The 53 books every man must read before they turn 40

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies.
The man who never reads, lives only one.
— George R.R. Martin

I love to read… there is no doubt about that, and in doing so, I start telling others about books that I have read. I don’t like to hoard knowledge, and if I think something is worth passing on, I do it.

On this website there are several places that you can find links to great books that I recommend, but I felt like there needed to be a list that was more definitive especially for the type of men that read this blog and listen to the podcast.

Men of substance, wisdom and maturity, need to read things that are going to give them more of that, and allow them to continue having a mind of their own and even challenge their own lines of thought.

In fact, the type of men that the 360 Man Project are attracting are highly driven men that want to grow in knowledge and be able to apply it at some point in life.

Most book lists consist of only non-fiction books or classics, this list however, is going to have books that cover a broad range of topics including fitness, marketing, relationships, finances, fantasy and even books about being a man.

Since the age of about 6 years old, I have been voraciously reading, mainly because it broadens my understanding of the world, and reminds me that there is so much more to be learned. reading a book can take me to a far off distant world, and that excites me.

This list consists of books that I asked my friends to share and books that I have actually read. Enjoy!


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The Millionaire Next Door

Excellent book on what it takes to be a millionaire…just so you know, it’s probably not what you think.

Mr. Stanley debunks a lot of the myths that people believe about what it takes to build wealth.

This book was recommended by Dave Ramsey, and helped me pay off over $50K in debt and start increasing my net worth.

It’s an easy read, and will change your mindset about money.

The art of racing in the rain

This is hands down one of the best books I have ever read, in fact, I read it three times.

It is about a man’s life, seen through a dogs eyes. The things that this man goes through are no different than what many of us face, and he ultimately does the right things.

I could see myself so much in the characters and connect with how they were feeling and the circumstances and situations they were going through.

I highly recommend this book. You will love it.

The Counte of Monte Cristo

This is possibly one of the greatest books ever written for a man. It has the elements of revenge, betrayal, romance, adventure, and redemption.

It’s the classic hero story, from start to finish. Young Edmond finds himself in a island prison doomed to be there for the rest of his life. He finds a mentor, and learns so much. Then he devises a plan to escape…

The rest, you will have to read.

The Road

This book, besides being post-apocalyptic is a rare glimpse at the love that a father has for his son.

He would do anything to protect him and keep him alive in a world where survival is paramount.

I read this one in one sitting. In classic Cormac McCarthy writing you will be glad that you invested your time in reading this.

7 Men and the secret to their greatness

Want to learn what some of the greatest men’s lives were like?

Eric Metaxes breaks down each man’s life methodically and shows what they did to become great, how much they sacrificed and what type of leader they were.

The 7 men are: George Washington, William Wilberforce, Jackie Robinson, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer , Chuck Colson and Pope John Paul II.

Men of Courage

Finally, a book with substance not written by some marketing guru who tells you they have the answer to your problems.

This book is full of truth for men. In a world that tells us to try and find ourselves by looking in books or meditation or by analyzing the morning routines of thousands of people.

It comes to one final and solid truth. Pursue Christ.

One of my personal favorites and will one day have Dr. Larry Crabb come on the podcast.

Wild at Heart

This is the first book I read about masculinity. I hadn’t really ever even thought about it much.

I was 22 years old and engaged to my now, wife when I first read it. It helped me to not only understand myself more, but to understand her as well.

John Eldredge nails it on the head with this book, and every man needs to read it. This was also highly recommended by my friend Bryan who is one of the manliest men I know.

The Total Money Makeover

Dave is the best man to learn how to handle your money from. After reading this book, and going through his Financial Peace University, my wife and I paid of $55K in debt, and started learning how to build wealth.

Dave’s wisdom and truth come through, and he is not just another guru, he is a guy who has had a million dollars, lost it all, and then came back to millions doing it the right way.

This is so easy to understand and apply.

The 5000 Year Leap: Principles of Freedom 101

Discover the 28 Principles of Freedom our Founding Fathers said must be understood and perpetuated by every people who desire peace, prosperity, and freedom. Learn how adherence to these beliefs during the past 200 years has brought about more progress than was made in the previous 5000 years.


