Book Review: Manhood For Amateurs

January 12, 2011 in Stuff for Dads  

Book Review: Manhood For Amateurs

Michael Chabon’s books are just straight up fun to read. I had read The Final Solution (well, audiobook’d it actually) several years ago — it was great.

Then I kept seeing covers of his books in bookstores — they’re intriguing, very cool.

So, when I saw the cover for Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son, there wasn’t any hesitation… i got it… on audiobook of course.


If you read nothing else in this post, read this: This book is great! I highly recommend it anyone looking to get a little more of their head around manhood in the past, fatherhood in the present, and making better choices in the future.


This book is a collection of essays on manhood, fatherhood, legos, comic books, etc… They’re all separate, readable on their own, but contribute to what I think is an informed, honest, truthful, and good picture of where us dads find ourselves these days.

Machael Chabon Family

Michael Chabon & Family: wife Ayelet, Sophie, Zeke, Rosie, and Abe

He recalls a lot about his upbringing, how things have changed since then, what’s good/bad about that, how he addresses that stuff with his own kids.

Don’t expect this to be a how-to. Chabon’s style in Manhood For Amateurs is kind of gritty and definitely quirky and smart. He steeps you in these little moments, like when your kid gives you their precious piece of art… He paints these small, relatable moments, comes clean with how his wife and him handle these situations, and then sort of sucker-punches you with the meaning, the bigger picture, in these moments. Like the following:

“The truth is that in every way, I am squandering the treasure of my life. It’s not that I don’t take enough pictures, though I don’t, or that I don’t keep a diary, though iCal and my monthly Visa bill are the closest I come to a thoughtful prose record of events. Every day is like a kid’s drawing, offered to you with a strange mixture of ceremoniousness and offhand disregard, yours for the keeping. Some of the days are rich and complicated, others inscrutable, others little more than a stray gray mark on a ragged page. Some you manage to hang on to, though your reasons for doing so are often hard to fathom. But most of them you just ball up and throw away.”

The Bottom Line

Here’s the deal: if you like this blog, you’re going to like this book. It’s smart, raw, honest, insightful, and definitely hilarious. You’ll chuckle, giggle, chortle, and have several of these, “goddam I love my family” kind of moments.

Get Manhood For Amateurs in softcover or audiobook… You won’t regret it. Keep up the good work folks!

But Wait, There’s More!

Chabon’s wife, Ayelet Waldman, is also a writer, and she’s got a book out that sounds pretty damn good for the mom side of the equation: Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace.

Also, I just read Chabon’s book The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay… of course on audiobook. It’s an awesome book! Fast, funny, fantastical, with plenty of excellently crafted nuggets of wisdom. So if you want to go more of a fiction route, I highly recommend this one.

So, what are you guys reading? Anything to recommend?

Please Comment & Add Your Voice!

ThatGuyKC January 12, 2011 at 11:50 am

Thanks for sharing the recommendation. Added to Amazon wishlist.

Along the lines of manhood/fatherhood I highly recommend Wild At Heart by John Eldredge if you haven’t already.

When does YOUR book come out? :)

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Chase January 12, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Thanks, man. I’ll look into the Eldredge book.

My book… give it a few years :)

Dustin January 13, 2011 at 9:49 am

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughers… had it for 6 months or so, will finally sit down and read it later this month. Heard great things.

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Matthew April 9, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Just finished this book. Read parts of it (especially the “Wilderness of Childhood chapter) out loud to my Dad. Truly a fantastic book. Deeply insightful and incredibly well-structured. And good God the man can WRITE.

Working on Yiddish Policeman’s Union right now. Awesome #2.

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