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We Need to Hang Out: A Memoir of Making Friends

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In this comic adventure through the loneliness epidemic, a middle-aged everyman looks around one day and realizes that he seems to have misplaced his friends, inspiring him to set out on a hilarious and ultimately moving quest to revive old tribes and build new ones, in his own ridiculous way. At the age of forty, having settled into his busy career and active family life, In this comic adventure through the loneliness epidemic, a middle-aged everyman looks around one day and realizes that he seems to have misplaced his friends, inspiring him to set out on a hilarious and ultimately moving quest to revive old tribes and build new ones, in his own ridiculous way. At the age of forty, having settled into his busy career and active family life, Billy Baker discovers that he’s lost something crucial along the way: his friends. Other priorities always seemed to come first, until all his close friendships had lapsed into distant memories. When he takes an assignment to write an article about the modern loneliness epidemic, he realizes just how common it is to be a middle-aged loner: almost fifty million Americans over the age of forty-five, especially men, suffer from chronic loneliness, which the surgeon general has declared one of the nation’s “greatest pathologies,” worse than smoking, obesity, or heart disease in increasing a person’s risk for premature death. Determined to defy these odds, Baker vows to salvage his lost friendships and blaze a path for men (and women) everywhere to improve their relationships old and new. In We Need to Hang Out, Baker embarks on an entertaining and relatable quest to reprioritize his ties with his buddies and forge more connections, all while balancing work, marriage, and kids. From leading a buried treasure hunt with his old college crew to organizing an impromptu “ditch day” for dozens of his former high school classmates to essentially starting a frat house for middle-aged guys in his neighborhood, he experiments with ways to keep in touch with his friends no matter how hectic their lives are—with surprising and deeply satisfying results. Along the way, Baker talks to experts in sociology and psychology to investigate how such naturally social creatures as humans could become so profoundly isolated today. And he turns to real-life experts in lasting friendship, bravely joining a cruise packed entirely with crowds of female BFFs and learning the secrets of male bonding from a group of older dudes who faithfully meet up on the same night every week. Bursting with humor, candor, and charm, We Need to Hang Out is a celebration of companionship and a call to action in this age of alone.


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In this comic adventure through the loneliness epidemic, a middle-aged everyman looks around one day and realizes that he seems to have misplaced his friends, inspiring him to set out on a hilarious and ultimately moving quest to revive old tribes and build new ones, in his own ridiculous way. At the age of forty, having settled into his busy career and active family life, In this comic adventure through the loneliness epidemic, a middle-aged everyman looks around one day and realizes that he seems to have misplaced his friends, inspiring him to set out on a hilarious and ultimately moving quest to revive old tribes and build new ones, in his own ridiculous way. At the age of forty, having settled into his busy career and active family life, Billy Baker discovers that he’s lost something crucial along the way: his friends. Other priorities always seemed to come first, until all his close friendships had lapsed into distant memories. When he takes an assignment to write an article about the modern loneliness epidemic, he realizes just how common it is to be a middle-aged loner: almost fifty million Americans over the age of forty-five, especially men, suffer from chronic loneliness, which the surgeon general has declared one of the nation’s “greatest pathologies,” worse than smoking, obesity, or heart disease in increasing a person’s risk for premature death. Determined to defy these odds, Baker vows to salvage his lost friendships and blaze a path for men (and women) everywhere to improve their relationships old and new. In We Need to Hang Out, Baker embarks on an entertaining and relatable quest to reprioritize his ties with his buddies and forge more connections, all while balancing work, marriage, and kids. From leading a buried treasure hunt with his old college crew to organizing an impromptu “ditch day” for dozens of his former high school classmates to essentially starting a frat house for middle-aged guys in his neighborhood, he experiments with ways to keep in touch with his friends no matter how hectic their lives are—with surprising and deeply satisfying results. Along the way, Baker talks to experts in sociology and psychology to investigate how such naturally social creatures as humans could become so profoundly isolated today. And he turns to real-life experts in lasting friendship, bravely joining a cruise packed entirely with crowds of female BFFs and learning the secrets of male bonding from a group of older dudes who faithfully meet up on the same night every week. Bursting with humor, candor, and charm, We Need to Hang Out is a celebration of companionship and a call to action in this age of alone.

30 review for We Need to Hang Out: A Memoir of Making Friends

  1. 4 out of 5

    Cody Daigle-Orians

    I really wanted to love this book, because I’m a middle-aged guy feeling disconnected from his friends. Felt like this one was gonna be perfect for me. But this book about male friendship is really about a certain kind of straight male friendship that considers “ball bustin’” the height of affection. I don’t begrudge these guys their world and their friendships. But a lot of it felt like a performance of masculinity. Or at least a version of masculinity that excludes almost every guy I know in m I really wanted to love this book, because I’m a middle-aged guy feeling disconnected from his friends. Felt like this one was gonna be perfect for me. But this book about male friendship is really about a certain kind of straight male friendship that considers “ball bustin’” the height of affection. I don’t begrudge these guys their world and their friendships. But a lot of it felt like a performance of masculinity. Or at least a version of masculinity that excludes almost every guy I know in my mostly queer / mostly nerd world. If the book would have been more aware about its specificity, instead of positioning this narrow kind of masculinity as a male default experience (how GUYS are!), it might have worked better for me. But unless you’re a straight guy with a kind of dude bro energy, I don’t think you’ll see much of yourself in this book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)