This book is a dystopian novel, not so far removed from today.

In a world of government surveillance and propaganda, it gets harder and harder to be an individual without repercussion.

The book is set in 1984, and was written in 1949 that follows the life of Winston Smith, a low ranking member of 'the Party', who is frustrated by the omnipresent eyes of the party, and its ominous ruler Big Brother. 'Big Brother' controls every aspect of people's lives.

The Hobbit

I remember my dad reading this to me, my brother and sister when I was around 6 years old.

It was the most amazing story and I felt like I was there with Bilbo, talking with Gollum and Smog.

Then I read it many years later, and gained a whole new perspective. It is the original heroes story.

Definitely a must read.

The Bible

Men who learn to be fascinated more with Christ than with themselves will become the authentic men of our day.

Resist, self discovery, and self fulfillment in a culture that craves and points to those things as being the source of all our answers.

If there is one book on this entire list that you should read, it is this one. It has the answers to all of life’s most important questions, and you will never be disappointed that you read it.

Thinking Fast and Slow

This recommendation comes from my friends Dan.

Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking.

He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives―and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble.

No More Mr. Nice Guy

This was like hitting a goldmine for me, and really helped me to understand what a “nice” guy is.

Here’s a clue; It’s probably not what you think.

The reality is that almost every guy is a “nice” guy, and that’s kind of what we need less of. What we really need are complete authentic men.

Robert Glover, not only tells you how to do that, he gives you a plan of action.


Imagine a world that is already predecided. In fact, you are merely just a number. A cog in the wheel so to speak.

Your job is chosen for you, and you are given rules that don’t make sense.

One day, you learn something, and that is your individuality. Everyday, you start to understand more and more, that life is supposed to be different, that you were made for more.

This is that book. It’s about not conforming and learning to be your own man.

Atlas Shrugged

This book is along the same lines as Anthem, but slightly different in the way that it is about a government that tries to control is people, especially the most wealthy.

The band “Rush” wrote many songs based off of the writings of Ayn Rand, and in one of their songs titled “Closer to the Heart”, they wrote about this:

And the men who hold high places
Must be the ones who start
To mold a new reality
Closer to the heart

This book is about creating a new mentality, and society away from socialism and corruption. Great read.

The Constitution of the United States of America

Every man should have this.

The Constitution of the United States established America's national government and fundamental laws, and guaranteed certain basic rights for its citizens. It was signed on September 17, 1787, by delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.

In it are the Bill of rights that every citizen should know by heart. The Bill of Rights were 10 amendments guaranteeing basic individual protections, such as freedom of speech and religion, that became part of the Constitution in 1791.

Know your rights. Learn them, and live by them.

The book of Five rings

This is one of my most favorite books.

It’s an ancient book written in the 1645 by one of the greatest swordsman that has ever lived. Miyamoto Musashi.

It is a book on strategy, discipline and learning to live the way of the warrior. I believe that some men will relate more to this than others. The warrior code is something spiritual that comes from within.

Musashi is a mentor, who guides you through several books of instruction and understanding.

The power of one

This book has it all, romance, power, greed, love, hate, war, fighting, and a great conclusion.

This is one of the greatest books of all time. It’s about a boy named P.K. who loses everything, and somehow manages to remain positive in the face of impossible hate and circumstance.

It’s a battle for humanity, and P.K. has to come face to face with the man that he ultimately wants to be.

Six battles every man must win

Every man has battles, that he might not even know he has. This book reminds you that you are a warrior and were made for a unique purpose.

Then, you are shown that there are 6 battles that are the most important in a man’s life, and why you must win them.

This was a big wake up call for me, because I was losing these battles and had no idea how to confront them.

6 rules every man must break

As a sequel to 6 rules every man must break, Bill reigns us back in and he shows us how breaking these taboos can help you break free to become the man that God created you to be. 

