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The Mask of Masculinity: How Men Can Embrace Vulnerability, Create Strong Relationships, and Live Their Fullest Lives

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  853 ratings  ·  98 reviews

At 30 years old, Lewis Howes was outwardly thriving but unfulfilled inside. He was a successful athlete and businessman, achieving goals beyond his wildest dreams, but he felt empty, angry, frustrated, and always chasing something that was never enough. His whole identity had been built on misguided beliefs about what "masculinity" was.

Howes began a personal journey to fin

Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 31st 2017 by Rodale Books
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4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  853 ratings  ·  98 reviews

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Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I received this as an ARC! (And thank goodness)! Let me start by saying that I went into reading this book being very optimistic and open minded and I am so glad I did. So many things were brought to light. I wish I would have read something like this while in my 20's. The author has a previous book out and a popular podcast that has given him the opportunity to utilize the experiences of many well-known people. Which were helpful. But, for me the most enlightening experiences and thoughts came ...more
Mark Henderson
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was a disappointing book. Healthy masculinity is a topic close to my heart. However, I've rated this book quite poorly. Why? Howes has made an honest attempt here and I think he means well.

Despite Howes' efforts in this book, I received the uncomfortable and unpalatable feeling that this book was not about shedding masks. It was about trading stereotypical, toxic masks for new masks. Perhaps I should start at the beginning.

First, my bias: I am a heterosexual white male. I did not fraterniz
Nov 04, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I guess I'm not a man either

Look, I get it. We all have stereotypes of what men are and the masks they use to hide the pain. I totally believe in this ideal and understand some men suffer from this.

I'm like Lewis in the fact I was sexually abused. I have a lot of history in that. However, none of the mask types in here (disappointed there are ONLY 9 and ONLY stereotypes) do not apply to me.

I get it. I am already an outsider looking in. I had to deal with a lot so my mental wiring is not like oth
Adii Pienaar
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This feels authentic and open; unlike other "serious" books that were written with only a commercial goal in mind. I feel that this book starts and adds to an important conversation about what it means to be born a male / be a man in society today.

I also had a bit of an epiphany in reading the book: I consider myself an open, transparent, heart-on-the-sleeve guy that is mostly comfortable being vulnerable. But when I spoke to my son about how it is okay to cry, he told me that he had never seen
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is more 3.5 stars for me, but Lewis is so darn likable and genuine that I can't get myself to round it down.

I am quite interested in the topic of masculinity and in psychology in general, so there wasn't tons here in terms of theory that was very new to me. But I really liked the anecdotes/case studies Lewis used and I also liked the idea of the different 'masks'.

Many of the things he talks about are esentially about how to have a good life, and apply nicely to both men and women, though
Jan 16, 2018 rated it liked it
I checked this book out of my library as a bit of a joke. I was looking forward to many eyerolls and snickers at what I presumed would be a facile treatment of the issue. Instead, what I read was a rather interesting introduction to masculinity studies. Howes made each of his chapters easy to understand through personal and third-party narratives, while peppering academic and scientific stories throughout to support his points.

This book ultimately received three stars from me because it lacked
Cody Lasko
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a review for the audiobook version read by Lewis himself.

I’m gonna be biased because this book struck a chord deep. But hey, it’s my review, so... here we go.

I’m a man and I’ve struggled in the past. I’ve had emotional difficulties, intimacy issues, over-aggressive tendencies, and trouble building relationships. In fact, I still do. A lot.

Over the years I’ve come to understand why. Or at least partially understanding why.

This book hooked in so deep because it cuts directly to these re
Jan 11, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-complete
I'm finally aborting this book after trudging along with it until I'm more than halfway through.

I borrowed this book from the library because it was a new acquisition and I was the first patron to take it out. The title and the premise of the book both sounded promising.

You can begin anywhere in the book based on which type of mask you are most interested in reading about. I picked the sexual mask because I found it most relatable. It was when I had finished my section of choice and began readin
Malcolm Bradford
Jan 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Solid Read, with some actionable takeaways.

Very easy read and the voice/tone of the book is written in a way that anyone can pick it up and understand the points Lewis makes in each chapter.

The end of chapter summaries also make it nearly impossible to not at least pull 1 or 2 things from each chapter.

Lewis leverages his experience from interviewing thought leaders and industry leaders from his podcast, and extracts various masculinity lessons within these interviews and places them in indivi
Connie Lindstrom
Jan 13, 2019 rated it liked it
I think women have to take some ownership of their role in shaping men's behavior, so this is an interesting read for anyone. Probably the most impactful statement in the book is that men die by suicide at a rate 6 times that of women. Furthermore, this is a US-specific phenomenon and there is a specific point in people's lives when the gender disparity appears. That right there should tell us all we need to be working harder to help each other be good humans regardless of gender. Each section o ...more
Anel Kapur
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thought provoking.
Eric Feunekes
I liked the concept of recognizing and removing the "masks" that we wear. The problem is that this book comes at the issue by saying a "real man" doesn't need money or success, a "real man" is true to himself and those around him, etc. Again, I agree with part of that idea, the issue is the concept of there being a "real man". The author doesn't seem to notice that he's advocating for taking of the masks we wear (man = money, or power, or athletic success) but in doing so he's promoting another ...more
Dustan Woodhouse
Dec 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: personal-dev
I paused this book just a few minutes in, back on Nov 12, and set it aside for six weeks. Because I had work to get done that I didn’t need some introspection jamming up.