    3.5 stars Billy Baker found himself completely absorbed in his career and young family at the age of forty. After an assignment from his editor “to write about how middle-aged men have no friends”, Baker had time to reflect on the shift in priorities and the gradual loss of his closest friendships. The incredible response to the assignment from readers led Baker to attempt to improve his friendships and make some new ones while also balancing all that comes along with work, marriage, and career. T 3.5 stars Billy Baker found himself completely absorbed in his career and young family at the age of forty. After an assignment from his editor “to write about how middle-aged men have no friends”, Baker had time to reflect on the shift in priorities and the gradual loss of his closest friendships. The incredible response to the assignment from readers led Baker to attempt to improve his friendships and make some new ones while also balancing all that comes along with work, marriage, and career. This memoir is so relatable. It became apparent to me that friendship was no longer what it once was after I had my daughter. I spent my twenties completely wrapped up in my career and enjoying marriage. The lunches/dinners with friends to catch up waned and soon we were all just hitting “like” on social media posts when exhausted at the end of a long day. Once my daughter was born and I had a few weeks at home alone with her, I was surprised by the loneliness (and sleep deprivation) I felt. We’d traded the connection of catching up face to face with the time-saving thumbs up of a social media post. How did we let that happen? Baker’s conversational writing style makes this a fast read. The stats he throws in are not only interesting but surprising as well and never feel like info dumping. Do I think he would’ve put in such an effort to rekindle friendships if it weren’t part of a work assignment? *shrugs* Am I glad that he did so that I could read this book? Absolutely. Two of my favorite quotes from this book: “Overthinking shit is my favorite recreational drug.” * “First, as a matter of fact, we are less busy now than ever, and automation has no doubt helped with that. Those hours you waste dumb-thumbing through Instagram or trying to choose something to watch on Netflix do not count as busy. And second, one must not confuse a ‘busy life’ with a ‘full life’. That bait and switch has gone on too long. So I’ll repeat again: We’ve been misinformed by the misinformed.” * Thanks to Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster for an ARC in exchange for my honest review. We Need to Hang Out: A Memoir of Making Friends is scheduled for release on January 26, 2021. * Quotes included are from a digital advanced reader’s copy and are subject to change upon final publication. For more reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com

  3. 4 out of 5

    Zibby Owens

    This is a hilarious and relatable book about what happens between men and their friends as they age, and more importantly, how men can reconnect. Part memoir and part self-help, the book is backed up by the social science that shows the adverse effects loneliness can have on men, including mental, physical health, and longevity. The book is based on the author’s article for the Boston Globe that became the most-read piece in the newspaper’s history! I enjoyed this book because it tackled a tough This is a hilarious and relatable book about what happens between men and their friends as they age, and more importantly, how men can reconnect. Part memoir and part self-help, the book is backed up by the social science that shows the adverse effects loneliness can have on men, including mental, physical health, and longevity. The book is based on the author’s article for the Boston Globe that became the most-read piece in the newspaper’s history! I enjoyed this book because it tackled a tough subject—how important it is for men to see friends more regularly—and made the topic more accessible because of the humor. Despite the focus on male friendships (because it turns out that dads are just as busy as moms!), I found this book relevant to my own life. Somehow, I don’t see my friends as often as I would like. This book showed me not only how that happened but what I can do about it! To listen to my interview with the author, go to my podcast at: https://zibbyowens.com/transcript/bil...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tristan

    I'm not sure what I wanted out of this book after hearing Baker on NPR, but I didn't get it. The book is advertised as a memoir, but shelved in the "relationships/self help" section of the bookstore. The book feels like an article stretched out to fill a book. The author acknowledges that he's far from an expert on the subject. The problem is loneliness and the author flails around at trying to be less lonely for around 200 pages. If you are looking for self-help, look elsewhere. If you are look I'm not sure what I wanted out of this book after hearing Baker on NPR, but I didn't get it. The book is advertised as a memoir, but shelved in the "relationships/self help" section of the bookstore. The book feels like an article stretched out to fill a book. The author acknowledges that he's far from an expert on the subject. The problem is loneliness and the author flails around at trying to be less lonely for around 200 pages. If you are looking for self-help, look elsewhere. If you are looking for an interesting memoir, this fails to deliver there as well, Baker has not lived an interesting enough life to warrant a memoir. It's funny at times. The author seems genuine in his desire to understand and fix the problem in his life. The book doesn't really offer much sound advice though. Just by reading the title you've got the gist of it. Hang out with people. It's important to your health. The COVID-19 pandemic did this book no favors. It felt like a slap in the face to read about how important it is to hang out with friends, at a time when it isn't safe for me to hang out with my friends. The author doesn't help much as he only barely mentions the pandemic. Instead of addressing how the pandemic has made this problem even worse, he talks about how he was able to do some modified things after the lock down restrictions were lifted. Overall the book was a solid meh.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mara