  • The Rule of Passivity: Never Get In a Fight

  • The Rule of Playing it Safe: Never Risk It All

  • The Rule of Perseverance: Never Give Up

  • The Rule of Independence: Never Ask For Help

  • The Rule of Restraint: Never Lose Your Cool

  • The Rule of Impressing Others: Never Look Stupid

The Prince

The Prince was written nearly 500 years ago, but most of what is written in it is still very relevant today.

Contrary to what most people believe, Machiavelli does not use cutthroat tactics or teach you to become selfish, rather he is all about the people, which you will see if you read it.

I love books like this that are timeless and can teach you so much about leadership and how to conduct yourself in certain situations or settings.

Solid book.


In short, this is a survival book. Although it is more of a children’s book, it can still teach us a little something.

The main character is a 13-year-old boy whose parents are divorced. He survives a plane crash in the Canadian wilderness en route to visit his father and must use the hatchet his mother once gave him to stay alive.

It’s a quick, exciting and intense read. If you have kids, read it with them.


These books are absolutely amazing.

Tarzan reminds us exactly of what we as men originally were like. We were wild and free and walked among the beasts.

Tarzan was raised by apes, and became king of the apes, and a fierce defender of his tribe.

However, he is taken back to the mainland where he is taught how to be a gentleman. Tarzan becomes the complete man, and struggles to balance his wild nature with the conformity of modern society.

This is what every man seems to struggle with, which is what makes Tarzan one of the greatest books.

Lord of the Flies

What do you get when you get a bunch of boys stranded on a remote island?

Survival of the fittest.

In this eerie tale about the psychology of being young and easily influenced, it’s either you join in as one of the hunters or you become the hunted.

Island of the Lost

I discovered this book by accident, but I found it to be an amazing story of survival and leadership.

Two shipwrecks on the same island but opposite sides. Only one of the shipwrecks crew survives…why?

Leadership and the willingness and grit of the team. In one of the most harshest environments in the world and based on real life events, this is an epic adventure and survival book that every man should read.

Ghost in the Wires

This book reminded me a lot of my nefarious youth. Kevin Mitnick talks about his adventures as a hacker and phreaker.

Sure, it might not be quite the book that you would want to read, but it’s almost like getting a behind the scenes look at what it takes to be a social engineer.

I couldn’t stop listening to this book and it reminded me that I don’t always have to take myself so seriously and sometimes it’s fun to get in trouble.

Fun and exciting read.

Four Pillars of a man’s heart

This was the second book that I read on masculinity.

It was recommended to me by Stu himself. In this book he brings forth the four pillars that every man needs to learn to balance.

Although I disagree that balance is maintainable in life, I do agree with the 4 pillars:

  • King

  • Warrior

  • Mentor

  • Friend

This is about how they all tie in together, and how each one of them is to be used in certain circumstances.


Hands down one of the most inspiring books I have ever read.

Adam Brown’s life is one worth reading, and you will be forever different for the better after finishing it.

He shows us what it looks like to be forgiven, to forgive, and to live a life of complete sacrifice. It is not only a story of grit and determination but a story of redemption and faith.

The Warrior Elite

If you really want to know what it’s like to be a Navy SEAL, then read this book because it’s as close as you can get without actually being one.

Dick Couch takes you behind the scenes of BUD’s training from start to finish with class 228.

There has never been such a close encounter with these elite warriors. I read this book in one sitting. Couldn’t put it down.

Not only did I learn a lot about BUD’s but I learned a lot about what these warriors have to endure.

Inside Delta Force

Just like how I wanted to know about the Navy SEAL’s, I also wanted to learn about the just as Elite Delta Force.

They are mostly the same but have outlying contrasts. I learned so much about the history and evolution of Delta Force.

These guys are a whole different breed and they have to be able to ruck for miles upon miles alone in the wilderness. If you havn’t ever tried that, do a 50 Mile GORUCK Starcourse.

This is where it originated.

12 Years a Slave

This is an autobiographical account of how Solomon Northup, a free black man in New York in 1841, was deceived, kidnapped, and sold into slavery in Louisiana. For twelve years he endured the tortuous, degrading inhumanity that was southern slavery on the Bayou until his rescue in 1853.

What had I done to deserve imprisonment in such a dungeon? I could not comprehend. There was a blank of some indefinite period, preceding my awakening in that lonely place, the events of which the utmost stretch of memory was unable to recall.

