Cover Image: How to Be a Man (Whatever That Means)

How to Be a Man (Whatever That Means)

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Member Reviews

As someone who follows James Breakwell on Twitter and receives his newsletter, this was the first book of his I picked up and I wasn't disappointed. It includes more of his sense of humor. Even though I am not a man, I still found myself laughing at the various situations he found himself in and just his writing style. He pokes fun of himself constantly and finds humor in almost every situation. It makes for a delightful read where you can read in snippets or find yourself reading story after story and before you know it a lot of time has passed.
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xploding Unicorn and Unbelievably Bad author/comic takes a look at what a man is supposed to be and what manhood has actually been in his life.
 
James Breakwell uses humor to look back on his life making this a memoir more than a humor book. He looks at the stereotype of men, how he failed to meet them and that it's OK to fail. How to Be a Man (Whatever That Means): Lessons in Modern Masculinity from a Questionable Source. This collection of stories are relatable and real and many will enjoy the book from that slant. Breakwell lives up to his last name as he fails at those stereotypes.
 
I expected something humorous something along the lines of Failure is an Option by H. Job Benjamin.
There were some funny chapters and humorous moments. Overall it read like any other memoir The slant of breaking stereotypes of men was good but the overdone woman worshiping went to the point where it lost reverence and became sarcasm instead of fumy insight. 

 The chapters that were funny were hilarious. They kept me going through the mundane. These chapters were the best with one exception: a very deep and personal serious chapter showed true emotion and was some a plus writing. This chapter didn't need to be funny but the chapters around it needed more humor to buffer the sadness.

I think the thing I disliked more than unfunny humor is the lack of organization. I am unsure why certain stories came in a certain order. Nothing was chronological Instead of thematic, it seemed like a stream of consciousness. I found myself the fourth of the way through the book going “we are hearing about his teen years again? Ugh.”

If you want humor I direct you to Breakwell's other work Only Dead on the Inside: A Parent's Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse. But if you want to read about men failing stereotypes with humor and grace please read the aforementioned Failure is an Option (go for the audiobook; Benjamin reads it himself and it's wonderful).
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I follow James Breakwell on SM and find his tweets and little snippets of his life amusing. He has the ability to turn mundane stories into instantly comedic occurrences.

This book does not disappoint on that front. James Breakwell writes about his experiences and what he has learnt from them. Cutting corners and getting lucky are frequently occurring themes in the book. In a set of essays, he tells us how he reached where he is and what lessons he learnt on the way.

If you are feeling low or worthless, just read this book. Keep a tissue close because your eyes will be full of tears (mostly from laughing but also from crying, in one instance).

This is the first James Breakwell book I have read and the review would be incomplete if I do not mention the author's writing. He can write. Amazingly.

Thanks to Netgalley, James Breakwell, and BenBella Books for the ARC.

4 stars.
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"There are also institutional barriers women have to overcome, making anything they accomplish that much more praiseworthy. The glass ceiling is real. In the corporate world, men and women play the same game, but men are in easy mode, while women are in a mode where, if they make one mistake, their entire Xbox catches on fire. If a woman goes through all of that and still gets promoted, she's earned the right to brag - even though she probably won't mention it. Their humble superiority is the worst."

Full disclosure: I'm already a big fan of Breakwell's. I subscribe to his weekly newsletter, which never fails to make me laugh, and his social media postings never fail to elicit at least a snicker if not a chuckle. That being said, I haven't read his other books though I do plan to. I don't have kids, and yet somehow he makes parenting really relatable. But this book isn't just about parenting, it's about him and the lessons he's learned about being a man (whatever that means).

There were so many great essays in this book and Breakwell has an excellent way of connecting something from his own childhood to an experience he's had as a parent. For instance, recounting how impatient he was for a tractor ride when he was small and living on the farm and disappearing to find his father and consequently said tractor. His mother of course panicked, people were called, the fire department set out to search for him. I won't spoil the ending of that for you, but I will say that when something similar happens with his own kids later on, his mother gleefully sent him pictures detailing the saga (his daughter Lucy crawled out the doggy door) and he saw firsthand the kind of payback parents often warn their own kids will come when they too have offspring. That and the saga of the gnome thieves are probably some of the most memorable stories recounted in this book, as well as how he proposed to Lola.

This book made me laugh so many times I lost count, but it also made me sob with one of his essays. It's called The Real Numbers, and that title doesn't immediately make you think it's going to be a heartbreaking entry in this otherwise hilarious and amusing book, but it is. Just a quick trigger warning: it covers the death of a sibling as well as his first daughter. The essay begins by noting that Breakwell isn't the oldest of seven kids, he's the oldest of eight. And he doesn't have four daughters, he has five. So it's very clear what's coming. Even though it's the toughest read of the entire book, I still recommend it because he writes with such elegance and honesty about a topic that's beyond hard. It's another side to a man that 99% of the time is funny in everything he does. It's a vulnerable side, but it's a human side, and I sobbed reading the whole of the essay.

Breakwell is a great writer. I fully recommend reading this book and subscribing to his newsletter (don't miss the chance to read about Waffle's antics, seriously) and following him on social media. And I know despite the fact that I don't have kids, I'll be picking up his other books as well now.
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I follow the author on social media, and his posts often made me laugh out loud. Some of the stories in this book did too, but others didn't hold my interest so I skipped over them.
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I loved this book! It is full of humour and laugh-out-loud stories from a dad of four young daughters. I have read other books by this author and have enjoyed all of them.
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Oh my gosh! I giggled and laughed and cried and laughed again while reading this book. I saw bits and pieces I recognized about every man in my life in these pages, every brother, father, grandfather, husband and son! I've been a fan of Mr. Breakwell's for quite a while, and when I had an opportunity to read this through NetGalley, I jumped on it, knowing I would not be disappointed.

