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  • Monthly Challenge - #unusualreading

    Posted on Jun 22, 2022

    You know what's tough? Finding time to read.

    We get that. It's one of the reasons we exist. Life is complicated, responsibilities are many, and work is sometimes the only time you get to yourself. That's pretty shit and we're trying to do something about it (see Rule No. 2). Meanwhile, you might only manage to pick up a book on the train, or in the break room, or with your pants around your ankles on the loo. It kind of feels like an extreme sport in itself.

    Good idea, we said, and made a monthly challenge out of it. Hashtag #unusualreading.

    Throughout March 2022 we challenged dudes to post a picture of themselves reading somewhere weird. Within reason, obviously. We had our usual disclaimer that if you endanger yourself or anyone else, you're disqualified. Still, goons got creative and produced some great stuff. Join our FB group and search for yourself to see them all.

    There's the first category - goons who were busy and did their best. Snatching a few pages on the bus, in the backyard, in the shower or while cooking dinner. We saw them at the shops, the gym, out riding the bike. Turns out a lot of goons read on the couch while buried under a pile of dogs or kids. And that's great! Even if it's just a hard copy instead of a Kindle, a change is as good as a holiday!

    Next there's what we might call the second category - goons who went the extra mile. Quite literally in some cases, we had a lot of beautiful shots of hiking trails and the great outdoors. Then there were goons in museums, at the zoo, dangling from harnesses on rock climbing walls or off the side of buildings, in the crowd at a Spiderbait (or Grinspoon) gig, wandering the rows at a winery, or in the stands at the footy. We love that shit. Not just because you're doing the challenge but because you're making an effort to do something for yourself. Whether you finish the book or not, our work is done.

    But most interesting of all is what we'll call Category Three, Extreme TGBC Events - goons in hospitals. We saw them reading in waiting rooms, while donating blood, even in emergency departments (for themselves or family members - either way it's impressive). The popular 'winner' of this challenge was the goon who fit in a few pages while stretched out on the machine waiting for his post-prostatectomy radiation treatment.

    Look, we read and talk books because it's good for your mind. But we need you to take care of your body as well. Sure it's tough, but you know what's really fucking tough? Fighting cancer and reading Cormac McCarthy's post-apocalyptic masterpiece The Road at the same time. That shit is hardcore.

    We'll probably do this one again, so start thinking now and you'll have something cool in your back pocket next time it rolls around.

    And wherever you are, take some time to read a book. You won't regret it.

  • Monthly Challenge - #BPcheck 2022

    Posted on Apr 20, 2022

    Tough Guy Book Club takes January off (who wants to talk books when you're busy breaking your New Years resolutions?) so February is our first meeting of the year. That means it's also our first challenge. For 2022 we decided to dust off an old classic: get your blood pressure checked. Go to your doctor or pharmacy or your mate who has a machine, get your numbers, whack them up on our Facebook group with the hashtag #bpcheck.

    As challenges go, this should be one of the easier ones. But it's surprisingly difficult for a lot of guys. About half of all men have high blood pressure, but most don't bother to see a doctor, let alone do anything about it. Which doesn't make sense to us, because it's such a simple way to understand your health better, maybe even improve it. Because health is important, and so are you.

    TGBC goons tend to be a little more aware than the average man, so a lot of our guys speak to their doctor regularly. But TGBC goons also are Average Men, so plenty of them don't speak to their doctor at all.

    See, this is why we have challenges. Cos they're challenging.

    The good news is, what we saw this year was a bunch of guys actually doing something about their health. For the goons who had healthy blood pressure it was just a big of reassurance, but a good chance to check in. For those who put up scary numbers, that's okay too! A #bpcheck can be a timely reminder that you need to start looking after yourself, because that's what goons do.

    There's actually a lot you can do for your blood pressure. Boring stuff like diet changes, reducing your intake of salt, caffeine and alcohol... a subject upon which TGBC has made its feelings very clear elsewhere. Luckily, there are other things you can control in your life, like losing weight and getting regular exercise, that not only lower your blood pressure but improve your health more generally.

    Making healthier choices can be hard, but it gets easier. And it's not just your blood pressure benefits. Losing weight gives you more energy and makes you more aerodynamic when chucking yourself down a slip & slide (see Camp Of The Sunburnt River). Exercise is fun and you can do it with your fellow goons. And if you take care of your health, you'll have more time to plonk down on the couch and read a book! Two birds with one stone!

    This won't be the last you see of #bpcheck, so we'll see how everybody's numbers look next time. Until then, stay healthy.

  • 2022 Floods - Goons to the rescue

    Posted on Apr 13, 2022

    Say you're at home. Doing whatever it is you do at home. Reading, we hope. Or sprawling on the couch watching TV, that's fine too. Now, say something terrible comes on the news. War, plague, fire... flood. It seems to happen more and more these days. One unimaginable tragedy after another. What do you do? Do you sigh, shake your head and change the channel? Do you talk to your kids, or your partner, or your dog about it? Do you maybe jump on the laptop and search for more information, find some action you can take, or somewhere you can donate money to the cause? Tough Guy Book Club does that. When Queensland and northern NSW vanished underwater in February 2022, goons across the globe stepped up to the tune of more than $17,000.

    Read More »
  • Camp of the Sunburnt River

    Posted on Apr 02, 2022

    To tell the story of the Camp of the Sun Burnt River, the 2022 Summer Camp, we have to travel all the way back to the before times of 2020, when things were innocent and you wouldn’t think twice about cramming a bunch of Goons into a bunk room. After nearly two years of on and off lockdowns, club meetings via Zoom, and other shit, we thought we weathered the storm and were ready for the Camp of the Misty Mountains in October 2021. But alas, thanks to all of us learning another letter in the Greek alphabet, the Camp of the Misty Mountains was postponed for a year, and we needed something to hold us over until then. And with that, Camp of the Sun Burnt River was born!

    This camp was advertised as being a smaller, more relaxed version of camp. A few beers, chilling by a river, maybe a hike or two. The “real” camp would return later on. This was supposed to be a quick and dirty camp to get us through.

    The camp committee lied.

    For those who wanted to sit by a river and relax, they were welcome to do that, but for other Goons, we were given an exceptionally well organised camp with more activities than you could dream of.

    First, let’s talk night time entertainment. Friday night was an Aussie rock cover band that had all the Goons singing along, and surprisingly, that wasn’t even the highlight. We were then escorted to the gym area to be met with a large wrestling ring and professional wrestlers laying the smackdown on each other.

    During the wrestling, all 80 of us were just ripe enough to cheer, yell, and scream as we saw some top notch professional wrestling. Most of us hadn’t watched wrestling of this style since we were 12 years old, and we were all fondly taken back to many a Saturday morning in our parents’ lounge room. Except now we were old enough for booze and had a larger variety of swear words at our disposal. Needless to say the wrestlers put on a great show and, even though this stuff is staged, they still took some pretty gnarly hits as professional stunt people.

    And the weekend was just getting started…

    What followed were a few beers with mates and tons of manly activities that, while being done by novices, probably shouldn’t have. Axe throwing? Yep. Knife sharpening? We had it. Roman sling shot making. That was there too. Giant slip and slide. We’re still surprised no one got hurt.

    And that’s not to mention the second band on the Saturday night, some dips in the river, traditional camp games like tug-of-war, dodgeball, raft building (and battle), camp fires, sing-a-longs, huge Dungeons and Dragons sessions, and of course a few drinks and a laugh around the camp fire. We even figured out how to make crossword puzzles into a contact sport. Oh, and of course there was a game of Liar’s Dice.

    Yeah, this was a relaxed camp with minimal activities…

    Should we expand on how some of these activities went down or leave them a mystery; a secret known only to those who attended camp? Let’s elaborate on the Weird, the Wonderful, and the Traditional.

    The Weird: Contact Crossword Puzzles.

    The rules are simple. Break into teams of about five. One Goon does all the writing. Beyond that, we’re still not quite sure how it evolved into contact, but the aim seemed to be around sabotage; whether it be preventing the writing Goon from writing, or finally handing in his completed puzzle. No one was hurt (too seriously).

    The Wonderful: Camp Singalong

    This was possibly the longest single activity, as Goons came and went and just relaxed. We had about six guitars that were passed around with a few Goons also playing harmonica. The less musically inclined were encouraged to play drums on a nearby bin or just hit a beer bottle with a spoon. All were welcome. It’s amazing how many songs a collective group of guys know. Friends were made.

    The Traditional: Liar’s Dice

    It’s a long standing rule that if you haven’t been to camp before, you need to play Liar’s Dice. The rules are simple: everyone rolls some dice and keeps their results secret. You then need to guess how many of a given number is on the table (combined of all players) - this number goes up and up until someone calls bullshit. If you’re wrong, you lose. After a few rounds you realise that Book Club is just a long con to force men to play Liar’s Dice.

    Want to know more about the ins and outs of camp activities? There’s only one way to find out:

    Come. To. Fucking. Camp.

    We’ll end this camp wrap up with two final things.

    Firstly, thank you to Licola Wilderness Village, you were wonderful. The staff there were kind, helpful, and kept us well fed and comfortable.

    And lastly, we’ll end with a quote from a Goon at camp:

    “Camp does a lot, but there’s one thing it doesn’t do. It doesn’t suck.”

  • 2022 Floods - TGBC Fundraising Efforts

    Posted on Mar 29, 2022

    February-March 2022 brought some of the worst flooding in Australia's history. Massive areas of NSW and Queensland vanished underwater. Some of them haven't emerged yet, and there's more rain coming.

    It's shit, and it hurts, and it's going to hurt for a while. We'll be hearing more about that in the next few months because it's important we don't forget about our people and the communities doing it tough. For now, let's talk about the good work Tough Guy Book Club has already done in one of the towns hardest hit - Lismore, NSW.

    Our fundraiser page went up on March 1st and raised a total of $17,501 from goons all over the world. While those who live a long way away couldn't do much except turn out their pockets, others dropped everything and hit the Pacific Motorway. They were our boots on the ground with money to spend. So, what did they buy?