A life in the Balance: The Billy Wayne Sinclair Story

I read this book while I was on deployment on the USS Kitty-Hawk.

I had never read anything like this and found it online when amazon was first getting big.

This is a story of a man who made a really bad series of choices and then turned his life around while in prison. He started educating himself and found the path of redemption.

It reminded me that we all have things we are guilty of but it’s not what defines us, and we still have the choice to turn it around.

Great book.

The Six-Figure Second Income

Have you ever thought about starting a business online, or a blog, or a website for your hobby?

Most people talk about getting a “side-hustle”, and this book gives you all the tools you need to do it.

If you don’t really understand how to make money on the internet, these guys give you a game-plan with practical steps.

There’s not a lot of fluff, and it is probably the best book I have read about it, so much so that I have it in my home library.

Never Split the Difference

A former international hostage negotiator for the FBI offers a new, field-tested approach to high-stakes negotiations—whether in the boardroom or at home.

I started using the approaches he talks about in this book immediately. They work!!

I was startled but not only did it give me confidence but it actually made negotiating fun, and it helped me to relax in a conversation since I already knew what to do.

Very cool read!

The last of the mohicans

Deep in the forests of upper New York State, the brave woodsman Hawkeye and his loyal Mohican friends Chingachgook and Uncas become embroiled in the bloody battles of the French and Indian War.

The Munro sisters are abducted and taken captive by Magua. Hawkey and his friends go in pursuit, and come face to face with the reality of the times, and an epic ending.

This is a great picture of frontier life, the vanishing of a race and the ending of its way of life.

The movie is amazing, but this book is way better.

Edgar Allen Poe: Complete Tales & Poems

I find EAP a very intellectual man and phenomenal writer, even though he was typically high on opium.

His words just flow off the pages. This is a collection of his greatest stories among some of them are

  • Gold bug

  • Tell tale hear

  • The cask of Amontillado

  • The Raven

These are great to read before bedtime since they are short stories. They will definitely get your brain thinking.

The Martian

Survival on mars…Alone

Originally written as a series of blog posts, this novel turned into an epic tale of one mans journey from being abandoned and left for dead on mars to his journey back home.

Astronaut botanist, Mark Watney uses his training and expertise to grow food and engineer his escape.

Using cutting edge technology this modern day Robinson Crusoe tale is bound to inspire.

Gates of Fire

This novel is a complete fictional reenactment of what the battle of Thermopylae was like.

It is told from the perspective of a slave who joins the ranks of the Spartans and has an eyewitness account of the training, the battles, and even into the lives of these great warrior heroes.

The battles are so realistic, and the fight scenes so intense that you will feel like you are right there.

Not only did I learn a lot about the Spartans but I learned a lot about myself and needed to solidify a few things in my life.

Starting Strength

A man needs to learn how to be strong, and lift weights.

Seriously, every man should have this in his library. I found it to be very easy to comprehend and apply.

This will show you how to lift weights correctly, and to use correct form for all of the big lifts (Squat, Deadlift, OH Press, Bench Press).

Basic Strength.

The Daily Stoic

You need to read this. Every man should have this on his nightstand.

Read it. That is all.

The Autobiography of Ben Franklin

The Autobiography, published in 1790, was not a chronicle of Franklin’s brilliance; the idea was to show how a person’s life and character could become a noble one through constant self-assessment. Franklin, as a scientist, wrote it almost as if it were a report on the failures and successes of experiments in living.

At no point did he claim any special mastery over how to live life, but he was committed to finding a formula that could assure a person of some success. -Source

“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise”

Those are words to live by.

Theodore Rex

This is the second book in a series of three, and gives us a never before scene into the two terms that he served as the president of the United States.

He rallied a stricken nation, called us out and reminded us that we needed to chase the strenuous life because it taught us more about ourselves and made us much better humans.

He was critical in the building of the panama canal, created the national conservation policy and won the Nobel peace prize, all at the ripe young age of 50 years old.

He was truly one of the greatest Presidents and men ever.

