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Reading List

Reading, viewing, and listening list for Manhood and Womanhood Today

Books, movies, and lectures on men, women, and the relationship between them


My Ántonia (1918) by Willa Cather. Picture of the close, transformative friendship between transplanted Virginian Jim Burden and Bohemian immigrant Ántonia Shimerda on the Nebraska frontier.

Uncle Tom’s Children (1938) by Richard Wright, including opening essay “The Ethics of Living Jim Crow”. Based on Wright’s own personal experiences, a depiction of the wide-spread violence done by Jim Crow, including on Black manhood.

East of Eden (1952) by John Steinbeck. Follow the Hamilton and Trask families and their paths through love, rejection, jealousy, violence, and redemption. Steinbeck originally addressed the story to his two young sons.

Slim’s Table (1992) by Mitchell Duneier. Sociological study showing a group of regulars at a diner who learn what it is to be a good man from Slim, a Black auto mechanic living on the south side of Chicago.

The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling (Scholastic, 1997-2007). Seven novels filled with accounts of girls and boys working together from childhood through young adulthood to overcome adversity and evil.

The Concept of Woman trilogy (1997-2017) by Prudence Allen. A wide-ranging, multi-disciplinary exploration of the concept of woman in relation to man in Western thought from ancient times to the present.

Peace like a River (2001) by Leif Enger. The narrator, an asthmatic 11-year-old boy named Reuben Land, leads the reader to think about miracles, justice, and forgiveness.

Housekeeping (2004) by Marilynne Robinson. A tale of two orphaned sisters and their oddball aunt in a remote Idaho town hailed by many as modern classic.

Hud (1963), starring Paul Newman, Melvyn Douglas, and Patricia Neal. Two different generations of Bannons reveal two starkly different models of manhood.

The Godfather (1972), starring Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, and John Cazale. Iconic depiction of male types. Has led countless viewers to ask themselves: “How would the Don or Michael or Sonny or Fredo respond to this challenge?”

When Harry Met Sally (1989), starring  Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. Romantic comedy which asks “Can men and women ever just be friends?”

The Best Man (1999), starring Taye Diggs and Nia Long. Romantic comedy depicting fidelity, forgiveness, redemption, and love.

The Woman with the 5 Elephants (2009), starring Svetlana Geier. A documentary on the life of the remarkable woman, Svetlana Geier, who survived the Soviet and Nazi regimes and was an acclaimed translators of Dostoyevsky’s greatest works (“the 5 elephants.”)

Of Gods and Men (2010), starring Lambert Wilson and Michael Lonsdale. Real-life story of a group of French Trappist monks kidnapped in Algeria in 1996 and challenged about how to respond as men of God.

Locke (2013) starring Tom Hardy. Love, commitment, betrayal, and redemption can all be seen in Ivan Locke’s relationship to his wife and family in in this British-American drama.

“The love that brings new life into the world” (2014). Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks’ presentation at the International Colloquium on The Complementarity of Man and Woman shows the vital role that one woman-one man conjugal marriage has played in promoting and extending the common good from human beginnings to the present.