The next thing I need to do after reviewing this book is order copies for my husband and son, as well as my four brothers and my father and tell them they should read it! I don't think anyone who knows a man of any kind will be disappointed to spend time reading this book. Now I need to go research mini pigs for myself...
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Thanks to NetGalley for an early copy. I have followed this author on social media and subscribed to his email list for years though I haven’t read any previous books. I really enjoyed this book—especially the touching chapter titled The Real Numbers. I laughed, I cried. It was a good read.
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Okay i found this book in the hunour section and that is why i decided to pick it up . I must say that I was very dissapointed . Two stories into this book I gave up . It wasn't funny to me at all . The stories were bland , I hated the writting and overall i think this was just a very dull and insipid .
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The last time I cried while reading was the end of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.
I remember it.  A little over five years ago.
Without spoilers, Fikry has a dramatic scene with his daughter.  I'm reading in the living room and go to the bedroom for some privacy, because a man's emotions must be hoarded.
Having daughters, two at that time, a third on the way, that scene hit me hard. The dread, fear, expectation of being in that position, to have to make that decision, I hated Fikry for his weakness and prayed I would have the strength to do the same.
And now Breakwell, you lanky bastard, did the same.
I found James Breakwell online, probably Twitter. I followed his newletter, I enjoy it.
We apparently have several things in common.
He has only daughters, I have only daughters. I also think sitting on a wallet is dumb, though I don't have James' aggression towards what other men do or do not have in their back pockets. He recently wrote about how three of his kids have a birthday at about the same time, my two eldest have a birthday a day apart... six years apart, but a day apart. His girls take "playtime" and turn it into a full-contact sport, my girls have perfected the art of turning a play kitchen into a warzone, good times, gooooood times.
So when I read about this book in Breakwell's newsletter I probably thought "Oh, look, another book. I haven't read any of his other books, I'll just skip this one too. Have to keep my perfect record perfect."
So when I see this book available on NetGalley I probably thought "Oh, its free, might as well read it."
The book follows a short-story format. Some stories are "A Man Should..." with a funny story. The other stories are ideas he elaborates on with his usual tone and rhythm, all good, he explains this format in the preface.
Most are funny, I'm actually giggling while reading. I don't agree with all of "How to be a Man" advice but I can see where he's coming from and everything is so well written I don't mind small disagreements.
All of the stories are good, in a style I'm expecting because Breakwell's writing style is familar and enjoyable. With any collection of stories, a reader will prefer some over others.
Will you prefer reading about a Kafkaesque system that punishes everyone who didn't even steal the lawn gnomes? Or the time James managed to not die several times despite every car around him actively trying to accidently-on-purpose murder him. Or about a bull attack that is a really bad metaphor for the causes of World War I?... like, its not a metaphor at all, but it's a good story and I'm not looking to spoil anything.
But THE REAL NUMBERS... that story. Seriously? I'm reading and I can feel my chest opening up, feeling hollow and empty and then full. I'm flashing back to my wife, standing in our driveway while I'm helping our eldest learn to ride a bike, telling me she's pregnant. I'm seeing our middle daughter, holding her in the hospital room wondering why I feel different, why colors seem brighter. I'm reliving a later miscarriage, not knowing how to help, unable to fix anything ever again. I'm remembering the warmth of my eldest, when she had a nightmare and came to our bed, her body cuddled against mine as she fit against only my torso and compare to now, how she walks around the house taller than her mother. I'm holding our youngest in my lap as she's practicing reading, smelling her hair and hoping she'll never change even while I celebrate when she does.
I just read Lillian on Sunday and one of the stories there had a power over me. It had the power to genuinely piss me off in a little more than one page of writing.
THE REAL NUMBERS has that same power, though it won't hit everyone the same. Some people will read this and brush it off and that's fine, your life experience will give you different insights to different things, the way it should be.
But now even the dedication page makes me melancholy.
James, I hate you just a little bit. So good writing.
**I received an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I really enjoyed this book, and as it’s essentially a series of humorous essays about life’s misadventures, it was a good one to pick up three times over a couple of days as comic relief between other reads.

I did not realise when I requested this book that James was someone whose tweets I had been reading for years. It made me that much more excited to start it once I knew! James’ writing is excellent and clever, the witticisms abundant, and the messages in each section hilarious. I chuckled in every single one, except for one nearer the end that really caught me off guard. It was deeply personal, incredibly moving, and had me in tears largely throughout the whole passage. Thanks for sharing that with readers.

I found this book to be not only funny, but also touching as James’ love for his family is highlighted throughout all the writing, and his respect and admiration for his wife really shines through. I particularly enjoyed the bits about the Negotiating Chores, Protecting your Family, Men’s Wallets, and the Six-toed Kitten. There was a lot to love in here!

Excellent read and I certainly recommend it to anyone who likes a bit of clever and funny reading with heart.

*Thanks the NetGalley, James and BenBella Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I'll confess the title of this book was what made me want to read it and it was such a great way for the author to draw from his experiences and humor to shed light on some the insecurities that he faced, including misconceptions and I love that in the very beginning he states this book in no way undermines the advances feminist movements have made.

Thanks Netgalley for the eARC.
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I enjoyed the book very much. A fun way of looking at life and how to be a real man. I would recommend this book to anyone that would like to have a few smiles in their life.
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Thank you #Netgalley for the advanced copy!

I follow James Breakwell on Twitter and have always found his content funny. I was excited to be granted access to this book.  I found this collections of essays hilarious, especially from his college years and garden gnomes.  I loved how he also connected his stories throughout the essays all while being sure to mention his amazing wife and how she handled situations.  A fun read and highly recommend, especially if you are already familiar with his content.
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