    Well, goons gotta eat. Start with car and trailer loads of non-perishable food - cans of soup, tuna, spaghetti, rice, fruit cups, long life milk, Up 'n Go. Next people need to take care of themselves - they need toothbrushes, ibuprofen and paracetamol, disinfectant wipes and rubbing alcohol for all those cuts and scrapes that don't mix with floodwater. Big ticket items and solar batteries can be shared around so people can have power. And for all the million other little essentials we can't even think of, a $500 prepaid VISA means you can fill up with petrol and get to shops in the next town over.

    Now, time to clean up this mess. For that you need cleaning brushes, shoulder sprayers for dousing mould, and a mountain of sponges and scrubbers and scourers. When the sun isn't shining and you need to dry clothes and furniture and soggy books, big portable air-mover fans come in handy. We even bought a bunch of plastic dish drying racks because it turns out they're perfect for holding vinyl records after they've been carefully washed off with soap. Who knew?

    You can't buy back what's lost or irreplaceable... but when it comes to music, we can do the next best thing. Eight UE Boom bluetooth speakers mean that even when your beloved home sound systems are fried, you can still pump some fucking Slayer while you pick through debris.

    Look, we're not the SES. We don't wear hi-viz or pull people from rivers - although the people who do that will need our support too. All we can do is talk and listen and remind people they're not alone. So we bought a brand new Jumbuck BBQ, gas, cases of beer, snags and salad, and fed all the goons and their families who had been working for days without rest. We don't fly helicopters but we can damn sure cook you a sausage when you land.

    This is a long way from over, so we'll be bringing you more stories from the goons who came to help, and some locals who witnessed the devastation firsthand. When they're ready, we'll be here.

    Take care. Stay dry.

  • Broome Chapter Opening

    Posted on Mar 08, 2022

    Tough Guy Book Club is everywhere. You can find us in big cities and small towns, on the coast and in the hills. You can find us in pubs and breweries and RSLs, by the highway or the railroad tracks, anywhere men want something better to talk about. We're kind of like Tom Joad. Or... I dunno, Zorro.

    So, catch a flight from our original home in Melbourne all the way to Perth, WA. Then jump back in the plane and fly another 2200km north (three straight days drive... or a much longer ride, if you're Zorro). There you'll find one of the newest, remotest and easily the coolest places we've ever turned up - the town of Broome.

    Nik Martinskis knows how cool Broome is. He moved there four years ago for the Thing We Don't Talk About. Over the last New Years break he was looking for something new and interesting to do with his spare time, and he stumbled upon one of our advertisements on www.volunteeringwa.org.au.

    First off, the sort of dude who trawls charity volunteer websites for fun is exactly the sort of dude we want in this club. Nik had always been a big reader, so this was a no-brainer for him.

    "I like mostly sci-fi and crime, but I've been getting into detective novels and especially historical fiction," he says, "I love reading or watching stuff set in a certain period and then finding out all the facts behind it."

    Who knows how he finds time to read when he lives in a town where there are literally no traffic lights, where you can walk down to Cable Beach and camp and then go looking for dinosaur footprints (yes, fucking dinosaur footprints) in the rocks at low tide. But apparently men in Broome make time, because the meetings have been well-attended so far and they're growing every month.

    "I haven't really had to advertise, I put up a poster in the barber shop and another one at my wife's work," Nik says, "One of our new guys was going on a sailing trip but he found a copy of the book in the library before he left. It's not hard to make conversation cos all these guys can talk."

    They've got plenty to talk about. Apart from the monthly book, they can share stories about centuries of indigenous and multicultural history in a town built on the back of the pearling industry, while they sit in a 130-year-old pub (the Roebuck Bay Hotel) where divers would come straight off the boats to find the pearlmasters sipping beers in the back bar and waiting to buy their treasures.

    There's a really shit 'pearls of wisdom' metaphor in here somewhere, but we'll spare you that.

    Instead, make your way to the far northwest, stop in on the first Wednesday of the month, say hello to Nik and the Broome goons, and share some pearls of your own.

  • My First Chapter Meet

    Posted on Feb 20, 2022

    The year was I can’t remember, but my girlfriend (now wife) and I had started a new yearly tradition of driving our campervan from Sydney to Melbourne (and back again) for Christmas, stopping in Beechworth for a few days each way. In those days Beechworth didn’t have a chapter, but we decided to have some drinks and dinner at Bridge Road Brewers regardless. Their beer is great, so is their pizza.

    A few pints and a belly full of pizza later we had somehow gotten talking to the couple at the next table. I didn’t yet know what a Goon was, but I was about to find out. The president of the Surry Hill Chapter in Sydney at the time told me about some book club he hosted that he thought I’d like. I’m sure he said more, but it was years ago and details are hazy since we were at a brewery.

    Fast forward to late January and the Goon I met in Beechworth hadn’t forgotten to follow up on his invitation. Come to the Shakespeare Hotel on the first Wednesday in February. Doesn’t matter if you’ve read the book (I hadn’t). Hell, I figured I’d at least get a decent pub feed and a couple of pints in me and see how it goes.

    I’m not the most outspoken guy when I’m in a new group, but found it was really easy to loosen up at my first meeting. We started the meeting, as usual, by introducing ourselves (just don’t talk about work and don’t be a fuck head). This at least let me learn everybody’s name, which I promptly forgot and re-learned later, and let me be comfortable talking in the group. After that, I hadn’t read the book so I settled into my pint and learned what this whole book club thing was about.

    But the Prez knew what he was doing. He let me have that pint (and probably another one after that) before encouraging me to say something. If you haven’t read the book when you come to book club, it doesn’t matter. Conversations stray away from the book, and that’s when I was encouraged to speak, asking me what I thought.

    Do I remember what we were talking about? No. Do I remember what I said? Of course not. Do I remember the book? I hadn’t read it.

    But did I come back the next month, and the month after that, and so on? Damn right I did.

    At the risk of getting a little sentimental, a chance drunken meeting with a stranger in a pub in rural Victoria brought me to Tough Guy Book club, and I’ve been coming for years. I’ve made friends throughout Australia from this club and I love it.

    Moral of the story: get drunk and talk to strangers in pubs.

  • Kangaroo Point Chapter opens

    Posted on Feb 09, 2022

    Years ago, when he was travelling in Canada, Daniel Westall went to a mate's house to see his new big screen TV. It was mostly for watching hockey (because Canada) and the mate told a story about his playing days. After a couple of hard hours on the ice, he said, he loved limping to the locker room with his team, where they could nurse their bruises, have real conversations, and form genuine bonds.

    Whereupon the Canadian mate's wife turned to Daniel, shrugged and said "We do that shopping."

    It's a story that sticks with Daniel now that he's president of Tough Guy Book Club Kangaroo Point - tucked into a little spot just across the Brisbane River from the CBD, a quiet haven where you can drink award-winning beer (google Sea Legs Brewery and thank us later), watch the sailboats go by, and enjoy inner city convenience without inner city hassle.

    "I've found I relate to men better than I used to [before TGBC]," says Daniel, "I've never really had male friends - I've mostly been friends with women - because you just don't talk in the same way. Now I think I've lost some of that defensiveness."

    How did he end up in the club in the first place? Like a lot of our best goons he was just trawling volunteeringqld.org.au for ways to help. He thought he was applying to join a chapter when actually he was starting one. But he doesn't mind.

    "I read a lot when I was younger, mostly sci fi and fantasy, but I hadn't picked up an actual book in years. Then I talked to a neighbour who got me onto Audible. Now I listen to books while I'm out walking or doing other stuff... if you get a good actor it's great, the guy reading Murderbot Diaries was exactly the right kind of sardonic and sarcastic."

    Kangaroo Point has been through a few meetings already. There was the standard inaugural one with only two attendees, and they mostly commiserated about the shitshow that was the March floods. But cut to a month later, after some strategic postering and sharing on community forums, and a full 9 dudes turned up out of the blue to try to make sense of despair, cannibalism and the end of the world in Cormac McCarthy.

    "It was probably our best meeting!" Daniel laughs, "Nobody knew each other but everyone joined in."

    Now they've found a quieter venue, they have 9-10 regulars, and they're not looking back. As a big sci fi fan Daniel has his fingers crossed for some Isaac Asimov. In the Robots series he writes about a future where people are so used to automated technology that they never see one another in the flesh, and human connection has almost vanished.

    No offence to Mister Asimov, but Daniel, Kangaroo Point and the rest of TGBC are here to make sure that never happens. Barring disaster (which to be fair, there has been a fucking lot of lately) we'll be in the pub on the first Wednesday of the month at 7pm.

    See you there.

  • New York City Chapter opening

    Posted on Jan 12, 2022

    There are eight million stories in the Naked City, and Tough Guy Book Club has an opinion on every single one of them.

    Naked City, the Big Apple, the City That Never Sleeps. Call it what you want, it's big and loud and famous and probably features in a bunch of books you've read (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, if you read that with us over Christmas). Well, now New York City has proper literary street cred because it has its own chapter of TGBC. In all those millions of people and thousands of bars and speakeasies, you can now find one with a little group of dudes in the back drinking hooch and talking books on the first Wednesday of the month.

    "It's such a different way to hang out and meet new folks," says Guy 'Yug' Blomberg, expat Australian, seasoned Gothamist, president of TGBC NYC, "I've travelled and moved quite a bit in my life, and TGBC is one of the better ways I've seen to form genuine friendships."

    But hang on. We've watched TV in the last twenty years. We thought New York City was full of hip, cultured New Yorkers running around being hip and cultured at each other. Why do they need us?

    "Even though it's one of the biggest cities in the world, surrounded by millions of folks, it can be incredibly lonely and standoffish," says Guy, "The communities are what make it special, even if the town itself couldn't care less about you."