I reserved introspection for Boxing Day. Arising very early allowed me the few hours of zero interruptions or interaction to power all the way through the book from start to finish.

Can you make it through the book without having to stare too deeply into your inner abyss? Yes, most likely you can.

Will the book have you evaluat
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Better than I expected.

My first reaction upon seeing this book was that this guy was a narcissist, and just one of the thousand modern self-help gurus trying to sell you something.

However, there is more depth here than I assumed.

It might not be the most original material, but the author's message is driven home by his effective use of examples.

He has interviewed very interesting and qualified people from a wide range of backgrounds, and then he uses bits and pieces of their life stories to sup
Patrick Rauland
Jan 21, 2019 rated it liked it
* I love the masks Lewis Howes identified! Honestly just realizing we wear masks is a big revelation.
* I wish Howes spent a bit more time talking about why we put masks on in general. It seems men wear these masks to hide their vulnerability. That might be a good thing to know going into the book. And then dig into the specifics of each mask
* I related to some of the masks. But many of the masks were unrelatable. I might know someone who wears that mask but I haven’t noticed it on myself. It’s
Feb 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lewis Howes presents a few of the masks that men hold up over their true selves to help identify self-destructive behavior before it corrupts male relationships with friends, families, and partners.

Howes is not a professional therapist but does a good job of showcasing why so many men act the way they do, which is namely as jerks. An entrepreneur, Howes turned a football career-ending injury into a self-made business that encourages others to live their best lives, in the same idea as Brene Brow
Nathaniel Voll
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
Lewis Howes means well. He takes a shallow-end dive into masculinity and means well in doing so. And no book can be universal, so writing to men in general is a difficult task. Some chapters resonated with me on a small level, but most scratched the surface of what I already know about toxic masculinity. This book bothered me for many reasons.

Firstly, it is heteronormative and views gender as binary. And maybe that will help some people. I know many men who would benefit from this kind of disco
Mar 01, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I struggled to finish this book. I put off finishing this book on several occasions and felt tempted to put it down as a DNF and move on. But I didn't. My reluctance to keep my DNF shelf as empty as possible and my stubbornness were my only motivation to power through this book because it is flawed on several fronts.
First, I was turned off by the egotistical writing. I understand that he colors his lessons with personal stories, so a lot of it is written in the first person. But it reeks of van
Brandon Thomas
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was ok

While I’m sure the author means well, there is still a dominant mention and focus on ‘obvious’, generic male stereotypes.

I agree with the concept of breaking down a mask, but there is a broader spectrum of focal points when it comes to exploring masculinity, despite the author’s focus on 9 common ‘labels’.

Instead of reaching out to everyday people, the author has looked to those who have already achieved great things. “I am sitting in a multimillionaire’s wingback chair, in his 16 bedroo
Natalia Baldochi
Apr 25, 2018 rated it liked it
This book brings definitions for the different kind of masks men wear while growing up and incorporate them as adults. It has been an important source of questions and thoughts that I want to read more about and discuss with other men and women. Even though it has shown nice interviews it doesn't go deep into the problems and doesn't present an actual solution for unmasking the men behind it.
For me, the book is saying that boys need to be raised with love and know how to accept themselves as the
John Herbert
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-help
Do not read cover to cover if you haven't done any emotional work.
Could skim the bold sections to get a feel of what masks exist and their history or influence.

Pick one mask and work on it.👺
Once you feel comfy, read and engage with the activities of another mask.

I would recommend the 𝗔𝗴𝗴𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗠𝗮𝘀𝗸 first.
Create your wrecking room or space as a priority. Very important to verbalise the aggression! Arrggg!🤬

Social engineering is not going to work, only through feeling and acknowledging the pain,
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book gives a great overview into the emotional source and the "inner child" that lives inside men (and women), and Lewis makes a statement that modern society's model for manly behaviour is to hide or not show those emotions. This often causes conflict and men to hide behind the masks of masculinity, living a life not true to themselves, hiding emotion inside which may accumulate into pain over years. For instance, Lewis points out the tragic case of Robbie Williams who hid behind "the Joker ...more
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm so glad I entered to win this on Goodreads. It's an excellent exploration about how the concept of masculinity had become toxic to men and boys and how it harms them. I like the focus on helping young men break through the male stereotypes rather than vilifying them for following what society had taught them they should be. I like that he suggests ways to break out of the masks, and how women can help the men in their lives do so.

