alternate perspectives, the novel follows two male best friends named Bunny and Nasir. Bunny is a high school basketball player who accepts a scholarship to attend St. Sebastian’s, a private high school. Nasir doesn’t like it, however, and he feels betrayed for Bunny’s decision. So he cuts ties with him. But deep down, the two boys are just alone and afraid to talk to each other about their problems.

First, it is an example of harmful masculinity – portraying boys as emotionless individuals. That they cannot be opened with each other. Ribay sheds light on this problem in this young adult book featuring boys of color. “[Bunny and Nasir’s] problems are ingrained in this loneliness, and it seems so obvious that they could solve their problems if only they knew how to communicate honestly, to be vulnerable with each other, ”Ribay wrote in this Tumblr blog. Publish.

I won’t let spoilers drop, but the conclusion demonstrates positive masculinity.

The hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I loved the Hunger Games series as a teenager for many different reasons. For those discovering it for the first time, the first book follows protagonist Katniss Everdeen as she finds ways to survive in a dystopian world. When the annual Hunger Games, a competition in which teenagers kill each other for prizes, is announced, she volunteers in her sister’s place.

Her friend, and ultimately lover, Peeta Mellark, is another role model who embodies a healthy form of masculinity. He’s not your usual badass macho, and he openly expresses his emotions. He is also gentle, respectful, sensitive, compassionate and confident without being arrogant. I wish there were more male characters like him in fiction and in real life.

Non-fiction books on healthy masculinities

Between the world and me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The book is written in the form of a letter from Coates to his son. It’s a powerful and moving social commentary on the breed, and it offers so much more.

Between the world and me also explores healthy, black masculinity as Coates talks to his son about the struggles of young black boys growing up in a racially divided America. “I have no desire to make you ‘hard’ or ‘street’, maybe because all the ‘harshness’ I have picked up has come reluctantly,” Coates addresses his son.

“By analyzing Coates’ projection of his own role as a man and as a father as well as his complex and multifaceted representations of black manhood… Coates promotes benevolent masculinity and, above all, how he presents resistance to hegemonic notions. of masculinity ”, according to why study on the black masculinities of this book.

The Mask of Masculinity Cover

The Mask of Masculinity: How Men Can Embrace Vulnerability, Build Strong Relationships, and Live Life to the Fullest by Lewis Howes

At first, I couldn’t identify with Howes; he’s a rich white man and a total jock, and Editors Weekly even shouted “too much humiliated“of this book. I find it quite comparable to straight men, however. Further, Howes says he is aware that he is not a medical expert and that he is not qualified to lecture at anybody.

In The mask of masculinity, he speaks personally of the different “masks” that men wear: stoic, athletic, aggressive, sexual, prankster, know-it-all, invincible, material and alpha. “I am going to advocate for the removal of masks of masculinity for the most selfish reasons: it will make you better, make you happier, and make you more prosperous,” he writes.

Howes does mean, and his book argues for positive masculinities.

Cover of the book For the Love of Men: A New Vision for Mindful Masculinity by Liz Plank

For the love of men: from toxic masculinity to more conscious masculinity by Liz Plank

In For the love of men, feminist journalist Plank speaks with various men to see how they perceive masculinity. “After trying to interview several men, I realized that masculinity is something you do, not something you talk about,” she writes, citing that men don’t talk about the topic enough. She says there is an absence of conversation regarding positive masculinities in men, and so she raises the question, “Where is the version of a feminist movement, but for men?”

Plank uses research to support its conclusions on this sensitive topic. This book is revealing and educational – a must read.

I hope that by reading all of the above healthy masculinities books you will understand that masculinity comes in all shapes and sizes. But this does not end here ; find more books on healthy masculinities here:

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