It’s a shame that in today’s world, we would need a list of gentleman books every guy should read to lean how to be a better man.  To learn how to be a proper gentleman.  But we do.

With so few great role models, we need to learn manly, gentlemanly skills on our own.

Traditionally, these skills were taught within the family from fathers, grand fathers, uncles, and older males.

But today, traditional family roles have changed so much that these skills are not being passed down to the younger generations.

Good news, through the power of Amazon and Audible, these lessons are not lost.  They will require you to man up, and learn these skills yourself, and dedicated some time to reading!

20 Gentleman Books Every Guy Should Read, A real man isn't afraid to learn and grow, even when things are hard.

20 Gentleman Books Every Guy Should Read

Below is my list of the 20 Gentleman books every guy should read.  The lessons are priceless and will serve you for your whole life. 

These books will build your character and mold you into the man you will admire.  These are the books your father and grandfather wish he had when he was younger.

I have divided the books into 3 groups.

  • Books About Being a Modern Gentleman (7 Books)
  • Classic Books to Build Character (10 Books)
  • Books on Manly Skills (3 Books)

Read as many as you can and enjoy them.  These are probably the best books ever written on the topic and the lessons you learn will serve you for the rest of your life.

Time to Man Up!

Books About Being a Modern Gentleman

Being a modern day gentleman is way more then style and manners (but those are critical). This list of gentleman books every guy should read needs to cover stuff like character, building great relationships, and learning leadership skills


The Art of Manliness:

Classic Skills and Manners for the Modern Man

By Brett McKay (www.artofmanliness.com)

Man Up!

While it’s definitely more than just monster trucks, grilling and six-pack abs, true manliness is hard to define. The words macho and manly are not synonymous.

Taking lessons from classic gentlemen such as Benjamin Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt, authors Brett and Kate McKay have created a collection of the most useful advice every man needs to know to live life to its full potential.

This book contains a wealth of information that ranges from survival skills to social skills to advice on how to improve your character.

Whether you are braving the wilds with your friends, courting your girlfriend or raising a family, inside you’ll find practical information and inspiration for every area of life.

You’ll learn the basics all modern men should know, including how to:

  • Shave like your grandpa
  • Be a perfect house guest
  • Fight like a gentleman using the art of bartitsu
  • Help a friend with a problem
  • Give a man hug
  • Perform a fireman’s carry
  • Ask for a woman’s hand in marriage
  • Raise resilient kids
  • Predict the weather like a frontiersman
  • Start a fire without matches
  • Give a dynamic speech
  • Live a well-balanced life

So jump in today and gain the skills and knowledge you need to be a real man in the 21st century.

The Code of Man:

Love, Courage, Pride, Family, Country

By Waller Newell

“In many ways,” Waller R. Newell writes, “young men today are in deep spiritual trouble. But they are also yearning for a way back to the noblest ideals of American manhood.” 

The Code of Man represents a deep and thought-provoking effort to help guide contemporary men back to those ideals, as embodied in what Newell calls the five paths to manliness:

  • Love
  • Courage
  • Pride
  • Family
  • Country

Some note worthy quotes from the book:


A worthy man is compassionate, decent, and gentlemanly toward others out of a sense of pride. He will not stoop to behave viciously, and he will not demean himself by acting cruelly …


A man does not seek out a fight, but he will fight to protect himself, his family, and his country. A gentleman is silent unless he has something worthwhile to say. He is reserved, dignified, and mannerly …

The Compleat Gentleman:

The Modern Man’s Guide to Chivalry

By Brad Miner

At a time of astonishing confusion about what it means to be a man, Brad Miner has recovered the oldest and best ideal of manhood: the gentleman.

Reviving a thousand-year tradition of chivalry, honor, and heroism, The Compleat Gentleman provides the essential model for 21st-century masculinity.

Despite our confusion, real manhood is not complicated. It is an ancient ideal based on service to one’s God, country, family, and friends, a simple but arduous ideal worthy of a lifetime of struggle.

Miner’s gentleman stands out for his dignity, restraint, and discernment. He rejects the notion that one way of behaving is as good as another. He belongs to an aristocracy of virtue, not of wealth or birth.

Proposing neither a club nor a movement, Miner describes a lofty code of manly conduct, which, far from threatening democracy, is necessary for its survival.

Miner traces the concept of manliness from the jousting fields of the 12th century to the decks of the Titanic. The three masculine archetypes that emerge, the warrior, the lover, and the monk, combine in the character of the “compleat gentleman“.