    ‘We Need to Hang Out’ by Billy Baker is a well-researched memoir largely about male friendship in adulthood. This book grew from a popular Boston Globe article Baker wrote in 2017 about loneliness and his personal experience with it. As Baker echoes, loneliness is an epidemic affecting millions of Americans. After having children, like many of us, he found himself absent of those friendships that were so important to him when he was younger. It reminded me of another book on friendship I read th ‘We Need to Hang Out’ by Billy Baker is a well-researched memoir largely about male friendship in adulthood. This book grew from a popular Boston Globe article Baker wrote in 2017 about loneliness and his personal experience with it. As Baker echoes, loneliness is an epidemic affecting millions of Americans. After having children, like many of us, he found himself absent of those friendships that were so important to him when he was younger. It reminded me of another book on friendship I read this year, ‘Big Friendship’ by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, but this is the flip side of the coin as it’s about male friendship and specifically about gradually disappearing friendships in adulthood. Some of the research presented was the same, but I gleaned a lot from this book. Baker presents a very affable, relatable tone and I really enjoyed his adventurous nature and eagerness to improve his friendships. Throughout the book, he explains research on friendship and actively pursues his own friendships in unique and sometimes daring ways. Although the takeaways aren’t exactly surprising—make friendship a priority, be vulnerable/honest with friends, and share activities—it cemented how important these things are and that many of us could strongly benefit from being more intentional about how we spend our time. Thank you Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for providing this ARC.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Most disappointed. Although the breezy writing style is very readable, I found very little substance here. The author finds himself at 40 feeling disconnected and out of touch with his friends, and embarks on a quest to reconnect. My difficulty is twofold: first, though he feels disconnected, he's apparently easily able to compile a list of 150 friends and acquaintances. This is radically different than what I'd be able to do, and what I expect most people suffering from loneliness experience. S Most disappointed. Although the breezy writing style is very readable, I found very little substance here. The author finds himself at 40 feeling disconnected and out of touch with his friends, and embarks on a quest to reconnect. My difficulty is twofold: first, though he feels disconnected, he's apparently easily able to compile a list of 150 friends and acquaintances. This is radically different than what I'd be able to do, and what I expect most people suffering from loneliness experience. Second, it turns out that what he really, really wants is a frat house, to recreate and relive his high school and college social life. No thanks. Although he provides some interesting insights about loneliness and male socialization (courtesy of the experts he later disparages), ultimately this book left me empty.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    When Billy Baker's editor gives him an assignment to write about how middle-aged men don't have close friends, at first he questions whether his editor thinks he's a loser with no friends. Then he starts to think about it and realizes maybe he is a loser with no friends - damn. This starts his quest to research friendship and loneliness and how it's becoming increasingly harder in our society today to make and keep close friends. Most people have friends along the way - childhood friends, high s When Billy Baker's editor gives him an assignment to write about how middle-aged men don't have close friends, at first he questions whether his editor thinks he's a loser with no friends. Then he starts to think about it and realizes maybe he is a loser with no friends - damn. This starts his quest to research friendship and loneliness and how it's becoming increasingly harder in our society today to make and keep close friends. Most people have friends along the way - childhood friends, high school group, college roommates or buddies, but then once you're in the "real world" of work and family it can be challenging to maintain any real friendships. The surgeon general has declared loneliness as one of the nation's "greatest pathologies" - worse than smoking, obesity, or heart disease in increasing a person's risk for premature death. So, Baker has some motivation for reconnecting with old friends and making some new ones. This book chronicles his friendship journey and several of his (successful and unsuccessful) ideas for connecting on a more regular basis. His focus is on male friendships, but I think his ideas and story is beneficial to anyone. As I've gotten older I've found it MUCH harder to make new friends and get together regularly with the friends I do have. Baker is a great writer and I laughed out loud at lot while reading this book. It definitely inspired me to work on my friendships more as well. Some quotes I liked: "Friends were what we did after the 'important' stuff was done, and that shit is never done." (p. 18) "My own personal experience with social media feels fairly typical. If I were to chart my emotions over time, it would show an early spike - 'I've reconnected with so many friends! This is the best thing ever!' - and then a slow and steady decline toward 'This is the dumpster fire that's going to swallow society!'" (p. 108) "Overthinking shit is my favorite recreational drug." (p. 161) "But everything has changed in the internet era. It's the 'before and after' moment in the story of humanity. It's the connector and disconnector. And I fear that for every second that passes between when I write these sentences and when they're read, the quainter these concerns will sound. Each time something new moves online and stops happening face-to-face, we deplete the world's supply of social capital. That's the scientific term for the value we derive from positive connections between people, and it may be the most important asset in the ecosystem." (p. 195)

  8. 4 out of 5

    M

    The main idea of this book hits a nerve in all of us, but I was disappointed in the execution of this sensitive and real subject. Although he brings up some good thoughts , I really could not relate to his experiences since quite a lot of people/parents have less social interaction and opportunities. A lot of people are more isolated and I was hoping to find some real life workable solutions to at least bring this issue into a blinding spotlight. I thought I was going to get more out of this boo The main idea of this book hits a nerve in all of us, but I was disappointed in the execution of this sensitive and real subject. Although he brings up some good thoughts , I really could not relate to his experiences since quite a lot of people/parents have less social interaction and opportunities. A lot of people are more isolated and I was hoping to find some real life workable solutions to at least bring this issue into a blinding spotlight. I thought I was going to get more out of this book. Nice attempt.

  9. 5 out of 5

    ALL CAPS NO FILTERS

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I REALLY WANTED TO ENJOY THIS BOOK AND REALLY FEEL LIKE ITS MESSAGE IS IMPORTANT HOWEVER, THE DELIVERY OF THE CONTENT WAS FAIRLY PROBLEMATIC DUE TO A NUMBER OF FACTORS: WHILE ENDEARING AT THE BEGINNING, THE CONSTANT HIGHLIGHTING OF VULNERABILITIES BECAME TIRESOME. WE GET IT, YOU'RE TRYING :) IT'S OK TO FAIL AT HANGING OUT AS AN ADULT, IT'S HARD. MORE PROBLEMATIC WAS HOW THE AUTHOR REITERATED HOW NON-MANLY OR GAY IT WAS FOR MEN TO EXPRESS THEIR FEELINGS FOR A FRIEND. THE REITERATION OF THIS SEXIST M I REALLY WANTED TO ENJOY THIS BOOK AND REALLY FEEL LIKE ITS MESSAGE IS IMPORTANT HOWEVER, THE DELIVERY OF THE CONTENT WAS FAIRLY PROBLEMATIC DUE TO A NUMBER OF FACTORS: WHILE ENDEARING AT THE BEGINNING, THE CONSTANT HIGHLIGHTING OF VULNERABILITIES BECAME TIRESOME. WE GET IT, YOU'RE TRYING :) IT'S OK TO FAIL AT HANGING OUT AS AN ADULT, IT'S HARD. MORE PROBLEMATIC WAS HOW THE AUTHOR REITERATED HOW NON-MANLY OR GAY IT WAS FOR MEN TO EXPRESS THEIR FEELINGS FOR A FRIEND. THE REITERATION OF THIS SEXIST MINDSET WITHOUT EXPLAINING WHY THAT LANGUAGE IS HARMFUL REMOVES THE ABILITY TO CONNECT. WE'VE CREATED A SITUATION WHERE GENUINE EMOTIONAL CONNECTIONS CANNOT FLOURISH UNDER THE FILTER OF THIS MINDSET.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Amit

