I can’t stand shopping. It’s one of my least favorite activities, right up there with sitting in traffic. As such, I avoid it completely. However, sometimes you have to buy stuff, like at Christmas. Thank God for the internet, with its abundant savings, easy process, and zero line-ups. Before we get into the Christmas Gift Guide for Men, a quick note on ‘things’.
Over the past year or so I’ve had a complete evolution on my outlook of things. My dream board, for example, was covered with motorcycles and Aston Martins and mansions. Those were the things that I wanted in my future. They are, no longer. They’ve been replaced by adventures. They’ve been taken over by things that can be put to better use (where the hell can I take an Aston Martin that’s fun? A truck, however, that thing can be taken anywhere).
And as a wise man once said…
[Tweet “the things you own end up owning you.”]
So, a few words of wisdom: spend your money on experiences and adventures. Buy what you need. Buy what you need to be at your best. Buy stuff you enjoy. But don’t buy things to be happy. It’ll never work.
With that undermining introduction, let’s look at some awesome things I’ve come across that you’d like (this includes books, a list of which you’ve been asking me for for some time now).
Side Note: There’s pretty much only one online store I shop on besides Amazon, and that is Huckberry. The fellas over at Huckberry (a website filled with cool shit for men) have been cool enough to hook you guys up with some flasks, like the one pictured on the right. There will be 3 winners, all you have to do is CLICK THIS LINK, sign up to their site, AND “like” this post, OR retweet it, and you’re automatically entered in the draw.
The Holiday Gift Guide for Men
First and foremost, let’s talk about books. Those eye opening, brain growing, perspective changing masterpieces that should be the first and last thing on our Christmas Wishlist. Whether you’re buying your gifts for yourself – ain’t nothing wrong with that at all – or you’re handing a list to your lady or your parents, be sure to include some of these books on said list.
Robert E. Lee on Leadership
I’ve never been more pleasantly surprised by a book, and by a man, than I was in reading about Robert E. Lee. If you want to understand what true masculine values are, this book is required reading. More than any other man I’ve come across, Lee was a man of unbreakable, and unbendable honor.
After reading this book I quickly placed Lee at the top of my list of ‘heroes’, as a man that Teddy Roosevelt referred to as America’s greatest general, and Churchill called the Western world’s greatest military leader – yes, even ahead of the great Napoleon Bonaparte. Every guy needs to read about General Lee. He is one of the perfect definitions of a man, a leader, and a warrior.
The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt is one of the most often-used archetypes for manliness, and for good reason. Born a sickly child, Roosevelt, much due to the parenting of his father, built himself into a strong, adventurous man. A man who would become one of America’s greatest Presidents. A true leader who forged his own, unique path in life, and led with a resolve and focus that hasn’t since been matched by any man holding political office.
This brilliantly written, Pulitzer Prize winning book, brings you into his world. As you read it, it’s as if you’re it in, with him, beside him in his struggles, triumphing in his successes. You see his character, as well as his faults. If you want to know who this great man was, read this book.
The Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon became the emperor of the most powerful nation in the world at that time, during a time when your position in life was, largely, determined by the family you were born into. And Napoleon wasn’t born into a family of wealth and prestige.
As you read more about this man’s tenacity, focus, and steel balls, you begin to admire him; you begin to see his story for what it is: arguably the greatest success story in history. There’s much to admire about this great man, and much to learn from his faults. It’s a long read, but it’s a book that every guy who wants to “rise above” his current status, or any guy who simply wants to be inspired, should read.
Paddle Your Own Canoe
It’s important to read books written by people who have a different perspective than your own. Nick Offerman, though he shares some of the characteristics of his on screen persona, Ron Swanson, isn’t the small government conservative that he plays on TV. We, as in him and I, hold many of the same views, but we differ on a lot of issues as well.
But I loved his book.
Even though we’re not totally in line with how we see the world, he delivers his point of view, filled with a lot of really good and helpful information for men, with humor and an exceptional, unique writing style. Buy this book as a change-up, you’ll love it. It’s a tough one to put down.