    Good point. This Guy guy is pretty smart. It's easy to turn up to a book club with a prepared thesis and announce your opinions until someone tells you you're right. It's much harder to have a friendly chat with a goon you've never met who thinks the piece of shit you just read is a masterpiece. Then to listen to his story, find out what makes him think that, and care enough to turn up next month and listen to him again - that's really fucking hard, especially for men.

    It's not always our fault. New York City isn't the only place on earth where life is complicated right now. In fact sometimes - in the words of famous New Yorkers Stantz, Spengler and Venkman - it feels like 'real Wrath of God type stuff... fire and brimstone... earthquakes, volcanoes... dogs and cats living together... MASS HYSTERIA!'. That's why we have meetings all over the world, so whether you live in a town of eight million or eight hundred, there's always a place you can go to talk and be listened to.

    We might not change the world, or even New York City very much. "But hey," says Guy, "If we can make a TGBC here, we can make it anywhere, as they say..."

  • TGBC Book Swap 2021

    Posted on Dec 23, 2021

    One of the best things about books is pushing your favourite ones on other people.

    Actually, that's not just true of books. Films, music, food, cars, sports, gadgets, places to travel - we do it with fucking everything. If you love something it's only natural you want to share it, right? Either because you think it's good and it would improve someone else's life, or because you want them to appreciate how fucking smart and cool and cultured you are for liking it in the first place. Sometimes it's a mix of both. Motivations are complicated.

    The problem is, it can be very hard to make people read your favourite book, watch your favourite film, try your favourite whiskey, whatever. This is a big world full of cool stuff and we all get a limited amount of time in it. Plus, these recommendations come flying at you constantly. "Ever tried this? Oh man, you gotta." But you never do. Either you don't rate the person giving the recommendation, or your queue is just too full at the moment.

    Men, in our experience, are especially good at this. We've already been taught to turn everything into a fucking competition. So we toss out shitloads of recommendations and brush off the ones coming back to us. It turns the whole thing into a kind of arms race, a big dick measuring contest, an act of hostility rather than generosity. You have to ask yourself, do you really want this person to read Moby Dick or do you just want them to know you've read it? Are you really telling them to go to Dunedoo or are you just crapping on about your own camping trip?

    This is where the great TGBC Book Swap comes in.

    It's a very simple tradition. You take a book down from your shelf, wrap it up and send it to another randomly selected goon. It doesn't have to cost any more than postage, and you don't know anything about the goon on the receiving end, just like the goon who drew your name out of the hat doesn't know you. So it would be the perfect opportunity to be selfish, to send something weird and ignore whatever you get in return.

    But we've been doing this for a while now, and something amazing has happened.

    Goons think bloody hard about their swap books. They take the time to consider why they like certain stories, and why they might resonate with others. They source old copies and order special editions and write heartfelt messages inside the cover. Get this - they've even started bundling up care packages with their books. Sending along whiskey tasters and funny beers and gourmet tea and all sorts of things. Competing to see who can be nicest to someone they don't know. We've actually weaponised their kindness.

    And the wildest thing of all is, when a goon gets a swap book in the mail, you can be pretty sure he'll open it up. Maybe because he's checking for a ten dollar gift card, but more likely because he wants to see what it's about. He wants to see if there's a message inside and find out why someone picked it. No matter how deep his book pile is, he's going to give this one a try, because he's part of a club where he can trust a fellow goon to care about him and pick something interesting.

    It's Tough Guy Book Club's own little holiday miracle, and we do it every year. If you'd like to witness for yourself, get down to the pub and join a chapter before the end of 2022.

    Meantime, happy reading.

  • TGBC Monthly Challange - #NewGoon

    Posted on Nov 24, 2021

    As 2021 came to a close, we had our last TGBC meeting, and our last challenge of the year. It’s no secret that December and January are big recruiting drives for us. These are the months where a lot of guys who aren’t yet involved in the club decide they want to read more. So naturally, we try to get them into the club through our regular #newgoon monthly challenge.

    The rules of the #newgoon challenge are simple: find a man you’re at least somewhat acquainted with who you think would enjoy book club, and bring him to book club. With your friend successfully at book club, have a few beers and make new friends with the other new guys who have been brought to your chapter.

    The last meeting of the year is always a good one. We take a break in January so, for a lot of Goons, it’s the last you’ll see of them for a little while. The December meeting tends to go a little longer and be a little boozier than other meetings and, with new friends to be had, a few guys usually stay back after the meeting and get to know each other until pub staff ask them to go home (although this behaviour isn’t exclusive to December).

    And that’s the fun of #newgoon: it essentially doubles the greatness that is book club. Tough Guy Book Club regulars will know that while the central theme of book club is reading and talking about books, that’s not really the central point of book club. The point of book club is to get together with other men in the pub and have a chat. The book simply facilitates that chat.

    And regulars will also know that they’re always encouraging their mates to come along, but sometimes get protests like “I don’t have time,” “I’m not a big reader,” or “that doesn’t sound fun.” Until that new guy comes and sees what we’re really about. Then, usually, they’re hooked and they’re the Goon bringing a mate next year.

    To all the Goons, both new and veteran, thanks for making 2021 another great year of book club. Without our fellow Goons, many of us would be sitting in a pub drunkenly talking to ourselves about books. See you all in February.

  • TGBC Monthly Challenge - #LastChances

    Posted on Oct 20, 2021

    Every month at Tough Guy Book Club, we set ourselves a challenge.

    Not just the challenge of getting a bunch of men to read a piece of fiction, which is hard enough. We're talking about meaningful, worthwhile shit you can do with your free time. Make a new friend, catch up with an old one, visit your local library, get your blood pressure or cholesterol checked, or just show off the interesting hobbies you get up to when you're not reading.

    Challenges are fun! They get you out of your stretchy house pants, out of your comfort zone, and in some cases they might score you some sweet new meds and literally save your life. There's plenty of reasons to do them all, but now, there's added incentive.

    Ever heard of a Challenge Coin? Basically it's the tradition of carrying a special medallion to signify that you're part of something cool and important. You flash your coin at a party, someone else flashes theirs, and suddenly the two of you have a special bond and a warm fuzzy feeling of belonging. They've been proudly used throughout history by the military, police departments, high-ranking government officials... and now, Tough Guy Book Club. It's all part of our plan to become a secret society hellbent on world domination hahaha

    Shh. Don't tell anybody.

    So, all our goons who get their challenges in every month are in the running for the Challenge Coin. But we know life gets busy, especially when there's a pandemic on. What if you don't make it to the doctor, or forget to show us a picture of your veggie garden?

    Never fear, we said. This month was all about #Lastchances. The challenge was to catch up on the challenges you've missed.

    That means we had a jumble of photos and stories on our FB page. Goons stampeding to their GP or library, goons slapping up TGBC stickers all over the place, goons demonstrating their skills in baking or surfing or fixing engines. If you know anything about how we read books, you know we're pretty good at doing our homework at the very last minute. Of course there were the 20 smug bastards whose challenges were up to date, who got to post a dumb gif in the Pool Hall and take the month off, but we won't talk about them.

    If you're new to the club and you missed both your first and last chance at a challenge, don't worry. You might be out of the running this year, but stick around for a few books and you can start fresh on the Challenge Coin for 2022.

    In the meantime, you don't need a medallion to get that warm fuzzy feeling of belonging. Just turn up to the pub first Wednesday of the month.

    See you there.

  • Beechworth Chapter Opening

    Posted on Oct 13, 2021

    Another month, another new Tough Guy Book Club chapter. That’s not to say we’re only opening one new chapter a month (it seems like it’s been at least new one every month), it’s just that between reading books, hitting the pub, and generally just enjoying Tough Guy Book Club stuff, we only have so much time to make these announcements.

    The new chapter this time is in Beechworth, in many ways a second home to TGBC, despite there never being a chapter in the Victorian High Country until now. Way back when the club was a lot smaller, TGBC had its first camp in Beechworth. The town has since become “the hidden heart” of a lot of what the club has become since.

    Beechworth has plenty of pubs to its name, but for obvious reasons the club is meeting at Bridge Road Brewers. It’s got great beer and damn good pizza, so it wasn’t a tough decision. It’s still a young chapter so we don’t know just how boozy it will get, but with a venue like Bridge Road, I’m sure the Goons up in Beechworth won’t have much trouble winning that honour.

    But what else was there other than a bit of nostalgia, craft beer, and pizza? Well, the first book discussed at the chapter was Last Orders by Graham Swift. Word is this brought more nostalgic talk, especially around legacy. But, of course, with the subject matter of the book, more beers and more good times amongst new friends were found as well.

    Everyone who came to the first Beechworth meeting was a new Goon, and Last Orders seemed well received, although it was easy to be distracted by the new company in such a cracking venue. Talk wasn’t strictly about the book. But does that matter? Not really…

    Since the opening of the Beechworth chapter, we’ve expanded further in the High Country with another chapter being opened in Bright (unsurprisingly at the Bright Brewery; again, great beer, damn good food), with plans to expand further in the area.

    We’re looking forward to seeing how our new Beechworth Chapter grows in the future. Tough Guy book club has a pretty cohesive culture throughout all of its locations, and Beechworth looks to be slotting in just right.

    The Beechworth Chapter of Tough Guy Book Club meets at Bridge Road Brewers at Old Coach House Brewers Lane, Fort Street, Beechworth on the first Wednesday of every month. Look for the group of guys with plenty of drinks on the table (and maybe a book or two).

  • TGBC MONTHLY CHALLENGE - #ShowUsSomething 2021

    Posted on Sep 15, 2021

    TGBC is a book club. Each month the club sets a challenge. Beyond reading, the benefits of being part of this book club are legion; a sense of belonging, the friendships, interaction both with those of like mind and those who aren't.

    Another benefit is the product of a club-wide mindset to try to be better people. Health check ups, commitments to community and social interaction are good for the individual and others and are the outcomes of the sort of challenges the club sets each month.

    September 2021 the challenge is #showussomething. Everyone thought 2020’s #showussomething challenge while living in lockdown would be the challenge needing some clever thinking - showing off something while stuck at home for weeks or months on end. But 2021 came round and for many, lockdown living hadn’t gone away.

