Jim's Top 17 Books for Men - Your Manly Reading List

Leaders are Learners. Leaders are Readers.

Philippians 1:6 is the compass pointing to my continual growth:

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on until the day of Christ Jesus.”

This verse has motivated me to relentlessly pursue Jesus and personal growth.

Criteria for a Great Book

As many know, I read a lot of books for the podcast, to develop my spiritual life, and for pleasure. I would guess I read over 100 books in 2021 and 2022, consistently reading 30-50 books a year for the past 25 years. Over the years, I have noticed a trend in books that—for me—stand above the rest. They are:

  • Books I read more than once (or plan to)

  • Books I quote regularly

  • Books with movies made about them (that I watch often)

  • Books I remember

  • Books I recommend

Here are My Top 17 Books for Men:


  1. The Bible (NLT Filament)
    The best Man Bible I’ve found, with the exclamation mark in John 19:30 when Jesus shouts, “It is finished!”

  2. The Chosen Blended Harmony of the Gospels

    The gospels blended together into one story. I did find one typo - send me a picture of the typo (it says “she” when it should be “he”) and we’ll send you swag.

Biographical Adventure

  1. Undaunted Courage by Steven Ambrose
    The story of the Louis and Clarke’s epic adventure.

  2. Endurance by Alfred Lansing
    Ernest Shackleton’s amazing 4th trans-Arctic adventure.

  3. River of Doubt by Candice Millard
    The story of the trip that ultimately led to Theodore Roosevelt’s death.

    You’ll walk away from these three books saying “I’m so soft.” You’ll be blown away by how tough these men were!

Straight Up Fiction

  1. One Second After by William Forstchen
    Most Americans live under the false pretense that we will always be safe, but this story reminds us that we are 9 meals away from total anarchy.

  2. Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway  
    A great reminder that reaching goals is a lonely endeavor, but it must be undertaken if we want to do great things.

  3. The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino
    An inspirational look at forming rhythms and living in victory. You will be misty-eyed at the end.

  4. Call of the Wild (White Fang) by Jack London
    It’s the call in every man to leave domestication and return the wilderness. As a bonus, on page 60-61 is the best description of worship I’ve ever read. Wow!

  5. This Present (Piercing the…) Darkness by Frank Peretti
    There is an unseen world out there and an invisible war! Don’t be naïve. We have real, unseen enemies.

  6. Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
    It speaks to every man about their desire for adventure, risk, and to be someone’s hero.                


  1. Forgiving Forward: Unleashing the Forgiveness Revolution by Bruce Hebel
    The newest addition to my list. Much of our pain, physical infirmity, and trauma comes from unforgiveness and bitterness, even in the Church. This is the best book I’ve read on how to forgive. (Also see our interview with Bruce.)

  2. Wild at Heart by John Eldredge
    Eldredge lists the three core passions of every man. Those passions resonated with my soul and they will with yours, too.                           

  3. What Radical Husbands Do by Regi Campbell
    This book is short, easy to read and offers memorable and practical advice for being a better husband.

  4. Developing the Leader Within You by Jon Maxwell  
    I’ve read a dozen of Maxwell’s books, but this was the first. It unleashed the leader within me. Everything changed after that.  

  5. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie 
    Relationships matter. People matter, but they are selfish, and how you respond to their selfishness will make you a better person and leader.

  6. Strong Men Dangerous Times: Five Essentials Every Man Must Possess to Change His World by Jim Ramos
    This is the first book I’ve read (written!) that clearly defines what a man is and does. You’ll walk away knowing what it takes to live as a man.

But I Don’t Read

Do you drive? We just released Strong Men Dangerous Times on Audible for men like you.