    A book of projects a middle age white American did to find daily friends. A vulnerable accounting of what worked and what did not. Lots of mini lessons or ideas anyone can use, it made me see some activities different, gave some practical tips such as do at a regular cadence, etc, more for men who do not connect as casually as women. Yes, there is drinking to smoothen things, leg pulling(aka ball busting), etc, one can gloss over those. Quote: Men need somewhere to go, something to do and then so A book of projects a middle age white American did to find daily friends. A vulnerable accounting of what worked and what did not. Lots of mini lessons or ideas anyone can use, it made me see some activities different, gave some practical tips such as do at a regular cadence, etc, more for men who do not connect as casually as women. Yes, there is drinking to smoothen things, leg pulling(aka ball busting), etc, one can gloss over those. Quote: Men need somewhere to go, something to do and then someone to talk. After-all, genetically as hunters, men were quiet for hours, while women reached out to others to get help raising that baby. 5 stars for impact, would be 4 stars for writing and coverage quality.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    I still treasure the friendships I have with people from high school and college and even one from grade school, but as I entered my thirties we all, naturally it seems, had drifted in our own, separate directions, seeing each other a handful of times a year, if that. Before my children came along, there were certainly times when I felt lonely for friends. Now, with a career and family, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t make enough of an effort with my old friends today. Billy Baker’s book I still treasure the friendships I have with people from high school and college and even one from grade school, but as I entered my thirties we all, naturally it seems, had drifted in our own, separate directions, seeing each other a handful of times a year, if that. Before my children came along, there were certainly times when I felt lonely for friends. Now, with a career and family, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t make enough of an effort with my old friends today. Billy Baker’s book We Need to Hang Out contends that when his life was in a similar spot, it made him a “loser.” I have to say that I don’t feel that way at all—I find this point in my marriage and family life to be the happiest and most confident I’ve ever been. After reading the book, I think that Billy Baker is a good guy, and he’s on to something. Male friendships are important—nay, essential—to a man’s life. You have to admire the guy’s perseverance and zeal which he takes on the cause and tries to make new friends. The guy has guts. And while the memoir had it’s share of cringe-inducing language and moments, I give him a world of credit for speaking out about a topic that so many men my age encounter. Baker spent so much time research and writing about loneliness and friendship, and then going on adventures far from home (Vienna, Yellowstone) in search of something, I couldn’t help but wonder what his wife and two kids must have thought. What was he searching for? Ostensibly friendship, but maybe for more. He seemed like he needed a calling, a direction. Of course, the book is about making friends, not necessarily family life, but I had to wonder. I’ve learned that friendships change and evolve over the course of your life. The friendships I have at 39 aren’t the same ones I had at 22, 17, or 12. I think there’s advantages each age has, though at my age I admittedly rarely see my old buddies anymore, and it truly is difficult for most men to make new friends the older they get. We only have a set number of hours outside of sleep, work, and the commute, and I feel I have to take care of how I fill that time. I don’t think Billy Baker would agree with me on this point though, and he’s got the data to prove the importance of friendships outside of family. We Need to Hang Out took me back to the last line of the film Stand By Me, based on Stephen King’s novella, The Body, from Different Seasons: "I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?" Haunting. Maybe true too.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Reed Hansen

    Baker writes a memoir about male friendships. This is admittedly a blind spot for me as I am terrible at maintaining friendships and an introvert to boot. I took some comfort in hearing that many other people struggle with this as well. Friendships require activities with purpose and regular scheduled, unstructured time spent together. It’s easy to get too busy or too tired to make an effort but I will do better, especially after reading about the mental and psychological risks of not having a go Baker writes a memoir about male friendships. This is admittedly a blind spot for me as I am terrible at maintaining friendships and an introvert to boot. I took some comfort in hearing that many other people struggle with this as well. Friendships require activities with purpose and regular scheduled, unstructured time spent together. It’s easy to get too busy or too tired to make an effort but I will do better, especially after reading about the mental and psychological risks of not having a good circle of friends. I also appreciate so many people in my life who have made an effort to keep in touch despite my reticence. You all rock! Great book and very much needed by me. 5/5