    So, what to show for #showussomething in 2021? I’d already built my street library in 2020. You’d already showed us your bread baking set up, your guitar collection, your garden bed.

    TGBC is full of interesting blokes, so what else ya got?

    As might have been expected, the amazing people that make up TGBC had not been idle. Skills had developed. Goals had been reached and then reset at even higher levels. Gardens had been curated, physiques molded through exercise, cooking efforts had moved from the purely functional to the ornamental.

    The finer points on kitchen knife maintenance went from basic sharpening tips to the finer details of the difference between honing a blade and sharpening one. The heat was turned up on meat cooking and tips were shared on ensuring best seasoning results on cast iron pans.

    Inevitably, some hobbies had their way and became major projects. We saw photos of new bathrooms and the beginnings of a cottage industry in backyard furniture making. We saw updates on car restorations, engine rebuilds, stereo speaker refurbs and garden sheds.

    But it’s not just about becoming an aficionado. Sometimes it’s the more mundane know-how that might have always eluded us. One guy learnt and shared that he could now ride a bike. Another can now fix a bathroom tap. For others, it might be a simple act or habit that demonstrates the many building blocks of a community. A bloke showed us how he (and his neighbours) use spray paint to highlight the bad potholes on the road into their town. Imagine how much better partners / fathers, neighbours or housemates all these guys will be.

    To be clear; it’s not just about showing off a skill gained through lockdown. Sharing something of yourself with the rest of TGBC also means being proud of the things that are special to you. A piece of family history or a prized possession that might be a tiny bit out of the ordinary. To wit: one of the guys from Tassie talked about and showed us a mace he uses to workout with.

    Yeah. A mace.

    So what else ya got to show us?

  • Dubbo Chapter Opens

    Posted on Aug 04, 2021

    Dubbo is famous for lots of things. It has an observatory, a cool old gaol, some limestone caves, a whopping great zoo, and now most importantly, a chapter of Tough Guy Book Club.

    "I've been part of this club for two years," says Dan Mowbray, prez of TGBC Dubbo, "There are two things that I love the most... the people you meet and become friends with and the books I would never have read without being part of this club."

    Dan knows a thing or two about founding chapters. After reading about the club in the Guardian back in 2018 he started the mighty Wollongong Chapter. Then when the Thing That Shall Not Be Named (because we don't talk about work - it's a rule) took him and his family 500km from the south coast to the central west of New South Wales, he figured he might as well take TGBC with him.

    Of course it wasn't an ideal time to be starting a new chapter. With half the country still locked down our patented 'Book Club For Men That Meets In A Pub' was a temporary 'Book Club For Men Yelling At Each Other In Little Boxes On Their Computer Screens Until They Figure Out Their Microphone Is On Mute', which is way less fun. But Dubbo toughed it out for September.

    "It was a really great intimate meetup, we had two new goons join with a great discussion on the book," says Dan, "[But] I'm looking forward to actually being in the pub this month... You get much greater value chatting with guys at a pub in the flesh and tend to form better bonds."

    Turning up to Tough Guy Book Club for the first time, when you don't know anyone and maybe haven't read the book, can be hard. Starting a new chapter is even harder. You might be left sitting around on your own in the pub for months until the word gets out. But when people come, they usually stay. Because we're pretty friendly, reading is a good habit to form, and people like an excuse to get out of the house on a weeknight.

    "With Wollongong, we probably had about four months with the same goons which was excellent... then we really started growing the group," says Dan, "I started the Dubbo chapter as soon as I moved to the region because I couldn't go without this club every month."

    He's not the only one. If you're ever in Dubbo on the first Wednesday, head down to the Commercial Hotel at 7pm and join Dan and the goons. They'd love to have you.

  • TGBC Monthly Challenge - #TreeGraveyard

    Posted on Jul 21, 2021

    Another month, another monthly challenge, and for July we leaned into the whole “book club thing” and made the challenge about getting more books, and supporting local libraries at the same time.

    That’s right, July’s challenge was to get a book from the library and post it on the Pool Hall with the hashtag #treegraveyard. Because books are made out of dead trees.

    There are more than 1,600 library outlets across Australia: some are “proper” libraries, some are mobile, some are regional or in big cities. These libraries are an important resource for communities so we wanted to show our support by using them. Libraries support us so we wanted to support them.

    For a lot of Goons, the local library is the best way for them to get their monthly book. Not everybody has the money to buy a new book every month, let alone a place to store them all, so they go to their local library. For others, whether they’re book club members or not, libraries provide access to the internet, magazines, and even music and movies.

    Put simply, libraries are a brilliant resource.

    Unfortunately, visits to the library have declined in the time of COVID, but our libraries managed to adapt quickly by offering more online and click and collect services. They still got the books (and other media) to the people! With a lot of states going in and out of lockdowns throughout July and beyond, a lot of Goons had to take advantage of said click and collect services.

    And boy are we thankful for libraries during lockdown. We may not be able to go inside and browse through all the dead trees in the graveyard, but we can at least get more books to keep us occupied while stuck at home.

  • Goon Profile - Thomas Giles

    Posted on Jul 15, 2021

    Name:
    Thomas Giles

    Chapter:
    Gold Coast Chapter - President

    Who are you:
    I’m 36 and still don't know for sure. Son, Brother, Father, Punk Rock Warlord. Protector of the principles of science and logic. Cricket tragic and closet Pyromaniac.

    How long have you been with TGBC:
    3 years

    How did you end up coming to TGBC:
    Lifelong friend and Footscray chapter president James Barry spoke of the glorious times had at TGBC. A wonderful evening spent with Shay and James at Bar Josephine's 2 years ago made it an easy choice. I have cursed James’s name many times for bringing me to this club and forcing me to be a better person. Life is better with the TGBC.

    What’s your favourite TGBC book?
    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

    Why are you a member of TGBC:
    It is in the blood now, and the skin. Evolution and growth of the mind and soul.

    What book have we not read yet that you’d like to do at TGBC:
    South by Ernest Shackleton - the greatest adventure I have ever read about. Whenever I am in a tough spot I think it has to be better than rowing across the southern ocean in a 4 metre tinnie.

  • Diamond Creek Chapter Opens

    Posted on Jul 04, 2021

    Welcome to Diamond Creek, about twenty clicks northeast of Melbourne, where they have parks and trees and wildlife, mud brick houses, more coffee and fish and chip shops than you can poke a stick at, a local barber who serves Laphraoig, and a bullock named Diamond for a mascot.

    It is, in the words of new chapter president Neil, 'where the bogans meet the bush'.

    TGBC Diamond Creek began its life at TGBC Eltham, a quick fifteen minute drive away, when a small army of goons turned out back in July to discuss Richard Brautigan's The Hawkline Monster. Something about surrealist counterculture beat poets really puts bums in seats for us. Or maybe it was because the book was a nice skinny 136 pages. Or maybe because we'd just got a good writeup in The Age? Who knows.

    Whatever it was, with more than 20 bodies they could barely fit around a table, let alone hear each other talk. So they followed our procedure for these situations and split the group. It makes for much more meaningful conversation and helps us spread across the country like a weed. We figure, the more men reading and talking, the better. A few Eltham goons were travelling in from Diamond Creek anyway, they had already been eyeballing a likely brewpub for a venue closer to home, and the rest is history.

    "Splitting from Eltham chapter was hard as they were all consistently good blokes," says new DC sergeant Guy, "But we knew we had outgrown ourselves."

    Luckily - unluckily really, but it's important to see the positives - another surreal monster called COVID was waiting in the wings to kick us all out of the pub, force us back into our houses and onto dinky little computer screens. It was one of the only advantages of lockdown that geography didn't mean much anymore. Goons could say hello across chapters, across states, across countries if you got the time zones right. If you were starting to lose your mind, a similarly affected dude was only a few clicks away.

    "Part of all DC members hearts will always be with Eltham," says Neil, "[So] at each lockdown we recombined with no apparent ill effects."

    That's basically what Tough Guy Book Club is. A bunch of men you can meet for the very first time, or regularly every month, or go without seeing for donkeys (or bullock's) years - and it doesn't really matter. Someone will always remember your name, and you'll always have something interesting to talk about.

  • Dry July 2021

    Posted on Jul 01, 2021

    Dry July 2021

    It’s been said by some that we’re actually a drinking club with a reading problem. Although this is usually said in a tongue in cheek fashion, it’s often a good idea to assess one’s drinking habits, and perhaps even take a break from the booze.

    That’s why June’s challenge was to join the TGBC Dry July team and, as always, follow it up with the hashtag #dryjuly.

    While actually participating in Dry July wasn’t mandatory, the idea of simply joining the team was designed to at least get Goons thinking about their alcohol consumption and, even if they didn’t give it up altogether, at least cut down a little bit.

    We meet in the pub on the first Wednesday of every month. This made avoiding alcohol a challenge from the start. Ironically, this is where peer pressure was actually on a lot of guys’ sides; if not drinking is the new norm, those who weren’t initially going to participate found themselves participating.

    The days that followed saw a lot of Goons surprised by the challenge. Maybe not having that single beer with dinner on a Thursday wasn’t so tough, but what about on a Friday or Saturday night? Or when out with others for a celebration? So much of socialising revolves around drinking alcohol, it’s easy to break the rules and down a couple of beers with friends or family.

    But that was kind of the point of the challenge. Some were surprised at how hard it was, some weren’t. Some didn’t go completely dry, but managed to cut down a lot. Either way, a lot was learned and a lot of men were a little bit healthier because of it.

  • On finishing the book by A. Goon

    Posted on Jun 23, 2021

    On Finishing The Book by A. Goon

    I'm not in Tough Guy Book Club because I don't read enough.

    If anything I read too much. On the train, in bed, while brushing my teeth. I used to listen to audiobooks every night to fall asleep. Books have always been a huge part of my life – I like buying them and finishing them and then lining up the matching editions on a big shelf because I believe whoever dies with the most books wins. I'm one of those shitheads who aims his laptop at them on video calls.

