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Letters to My Son: A Father's Wisdom on Manhood, Life, and Love

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4.20  ·  Rating details ·  422 ratings  ·  58 reviews
In an attempt to gather what wisdom he could to guide his son into adulthood, Kent Nerburn published a powerful collection of essays that touched the hearts of parents and children everywhere. In this beautiful revised edition, Nerburn refines his advice and expands his thoughts.
Paperback, 240 pages
Published January 19th 1999 by New World Library (first published 1993)
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Average rating 4.20  · 
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Start your review of Letters to My Son: A Father's Wisdom on Manhood, Life, and Love
Jen
Mar 23, 2010 rated it liked it
I think all these quotes are from this book? I just found them unlabeled in a computer file...

"That is why we need travel. If we don't offer ourselves to the unknown, our senses dull. Our world becomes small and we lose our sense of wonder. Our eyes don't lift to the horizon; our ears don't hear the sounds around us. The edge is off our experience, and we pass our days in a routine that is both comfortable and limiting. We wake up one day and find that we have lost our dreams in order to
...more
Melodie
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A lovely little book full of essays written as father /son advice. I enjoyed each and every one, and took some time to digest particularly deep ones. The ones that resonated most deeply( I believe because of my age) were those on loving and living with elders and on death and dying.
As the daughter of ninety-something parents and mother of thirty-something sons, I found valuable advice for myself as well. I recommend this book most highly and will be passing it along .
Megan Huff
Nov 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone and everyone
I got this book yesterday, and finished it today.

I went into SAVE Thrift store to pass some time before catching the bus home and I walked back to the book shelf just to look around. My eyes immediately fell on this book and for some reason, even though it is a book written by a man and aimed at boys/men I wanted to read it.

So I bought it and started reading it on the bus. Despite the fact that this is a book about the philosophies of becoming a man, about what dilemmas a man faces and what he
...more
Ivan
Reading the "letter" on sex (Chapter 25) was like reading about the birds and the bees from your dad.

No, your grandpa.

No, your friend's grandpa.

Who writes for Encyclopedia Britannica.

In the 1950s.

In fact, despite the rare keen observation, most of Nerburn's essays come off as pretentious and banal: not a great combination when trying to impart wisdom and inspire learning.

At least his letters/chapters are mostly brief if not unhelpful. Still, if Nerburn were my father, I would have just told
...more
Minerva
Oct 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed how poetic and insightful this book was. My favorite chapter was on "Travel" ...That is why we need to travel. If we dont offer ourself to the unknown, our senses dull. Our world becomes small and we lose our sense of wonder. Our eyes dont lift to the horizon; our ears dont hear the sounds around us. The edge is off our experience, and we pass our days in a routine that is both comfortable and limiting. We wake up one day and find that we have lost our dreams in order to protect ...more
Larry
Jul 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. The author is down to earth and keeps things concise and clear. The topics he picked to write about were all relevant ones which I find myself thinking about often. Sometimes it is just nice to hear another man's take on things such as spirituality, drugs, family/fatherhood, death, love, giving, etc. I like his references to Zen. I took a lot away from this book.
John Benson
Nov 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book of short essays that the author uses to tell his son about a variety of experiences he will probably encounter in life. I liked his positive views on what it means to be a man and how he works at helping his son understand the role of emotions in life. A very good and thoughtful book.
Nate Royal
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Personally I loved this book. Full of wisdom. From someone who lost there father at a young age this book touched my heart. Special book.
Mark Ray, Jr
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My Dad bought me this book back in 1992 when I was a sophomore in high school. I read it then and decided to re-read as I now have two sons. This book is quite different reading it again 27 years later in mid-life vs teenage years. It presents a good perspective on many life lessons and may help start some of those tough discussions between fathers and their children; but good parenting still requires daily guidance and love.

Thank you Dad for the book and more importantly all the life lessons
...more
Amanda
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobooks
It wasnt all that I expected. I guess too short and filled with good sayings. Good personal stories to support his thoughts. I dont know if there is anything he said that I could share with my son that I wasnt already going to. As a single mom, this wasnt useful to me. But I had to listen to the entire book to be able to figure that out. ...more
Chiraz Ben a
Mar 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
I liked this book a lot. So much wisdom distilled in one little book. Though it's addressed to his son, obviously a male, most of the ideas are actually quite universal, timeless, and gender-independent.
I listened to the audiobook version, and even at x1.75 speed which did not feel too fast. It was only after I had finished it that I noticed that the reader was actually Mr. Nerbern's son, the one to whom the book was written for! That made it all the more meaningful.