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Wade

    Thank you to Avid Reader Press and Simon and Schuster for this advanced reader's copy. This book will be on sale 1/26/21. I really enjoyed this book, I gobbled it up in less than a day. We are 100% in a loneliness epidemic right now and we need to fix it. This book reminded me that I need to make more moments in my life to just be stupid with my friends. At times, it felt like it was only written for men, but mostly when I would get hit in the face with a certain reoccurring adjective that I desp Thank you to Avid Reader Press and Simon and Schuster for this advanced reader's copy. This book will be on sale 1/26/21. I really enjoyed this book, I gobbled it up in less than a day. We are 100% in a loneliness epidemic right now and we need to fix it. This book reminded me that I need to make more moments in my life to just be stupid with my friends. At times, it felt like it was only written for men, but mostly when I would get hit in the face with a certain reoccurring adjective that I despise. Ultimately, the book is about Baker's life and male friendships in general but I still got a lot out of it and it's inspiring, for sure. Baker's writing is fantastic and I definitely recommend this book! I'm finding our current state of the world so lonely at times and it was nice to feel inspired to reignite some friendships.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Caleb Deck

    Very up and down book. There are elements that were so fascinating and fun and elements that just fell flat. Writing style is quick and easy and fun throughout. It was an interesting premise and one I think faces many American men today (how to tell you I want to be your friend without saying it and how to hold on to adult friendships). That said, there may be a generational gap about expressing emotions which I don’t really connect with and leaves me feeling like friendship sounds way harder th Very up and down book. There are elements that were so fascinating and fun and elements that just fell flat. Writing style is quick and easy and fun throughout. It was an interesting premise and one I think faces many American men today (how to tell you I want to be your friend without saying it and how to hold on to adult friendships). That said, there may be a generational gap about expressing emotions which I don’t really connect with and leaves me feeling like friendship sounds way harder that doing it actually is. I think there are elements of church social life which help bridge gaps in ways that seem immensely difficult here. Overall, enjoyed the book (would have loved it more if he would have altered his choice of his favorite terms, maybe try teasing or razzing or something???)

  15. 5 out of 5

    John

    Sobering. Funny. Insightful. Anxiety inducing. Thought provoking. Artwork with a nod to DEVO. Think you're not lonely, guys? Read this. You're lonely. And you're getting worse by the day. In fact, you're getting lonelier merely by reading this review, as you're not interacting with your friends...if you have any, that is. Despite the above, I really enjoyed this listen. Check it out. It's short, so it won't take you away from the friends you wish you still had. Sobering. Funny. Insightful. Anxiety inducing. Thought provoking. Artwork with a nod to DEVO. Think you're not lonely, guys? Read this. You're lonely. And you're getting worse by the day. In fact, you're getting lonelier merely by reading this review, as you're not interacting with your friends...if you have any, that is. Despite the above, I really enjoyed this listen. Check it out. It's short, so it won't take you away from the friends you wish you still had.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mayar El Mahdy

    This book gave me depression. I'm feeling old and lonely lately. It sucks. This guy trying and trying really tugged on my heartstrings. I really wish he could have ended up with an actual fix. Also, if you can travel to Austria to meet a friend, your life is super cool. Some people don't struggle to get a visa and it shows. This book gave me depression. I'm feeling old and lonely lately. It sucks. This guy trying and trying really tugged on my heartstrings. I really wish he could have ended up with an actual fix. Also, if you can travel to Austria to meet a friend, your life is super cool. Some people don't struggle to get a visa and it shows.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tanya Patrice

    A book about male friendships and how it's de-prioritized as guys get older, resulting in loneliness being "an underappreciated public health threat." The author references lots of studies to back up his claims - as well as the overwhelming response to an article he wrote for the Boston Globe which is one of it's most popular articles. The book is written in a very easy conversational tone. Whereas I'm not a guy, it's easy to see the nuggets of wisdom dropped - like men like to bond over activit A book about male friendships and how it's de-prioritized as guys get older, resulting in loneliness being "an underappreciated public health threat." The author references lots of studies to back up his claims - as well as the overwhelming response to an article he wrote for the Boston Globe which is one of it's most popular articles. The book is written in a very easy conversational tone. Whereas I'm not a guy, it's easy to see the nuggets of wisdom dropped - like men like to bond over activities, not really talking on the phone - plus why this is happening in our society (surprise surprise -tv and social media get blamed). The book does offer some solutions too -mainly how the author took control of his own life after writing the article and the steps he took to right his friendships. Edited to add - This book is billed as a memoir and not a self help book - which is why it's 3 stars - because ultimately, it's unclear if the author has maintained the habit of keeping the friendships. And - this may just be my own thing - but I just don't know that this was "memoir worthy". I guess I expected to be about a movement started by the author or something else super important - but not just .. I felt lonely adjacent as a middle aged man, that's a common thing, here's what I did, some of it didn't work, some of it did work. But it was an interesting read so 3 stars it is.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Noah

    This was an excellent read about a topic I have been pondering for a few years now; quality vs quantity of friends. I often feel I'm surrounded by friends and people I enjoy being with while often finding myself lonely and struggling to schedule quality time without having a "purpose". This book was both enjoyable and gave me something to really think about. This was an excellent read about a topic I have been pondering for a few years now; quality vs quantity of friends. I often feel I'm surrounded by friends and people I enjoy being with while often finding myself lonely and struggling to schedule quality time without having a "purpose". This book was both enjoyable and gave me something to really think about.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Devine

    I really felt like it was only targeted at male friendships. But it makes me think about who my 150 people are.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cecilia Cicone

    An absolutely delightful memoir. It’s so incredibly focused and feels effortless. I hope Baker writes more!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Evan Micheals

