I have been a Joel Stein fan for many years (I love his editorials in Time), so I picked up Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity this weekend for a good laugh and entertainment.
Joel has been blessed with a beautiful son who will soon no longer be tiny and will start asking his father to teach him how to throw a baseball and fight lions. Sounds normal, right? The only problem is that Joel is the least manly man he knows. He sets out to become more masculine by joining firefighters, learning to enjoy scotch, and camping with Boy Scouts. Hilarity ensues.
I have been a Joel Stein fan for some time. When I still subscribed to Time (read: when I wasn't a grad student) I used to look forward to finding his editorial on the back page. I saved quite a few because I just get his humor and I really enjoy it.
So, it will surprise you none when I tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is classic Stein--the overeager lifetime learner and his exasperated wife, always thinking her husband is two steps behind. I appreciated the easiness of this book; it was funny, lighthearted, and witty while still having substance and a sense of humor that you must appreciate for what it is. I love the quickness of Stein's wit and his self-deprecation. It made time fly by.
What I appreciated most of all in this book, however, was that we left with a moral. Even though Stein is a witty guy and he gets himself into some scrapes that are guffaw-inducing, we leave the book with a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man. Sure, firefighters are buff and strong and all around studly (I mean, that's just a personal opinion), but what truly makes a man is what is in his heart. It could easily come across as cheesy, but in this case it just comes across as honest. You don't need to build your own house or shoot animals to prove your masculinity--you only need to accept who you are.
Kindle version on left, hard copy on right.