    So, I've never been to a meeting without finishing the book first.

    I enjoy talking books because I'm pretty good at it. I can describe the shape of the story or the arc of a particular character. I can make connections between this book and another one I've read, sometimes by the same author. I usually know something about the context in which the book was written, or I'll go and look it up. I can deal in abstracts and come up with a theory and most of the time I can make it sound convincing.

    And here's the thing – I wish I wasn't.

    Don't get me wrong, books are cool. We're supposed to be a book club so it's nice to have a token guy who actually reads the thing. It's helpful – I can say something when there's a weird silence, or answer a question, or shove the conversation along. I like to think I might be helping to point out or explain something someone else might have missed.

    But that's not why I force myself to finish every month.

    I do it because I'm scared. Talking books is easy for me, which also makes it very safe. If I finish the book I can go along to the meeting armed with knowledge and a bunch of clever things to say. I can be superior and dismissive of books I hate and superior and defensive about books I love. I'd be genuinely afraid to go and sit in a room full of men I don't know without a nice thick book between me and them. I would rather talk about fictional monsters and spaceships than risk saying anything meaningful about myself.

    Now, here's the really interesting thing. In all the meetings I've attended (6 years and counting), I don't remember half the crap I've said.

    I do remember almost every goon I've met by name. I can look around the table every month and remember who's about to have a baby, who came back from holiday, whose partner got sick. I remember goons telling interesting stories about loved ones with disabilities or the countries they visited half a century ago. I remember that goon who only ever showed up once - didn't read the book, didn't even know which book we were reading - but he knew a lot about the Cold War and had a sweet moustache.

    Anyway, we do challenges now. You can put up a poster or get your cholesterol checked and win some merch. I'm not very good at them because they require you to take a risk and get out into the real non-fictional world. So here's a challenge I can set myself:

    Don't finish the book. Don't even read the book. Like, go a month without even opening to the first page.

    The thought is so terrifying that I don't know if I'll ever manage it. I'd have to walk into the pub with nothing to offer except a pair of ears and my company. I'd have to shut up and learn something, or ask a question and leave it to someone else to give their theory and sound smart. I might even have to figure out how to say something interesting about myself. I know nobody will mind. At the very least, they'll remember it for next time.

    So if you want to read more, but you're worrying whether you can show up to Tough Guy Book Club without finishing your homework, don't. Books are great but they shouldn't be a shield or a competition. They're just a fun thing to talk about, a good reason to meet up every month, and a tool to crack open a bigger conversation.

    Plus, you might help someone just by being there. Chances are, if you're nervous that you don't have anything book-related to say, there's someone like me who feels the opposite.

    Come chat with the dude who secretly, desperately wants to talk about anything other than fucking books for a change.

  • Check it

    Posted on May 15, 2021

    #checkit

    Those who are familiar with TGBC, know we have a challenge every month; something other than reading that helps us lift our eyes and make sure we’re taking note of our surroundings; our loved ones, our hobbies and our health.

    June 2021. Winter. Lockdown. Lots of potential for bad behaviours and excuses for not looking after ourselves. The club set a challenge. #checkit

    Get your cholesterol checked, show us proof you got it checked and post it in the Tough Guy Book Club facebook page. Be an example to others while doing the right thing by your own health.

    I’ve been reading some Hemingway. A man’s man, you know he suffered from high blood pressure? His declining health contributed to his mental demons which eventually claimed his life. Heard of John Steinbeck? John Steinbeck died of heart disease. So did Herman Melville. Mark Twain? John Faulkner? F. Scott Fitzgerald? William Golding? All heart attack.

    I’ve googled the Heart Foundation website, so let me share a couple of things;

    If you have high cholesterol, you can develop blockages in your blood vessels. Bad blood flow means clots can form. That can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

    There’s good and bad cholesterol.

    • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – the ‘bad’ cholesterol
    • High-density lipoprotein (HDL) – the ‘good’ cholesterol

    LDL makes up most cholesterol and is bad because it can stick to arteries. Is bad because it leads to blockages preventing normal blood flow.

    Triglycerides are the most common fat in the body. Being overweight, eating a lot of high fat and sugary foods, or drinking too much can increase your triglyceride levels. High triglycerides, with either increased LDL cholesterol or decreased HDL cholesterol can increase your chances of developing the build-ups in the arteries – and at the risk of labouring the point - a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. 

    And, high cholesterol generally doesn’t have obvious symptoms, so it’s important to get a check-up.

    Risk factors for high cholesterol include most of what you’d expect: the smokes, being overweight, a bad diet, not much exercise, as well as bad luck: family history or just plain old advancing age. No matter the cause, improving your lifestyle, including diet, can help reduce your risk of heart disease.

    The best way to understand your cholesterol levels and whether you're at risk of heart disease is to see your GP for a Heart Health Check. That's why the club made #checkit a monthly challenge.

    With cities and towns in lockdown, we kept this challenge going into a second month. The result was a bunch of guys posting their readings, sharing that they’d got a message that some changes were required, were better informed of their risk levels and in some instances, going on medication.

    I hope their example and experiences have since prompted even more of us to #checkit.

    The club sets a monthly challenge to help guys help themselves. It’s much more than just a book club.

  • TGBC In The News -The wildly successful Tough Guy Book Club

    Posted on Apr 30, 2021

    The Age
    By Carolyn Webb
    April 30, 2021

    It’s 7pm on a weeknight and 13 blokes are talking raucously over beers at a Collingwood pub once frequented by standover man Mark Brandon “Chopper” Read.

    Some wear black hoodies and scarves emblazoned with their logo – a tattoo parlour-style, circular image of a skull with a candle oozing over it.

    Read More>>

  • April challenge, beer with a stranger – #beerwithastranger

    Posted on Apr 15, 2021

    As April rolled in it was time for a new monthly challenge, and this month it was #beerwithastranger (or “beer with a stranger” for those who don’t speak hashtag).

    Those who have been around awhile would know two things. One: we have a challenge every month; something other than reading that keeps Goons involved in the club outside of meetings. Two: we’ve done #beerwithastranger before and it’s a good one.

    The idea is to get to know your fellow club members a little better, whether they’re in your chapter or not. To do this, go and have a beer (or a beverage of your choice) with a fellow Goon. The one rule is it needs to be a guy you don’t usually see outside of club. So you know that friend of yours who you invited to TGBC and now attends regularly? He doesn’t count for #beerswithastranger. By all means, grab a beer with your mate too, but branch out a little with your drinking buddies this month.

    TGBC challenges usually have a reason behind them. The blood pressure challenge is all about health for example. And #beerwithastranger is no different.

    We’re now pushing nearly 50 chapters and have new guys showing up to established chapters every month. These new Goons have the courage to show up to something new, potentially without knowing anyone: that’s hard. What better way to make them feel welcome than grabbing a beer with them?

    But what about the goon you see every month? He seems like a nice guy but never really got around to knowing him too well. That’s the other reason #beerwithastranger exists. Just get to know other club members and maybe make a new friend or two.

    Whether #beerwithastranger makes you run out of excuses or creates one, it gets goons together outside of meetings, promotes healthy bonding between men, and creates new friendships. And it’s no secret that’s what TGBC is really all about.

  • TGBC and Furphy Anthology 2020

    Posted on Mar 31, 2021

    Furphy Anthology 2020 Book Launch – March 2021

    The Furphy Analogy 2020. Selected short stories from the Furphy Literary award. Existing and emerging writers, drawing on Australian experiences, events and tones.

    Tough Guy Book Club (TGBC) can take you places.

    Not just in the metaphoric sense - in March 2021 it took us to a pub in Melbourne (not unusual) - in the back streets of what was once working class Richmond (again, not unusual). But there, as we refreshed ourselves in the usual manner, TGBC was welcomed as part of the local literary landscape; supporters of Australian literature and active participants in the business of supporting writing and reading.

    We were at a book launch. As TGBC. In a front bar. A book launch featuring 16 Australian writers, supported by a metalworks company and a brewery.

    Joseph Furphy wrote a literary Australian classic ‘Such is Life’ in 1903 using the pen name ’Tom Collins’, which at that time, was common slang for ‘tall story’. Joseph’s brother, John, was a blacksmith. His mostly agricultural equipment output included water carts, used by the AIF during WW1. Around these carts, soldiers gossiped, griped and generally bulshitted their way through the war. Almost inevitably then, the term ‘furphy’ came about and set it’s arse down amongst our language..

    The Furphy Literary Award was founded in 1992 and became a national competition in 2020. In 2020, more than 800 writers, published or otherwise, took up the challenge to tackle the topic of ‘Australian Life’.
    The Furphy Anthology 2020 (Hardie Grant Publishing) features 16 short stories judged best in that year’s competition.

    The launch took place at the London Tavern in Richmond on a Tuesday night. With a couple of dozen of us there - easily identified as the exuberant men with enthusiastic appetites for the pints of beer on offer - TGBC bulkified the crowd gathered and proved good, vocal audience members as proceedings kicked off, MC’d by TGBC’s own Shay Leighton.

    To get things going, there was some audience warm up activity: find someone you don’t know and tell them a story. Striding into the crowd, we found ourselves talking to writers, aspiring writers, book publishers and promoters - as well as a couple of metalworkers named Furphy.

    As the official launch got underway we heard from some of the writers, the publisher and the Anthology and awards benefactor. Across the night and as the beer flowed and the conversation grew louder, I was fortunate enough to talk to a publisher, and several writers, including 3 published in the anthology - some just starting out - a mixture of passion and shyness and others more seasoned - possessed of a certainty on how to tell their story of their piece of Australian life. All of them approachable, personable and with that passion to create.

    A highlight for me, I also got to meet a long time writer who, in addition to his books, has a regular column in one of the weekend newspapers (Mr. Anson Cameron - look him up). I had long been a fan of his writing and his topics and always seek out his column on a Saturday morning. I’m pleased to report that he’s a beauty of a bloke; we spoke about other authors, newspapers and publishing, the way his writing had changed over time and how he uses little bits of everyday Australian life as his hook to hang a story on. He also digs what we do.

