My oldest son has a birthday coming up and I was thinking about the day when he goes off into the world on his own. I know the best way to prepare him is by providing a good example and to tell/show him what he needs to know. However, what I was thinking about is which books would be most useful to give to a young man that he could reference whenever he needed to. I started a list but I want to see what the other men on here would suggest. My idea is to slowly give these books to my son on birthdays and on Christmas so he has a good collection when he moves out.

Here's my list, some are just a category of book that I would give him.

Home repair
Auto repair (Chilton / Haynes manual for first car)
Wilderness Survival - "98.6 degrees" by Cody Lundin
Urban Survival/Preparedness - "When all hell break loose" by Cody Lundin
Cook book
Clothing / Style
Dangerous book for boys
Original Boy Scout handbook
Manvotionals by Brett

What books would be on your list? What books would you recommend for the categories where I don't have a specific book picked out.

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In terms of relationships and seduction I highly recommend 'The 5 Love Languages' by Gary Chapman, to really help understand not just a partner, but people around him.

In terms of Finances I do enjoy reading 'Think and Grow Rich' by Napoleon Hill & 'Secrets to the Millionaire Mind' by T. Harv Ecker as ones that have had significant impacts on my life, financially.

I see that you are missing something around mindsetting or even just personal development. For a young man I feel that we have to conquer a lot of fears and learn to grow courage to overcome them. I learnt a lot about this through Susan Jeffers book titled 'Feel the fear and do it anyway'.

I hope this helps Rob.

Richard from Romantic Missions

Books for preparation of life.

Nathan Lowell – Solar Clipper Series, Book one is Quarter Share. 

The series is sci-fi future focused on people.  The setting is the backdrop to an 18 year old joining up on a merchant cargo hauler trans-solar ship as the lowest rating.  It is a great series because we see him growing up and learning about life and women and such.   He has great people handling skills and shows how to appreciate women as equals and romantic partners.  It is really a good series.  I got an autographed first printing for my son.  I’m waiting to present it to him.  If your friend likes podcasts you can find the whole series on podcast.  The Author wrote it, could not publish it, podcasted it (great voice)and after a million plus downloads is finally publishing it in print.

Terry Pratchet Disk world books are very good and have a lot of simple truths about life sewn throughout them.

Alan Flusser - "Dressing the Man" and "Clothes and the Man". 

It is all about suits and how to make you look your best in them.  The only problem is that they are about suits exclusively.

The Editors of Esquire Magazine - Esquire The Handbook of Style: A Man's Guide to Looking Good 

This covers more about life an adult male then Flusser does.  What to pack, how to put out fits together etc, how to store things for best life of them.


Mark Bittman – “How to Cook Everything The Basics: All You Need to Make Great Food” &

 “How to Cook Everything, Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition....”  When you are away from home and want that meal it is nice to have a reference to look up how to do it.  I find it really handy.


What I don’t have but wish I had for recommendation would be a good book on personal finance.  The goal being that the reader can learn and understand how to calculate interest, payments, etc.  The goal is to make sure that given a payment plan they can see how much extra they are going to pay for the payment plan vs saving up and paying cash.  Also to help them think about when to use debt to get to better places in life rather than using debt to pay for simple pleasures.



A video series that is good is Jame’s Burke’s Connections.  It was made in the late 1970s but it’s themes and questions and history are still relevant today.

Dave Ramsey's "Total Money Makeover".  Simple, but effective.  Wish I had a copy 15-years-ago.



I would add these books to your list.


The 5000 Year Leap by W. Cleon Skousen

Thoughts For Young Men by J.C. Ryle

George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.

The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

any book by Theodore Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.

The Bible.


How to Win Friends and Influence People is a very good book and well worth adding.

You seem interested in survival so the ultimate tome is Mors Kochanski's "Bush Craft".

You need some history and fiction. Fiction is more open to taste apart from The Old Man and The Sea. History must include Anabasis.

I wouldn't give a young man many books specifically for that time of life; that is, I'd give him what he'd enjoy, however old he was.  Exception:  books that are really tools.  Easy basics of cooking.  How to fix things around the house.

But I can recommend some from your categories.

Etiquette:  Miss Manners, esp. her Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior IIRC.

Relationships:  No More Mr. Nice Guy if it's the same book I'm thinking of; Letters to Philip

Finances:  Motley Fool's investment guide.  They've got several; might have to figure which one's apropos.  

And maybe one or two specifically for that age:  Iron John; King, Warrior, Magician, Lover.

Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse

Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville

Basically only books by guys named Herman.

Here are a few books that I read as a young man that were helpful:

- How to Win Friends and Influence People

- Rich Dad Poor Dad

- The Power of Positive Thinking

- The Alchemist

- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

My first thought was The 7 Habits.

-20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to inspire

-Peter Pan to remind to play

-A Patriots History of the United States to educate

-A binder filled with recipes he/she grew up with to comfort

Along with A Patriot's History, also Zinn's People's History of the United States.

I would second this.  One of my favorite memories of adolescence was having my father teach me how to tie a tie.  It felt like some sort of ritual changing from boyhood to manhood.

You make a fair point that I didn't stop to think about. No point in giving books to kids who don't read. I read and both my kids are readers too, so I assumed the recipient would read them and looked to the content. I simply moved forward from my own perspective without considering.  Thanks for the reminder to do so.


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