This modern knight cultivates a martial spirit in defense of the true and the beautiful. He treats the opposite sex with the passionate respect required by courtly love. And he values learning in the pursuit of truth, all with the discretion, decorum, and nonchalance that the Renaissance called sprezzatura.

The Compleat Gentleman is filled with examples from the past and the present of the man our increasingly uncivilized age demands.

Dressing the Man:

Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion

By Alan Flusser

Dressing the Man is the definitive guide to what men need to know in order to dress well and look stylish without becoming fashion victims.

Alan Flusser’s name is synonymous with taste and style. With his new book, he combines his encyclopedic knowledge of men’s clothes with his signature wit and elegance to address the fundamental paradox of modern men’s fashion:

Why, after men today have spent more money on clothes than in any other period of history, are there fewer well-dressed men than at any time ever before?

According to Flusser, dressing well is not all that difficult, the real challenge lies in being able to acquire the right personalized instruction.

Dressing well pivots on two pillars — proportion and color.

Flusser believes that “Permanent Fashionability“, both his promise and goal for the reader, starts by being accountable to a personal set of physical trademarks and not to any kind of random, seasonally served-up collection of fashion flashes.

Esquire’s The Handbook of Style:

A Man’s Guide to Looking Good

Each year, the editors of Esquire produce a special issue of the magazine devoted to men’s style called The Big Black Book, which has been wildly successful.

Using the same pragmatic, highly illustrated approach, and laced with Esquire’s trademark humor, Esquire The Handbook of Style brings readers vital information on every aspect of a man’s wardrobe, from suits and shirts, to shoes and neckties, to watches and other accessories.

The style-minded reader will find useful advice on suit fabrics and cuts, the right kind of trousers for his build, the essential outerwear to own, how to dress properly for an occasion, how to tie a tie, how to pack for a trip, grooming strategies, and much, much more.

A compact and sophisticated accessory in its own right, Esquire The Handbook of Style will be the style bible for the well-dressed man for years to come.

How to Be a Gentleman:

A Timely Guide to Timeless Manners

By John Bridges

Should you open the door for a lady? Is being kind enough? Can anyone learn to be a real gentleman?

In today’s society, being a gentleman isn’t as simple as it used to be. Advances in equality and changes in style have made the rules harder to define and follow.

How to Be a Gentleman: What Every Modern Man Needs to Know about Manners and Behaviors to Attract Women is more than a simple etiquette book.

It’s a path toward a more confident and attractive way of thinking and living. You’ll learn when, why, how, and what is appropriate in every situation including:

  • What real generosity is and when and how to show it.
  • How proper etiquette includes actions, appearance, and attitude.
  • What you shouldn’t say or do in every situation.
  • How patience helps develop meaningful relationships.
  • Why knowledge and literacy are essential.
  • How empathy can change your way of thinking and actions for good.
  • Why chivalry and equality are crucial to respecting women.
  • How positive body language leads to confidence.
  • What having a healthy mental outlook can do for you and your relationships.

This self-improvement book isn’t about becoming someone you’re not. It’s about staying true to yourself while respecting your society and every person you encounter. With each chapter, you’ll learn to master a fundamental aspect of posture, behavior, or appearance that makes a real gentleman.

Don’t let a simple misstep keep you from developing meaningful relationships with women.

Essential Manners for Men:

What to Do, When to Do It, and Why

By Peter Post

The name “Emily Post” is synonymous with etiquette, good manners, and decorum. In this handbook, Post addresses the topics men really need to master to succeed in business and in life.

How to act and to conduct themselves in a plethora of common and not so common circumstances in the office, at a wedding, on social media, when dating, etc. Manors make the man, and every man needs to know the rules of polite society if he wants to excel to success.

Classic Books to Build Character

The classics have been teaching men how to be men for generations. This list of 20 gentleman books every guy should read will not be complete without a dip into the classics that your forefathers read and cherished.

Into the Wild

By Jon Kankauer

In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless.

He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself.

Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter.  How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.

The Prince

By Machiavelli

The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli is one of the most influential Italian literature in the world.

This dangerous book exposes and analyzes the fundamental principles of power and government. These principles are always followed regardless of the form of government (democracy, autocracy, totalitarian, etc.).

The book exposes the fact that there is no form of government in which power is shared to the people. Unless you have power and influence, you do not, and never will matter to the government.

Every Man desires power, most think they achieve it, but few ever do.

The Art of War

By Sun Tzu

The Art of War is an ancient Chinese military treatise attributed to Sun Tzu a high-ranking military general, strategist and tactician, and it was believed to have been compiled during the late Spring and Autumn period or early Warring States period.

