7 Books to Help Understand the Modern Man

It’s easy enough to say that men and women are different — that both genders often approach interactions with the opposite sex differently. Getting inside a guy's head during the ups and downs of relationship would be nice — oh, so nice — but since that's off the table, we're often left guessing... or sometimes completely in the dark (thanks, dudes).

Thankfully, there's at least some way to get a peek into the complex male psyche: literature. To help understand the 21st century man, here are a few books to decode at least some of what you're not privy to.

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'Why We Broke Up' by Daniel Handler

Sometimes it’s best to go back to the past to understand current relationship woes. Why We Broke Up offers insight into how a teenage boy thinks about relationships despite being written from the girl’s perspective. It’s a YA novel that gets to the heart of what it means to be young and in love for the first time — a reminder we all need when love doesn’t feel so new and exciting anymore.

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'The Rules of Attraction' by Bret Easton Ellis

Dating in college comes with its own set of rules separate from the real world. Ellis gives a prime example of those college guys (and girls) who don’t abide by any social norms. (Come to think of it, this should be required freshman year reading.) Readers get a close look into those men who won’t commit because staying single is too much fun.

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'The Unknowns' by Gabriel Roth

The development of technology has spawned a particular kind of guy — the nerdy, misunderstood one who’s too smart for his own good. Roth explores what makes this guy tick, his need to understand every detail of the relationship and social interactions. It’s a glimpse at the thought process behind his well-meaning nature and social ineptitude.

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'The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.' by Adelle Waldman

Adelle Waldman perfectly captures the 30-something man who can’t reconcile his desire for the “hot” girl with his need for an intellectually equivalent partner. Nate’s actions and rationale in solving this problem are as insightful as they are frustrating to read as he bounces from girl to girl.

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'The Lover's Dictionary' by David Levithan

Told through a series of dictionary entries, this book is like 500 Days (of Summer) in written form. We see a relationship at different stages of the high and low points described in powerful vignettes. A must read for anyone who is considering love, in love, or out of it. In its sparse nature, The Lover’s Dictionary teaches what it means to be in love everyday, and how much of a choice it is for both of the involved partners.

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'The Art of Fielding' by Chad Harbach

To understand many men, you need to understand sports… or at least their love of them. The Art of Fielding goes beyond the baseball diamond to examine the intersection of relationships and sports. It offers insight about how some men process troubles in their lives through action rather than words — something to look to when you feel like you’re on an entirely different page from someone.

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'High Fidelity' by Nick Hornby

High Fidelity is the story of Rob Fleming, a 30-something still stuck in that man-boy phase between wanting to commit and playing the field. To find out where he went wrong in love, Rob revisits five of his girlfriends to see if he can get it right in the future. If you’ve ever wanted to know what an ex-lover thought about you, this is the book to read. Or if you’re the one who was left, this book makes for a cathartic reading experience in getting an answer to why the relationship didn’t progress.

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