    I heard Billy Baker on The Art of Manliness and what he was describing sounded like what I have been trying to do over the last five years. I have been intentionally cultivate friendships with my male friends. He discussed the loneliness epidemic amongst middle aged men and it resonating with me, or at least who I was 5 years ago. I thought given I am a mental health professional I needed to start role modelling what might be considered best practice in my own life. I began dating outside our mar I heard Billy Baker on The Art of Manliness and what he was describing sounded like what I have been trying to do over the last five years. I have been intentionally cultivate friendships with my male friends. He discussed the loneliness epidemic amongst middle aged men and it resonating with me, or at least who I was 5 years ago. I thought given I am a mental health professional I needed to start role modelling what might be considered best practice in my own life. I began dating outside our marriage about five years ago. I was feeling isolated from those outside my family, and likely stale within it. It began with “man dates” with male friends. It was about deepening the relationship with people I was interested in by turning up and being there when we were not being paid to do so. A couple of years ago I attempted dating female friends. That caused some awkwardness ‘why would I go out on a date with a married man?’ I have no intent of ever having an affair, but it was amazing how quickly offers of getting together alone were misconstrued as intent was to potentially start an affair (no men made that assumption, not even gay friends). It worked out so well that I took it full circle and began intentionally dating Kerri and the kids. The kids get a date every month alternating each of us. We have conversations that don’t occur around the dinner table. It is a chance to focus on them and what is happening with them. They kids enjoy this and now actively help plan where we go and what we do. Dating Kerri has been good for our marriage. We had a period when the kids were babies when the dates were rare. Once the kids started in care and progressed to school, we started having lunch dates. Now we are trying to have dinner dates again. I highly recommend dating no matter your personal situation. This is more memoir and at times Baker is hyperbolic about his internal experience. He does not hesitate to say that some things that women do are too ‘Gayeee’ for men to do. I suspect he is mostly write about this and wonder if his phrasing is intentionally provocative. If he eliminated the solipsistic aspects of the book it could have been a third of the book and still had the same impact. I can see a market for a book aimed at men improving their friendships. He looks at the Men’s Shed movement leading to him quoting Freud that human beings need “three things in order to be content: They need to feel competent at what they do; they need to feel authentic in their lives; and they need to feel connected to others” (p 106) and then paraphrases this with the Men’s Shed philosophy of “Men need somewhere to go, something to do, and someone to talk to” (p 106) with he describes as the three pillars intrinsic to human happiness “autonomy, competence, and happiness” (p 106). I felt empty after reading this. He spoke better on the Art of Manliness but did not deliver on what he spoke about. I think he identified an itch that needs scratching with middle aged men. My work in mental health suggests there are a significant number of quietly lonely men out there with only superficial relationships with no intimacy (not even with their wives if they have them). I think he missed the mark, but identified an opportunity for someone else.

  22. 4 out of 5

    STEPHEN PLETKO

    XXXXX Enjoying being alone takes high self-esteem XXXXX “When I looked around at my life, there was much to be happy about. If I needed a confidant I was lucky to have married the right woman. My kids were the best. Everyone in my inner circle was healthy and stable. All the pieces were there. Except for my friends. They weren’t even on the to-do list.” The above quote (in italics) comes from this strange book by Billy Baker. He is a staff writer for the “Boston Globe” newspaper. Baker has recei XXXXX Enjoying being alone takes high self-esteem XXXXX “When I looked around at my life, there was much to be happy about. If I needed a confidant I was lucky to have married the right woman. My kids were the best. Everyone in my inner circle was healthy and stable. All the pieces were there. Except for my friends. They weren’t even on the to-do list.” The above quote (in italics) comes from this strange book by Billy Baker. He is a staff writer for the “Boston Globe” newspaper. Baker has received an award for Writing Excellence from the American Society of News Editors. This book seemed at first to be a book about loneliness (which is apparently bad for your health) but quickly turns out to be a book of Baker’s escapades in trying to reconnect with his friends (even with those from his high school days). This book’s subtitle is “A memoir of making friends.” There is absolutely nothing said on how to actually “make” friends. The beginning chapters especially are peppered with the word “loser.” The suggestion here is that if you have no or few friends then you are a loser. I wonder what Baker calls a person who is not married or a person who does not have kids? Baker doesn’t seem to realize that there are two sides to being alone: one side is the painful side which is loneliness. The other side to being alone is the pleasant side which is solitude. Discovering solitude can mean discovering many delightful activities which can only be enjoyed alone. Unfortunately, most people (Baker is one of them) never discover the pleasant side to being alone. Baker demonstrates that he is painfully unaware of three things. First, the person who finds no satisfaction in themselves seeks for it in vain elsewhere. As well, if you can only make it with people and not alone, you can’t make it. Thirdly, most of our problems come from not being able to be alone. Finally, potential readers should be aware that this book has the F-bomb scattered throughout it. Also, there is no table of contents. In conclusion, this book’s copyright page states that “portions of this book appeared, in different form, in the ‘Boston Globe.’” It seems to me that this book should have remained a brief newspaper article!! (2021; author’s note; 13 chapters; main narrative 205 pages; acknowledgements; about the author) XXXXX