The text is composed of 13 chapters, each of which is devoted to one aspect of warfare. It is commonly known to be the definitive work on military strategy and tactics of its time.

It has been the most famous and influential of China’s Seven Military Classics, and for the last two thousand years it remained the most important military treatise in Asia, where even the common people knew it by name. It has had an influence on Eastern and Western military thinking, business tactics, legal strategy and beyond.

With a deep understanding of both strategy and human nature, this military treatise illustrates the fine craft of knowing one’s enemy and oneself.

From military officers to CEOs to those simply looking to be more powerful in their own life, The Art of War has become required reading for anyone seeking a path of success through the modern world.

The Count of Monte Cristo

By Alexandre Dumas

Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantès spends fourteen bitter years imprisoned in the grim fortress of D’If.

There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and becomes determined not only to escape, but also to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsive for his incarceration.

No longer the naïve sailor who disappeared into the dungeon all those years ago, he reinvents himself as the charming, mysterious and powerful Count of Monte Cristo.

Inspired by a real-life case of wrongful imprisonment, The Count of Monte Cristo was a huge popular success when it was first serialized in the 1840s, and has been a fixture of western literature ever since, the subject of countless film and TV adaptations.

‘What makes The Count Of Monte Cristo such a superior story is that revenge is not the only emotion driving the plot.  It is an almost perfect story.  Also in the mix are love, friendship, jealousy, faith, education, snobbery and class.’

A Gentleman in Moscow:

By Amor Towles

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin.

Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors.

Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.

The Iliad and The Odyssey

By Homer

No list could ever be complete without the Iliad and the Odyssey. The Odyssey is Homer’s epic of Odysseus’ 10-year struggle to return home after the Trojan War.

While Odysseus battles mystical creatures and faces the wrath of the gods, his wife Penelope and his son Telemachus stave off suitors vying for Penelope’s hand and Ithaca’s throne long enough for Odysseus to return.

The Odyssey ends as Odysseus wins a contest to prove his identity, slaughters the suitors, and retakes the throne of Ithaca.

Download a free Kindle version of this book here.

Fahrenheit 451

By Ray Bradbury

The book is about a person named Guy Montag. He is a firefighter who lives in a lonely, isolated society where books have been outlawed by a government fearing an independent-thinking public.

It is the duty of firefighters to burn any books on sight or said collections that have been reported by informants.

People in this society including Montag’s wife are drugged into compliance and get their information from wall-length television screens. After Montag falls in love with book-hoarding Clarisse, he begins to read confiscated books.

It is through this relationship that he begins to question the government’s motives behind book-burning.

Montag is soon found out, and he must decide whether to return to his job or run away knowing full well the consequences that he could face if captured.

Catch-22

By Joseph Heller

Fifty years after its original publication, Catch-22 remains a cornerstone of American literature and one of the funniest—and most celebrated—books of all time.

In recent years it has been named to “best novels” lists by Time, Newsweek, the Modern Library, and the London Observer.

Set in Italy during World War II, this is the story of the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him.

But his real problem is not the enemy—it is his own army, which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempt to excuse himself from the perilous missions he’s assigned, he’ll be in violation of Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule:

a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.

As revealing today as when it was first published, this brilliant novel expresses the concerns of an entire generation in its black comedy. World War II flier John Yossarian decides that his only mission each time he goes up is to return—alive!

Great Expectations

By Charles Dickens, Summary Credit

Perhaps Dickens’ most famous novel, Great Expectations is a quintessential education, chronicling Pip’s journey to adulthood and the personal growth he experiences along the way.

As Pip travels from being an orphan with no status, to becoming a gentleman, and finally to finding true happiness, he learns many lessons about love and wealth and poverty and generosity along the way.

With a supporting cast of lively characters including the eccentric Miss Havisham and her beautiful ward Estella, Magwitch, an escaped convict with a heart of gold, and Joe, Pip’s brother-in-law, who is an illiterate but immensely kindhearted blacksmith.

Dickens makes many interesting points about social strata, classism, the industrial revolution, and conflicts of morality, making Great Expectations one of the most celebrated books in the Western canon.

Free Kindle version of this book with Amazon Prime. Download it here.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

By Robert M. Pirsig

Phaedrus, our narrator, takes a present-tense cross-country motorcycle trip with his son during which the maintenance of the motorcycle becomes an illustration of how we can unify the cold, rational realm of technology with the warm, imaginative realm of artistry.