    Nicely lubricated for a Tuesday night, with a newly launched book under our arms, we headed off home down darkened streets and windswept train stations - a little bit more informed, familiar and engaged with those that create what we read. Some of us no doubt, also feeling like we too, could tell a furphy and get it done on paper one day…

  • Surf Coast Chapter Opening

    Posted on Mar 17, 2021

    With the continuous growth of the club’s Geelong Chapter, we saw a great opportunity to expand geographically while also accommodating more Goons. And although Geelong is a great place, we wanted a bit of a sea change and looked a little further for this new chapter: Torquay. And the Surf Coast Chapter was born.

    The first book that the new chapter talked about was Notes From Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky; not a read for book club novices but a great one nonetheless. Regardless of how well the book was understood, the new chapter on the Surf Coast had a good mix of veteran Goons from Geelong and a bunch of new Goons as well; all of whom had a damn good time and a drink or two.

    What’s also encouraging to see at new chapters is how the new members approach the group. Some blokes are able to jump right in and you’d never know it was their first meeting. Others sit back a little, reading the room and seeing what’s up. Book club isn’t hard, but no one really knows how to book club until they book club. Hell, no one really knows how they like to book club until they come along.

    Beyond that, through meeting new friends, having a laugh, and a few beers, we did manage to talk about Notes from Underground from time to time. And we reckon that’s how we see this chapter going forward - friends, joy, beer, and books. And if you’re bloke who thinks this sounds like you, come check us out.

  • March challenge, other hobby – #otherhobby

    Posted on Mar 15, 2021

    March brought one of the favourite monthly challenges, #otherhobby, and it’s been damn good seeing what Goons get up to when they’re not reading.

    We’re a book club for men, so it’s pretty obvious we all like sitting down with a book now and then. But we all know people are into more than one thing. TGBC has a diverse range of guys with different ages, backgrounds, and of course interests. And that’s what #otherhobby is all about: showing those interests to fellow goons; connecting with guys with similar interests; and if you’re lucky, maybe learning or teaching a thing or two.

    The challenge with the other hobby challenge is not getting carried away with wanting to take up a bunch of activities after seeing others do their thing. Goons have shared everything from woodworking, weight lifting, motor bikes, plenty of collecting of various things and something called “herping” which, according to the poster, is searching for amphibians and reptiles.

    As men, however, it’s easy to forget yourself and feel you don’t have a hobby. We want to devote our free time to our family and partners, to making sure we’re pitching in enough around the house, to being involved where we can. This challenge makes us realise how many hobbies we actually have. A lot of guys do their household gardening and take pride and enjoyment in this activity; that’s a hobby. Some goons coach their kids’ sports games. Sport is a hobby.

    TGBC has a strict rule that we don’t talk about work. This is because too often men introduce themselves by talking about what they do for a living. The ‘no work policy’ is to show that we’re more than being defined by this one thing, and #otherhobby pushes that further. Even if your other hobby is “just” cooking for your family every day, if it’s something you enjoy and do regularly, it’s a hobby.

    So the last part of why this is a good challenge. It reminds us to make time to do the things we like doing.

  • February challenge, blood pressure check – #bpcheck

    Posted on Feb 15, 2021

    Seems a bit silly to say out loud but I’ve never been keen on going to see the doctor. I’m an Australian male and therefore tough, resilient and a “good ol’ common sense” mostly sees me right. I feel ok today so that must mean everything's great - right?

    As has been said elsewhere; Tough Guy Book Club is for the thinking tough guy. It’s like a fight club for your mind. It’s more than just a book club.

    The club sets a monthly challenge to help guys help themselves. To help us be better men, good citizens, reliable friends, and to be smarter about who we are. Among these challenges might be; getting in touch with someone you haven't seen in a while, getting a photo of yourself reading a book outside on a nice day, creating something with your hands or donating blood.

    February 2021 the challenge was getting your Blood Pressure checked. #BPCheck

    It’s no secret or surprise that in the mix of life’s priorities, a lot of men can neglect their physical health. Heart and Kidney failure, heart disease and stroke are all bad news. A blood pressure check is one way of understanding your risk.

    Be smart - understand where you’re at. How do I get smart? Hang with some smart guys. TGBC has some of the smartest guys I’ve known.

    The Goon posted their BP results: good and bad. They posted photos of themselves getting tested. They commented on what it meant; “work to do”, “pretty happy with that” and “not bad, considering..” The Goon set an example to the rest of us. Peer pressure - sometimes a good thing. If other guys are getting the BP checked - why aren’t you?

    My result: 128/84

    The first number is the pressure in the arteries as the heart pumps out blood during each beat. This is systolic blood pressure. The second number indicates the pressure as the heart relaxes before the next beat. This is diastolic blood pressure.

    What’s it mean? I am: at the higher end of normal but within the acceptable range for my age and weight. I have to: keep doing the healthy things I already do. Not do too much of the really unhealthy things I do. And perhaps most importantly, get in the habit of a regular #BPCheck. With my reading, at the moment, every 6 months should be ok.

    So what? Make this a regular thing - understand if there’s a trend and what that means. Understand what choices you need to make and if changes might be necessary.

    Think about what you like to do and how much you’d enjoy being able to keep doing it. Make certain of it by looking after yourself.

    More than just a book club. Like a fight club for your mind. Keep your mind sharp through TGBC. Keep yourself alive by using your mind in sharp ways.

  • January challenge, book swap 2020 – #doomyearbookswap

    Posted on Jan 15, 2021

    Ever had a favourite thing and wanted everyone to love it too? Yeah, we all have. A song, a film, a...book.

    TGBC isn't just a book club. It helps men connect. To be more social - to socialise, be part of a community. And be better humans.

    Building the relationships among a group of people spread between 50 chapters across 2 continents is a key part of what makes TGBC so fuckin’ good.

    As a club we read and talk through 12 books a year. As a group of guys, we’d talk about 100s of books in a year. Whether it’s facebook chats, catch ups at the pub or arguing over the BBQ; everyone’s always got a view on something we ‘should’ read.

    It’s not all high brow, high falutin’ literature. Some guys dig sci-fi. Some are right into graphic novels, others are big on war, crime, alternate histories, biographies or novels about the tough, dark days of Australia past.

    The end of each year, we do a kind of Kris Kringle. We call it end of year book swap. It goes something like this: I get the name of some guy in some other chapter, somewhere in the country. I think about a book I think he should have. I send it to him. Somewhere, someone else has my name. They send me a book they think I might like.

    We don't necessarily identify ourselves. We might say; ‘Enjoy! I like this book for this reason - hoping you like it too. Best wishes, TGBC Footscray.”

    Sometimes it’s not just a book. Some Goons have got a flask of whiskey. Sometimes it’s coffee beans. Sometimes a second book and some guys - we are a very diverse club with some very diverse, talented men - get something hand made, something grown, something written by the tough guy that sent it.

    It’s great to get a package in the mail or on the door step in the lead up to the end of the year. Who knows what the TGBC community will have sent you? Will it be a book you’ve always wanted to read or something you would never have chosen but might blow your goddamn mind?

    Of course, we share it in the TGBC facebook group so everybody knows their package was received and - no doubt about it - it gets everyone into the spirit of giving as well as getting.

    What’d I get last year? 2 cracking reads that I would've never gotten round to reading if they weren't there, already waiting for me to read over the summer holidays.

    That’s book swap.

    TGBC isn't just a book club. It helps men connect. To be more social - to socialise, be part of a community, and be better humans.

  • Thornbury Chapter On Board

    Posted on Nov 18, 2020

    Here we go again with yet another new Tough Guy Book Club chapter! The club has continued to expand far and wide, but this time we’ve expanded a little closer to home with a new chapter in Thornbury, in Melbourne’s inner north. It was a bit of a surprise that we didn’t already have a chapter in Thornbury, but we’ve gone ahead and rectified it now.

    As with all Tough Guy Book Club chapters, the Thornbury chapter meets in the pub, so the first piece of business for opening this new chapter was to find a suitable pub to meet in. That pub was Carwyn Cellars. Carwyn Cellars was a pretty obvious choice for the Goons who were organising things. It’s a pretty central location for locals, easy to get to, and it has an excellent beer selection.

    Needless to say, the first meeting of the new chapter was a popular one: it’s not hard to convince Goons to go to one of Melbourne’s most iconic drinking establishments. And of course everybody likes to support a new chapter so will come from far and wide.

    But it wasn’t just veteran Goons who attended the first meeting of the Thornbury chapter. Thornbury (and surrounds) has an active community and is a popular suburb for families. We did our usual thing promoting the new chapter in local community groups and managed to get a lot of traction from the dads of the area. Of course the Thornbury chapter isn’t exclusively a dad club, but, as with a lot of TGBC chapters, a lot of dads like the community and support the club has to offer.

    A lot of the time when we start a new chapter, the first meeting doesn’t have a lot of book talk. This is just because there’s often a lot of new Goons who haven’t had a chance to read the book yet. That’s a not a problem, we have two rules for the club, don’t talk about work and don’t be a fuck head. Neither of those rules say “you must read the book.” The first meeting of a chapter also involves a lot of introductions and getting to know each other. Again, that’s OK. Book club isn’t just about the book. It’s about community, bonding, and making friends as well. So while we had some veteran Goons ready to talk books, we also had plenty of newbies. Even if it was less book talk, everyone still had a great time.

    As always, it will be great to see how the Thornbury chapter grows in time. Thornbury is a great community and we’re proud to be part of it.

    The Thornbury chapter of Tough Guy Book Club meets at Carwyn Cellars at 877 High Street in Thornbury. Like all Tough Guy Book Club chapters, Thornbury meets on the first Wednesday of every month. You’ll find us at a table enjoying a drink and talking about books.