  23. 4 out of 5

    Roozbeh Daneshvar

    If you are a middle-age man, you might find this book interesting. If you are a non-middle-age man, you might find this book interesting, too. Even if you are not a man altogether, you might still find this book interesting. With our packed schedules (such as work), there might not be much time left in daily life. Then the priority is given to family and children and we might tend to skip connection with peers. In other words, if there is any time left, it goes to family. Missing these connection If you are a middle-age man, you might find this book interesting. If you are a non-middle-age man, you might find this book interesting, too. Even if you are not a man altogether, you might still find this book interesting. With our packed schedules (such as work), there might not be much time left in daily life. Then the priority is given to family and children and we might tend to skip connection with peers. In other words, if there is any time left, it goes to family. Missing these connections with peers has a risk, which might be more prevalent among men. Women are more successful (I suppose statistically speaking) at making connections and sharing feelings with other women. That is not necessarily the case for men (again statistically). Men might not be as open as women in this regard. They might enjoy "doing activities" together. In many settings, women might sit face to face and talk, while men might sit side to side, both facing straight (sort of a bar setting). The tendency of men for doing activities and women for more directly connecting with each other can have some evolutionary roots (e.g., from when men went for hunting, a common activity, and women stayed and took care of food and children etc.) Now the problem is extreme loneliness, specifically in men, which has many more side effects. The author takes us through his own journey and how he tried to make regular and steady connections for his peer group. This book resonated with me. I could relate to the loneliness he talked about and how much I have missed outside activities (even more severely in the pandemic). I had a few useful takeaways: - Take loneliness (which can kill you) and the importance of having peers seriously - Gathering people is hard, needs work and commitment and can lead to frustrations - Do not aim for a regular and perfect setting: that might not happen and if it does, it might not sustain - Use every chance for meaningful connections: I myself have two running communities with which I feel at home + a couple of friends with which our conversations can go beyond small talk The book is a memoir and is filled with stories and anecdotes. It can be an easy read, though not dense with information.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    I became interested because of Dave Shiflett's February 4 review in The Wall Street Journal. Covid has made both 2020 and 2021 strange times, with so many of us at home, others working harder, wearing masks, and getting by. We all miss seeing faces, smiles, and being with people. It's getting better now, with the vaccines, and I look forward to getting together with lots more people soon. The funny thing is that Billy Baker started working on this book at least a year before our infamous shutdown I became interested because of Dave Shiflett's February 4 review in The Wall Street Journal. Covid has made both 2020 and 2021 strange times, with so many of us at home, others working harder, wearing masks, and getting by. We all miss seeing faces, smiles, and being with people. It's getting better now, with the vaccines, and I look forward to getting together with lots more people soon. The funny thing is that Billy Baker started working on this book at least a year before our infamous shutdown, concluding just as COVID-19 appeared in the news. Billy Baker (I love the alliteration in his name!) was called into his magazine editor's office and given the "perfect for you" assignment of writing why middle-aged men have no friends. He was insulted, of course, both with being called "middle-aged" and with assuming he was such a looser that he had no friends. Looking closer though, he realized it was true. This book is an entertaining memoir of the journey of realization that he was quickly loosing track of his friends, not making new ones, and what he did about it. The fact is that after work, marriage, kids, home-ownership and such, he hadn't spent much time with friends, didn't have correct addresses on a few, and wasn't making new friends either. This book is written from a guy's perspective, but the sad fact is that it's true for women too. We have the advantage of liking to talk on the phone, which most men are not fans of, but there's only a limited amount of time in the day, and when you have to cook dinner, supervise kiddos, walk dogs and spend time with your family, it's hard to get it all done. Add to that the problem that people move-friends since childhood are rare these days, or even friends since your children's childhood. I would recommend this book for everyone. We all need to make time for friends. I was close to giving it 5 stars, but I found a bit of the guy talk and casual writing style annoying, but then, I'm not the target audience clearly illustrated on the cover...a middle aged guy.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Imperioli

    I was drawn to this book as I feel - reaching middle age - that I wanted to do better in the part of my life of appreciating and maintaining my relationships with friends. While reading the book was a good reminder to 'get over yourself' and reach out to people - it wasn't really much more than that for me. Really, the title says it: 'We Need to Hang Out' (except this time actually - you know - hang out). I really enjoyed Baker's writing style and the humor. The book feels like a cross between a I was drawn to this book as I feel - reaching middle age - that I wanted to do better in the part of my life of appreciating and maintaining my relationships with friends. While reading the book was a good reminder to 'get over yourself' and reach out to people - it wasn't really much more than that for me. Really, the title says it: 'We Need to Hang Out' (except this time actually - you know - hang out). I really enjoyed Baker's writing style and the humor. The book feels like a cross between an article, a story, and self-help and I wish it chose one of those and remained in that area. I loved Baker's storytelling style and would consider reading more of his books if they're more storytelling-centric. That said when you're reading a book in a self-help mindset it makes it difficult to relate if the author's experience is wildly different than yours. Perhaps cause loneliness is really a subjective experience but I found that the book was sometimes out of touch. I found myself having difficulty relating to the parts where Baker is going on treasure-hunting adventures with his friends dressed in Goonies costumes. It sounds like fun and not like there's a 'loneliness' problem at all. Again I understand 'loneliness' is a subjective experience and one can have a million friends and still feel like we're not doing enough. My take-away from all this is to make that effort to hang with the people in your life you care about - that you consider 'friends.' Especially during this time of isolation.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tony Fitzpatrick

    Billy Baker is a staff reporter for the Boston Globe. This book originated with an assignment from his editor asking for a piece about why adult men have trouble making and sustaining long term friendships. Billy took himself as the case study, and over two years tried out a number of ideas and schemes to recreate the warmth, camaraderie and happiness of the friendships he had in High School and at College. He did some research into happiness, academic studies on the topic of friendship, and why Billy Baker is a staff reporter for the Boston Globe. This book originated with an assignment from his editor asking for a piece about why adult men have trouble making and sustaining long term friendships. Billy took himself as the case study, and over two years tried out a number of ideas and schemes to recreate the warmth, camaraderie and happiness of the friendships he had in High School and at College. He did some research into happiness, academic studies on the topic of friendship, and why women seem to have less trouble making this stuff work when compared to men. It is extremely well written, and very funny, as you would expect of a professional, deadline focused, journalist. It comes up with no major insights other than to accept that pressures of marriage, family and work, inevitably crowd out the time available for putting the effort into male platonic relationships. Sustained friendships are possible if you put the effort into them, and are prepared to be vulnerable in front of others. I enjoyed reading it - the way in which "he gets the guys together" for joint sports activities, and his descriptions of the "Odd Wednesday" frat house type meetings, is somewhat American, but good fun. Kudos to someone who was prepared to write 250 pages about himself on what is a huge societal problem, made worse many times over by the pandemic.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Logan Spader

