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Shaving Book Reviews:  The Good, The Bad, and The Complete Wastes Of Your Money

stack of booksOne of the first things I did when I started wet shaving was to read as much as humanly possible about the subject.  This included reading the forums, peoples personal shave blogs, forum Wiki pages, and trying to find actual BOOKS that dealt with the subject.  I had a lot luck finding information on the web, but was mostly disappointed in the books available.  At the time, there wasn’t very many books to choose from.  Most were PDFs of old “gentleman’s guides”” or actual barber manuals.  These were useful, but even in the early stages of my learning process showed flaws (which after 80 to 90 years isn’t too big of a surprise).  I did find one very good book, but more on that below.

This is Part One of the Shaving book reviews.  Check out the following in the series here:

PART TWO:  Shaving Book Review Part 2:  Things Start to Look Up

PART THREE: Shaving Book Review Part 3: Nearing the Finish Line

The other night I was curious and went onto Amazon.com and started looking at what was avialable.  I was pleasantly surprised at the number of wet shaving books available until I started looking a little harder and saw the quality of information being presented.  I decided to do a little research and present it here.  FYI, I bought each and everyone of these books being presented.  Most were bought in ebook format (and a lot are only offered electronically).  This is Part 1 of however many posts it takes!  All books were researched on Amazon, because it’s the single largest bookseller in the world.  This is all based upon my opinion and my opinion alone.

Reference Key

  1. The Good = Good content, well written, not overly skewed by personal opinion.  Good formatting, grammar, and spelling.   If a book has decent content and is presented in a easily readable format.
  2. The Bad = Poor content and/or poorly written.  Poor formatting, grammar, and spelling.  Also possibly heavily skewed by authors opinions.
  3. The Complete Wastes Of Your Money = Meets one of two criteria.  Either so badly written it doesn’t even qualify for The Bad category or is a reprint of material you can obtain for free.

THE GOOD

Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving the Double-Edge Way

This book is available in both print and ebook format.  I have only read the print book.

Originally released as Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving – Sixth Edition: Shaving Made Enjoyable.  Just recently updated to Rev 7.  This book is written by Michael Ham, better known as Leisureguy in wet shaving forums and groups.  Michael can often be found on the the wicked_edge sub_reddit helping out new shavers.

Pros:  Step by step instructions on equipment selection, shave prep, shaving, and equipment maintenance.  Great section covering vintage and new safety razors and a huge index of online resources.

Cons:  There is only one thing about this book I do not like. Michael only covers the use of safety razors.  No straight razor guidance given.  If you want to use a straight razor this book is still very good in covering the methodology of wet shaving and how to prep for a shave.

Conclusion:  Buy this book.  End of discussion.  This is the go to book if you are looking to get a friend or significant other into wet shaving.

THE BAD

 The Ultimate Guide To Shaving: A shaving guide for the modern man

This is a book by Will Evans and Derek Zender.  This book appears to only be available in e-book format.

To start off with, the book is technically correct and doesn’t seem to give erroneous information.  However, almost every aspect of shaving is boiled down to one or two paragraphs.  There is nothing unique or noteworthy about the content of this book.  If you browsed a forum for a few hours you would get more in depth info.  However, if you wanted to give a stocking stuffer to your 12 year old nephew, this might fit the bill.

THE UGLY

Shaving Made Easy : What the Man Who Shaves Ought to Know.  This book was originally published in 1905 and is now considered public domain.  That means that anyone can use it for whatever purpose they want.  That includes selling it as their own.  There are a LOT of people selling copies of this book online.  Some copies are nothing more than a scanned image of the original book where others have been retyped and professionally bound.  These books are being sold as both e-books and bound editions.

The following is most of the books currently listed on Amazon.

    

 

 

    

 

 

I’m sure there are a few that I missed, but you get the point.  If you would like a FREE copy of this book then download it for free (no sign-up or anything else) at Project Gutenberg and Archive.Org.  Digital copies of these books (and others) are available on most of the shave forums Wiki pages.

