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Sunday Paper Recommends—Week of June 16, 2024

Sunday Paper Recommends—Week of June 16, 2024

By The Sunday Paper Team
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"Fabulous." "Deeply reported." "A revelation." "Oozing truth and love."
These are some of the words critics and readers have used to describe the books on this list. We will add to these qualifiers and say that these works are some of the most important of our time.

Today, mixed messages around masculinity are colliding with record rates of anxiety, loneliness, and depression, making for a situation that many believe is impacting boys and men in unprecedented ways. These books explore the modern ideas around the challenges men and boys face. They offer brave reflections on lived lives, and give readers conscious looks at the challenges and joys of vulnerability. While the topics range—from fatherhood, to motherhood of boys, to a Pulitzer-winning look at a harrowing accident—they all overlap in their aim to shed light on a brighter, more inclusive and empathetic world.

These books are invitations to step into a space of kindness, inclusion, and radical love, for boys, men, and everyone.

Of Boys and Men by Richard V. Reeves

Boys and men are struggling. Profound economic and social changes of recent decades have many losing ground in the classroom, the workplace, and in the family. While the lives of women have changed, the lives of many men have remained the same or even worsened.

In this widely praised book, Richard Reeves, father of three sons, a journalist, and now the president of the American Institute for Boys and Men, tackles the complex and urgent crisis of boyhood and manhood. Reeves looks at the structural challenges that face boys and men and offers fresh and innovative solutions that turn the page on the corrosive narrative that plagues this issue.

Iron Dad by Paul Weigel

Within six months of finishing his treatment for colorectal cancer, Paul Weigel completed an Ironman triathlon, all while raising his daughteter, who was then a toddler then. Now more than a decade later, he's compiled much of his story in a heartfelt memoir that weaves courage, fortitude, and the life-changing bonds of fatherhood. Weigel writes compassionately and reminds us all that there is a light to look for even in the darkest times.

You can read an excerpt from Iron Dad here.

Man Enough by Justin Baldoni

The effects of traditionally defined masculinity have become one of the most prevalent social issues of our time. In this engaging and provocative new book, beloved actor, director, and social activist Justin Baldoni reflects on his own struggles with masculinity. With insight and honesty, he explores a range of difficult, sometimes uncomfortable topics including strength and vulnerability, relationships and marriage, body image, sex and sexuality, racial justice, gender equality, and fatherhood.

Boymom by Ruth Whippman

With young men in the grip of a loneliness epidemic and dying by suicide at a rate of nearly four times their female peers, Whippman asks: How do we raise our sons to have a healthy sense of self without turning them into privileged assholes? How can we find a feminism that holds boys to a higher standard but still treats them with empathy? And what do we do when our boys won't cooperate with our plans?

Whippman digs into the impossibly contradictory pressures boys now face; and the harmful blind spots of male socialization that are leaving boys isolated, emotionally repressed, and adrift. With wit, honesty, and a refusal to settle for easy answers, BoyMom charts a new path to give boys a healthier, more expansive, and fulfilling story about their own lives.

I'm Proud of You by Craig Melvin

This heartfelt picture book from Today show co-anchor Craig Melvin is a tribute to fathers, sons, and the childhood milestones that inspire pride in every parent.

I'm proud of you when you try.

I'll be cheering you on.

Always aim for the sky.

Through life's ups and downs, a parent's love is a reassuring constant. Complemented with lively illustrations by Sawyer Cloud, I'm Proud of You is an uplifting depiction of the special bond between dads and sons.

A Day in the Life of Abed Salama by Nathan Thrall

Five-year-old Milad Salama is excited for a school trip to a theme park on the outskirts of Jerusalem. On the way, his bus collides with a semitrailer. His father, Abed, gets word of the crash and rushes to the site. The scene is chaos—the children have been taken to different hospitals in Jerusalem and the West Bank; some are missing, others cannot be identified. Setting Abed off on an odyssey to learn Milad's fate.

Winner of the 2024 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction, A Day in the Life of Abed Salama: Anatomy of a Jerusalem Tragedy is an intimate story that unravels a tangle of lives, loves, enmities, and histories over the course of one revealing, heartbreaking day.

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