10 Guy’s Guy-Approved Books with Life Lessons (Part 2)
Great books find a permanent place in our consciousness. Their wisdom and teachings can be tapped at any time we need them.
Last week I took you on a tour of five books that rocked my world and gifted me with important life lessons. This week your Guy’s Guy presents the next five on the list, and they are equally important in their quality and teachings. So, let’s get right to part two of The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Ten Books with Ten Life Lessons.
6. CARIBBEAN – James Michener – I read this entire 882-page book years ago during a vacation to Anguilla. It spans the history of one of the most beautiful and culturally diverse areas of our planet. The book details the back-stories of all the lands and peoples bordering the Caribbean Sea, including Mexico and parts of South America. Michener is a master at “historical fiction”. In this massive tome he retells the stories about the beginnings and journeys of the indigenous peoples and their treatment by the Europeans. The tales are fascinating and horrifying. It all began with two tribes, the Caribs and the Arawaks. The Caribs were cannibals who viciously conquered and over time, wiped out the Arawaks and their way of life. The heat really gets turned up when the French, English and Spanish sailed to these lands and committed atrocities against the locals. The Europeans treated the peoples of these conquered lands unmercifully and with cruelty beyond comprehension. They were pure evil incarnate. Imagine French soldiers pulling a guillotine by cart from town to town, picking out random villagers to “test” out their killing machines as a way of maintaining fear and terror to hold sway over territories that often switched ownership between their European conquerors. And you wonder why at times the locals can seem a bit testy when you vacation to the islands. They have good reason, amigos.
What I learned: This fascinating book taught me that there is duality and often an unseemly underbelly to even the most beautiful places on Earth. And the levels of cruelty men foster upon their fellow humans are often unfathomable.
7. LIFE – Keith Richards – The man, the legend and the symbol of the rock n ‘roll lifestyle, wrote a lengthy and surprisingly well-written autobiography spanning his early years growing up poor in post-WWII London to his ascendance as the rock god we know and love. First and foremost, this is a story about a man’s love of music. We get insights into Keith’s open G tuning and the behind the scenes tales of his writing process and how he came to create the songs that Stones fans know and love. After reading the book I listened to the audio version that featured three separate narrators including Johnny Depp and finally Keith himself taking us through the final chapters of the book. It’s well done and it added another dimension to his life story. This is the best book on rock and roll to date, bar none.
What I learned: Keith Richards puts his pants on the same way you and I do. He’s got a unique personality and way about him, but ultimately he is a consummate professional and a very self-aware guy. He’s more layered than the drugged out image we have of him. And, he knows how to manipulate that to his advantage without selling out. He also taught me that artistic ideas can be picked out of the air if you are aligned and open to the right frequencies. Richards takes who he is in stride and is a real Guy’s Guy. I had the opportunity to meet him by chance during the intermission to a Broadway show and found him to be friendly and very much himself. He taught me that it is possible to maintain who you are even when blessed with global success.
8. SIDDHARTHA – Herman Hesse – This short book might be the best book I have ever read. I find myself pulling it off my shelf for another read every 5-10 years and it never disappoints. It only takes a day or so to finish it and each time I’ve read this book it held a different meaning that coincided with what was going on in my life at the time.
What I learned – This book taught me that life is a journey with many twists and turns. We will be up and down, but we are always in the now and learning what we need to know whether or not we know it at the time.
9. SIDEWAYS – Rex Pickett – I picked this book up after watching the very entertaining feature film adaptation starring Paul Giamatti. The story is about a struggling novelist who grows as a man while learning about life, love, and friendship during a weeklong bachelor buddy trip through the wine country of Santa Barbara. It’s beautifully written. The book takes a few different turns from the movie and I think the screenplay puts a tighter focus on the tale. But, let’s give credit to Pickett for a very fresh idea and a well-crafted story that holds up well.
What I learned: This book and the film inspired me to write my second book and first published novel. Like many writers and the book’s protagonist, Miles, I experienced my share of rejection. But my belief in crafting stories about modern men in relatable situations about relationships and life in general provided the catalyst to write a second novel and get published.
10. THE GUYS’ GUY’S GUIDE TO LOVE – Robert Manni – You probably knew this was coming, but how could I not include my first published novel. Since its publication I have never sat down and read my book cover to cover, although I will read a chapter now and then to my amusement. It’s a really fun story and about something dear to my heart. Since its publication I’ve launched the various components of my Guy’s Guy brand platform in an effort to bridge the communications chasm between the sexes and make the world a better place for men and the women who love them. I’ve got a popular website and blog, mypodcast Guy’s Guy Radio, and lots more on the way.
I think you’ll agree that reading is one of the best tools for self-education. Beyond the mental muscles utilized while reading, books can take you to places you may never visit except in your mind.
This week’s GUY’S GUY of the WEEK are all the readers and writers who contribute to our world through embracing the power of story.