If you NEED a hard copy of this book I would recommend downloading the free  PDF and using a friends printer.
There is one pseudo-exception on this list.  The author Leon Cutajar has taken this book and expanded upon its original text.

 Ultimate Shaving Secrets Revealed: The Beginner’s Guide To Traditional Wet Shaving And Shaving With A Straight Razor

It is better than some of others, but it is written like someone who has researched a lot, but has no real experience wet shaving.  Not to mention a majority of the content is copied from freely available public works.  As such it gets to stay with its brethren in the waste of money category.


I hope this was a little bit of help to someone out there.  I have another dozen or so books to write up and share.  Should take up two, maybe three more posts.  If you liked the post, please share it with others and/or leave a comment below.

Have a great day and a smooth shave!

Matt

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Shaving Book Review Part 2: Things Start to Look Up

11 Comments

  1. A big +1 on “Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving the Double-Edge Way”

    Have you read Sharpologist’s free eBook? How does it compare?

    Cheers,
    Shawn

    • I did read the free guide from Sharpologist.com and it’s a good read. It’s beats most of the commercially available books but is geared toward those very new to wet shaving. I would place Leisureguy’s Guide above the Sharpologist guide, but still a good resource (especially for free).

  2. I’ve wasted a lot of money on books about shaving over the years and Leisureguy’s Guide is the only one I recommend.

    • I would agree. It sets the standard as far as I’m concerned. There are a few others that I would recommend for specific aspects of wet shaving, but Leisureguy’s Guide is the most comprehensive.

  3. Thanks for the kind words. This new (7th) edition is 40 pages longer than the previous edition, even though I cut out the justification of boar brushes (which no longer require justification) and greatly reduced the page count for the vendor list (cutting the size of each vendor entry and also sorting by country). The vendor list, though it occupies fewer pages, has grown from just over 120 vendors to over 150—an indication of the continuing growth of the wet-shaving movement (along with increased enrollment in shaving forums, new razors being made available, great increase in number of vendors of shaving soaps, creams, and brushes, and so on).

    I imagine this will be the final version. I don’t know that I have that much more to say—but of course, I thought the same thing about each of the previous six versions. Still, the series must stop at some point, and I did slant this one toward being the last.

    • It’s an excellent resource and a boon to wet shavers. Thank You very much for the effort you have put into it. I may have to snag a copy of the latest edition to see what is new.

      • I’ll be interested in your thoughts. You’ll notice that, though the book is substantially bigger, the price is substantially less. The reason for the lowered price is that I hope that absolute novices will be moved to buy the book earlier in the process of transition. At the old price, there may have been a tendency to postpone purchase until one was sure that he would like DE shaving, but since the book is mainly aimed at providing the very information the novice needs at the beginning, this was counter-productive. Thus I reduced the prices to try for impulse purchases by absolute novices, who can best benefit from the information.

        You might enjoy today’s SOTD post.

        • I’ve tried to write a response to this three times and keep getting interrupted. Hope this one sticks…

          From what I have gathered, there are three different considerations to pricing a self published book. Make money, build your brand, or to get information to as many people as you can. From what I have read from your blog, various posts, and videos you are not looking to make money on this book. You certainly don’t need the brand building as you are well known in wet shaving circles. All that is left is sharing of knowledge. I do think a lower price point is helpful, but I firmly believe that if you set he price overly low that some people will assume it is another of the cheap thrown together books (as described in some of the other reviews). For better or worse quality is often related to price point. I know that you can track sales over time with Amazon. Maybe play with the price point in six month increments and compare average sales numbers?

  4. Hi Matt, thanks for this great article (and those that follow). You note that the ugly (Shaving Made Easy, 1905) is a waste of money, but considering it is available for free, is it also a waste of time? What about from a quaint historical perspective?

    • Alex, good question! I would not label it a waste of time. While quaint, most of the information is sound, and there is nothing called out that is incorrect or likely to cause harm (besides shaving with a straight in he first place).

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