  • Mornington chapter opening

    Posted on Nov 01, 2020

    With the gradual opening back up of Victoria it was time to get back into the pub. And with that, a new pub with a new chapter. The Royal Hotel in Mornington to be specific.

    In the lead up to the first meeting there was a small but enthusiastic group of new and old goons impatient for a beer and good company. It was a long, dark winter and we were itching to get out. The lockdown in Victoria wasn’t ideal for starting a new TGBC chapter, so we waited, making due with dialing into established chapters’ online meetings to give us our fix for books and comradery.

    The first meeting was a mix of faces and backgrounds, which is what we like to see at a chapter meeting. TGBC isn’t a place for everybody to get together and agree with each other. It’s a place for different perspectives to come alive. Having a variety of goons helps that. Especially when that variety of goons respects the “no fuckhead” rule of book club.

    We had a mix of a couple of TGBC veterans (goons who had been to other chapters but moved away), friends of members from other chapters, and some new goons who just wanted to see what this whole “book club thing” is all about. And good on that latter group. It takes guts to show up to something new when you have no connection to it.

    Did we mention we were all impatient for a beer after being locked down for months?

    It can’t be said the first meeting of the Mornington chapter was the most literary. A lot of us hadn’t been out for awhile and were just happy to see a face that wasn’t on their computer screen. Since there were so many new goons there was a higher percentage that hadn’t read the book as well. Not to worry, while we are a book club, we’re also here to be social.

    The next meeting got rolling a little stronger. We were happy to see the same faces we saw in the first meeting as well as one or two new ones. We found the happy balance between talking books and talking shit.

    Looking ahead we’re expecting more new face (thanks to goons telling their friends). We’re also expecting more than a few more drinks, a few new friends, and a good chat about books.

    The Mornington chapter of Tough Guy Book Club meets on the first Wednesday of every month at 7PM at the Royal Hotel on the Esplanade in Mornington. Find us up the back in the tavern area. We’re the group of guys talking about books.

  • Camp of the lost year 2020

    Posted on Oct 01, 2020

    The Tough Book Club camp is significant for many reasons, it’s a chance for goons from all over the country to catch up, do a lot or not much at all. It’s a chance to get away from whatever grind you face day to day and come back refreshed. In short it’s the ultimate extension of the club's principles. It is a highlight in the year’s calendar for many goons.

    Unfortunately, the camp of 2020 was affected by the COVID pandemic meaning it did not run. Instead we posted our favourite memories of camps of the past. The camp of 2019, the fifth camp so far has proven to be very special. It was the most successful in attendance, organisation, activities, events and spirit. It was full of great memories both collective and individual. As proof you should try to enjoy the moments while you can, it turned out it would be the last camp for a long while. Well until 2021.

    MOMENTS
    The sea shanty

    A bully of tea anyone? We all gathered and sang a sea shanty, led by one of the goons. Voices rang out and goose bumps followed, or was that something else?

    Axe throwing, including special guests

    A tough guy camp is defined by the quality of it’s axe throwing (not always but you get it) – with so many of us getting into the swing of it.

    Surprise author visit & Trip down the Golbourn River

    Every year we set a book for Camp, in 2019 it was written by Rohan Wilson – Alex recalls:

    “We were expecting the author of the camp book, Rohan Wilson, at camp. He arrived, having traveled from Brisbane, just as I was about to lead a canoe trip down the Goulburn. He'd been with us for 5 minutes before he changed into shorts and jumped in a car to join us, keen as mustard. So we got our group to the river and set off. I watched 6 boats set off into the cold turbulent water one by one, then pushed off with James Jamfs last to make sure he and I could keep an eye on the group. The river was stunning but relentless in its flow. You don't have a lot of time to make important decisions on a fast moving river because it doesn't slow for an instant. As I watched down stream an island came into view. Paddlers could choose left or right. It approached fast. I saw Rohan, our special guest, and his co-paddler choose right, but to me it looked too late for them to avoid a big clump of willow, logs and sticks. I imagined they'd need help after being entangled. But then I heard a splash to my left. Pete Collings and... was it Bernie Foster?... were now clinging to their upturned canoe, eyes wide with cold water adrenaline, and they were veering to the left. The apex of the island arrived all too quickly. Just as I turned my full attention to Pete's boat I glanced to my right to see our guest author disappear behind the island, out of sight, gone, and we weren't stopping. So we get to righting Pete's boat and get them back on their way, but now I've not seen Rohan's boat and have no idea at all whether they got stuck or not. I tie up to the bank and run back upstream through the river scrub toward the apex of the island, probably almost a kilometre. I kooee and listen hard for responses over the sound of the river rushing around trees, rocks and grass. I hear and see nothing. I run back to James clutching to the bank and feel we have no option but to paddle on, so we set off again. Stopping and rescuing and running cost time, and during that time all the other boats had continued down stream. My buddy and I were now furthest upstream, alone. Or were we? I couldn't get Rohan off my mind. I began imagining newspaper headlines announcing a book club had drowned a successful author. I felt anxious but tried to keep my cool for the benefit of James who was holding up magnificently despite not being very confident I the water. And the river ran on. We turned a corner and saw another boat overturned and pressed up against a tree with Simon Reader and Daniel Daniel Kane Fielke, I believe. We help them get going again and ask if they've seen our author. No, they hadn't. We happen upon another boat a little further downstream. They hadn't seen him either. Fuck. On we paddle. I recalled the boat trailer. It held six boats, and 2 were now accounted for which meant I needed to see 4 others when we reached the exit landing. Time slowed for me as I began to anticipate seeing the trailer and counting the boats. Every bend looked the same, just as exciting and disappointing as the last and the next. How many boats would there be? The last stretch of river before the Alexandra bridge was agonisingly quiet, calm and beautiful. Very fucking pretty. Then came the final bend. We rounded it. We saw a boat just arrived. That's 3. The trailer was hidden behind trees up the bank. The current dragged it's feet. A tree passed. Then another. Then like Christmas lights I see colours stacked on a metal rack. I use my hand to brow telescopic technique to count what I see, straining through the trees. 1, 2, fucking THREE! The lads on land promptly tell us Rohan had made it back long ago and had headed back to camp after a leisurely and enjoyable paddle. Nobody went to jail.“

    I think Nick Pitts sums camp up nicely, when he said:

    “So gents, thank you all, for all the laughs, the stories, that terrifying liars dice thing, the cold showers, the whisky tastings gone horribly right, the melted shoes, and all the well earned bruises and hangovers. I make no secret that club and camp are literally lifesavers, and I can't wait to make some new stories with you lot at the next one.“

    Get your tickets to the 2021 camp now!

    toughguybookclub.com/products

  • August challenge, good work 2020 – #goodwork

    Posted on Aug 15, 2020

    This month's challenge was relevant and tricky. It was about making the effort to recognise someone in service work doing a good job and exceeding expectations regardless of being noticed or not. Goons were asked to take notice of those quiet achievers out there and make a point of letting those organisations know about it. Considering August was well into the lockdown, someone getting the good work done was more relevant than ever. But with so many things shut, encountering someone outside your immediate bubble was going to be very tricky.

    Regardless, many goons rose to the challenge, posting screenshots of their appreciation and the responses back. Auto dealerships employees making that extra effort to keep people safe during the pandemic, pharmacy workers working magic to get vital prescriptions out, jewellers creating something special for an anniversary, librarians organising home deliveries for vulnerable people and shoutouts to organisations doing good work, especially the many frontline healthcare workers doing their vital thing.

    Naturally, most of these unsung heroes followed up by asking if there was anything else they could do and that’s why they need more shout outs. Like many of the monthly challenges, it’s become an ongoing thing for some goons.

    There’s no reason why you can’t do the challenge even after it’s done.

    As always, see you first Wednesday of the month, it doesn’t matter if you have read the book or not.

    Aaron Elsey


  • TGBC Wins 2020 Vic Men’s Health Award

    Posted on Jul 30, 2020

    We don’t normally like to pat ourselves on the back that much, but 2020 was an extraordinarily shit year for us all so we’re going to take some comfort in celebrating a win.

    Covid lockdown consumed a lot of our time and though as a club we’re all about hitting the pub for beers with the goons, and arguing about books, most of 2020 was actually us stuck on Zoom meetings, drinking a beer from the fridge, and talking to each other through a damn screen, rather actually doing what we do best. Which is why in such a shite year it was great for us to get nominated for the 2020 Vic Men’s Health Award and then, win the award in what was one of our hardest years at TGBC HQ.

    There were a number of well-known contenders and although we were a first-time nomination, just were just very bloody happy to see people outside of our crew getting a sense of what we do and how we do it.

    So yeah, we don’t usually crow about stuff, but this is an award that we were pretty damn happy to receive. Thanks to all the goons that put in a good word for us.

    You can find out more info here https://www.amhf.org.au/the_tough_guy_book_club_wins_victoria_2020_men_s_health_award

  • Indigenous Literacy Foundation fundraising

    Posted on Jun 24, 2020

    Tough Guy Book Club is a club for men who don't read enough. Or men who want to read more. Or men who read too much and need somebody to talk to about all the amazing and interesting shit they've been reading... look, you get it. Reading is involved.

    So, since we believe reading is fundamentally a good thing and people should do more of it, any cause that encourages literacy is one we can get behind. Imagine if you were a kid who didn't feel capable or comfortable opening a book. Worse than that, imagine if you couldn't even get access to books where you live. Even worse than that, imagine if the few books you could access weren't about stuff you knew or cared about, or weren't written in the language you speak at home.

    That would suck. Someone should do something about that.

    Enter the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. Founded in 2004 as the Riverbend Readers Challenge, the ILF aims to improve literacy in remote communities across Australia. Since 2011 they've worked with over 400 communities, gifted 636,000 books and published 143 books reflecting 26 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.

    Compared to them, we're pretty useless. TGBC is mostly about going to the pub and arguing about Hemingway. But we're a powerful fundraising network when we want to be. Our entire operation is basically funded by Bunnings sausage sizzles, and we've run dedicated fundraising drives for emergencies, individual goons and charitable causes.