Simply a great book.
Jacob Coldwell
Like a cliff

This was an interesting and even insightful book until a third of the way through. Some good ideas that eventually turned to a warped perspective on how you should live your life.
Aaron Terrazas
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Some parts outdated, but also some parts timeless.
Jamir A.
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was really inspiring and a great book for kids who possibly didn't grow up without a dad and should of heard and experienced these feelings with their father
Stardust Queen
Jan 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, self-help
(7/10)
Good (I don't know how to rate it).
Lovely and heartwarming (some discrepancies, tho).
Sarah Hirsch
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simple, beautiful, touching.
Keith Mounts
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Kent Nerburn is my favorite author of the spiritual journey. This is one of his finest.
Annette Cooper
Aug 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing Book!

I got this book for my son as it's a summer reading for his senior year in an all male school. After reading the book, he came to me with a astonished look on his face. He said that the book supplies young males with an incredible insight on life. He said that it is one of the best books that he has ever read. It supplies young men with a lot of factual information on various different topics from love to lovemaking to fatherhood to respecting elders to death and to overall
...more
Joykhamkawplant khamkawplant
Oct 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing!! It is one of the wisest book i've ever read in my life! it touches your heart. Absolutely beautiful. It feels great to know that someone out there shares the same knowledge and thoughts as you.
it gives you an insight of his life, experiences, emotions, thoughts, advice and basically everything else you could think of. It shows you every aspects of life and is truelly awe-inspiring. loved it.
Angela
Mar 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 649-parenting
I like the idea of the author writing a batch of letters, and saving them for critical junctures in a boy's life--rather than trying to strong-arm a high school graduate to digest the entire book in a sitting. Perhaps the parent interested in disseminating the wisdom of this thoughtful author will do the same--present the thoughts by chapter with plenty of time for reflection between doses.
The author tackles difficult and uncomfortable topics with equal grace and wisdom. Highly recommended.
Glenn
Aug 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My dad bought this book when my grandfather died 22 years ago. And yesterday I found this book in my family's library, and yesterday was the 4th anniversary of my father death. It's like he sent me this book from heaven. Because I've been searching for a good read in my library for a long time. And yesterday I accidentally found it. I read it in one night. I don't know why but I'm proud of my father.
Richard
Jun 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A very simple book that all fathers should write to their sons. Wisdom imparted to his son that I wish I had written to my sons. But it is not too late. I can still share those things with my sons and grandsons. My first book read on my Kindle App for my iPad.

Aug 2019
I re-read this book and I did like this. My only criticism is that it is just a bit too long. It may not hold the attention of a son long enough for him to appreciate it. Very good thoughts and instructions.
Greg
Jun 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
The first sections were pretty good, but it sure did fail near the end. Mostly because I don't follow the same rules that the author does. Suffice it to say that pontificating about love/sex/marriage from a prototypical christian position will not win over the readers who are not prototypical christians.

Oh well. The first bits were good.
Braden
Nov 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book was given to me by a close family friend when I graduated High School and had a profound impact on me. It was the first time I was challenged to reflect on how I live my life in a way that encouraged me to be true to who I am in my pursuit of happiness. If you want to investigate what it means to "be a man" to yourself I highly recommend this book.
Abe
Oct 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: at-home
This is a very insightful book that is perfect for a 20-something young man. I especially appreciated the sections on material possessions and giving unselfishly. Overall, it's as good as secular advice gets. This book will bring you to the threshold of faith, but you have to take the leap yourself.
Mel
May 09, 2012 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: a fan of Kent Nerburn, I suppose
Recommended to Mel by: I bought it for 15 cents at Goodwill
Shelves: own
I wasn't impressed. He generalizes when he should probably specify his own opinion, and somehow that really grated on me after a while. It would have been a different book if he had just written it from his own point of view instead of trying to extrapolate world views from his own opinions, and it would have been worth a read then.
Mercedes Aspa
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Real love for this book. One of my favourite books.
The author told to us like he was talking to his Own son, he really shared with us his experience, his doubts and his fears in life and encourages us to follow our dreams, to do crazy things, make ourself happy etc...
truly love this book..
Jackie Fancher
Jul 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
I bought this used because it was extremely inexpensive, and partly because it was at one time, a gift. The note the father wrote to the son in the front, was precious, so I read it through those eyes.
Dennis
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that I will be looking at again as my eight year old grows. I hope to be able to distill the messages here for him and, more importantly, emulate the author's thoughts on being a responsible, mature man.
Leonard
Oct 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I found this book at a time when I was struggling with many family issues. The profound wisdom contained in this book truly made some difficult decisions easy to make. While it is meant to provide guidance to a boy it is appropriate for all.
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“This is why we need to travel. If we don't offer ourselves to the unknown, our senses dull. Our world becomes small and we lose our sense of wonder. Our eyes don't lift to the horizon; our ears don't hear the sounds around us. The edge is off our experience, and we pass our days in a routine that is both comfortable and limiting. We wake up one day and find that we have lost our dreams in order to protect our days.” 6 likes
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