The Man Diet
Where most men struggle is with their diet. We simply don’t know how to eat to be healthier, build more muscle, burn more fat, and get stronger. The Man Diet takes away all the guessing and gives you a strategic plan that will help you naturally enhance your testosterone levels through your diet, and maximize your results in every area.
To put it simply, this is how men should eat. Period.
The Authentic Swing
Pressfield is easily one of my favorite authors. He’s a warrior of the written word. This book is an extension of his wonderfully inspiring and ass-kicking non-fiction work. Visit his site to check out all of his books, as well as the lovely articles he publishes on his site: StevenPressfield.com, and add this book to your wishlist.
If you’re a writer, struggling to finish your life’s masterpiece, this book, about his process in writing his first published work, The Legend of Baggar Vance. It’s not only inspiring, but interesting to hear the method and the struggles of a man who’s gone on to publish some of my favorite pieces of literature.
If all you have is your books, and the things on this list, you’re setting yourself up for freedom. Freedom to be safe, secure, and want for little. And a freedom from excess, baggage, useless things that cloud your mind, your purpose, and bring you down more than they lift you up.
No, not the love story that introduced much of the world to the incredible beautiful, Rachel McAdams (if you’re reading this, email me, we have a date to coordinate). Buy it if you like, whatever floats your boat, but actual notebooks will serve you far better.
I tend to make bold claims, like every man should carry a pocket knife, or open the door for a lady, or never, ever complain. And I stand by each of them. Here’s another one: every man should own a notebook.
I’m currently reading The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, by Edmund Morris (it’s mentioned above). The insight into the man’s character, his personal, revealing thoughts, is only made possible by the fact that he, like most great men I’ve come across, kept a journal. Alas, if you intend to do great deeds while on this fine planet, give your future biographer all the research material he needs, and keep a journal.
Beyond documenting your legacy, there is another profoundly important reason to keep a journal: clarity. I’ve found that both the writing and the review of my journal has helped me find clarity in my purpose, and my mission. It’s enabled me to track my goals and stick to my guns. I’ve outlined my ideal life, as well as my values. A journal isn’t merely meant for writing, but reading.
Buy the little black notebooks above. And get to writing.
Every man should carry a pocket knife. It’s surprising how often a pocket knife comes in handy. Whether you’re cutting a rope or opening a package or splitting a sandwich, a pocket knife is incredibly useful, even in an urban setting. If, however, you fortunate enough to live in ‘the country’, or if you get out to the country a couple times a month, the value of a good pocket knife only compounds.
I’ve had Swiss Army style knives, and they’re awesome, but can be a bit overboard. A simple, well-made pocket knife is more than enough for city or country life.
Be it that I’m soon to embark on a journey of my own, many of the things on these lists are things that will help you in nature, or on an adventure. And a man is at his best when he’s adventuring, but so is life. I tend to lose things when they’re separated. I’m somewhat of a scatter-brain, so when I found this Travel Wallet, that isn’t at all bulky, yet carries everything you need, I knew it’d be a great addition, and replacement of my current wallet.
Is this a must have? No. It is, however, helpful to have everything in the same place when traveling, and most travel wallets are too bulky and ugly and often not very well made.
I have 3 long sleeve henley’s, each of different shades. They can be worn out to the bar with your pals, at work, to the office, or wherever. They can be worn all-year round as well, in any climate. And they look awesome.
If you want to add one shirt to your wardrobe, add a grey, long to quarter sleeve henley.
I’ve been looking for a high quality, durable pair of boots for some time now, and I’ve finally found a pair that are incredibly well made, but not very high priced. They’re American made, which is awesome, and they’re durable, double awesome. Plus, they look pretty darn cool.
At only $147, when most boots of this quality are north of $300, it’s tough to beat the Thorogood brand. If you’re looking for a pair of boots, start with these.
Quality over Quantity
The only thing I buy in quantity, are books and foods. Everything else is purchased in moderation because, well, the things you own end up owning you. You only need 2 pairs of jeans, 1 computer, 1 knife, a few shirts for each occasion, some sox, underwears, and a jacket. Anything more than that is added weight and baggage if you decide to move or take a long, adventurous journey.