What are the most influential character-developing books you've read?

I find that most self-help books are a lot more gender-neutral and based on market-orientated skills, such as: how to be confident, charismatic, and eliminate stress. 

I've had some trouble finding over the past days books based more specifically on development of the male character, on what it means to be a man. Things like values, virtue and integrity are harder to find in the modern self-help book section. 

Right now I'm looking at Benjamin Franklin's biography, The rise of Theodore Roosevelt and some Alexander the Great books. 

Does anyone have anything to recommend? does not necessarily have to be a biography of a famous person, just a character-development book. 



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I agree that To Kill a Mockingbird describes some manly virtues and particularly, the character of Atticus Finch offers much to be commended and perhaps emulated. I also think Plato's Republic, and other Socratic dialogues, as well as the philosophies of Marcus Aurelius, are excellent classical sources for modern wisdom. Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington is quite inspirational; hard to feel sorry for yourself after reading of the rise of a man born into bondage who later become one of the most learned and respected men of his generation. The Survivor's Club is a good book for getting inspiration from ordinary people who have prevailed in extremely dangerous, life-threatening conditions - most of them without any prior or specialized training. I happen to enjoy historical fiction and have always admired the determination of the fictional Horatio Hornblower - the novels may seem old-fashioned but they are surprisingly gripping tales of the Age of Fighting Sail. Some Cold War era espionage fiction such as Ice Station Zebra by Alistair McLean offers the same sort of admirable character study. Trustee from the Toolroom by Nevil Shute is one of my favorites - another book about an ordinary man who fulfills a moral obligation that ends up being a rather gruelling adventure tale.

I also agree that the biographies of any historical person you admire can offer a lot of insight and inspiration. It doesn't have to be the bio of a great adventurer like Captain Richard Burton - some of the great romantic male leads from the Golden Age of Hollywood - Gary Cooper, Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable - had fascinating early lives before they became stars. Even some ho-hum types - e.g. David Oreck, the vacuum cleaner guy - led fascinating lives, so biographies can be an excellent source.

If you haven't read East of Eden, you should. It may not fall into the character development category, but it will leave a mark on you in some way. You will identify with a character and gain perspective on life, family and generations. 

Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter -great study on the psychology of guilt. Also Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime And Punishment and/or The Brothers Karamazov - a great theological book.

Here are two great ones -

Nine Things Every Guy Oughta Know 


What Every Man Needs to Know

written by myself


I would recommend The Brothers Karamazov or the 48 Laws of Power

Don't read self-help books.  They are a new phenomenon brought on by a sissified society.  Instead read the great classics.


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