This quote about what he wishes someone had told him sums it u
Dec 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A book about what it means to be a real man and what are the masks that we use to cover our insecurities.
A man does not stand unmoved or untouched in the face of truly moving experiences.
He does not judge the totality of his life or anyone else's life by the totals on the scoreboard.
He does not use money as a proxy for emotional connection or as the measure of his self-worth.
He does not define his manhood by the number of women he has conquered.
He does not take risks for risks' sake, because he
Sam Bates
Nov 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the book and thought Lewis depicts the lives of so many men in today's world. I give him kudos for writing on this topic and hope many more will follow in his footsteps. Unfortunately, men try to hide their emotions and numb their pain with anything they can get their hands on without dealing with their real issues. This book was a refresher for me, but it could do wonders for so many men and women who hide behind societal masks and are unwilling to share their true feelings, emotions, ...more
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
This is such a good book. I really enjoyed Lewis's last book and his podcast is my favorite. This book is a must read for fathers/mothers of Sons as well as for Men themselves. Chapter 6 the Aggressive Mask really hit home being the father of little boys. The Athlete and Stoic mask really hit home personally. The most important chapter might be Chapter 7 the Joker Mask when Lewis digs into Robin Williams story a little bit.

Book is very practical with a "action step to do right now" at the end of
Isha Ali
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
3.5 stars

This is a book about the nine masks that men hide behind: the stoic, athlete, material, sexual, aggressive, joker, invincible, know-it all and alpha masks. The author advises both men and women (mostly for men) on what to do about it and what is available when each mask is dropped. It was an interesting read, but I felt that he could have done more with this book.

Most of the book was about the author's own experiences and interviews with celebrities. It is the lack of research in this
Vieira Vargas
Nov 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well worth the read! He shares so many gems and life lessons that he's learned on his own journey and through scores of really interesting people on his School of Greatness podcast. It was easy to connect with the book as a woman because its content is universal. In fact I realized that I've wanted to wear some of these stereotypically male "masks" to feel/appear stronger, more powerful. To have them put into perspective the way Howes does was so valuable to me and to many others I'm sure, espec ...more
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, non-fiction, to-buy
Lewis Howes, an all-American decathlete, has always been the epitome of what it means to ‘Be a Man’; however, his inner feelings and emotions have never reflected that masculinity his actions and appearance present to the world. Examining and simplifying the notion of masculinity, The Mask of Masculinity dissects that different ‘masks’ that men put on and present to their families, friends, colleagues, teammates, etc.; generally speaking, of course. Now, I am not the most ‘masculine’ of men, how ...more
Marcus Hill
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
It’s great to see the way Lewis continues to improve his messages from his previous book, podcast & in this read.

Lewis did an incredible job with his research and analysis from podcast guest and how they fit the specific masks.

The joker mask chapter really hit home with me because that’s who I was once upon a time.

I felt the need to make other people’s lives better because, deep down, I knew how challenging mine was. I didn’t want people to feel that same pain.

It’s nice to read a differe
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“Masculinity is not about being the biggest, the fastest, the strongest, the one who sleeps with the most girls, and the one who has the most money. The one who has the most accomplishments is not the most masculine. In fact, it is often the men who covet these things most who are covering and compensating for the greatest insecurities. Let us revere the one who loves others deeply, loves himself deeply, and has a dream that he is inspired to live with and by and through. He is a man.

He does not stand unmoved or untouched in the face of truly moving experiences.

He does not judge the totality of his life or anyone else’s life by the totals on the scoreboard as the clock ticks down to zero.

He does not use money as a proxy for emotional connection nor material possessions as the measure of his self-worth.

He does not define his manhood by the number of women he has conquered.

He does not always fight fire with fire; sometimes he doesn’t need to fight at all.

He does not meet seriousness with silliness when it is seriousness that is required.

He does not take risks for risks’ sake, because he does not hide from his frailty, his mortality, or his humanity.

He does not pretend to know everything about anything, nor is he afraid to admit when he knows nothing about something.

And perhaps most important of all, he does not walk around thinking he’s The Man.

No, the masculine man goes through a journey, a process of self-discovery, and figures out what he needs to do to acquire the tools, knowledge, wisdom, grace, love, passion, and joy to pursue his destiny. His destiny is his dreams. Those may evolve over time, but in their pursuit, he is not breaking down anyone else or hurting anyone else. He is not at war with other people, conquering them. He is the one joining forces, searching for the win-win. He is the one who is lifting others up, inspiring others through his journey and his own process (in which he is finding ways to create value along the way). He is the hero of his own journey. And in so being, he is looking for every way to have the best relationships possible with his family, friends, his romantic partner, his colleagues, or his customers. He’s finding ways to be the best possible version of himself.

Masculinity is about discovering yourself and owning what you find. It’s about being kind to others, and pursuing your dreams with all the passion and energy you can muster. It’s about doing something that is meaningful to you that brings value to others. That’s how you build a legacy.”
“But dude, in 10 years, nobody’s going to care. Nobody’ll even remember my name. But they’ll remember if I impact their life. That’s why I’m retiring from the National Football League. I want to have a legacy. I want to have an impact.” 1 likes
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