The Art of War

Sun Tzu was a Chinese general, military strategist, writer and philosopher who lived in the Eastern Zhou period of ancient China.

Just like “the book of five rings” or “the prince”, this is timely advice and ancient wisdom.

Mostly strategy in wartime, but can be applied in the workplace and in life.

Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.

I am Legend

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be the last human being on the earth?

The movie doesn’t do this book justice. Not only is he the last person on earth, but he struggles with it, and it’s in that humanity that a man will be able to relate.

This is not a book with a happy ending, and that’s why I love it so much. Unfortunately Hollywood made this something it really wasn’t supposed to be.

One of the best horror books I have ever read.

Logan’s Run

Published in 1967, the novel depicts a dystopic ageist future society in which both population and the consumption of resources are maintained in equilibrium by requiring the death of everyone reaching the age of 21.

Logan is a “sandman” charged with putting people to sleep, he tracks them down and kills them. However when his time comes, he doesn’t really agree with it (Big surprise) and goes on the run himself.

Can Logan escape?

SAS Survival Handbook

First written in 1986, and revised in 2009, and now has an app on a smartphone to accompany it.

It details basic survival skills, like how to build a fire, to more complex and situation-specific skills, like how to take shelter while indoors during an earthquake.

The third edition includes urban survival. You might think this is just for survivalists and preppers, but it’s for everyone.

If you have read this list of books you will find that you never know when you will need these survival skills.

Get this book!

Unbeatable Mind

Do you want to awake the warrior within you?

Do you want to know your why? How you are wired? What your natural strengths are?

READ this book.

This book will seriously make you slow down, take an audit of your current life, and help you to discover and draw out the man you are made to be. This book is for men who are hungry to learn.

I visited SEALFIT HQ when I was out in San Diego for work. He wasn't there but I left my book and asked him to sign it. He did!

Trust me, Mark will leave you with a renewed hunger for life.

Living on the Ragged Edge

Ambition has it's downfalls, so it's best to know the enemy.

If you are going to learn something, it's best to learn from the wisest man that ever lived.

This guy had it all, there was nothing that he couldn't acquire, achieve, or pursue. He has some very deep insights into all of his pursuits.

Although it may seem apathetic at times, the truth that he concludes in the end is what's most important.

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.

Point of Impact

They should have left him alone.

Movie is good. Book is way better.

If you don't want to become Bob Lee Swagger after reading this book, I will be surprised.

This is a great action book filled with mystery, suspense, intrigue and the essence of a man.

I guarantee you won't put this one down once you start reading it. You will also probably go out and buy yourself a rifle.

I love this book!

Self-Discipline: The Ultimate Guide to Self-Discipline like a US NAVY SEAL: Gain Incredible Self Confidence, Motivation, & True Discipline with Techniques used only by these Elite Warriors!

Every man needs to have self-discipline. Who better to learn from than arguably the toughest warriors on the planet.

John uses Fitness as his platform to teach self-discipline. I seriously believe that life can be lived the way that you want it to be when you implement these lessons.

I was able to read this for free on Amazon Kindle. It has picked up a lot of traction since then though and is now only $2.99.

It is an easy read, but well written and excellent for the price.

Besides, you get to learn from a Seasoned Vet. Everything about these guys breathes discipline ambition, and confidence.

The Call of the Wild

The Call of the Wild, considered by many London’s greatest novel, is a gripping tale of a heroic dog that, thrust into the brutal life of the Alaska Gold Rush, ultimately faces a choice between living in man’s world and returning to nature. Adventure and dog-story enthusiasts as well as students and devotees of American literature will find this classic work a thrilling, memorable reading experience.

You will be able to connect with that call as a man.

Battlefield Earth

This is just a fun book.

It’s about Johnny Goodboy who desires to understand his own post apocalyptic world, and becomes captured by the Alien race.

He learns how to use the equipment and the ins and outs of the alien race. He is cunning and brave, and becomes the leader of a revolt to upend the plans of the Psychlos.

The author is also the creator of Scientology. (FYI)

Do you have any suggestions or books that you would like to add?

Leave a link to a book that has helped you in the comments section below.