    Perhaps we don't learn new ideas from the books we read, rather we search for books from like-minded authors that help us analyze the ideas already in our heads. This is one of those books for me. I've been trying to solve the problem of modern isolation and the rule of 150 acquaintances for a few years now and ignorantly assumed this book was going to be absolute garbage when I picked it off the shelf at my library. However, after only a few pages I was laughing out loud and decided to give it Perhaps we don't learn new ideas from the books we read, rather we search for books from like-minded authors that help us analyze the ideas already in our heads. This is one of those books for me. I've been trying to solve the problem of modern isolation and the rule of 150 acquaintances for a few years now and ignorantly assumed this book was going to be absolute garbage when I picked it off the shelf at my library. However, after only a few pages I was laughing out loud and decided to give it a shot. I've never laughed so hard at a book in my entire life. So thank you for that Billy. I loved hearing an honest guy's personal journey on trying to amass a tribe of men to satisfy his anthropologic needs for close social circles. This is something that I have failed to accomplish since the beginning of my own journey. I learned a lot about what might work and what definitely will not work but the best part of this whole book was Billy's writing skills. He wields his pen (laptop?) like a samurai wields a sword and with his modern sword he can articulate his emotions in a way that few books have ever done for me. Thanks Billy, if you are ever in SD we need to hang out. (My opening sentence was paraphrased from Nassim Taleb's book "Antifragile" which I also highly recommend!)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Howard Fishman

    There's very little in this book on friendship that isn't appealing. Billy Baker offers-up a distillation of where he's been with friendship, while taking us on a journey to a more comfortable view of contemporary male bonding. A journey with lessons for both the author and the reader. His style is breezy and irreverent, filled with insight and takeaways on the best way to be a purposeful friend. Recent and important studies have put a spotlight on loneliness as a major factor inhibiting health There's very little in this book on friendship that isn't appealing. Billy Baker offers-up a distillation of where he's been with friendship, while taking us on a journey to a more comfortable view of contemporary male bonding. A journey with lessons for both the author and the reader. His style is breezy and irreverent, filled with insight and takeaways on the best way to be a purposeful friend. Recent and important studies have put a spotlight on loneliness as a major factor inhibiting health and well-being. Friendship is the healing salve. Women have captured the essence of bonding with a significantly higher rate of success at friendship. Serving them well throughout their lives. Men, on the other hand, have hidden behind age-old stereotypes of masculinity which prevent active bonding. If one can't forge new relationships with other men, they can, as Baker says (and I paraphrase), feel as if as if they're living a busy life, but not a full one. Thus preventing a depth of experience that only true friendship can offer. Baker's book can be read in one or two sittings and often feels like a buddy film. Because of his writing skills, it's easy to feel as if you, the reader, are actually the buddy.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    You reach a certain age and discover that all you do is work and take care of stuff at home. You hardly ever see your so-called friends from the past and rarely make new ones. When Baker’s editor at the Golden Globe asked him to write about how men these days have trouble making and keeping friendships, he looked at his own life and started on a quest. His article set off a media storm, which led to this book, in which he tells the story of his efforts to make “hanging out with the guys” a regul You reach a certain age and discover that all you do is work and take care of stuff at home. You hardly ever see your so-called friends from the past and rarely make new ones. When Baker’s editor at the Golden Globe asked him to write about how men these days have trouble making and keeping friendships, he looked at his own life and started on a quest. His article set off a media storm, which led to this book, in which he tells the story of his efforts to make “hanging out with the guys” a regular part of his life. He includes a good bit of information on loneliness and the science behind friendship and also tucks in a bit about the COVID-19 pandemic that was just starting as he finished the book, but for the most part, this is a fun account of his attempts to bond with his guy friends in a way that didn’t feel like a chore. Did he succeed? Well, kind of. At least he didn’t kill anyone in the process. This is very much a man’s perspective, so different from how a woman might approach it. And it’s not that Baker didn’t already have friends and a full life. He wasn’t alone like so many people these days. But I enjoyed this book and took a lot of notes.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Samer Alanani

    I read this book a couple of months ago but returned to the last three chapters two days ago. Throughout the book, the author is on a quest to answer the question “why men are lonely in the States?”. It is his personal journey. He tries to reconnect with high school friends, college roommates, guys from the gym, etc…He fails and then he succeeds then fails again and so on. He finds out very fundamental things about male-male friendship; in that, it needs (most of the time) a place to go and some I read this book a couple of months ago but returned to the last three chapters two days ago. Throughout the book, the author is on a quest to answer the question “why men are lonely in the States?”. It is his personal journey. He tries to reconnect with high school friends, college roommates, guys from the gym, etc…He fails and then he succeeds then fails again and so on. He finds out very fundamental things about male-male friendship; in that, it needs (most of the time) a place to go and something to do. Men gather around activity and their friendship blossoms shoulder to shoulder (unlike women who are much better at friendships and can sustain them face to face, simply just talking…) Friendship is complicated unless it is painfully simple. I never fold the top of the page but almost every page in this book is folded on the top to remind me of a great quote, surprising data, or a funny joke the author listed. A must-read in this post-Coronavirus world we just started to experience! Billy Baker, I cannot wait for your next book!!

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