Despite the title, Ed Cawley’s Man Up, Man! 101 Ways to be a Real Man, Really offers advice that’s refreshingly free of gender stereotypes. And while there’s too much cliché “wisdom” here, there are also practical suggestions that anyone—man or woman—can appreciate.
Cawley’s advice is divided into nine chapters, with titles including: “Know Thyself”; “Choose Wisely”; “Strive for Success”; “Be Money Smart.” Each tip is numbered and appears in bold type, followed by brief elaboration.
Most tips, particularly in his “Know Thyself” chapter, are disappointingly shopworn, such as: “Believe it and you can achieve it”; “Embrace your mistakes; and “Know your strengths.” For the latter, he writes in typical broad fashion: “Never let someone else belittle your abilities or define who you are or what you’re capable of.” This is obviously easier said than done, and more concrete steps would be welcome.
When Cawley discusses health and finances, he is more specific and, thus, more successful. Facts about money (“Start an IRA”; “Open a savings account for emergencies”) or personal health (“Know your healthy numbers” [regarding cholesterol, blood pressure, etc.]) are useful to anyone, regardless of gender. In other chapters, he recommends men “love unashamedly” and invites readers to take self-defense classes and pursue art and music—interesting advice uncommon to the genre.
More personal commentary would help make the book more engaging overall. For example, Cawley advises men to smile more often, advice often given to women on the street that they find infuriating. Is he aware of the irony? We’re left to wonder. With more personality injected into the tips, Man Up, Man! could help redefine masculinity for a new generation.
As is, the idea has great potential, but the tips need more specificity and a stronger “voice” to create a memorable volume.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.