Over the weekend I finished reading Heavy Lifting, by Jim Geraghty and Cam Edwards. It’s impossible to share a review of a book such as this without a few spoilers, but I’ll do my best. Before getting to the meat of the tome, however, I’ll just begin by saying that this book is a fantastic gift which comes along at a time when we’ve been observing the decay of many societal norms which were once viewed as the glue that held our culture together. It might be a gift for yourself or a friend, but particularly if you’re a person of a certain age, it’s probably one of the best presents ever to offer to a young man anywhere from his middle teens to his late twenties. For that matter, it’s a pretty good gift for young ladies as well, since men can be tricky animals to figure out sometimes.

The book is written as a duet, skipping back and forth between the two authors as they chime in on each aspect of what it means to be a man in America in the 21st century. The list of topics is pretty much a distilled history of the life of men, as wonderful, sad and occasionally tragic as that may be. The running theme for each section is essentially a tribute to Ward Cleaver, with explanations of why he was probably the best role model for life you could hope for. (Sure, that sounds kind of corny until you actually digest what the authors are presenting.)

I couldn’t possibly cover every subject here, (and that would feed into the whole spoiler thing) but here are a few highlights you can look forward to:

  • Don’t live with your parents. Yes… that mean you.
  • How to be a good roommate for that transitional period until you get your own place. (If the germs in your laundry have started their own space program, you’re doing it wrong.)
  • Buy a house, but don’t buy a tiny house. That’s just lame.
  • It’s not just nerds that play video games, but your life has to be about much more than that. (Even though Jim reveals some of his own lameness by making Grand Theft Auto 4 references nearly two years after GTA5 came out.)
  • The importance of not only getting a job, but of being fired or laid off. (A great captain is never born of calm seas.)

The book also resurrects the ancient ritual of dating (or dare I say, courting?) and teaches the importance of actually ASKING A GIRL OUT if you want to go out with her. (You’d be amazed at how much of a lost art it’s become to actually ask a girl out on an “official date” and how sad some young ladies are about this, no matter how much they want to play it cool with the millennial culture.) Much of the art of dating has been lost, but Ward Cleaver knew how to step up to the plate and impress a great girl who became a great wife and a great mother.

You’ll also be guided through the terrifying waters of marriage. This includes how to get married and, perhaps even more importantly, how to stay married.This book reminded me of precisely how stupid I was as a young man to be terrified at the thought of being “tied down” for the rest of my life, and how so many of us probably miss out on a great partner for life based on that fear. (You’ll also find out how and why Cam and his new bride wound up spending Christmas evening dining at Hooters, but I won’t spoil it further.)

All through this book the sense of humor of both these men comes through in a subtle way, but it’s mixed in nicely with a genuine sense that they’re really trying to help. Being a man in the classical sense is becoming an antiquated notion and society is not better for it. Well written and easy to digest either all in one go or as an occasional evening read before bed, this book is approachable for all ages and, in my opinion, enjoyable for all. As I mentioned at the start, give this as a gift for yourself or for any younger person struggling to make sense of the world.

Underneath the humor and homespun stories there’s an awful lot of truth. You’ll feel better when you finish reading it.