As in Zen, the trick is to become one with the activity, to engage in it fully, to see and appreciate all details–be it hiking in the woods, penning an essay, or tightening the chain on a motorcycle.

In his autobiographical first novel, Pirsig wrestles both with the ghost of his past and with the most important philosophical questions of the 20th century–

  • why has technology alienated us from our world?
  • what are the limits of rational analysis?
  • if we can’t define the good, how can we live it? 

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance takes us into “the high country of the mind” and opens our eyes to vistas of possibility. –Brian Bruya

Books on Manly Skills

Men are expected to automatically know how to do stuff. We are head of our households, fixers of all things, and kings of confidence. But when I went to school, these topics were never covered in any class I ever took.

These skills have been passed down from father to son for generations, but not all family have fathers that know this stuff., or sons willing to learn.

That’s why this list of 20 gentleman books every guy should read has several that will help you learn these manly skills on your own.

Now you will be able to pass this on to your children.

Man Up!:

367 Classic Skills for the Modern Guy

By Paul O’Donnell

From career to relationships and grooming to gaming and more, the guys’ ultimate man-ual for living.

For every guy too intimidated to ask a question for fear of seeming inexperienced and unworldly, here’s a book to answer all (or most!) of life’s pressing quandaries:

  • How do you break off a friendship when it’s not working any longer?
  • What should you cook when a date is coming over for dinner?
  • How do you buy a used car and not get totally taken for a ride?
  • How do you stop a charging dog?

In Man Up!, journalist Paul O’Donnell and his team of knowledgeable experts tackle 367 of these tough questions, imparting their advice in short to-the-point answers. Organized thematically, Man Up! is packed with essential advice delivered in prose that is as entertaining to read as it is helpful and clever.

The tips run the gamut—from how to mix up a killer punch for a party to how to throw a punch when there is no other way out.

Hip, engaging line drawings help to illustrate the advice, providing more than just sight gags.

For every young man newly embarking on his independent adult life and for a guy at any age wanting to brush up on his skills, Man Up! is like having a trusted friend helping you along the way—except this friend has all the right answers!

The Manual to Manhood:

How to Cook the Perfect Steak, Change a Tire, Impress a Girl & 97 Other Skills You Need to Survive

By Jonathan Catherman

There’s a lot a guy needs to know as he grows up and makes his way in the world. And a lot of it, he wouldn’t necessarily want to have to ask about because then, well, people would know he didn’t know what he was doing!

For all the guys out there who want to have it all together, Jonathan Catherman offers this collection of one hundred step-by-step instructions on almost everything a guy needs to know, including how to

  • wear cologne correctly
  • manage a credit card
  • talk to a girl
  • plan a date
  • write a résumé
  • ask for a reference
  • clean a bathroom
  • throw a football
  • change a tire
  • behave during a traffic stop
  • fold a shirt
  • tie a tie
  • grill a steak
  • clear a sink drain
  • find a stud in a wall

In fact, if it’s in here, it’s an important skill or character trait practiced by capable and confident men. With great illustrations and a supporting website, this all-in-one reference tool for young men in the making is the perfect gift for birthdays, graduations, or any occasion.

Adulting 101:

#Wisdom4Life

By Josh Burnette and Pete Hardesty

Adulting (verb): To do grown-up things and have responsibilities such as a working full time, paying rent, or owning a car.

Basic life skills go mostly untaught in classrooms, so graduates are on their own to figure out how to live successfully in the world. Without any guidance, where do you start?

Adulting 101 is a clever, practical, and timely guide to show how to:

  • Find a job and be wildly successful at work
  • Buy the items you need as an adult (apartment, car, insurance)
  • Set goals, prioritize, and get work done
  • Communicate professionally and effectively
  • Save and invest wisely
  • Navigate personal and professional relationships
  • Avoid the common mistakes of being out on your own
  • And much, much more

This book will give you what you need to succeed and make a real impact, inspiring you to change the world and be the person you were meant to be.

Conclusion

Every guy can use a little help now and then, and that’s exactly what you get from this list of 20 gentleman books every guy should read.

In a world where chivalry, manors, and everyday gentleman skills have pretty much disappears from society, these books can bring them back.

If you enjoyed this list of the 20 gentleman books every guy should read, please consider signing up to the email list and be the first to know about new articles. 

Also consider reading the other books in this series (15 Finance Books Every Guy Should Read, 25 Classic Books Every Guy Should Read). Let me know if you have any other book recommendations too and leave them in the comment section below.

Thanks for reading.

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