    So in 2020, Tough Guy Book Club raised $8,507 for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, as part of National Reconciliation Week (May 27 thru June 3) and National Sorry Day (May 26).

    See, as men who read a lot, we also believe in apologising when you fuck up and trying to make things better. But that's another story.

  • Tough Guy Book Club is the book club for men that meets in a pub.

    Posted on Jun 03, 2020

    That's our thing, always has been, right from day one. We like to read, chat, drink beer, think about what's going on with ourselves and the world around us, drink beer and read. So, what do we do when the pubs are all closed? And when the world is dealing with some pretty serious stuff that you could really use a good think and a chat about? This is how TGBC is coping in the age of another scary anagram, COVID-19.

    Our first priority will always be the health and safety of our goons. It's why we exist in the first place - to check up on each other and make sure everyone is okay. So when lockdown came into effect just before our April meeting, we went straight into the Tough Guy Bomb Shelter to plan our response. The decision was made to take all of our meetings (more than 30 chapters and counting across Australia and the globe) online.

    It obviously wasn't ideal and it wasn't going to be pretty. We're a diverse bunch with goons representing all ages, backgrounds and, shall we say, levels of technical competence. But as much as we needed our monthly trip to the pub, we needed our support network and our monthly book chat even more. Since COVID everyone has a favourite video conferencing platform - for us the easiest and cheapest was Facebook Messenger. We already use Facebook for organising anyway, and we have a strong presence with plenty of lively discussion in the Tough Guy Book Club Pool Hall.

    Needless to say, there were teething problems. Chat groups are limited to 8 so our officers did their best to spread goons between chapters and make sure nobody was left behind. And we faced all the usual difficulties - laggy internet, frozen video, goons talking over each other (which is a lot less fun on the internet than face-to-face in a pub). Just like the pandemic, we knuckled down and got through. The April meeting went pretty well, the May meeting even better. If anything the chats were more fun than usual. Something to do with us suddenly having a lot of time to read and nobody to tell about it.

    We even got a bit cocky with this online business. April saw our first ever TGBC Lockdown Trivia competition. Our officers rigged up a complex system of video presentation, chat windows and text messages, so that goons across the country could compete to see who had the fastest fingers and who knew the most about hats. Turns out, it was Brunswick. We hosted a Live From Lockdown music festival and jam session, which went very badly but was a noble effort on the part of our musos. And most popular of all have been our Online Whiskey Tasting classes. What can we say? Blokes love to receive free booze in the mail. Anything that connects goons with each other and helps fight off cabin fever, we're in favour.

    Now, as things start to get better in Australia (as we hope they soon do worldwide), and we stumble blinking out of the Tough Guy Bomb Shelter, what's next?

    Some of us will be going back to the pub. They need our business and we need their beer. Our rural and suburban chapters will be making bookings at their usual venues, or anywhere else that will have us. We want to get things back to normal as much as anyone, which for TGBC means a bunch of blokes around a table at a pub talking about books.

    But if you've watched the news lately you know it's not over yet. COVID-19 is going to be around for a while, which means online meetings will be as well. They'll be run out of city chapter locations for the foreseeable future. Our officers will shuffle people around so everyone has someone to talk to. Diverse bunch, remember - this way our older goons, or those with health problems, or anyone who just doesn't feel comfortable going out yet, can get the support and book chats they need from the comfort of their own homes.

    It'll be hard. There'll be lots of failed logins and dropped connections and "Mate, turn your mic on!"-s. But this way, when it's all over, we'll still be here reading, chatting, drinking beer, thinking about how we survived such a messed up time, drinking beer and reading.

    Take care. See you in the pub soon.

  • Monthly Challenge May – #showussomething

    Posted on May 07, 2020

    The challenge for May 2020, apart from finding a path through your hoarded toilet paper, was to show us something at home. How do you make your signature dish?, are you working on a renovation project?, an instrument or langauge you are learning, building a car, digging for oil… anything.

    The goons proved once again what a diverse bunch they were. Some were displaying years worth of well honed skills, others attempting something completely new but all who took part gave an insight into a part of their lives at home.

    There were many notable examples throughout a great pool of notableness. There was the story of a goon learning from his grandad how to work a vintage soviet era lathe. Not only did he get to make some amazing brass door handles for his house and spend quality time, he gave his grandad an opportunity to finally pass on skills of a lifetime. Come to think of it, every time that goon opens a door in his house he will remember his grandad. Nice.

    Some took advantage of the lockdown to conduct epic renovations (to be fair, most didn’t know how big it would get, like every renovation on earth), backyard landscaping transformations and gardening. One goon had a crack at furniture restoration and found they want to do much more. Another is going a step further with land restoration one weekend at a time, the full results will last long after he is gone.

    If anyone has wondered where all the flour has gone, it’s been well spent on some seriously professional looking baking efforts, including some major efforts for Mother’s Day feasts proving true toughness is alive and well.

    All in all, everyone who took the challenge displayed something different but all proved what Tough Guy Book Club is all about, that we all have a lot more going on for us than just work.

    Aaron Elsey (Geelong Chapter)

  • Monthly Challenge April – #beersonfilm

    Posted on Apr 01, 2020

    TGBC is more than just a book club.

    Each month TGBC sets a challenge – a suggestion on an activity, thought or task - always angled at making a positive difference in a man's life. Somehow always topical; it might be a blood pressure check, taking a photo of yourself in the great outdoors or just showing off your hobby, but all these things help us understand ourselves; our health, our interests and our personalities outside our jobs and understanding those aspects of others.

    In this year of the plague, a lot of us have had to become familiar with video calls and online meetings. When 'isolation' became more than just a word, club meetings went online. In a chapter meet in a normal month, you might get a dozen blokes in a pub, all wanting to have a say on the book. During online meets, that same number of blokes wanting to chat has the added challenge of modern technology.

    But TGBC is more than about monthly meetings.

    The challenge was set: using your know how on online video chats, set up a video chat with some of the other guys from the club and share – virtually – a couple of beers. What could be easier? From the comfort of your own home, meet up with some mates on line and shoot the breeze?
    The challenge was called #beersonfilm

    TGBC is more than about monthly meetings. Some Goons have been part of this club for more than 6 years. Over time and thanks to club get togethers (our annual camp, Christmas break ups, snow trips etc) guys in a chapter in Brunswick know guys from the chapter in Brisbane. The guys in Sydney have shared beers with the guys from Southbank. True to form, blokes got in touch with one another and organised video catch ups. Guys talked – as guys do – about anything and everything; books probably, movies, whisky definitely, missing the footy and so mateship continued, over the networks and despite the isolation.

    #beersonfilm - a great way to get to know a few blokes a bit better; to finish a conversation started a month or year before, bang on a little about a shared interest and strengthen the club bonds.

    Because TGBC is more than just a book club.

    Bernie Foster (Yarraville Chapter)

  • Sort It Out – #Sortitout

    Posted on Mar 17, 2020

    2020 has thrown up more than its share of curveballs. Pressure around jobs, income, cancelled plans, changing circumstances and breaks in our day to day structure and routines impacted most people.

    True to the nature of Tough Guy Book Club - it’s much more than just books - the focus on the mental and physical wellbeing of all the guys, a strong sense of camaraderie and of wanting to look out for each other meant a whole lot of efforts made around helping one another get through.

    After all, after meeting and building your list of mates, you want to keep them around. Looking after them makes you the best kind of mate.

    Month to month there are challenges to all the guys to do things. To be better humans and better men. It could be be building something, looking after your health by getting your blood pressure checked, making contact with someone you haven't seen in ages – all of it trying to help us be more than who our jobs say we are, feel part of something bigger, and be better at looking after ourselves and one another.
    When it seemed like the world was closing up shop and words like lockdown and isolation became everyone’s reality, it would have been easy to circle the wagons, hoard the groceries and hunker down to see it out.

    Not for this club.

    Values is a word thrown around easily. Living and leading by it is less easy. But not long after things got real, the first call went out. Check in on one another, make a call and see if everyone’s sorted.

    Then it was 'check and see if anyone needs some groceries'. Then it was; “I’ve got a ute and a trailer – anyone need anything?” “I work in IT – if you need your internet sorted to find / start / keep work, hit me up!” “I’m off work for 4 weeks – who needs a chat? If anyone wants to have coffee..” “Let’s stay healthy – I’m running 5k Tues and Thurs mornings. Join me.”

    The challenge became ‘Help Someone Sort It’

    That’s why this club is much more than just a book club. This club embodies the values of the heroes of the literary classics and puts it to the men that every day is like a page where the hero is challenged to be better. Every day there’s the opportunity to lead by being kinder, to recognise the value of doing so and by being better humans, value ourselves.

    Bernie Foster (Yarraville Chapter)

  • Goon Profile – Lucas Earl

    Posted on Jan 09, 2020

    Name:
    Lucas Earl

    Chapter:
    Southbank

    Who are you:
    I'm just your average late 20s early 30s bloke struggling to balance work, friendships, hobby and starting my own family.

    How long have you been with TGBC:
    Somewhere close to 4yrs, longer than I’ve been with my partner!

    How did you end up coming to TGBC:
    I moved cities and new no one, a brief gooogle search later and I went to my first chapter meet. Now I have friends for life who have helped me be a better guy

    What’s your favourite TGBC book?
    East of Eden. I’ve never liked the classics but I couldn’t put this down

    Why are you a member of TGBC:
    Camaraderie, broadening my horizons and a refuge from the stress of life

    What book have we not read yet that you’d like to do at TGBC:
    The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

  • TGBC End of Year Book Swap 2019

    Posted on Dec 20, 2019

    Anticipation. End of Year Book Swap is all about anticipation. It’s not just about what treasure you’ll get in the mail from some far away Goon, it’s about the book that you source from your own collection, or that you buy and send off to another far away Goon. Will he like it? Will it stay in his library as a keeper? Will he get the enjoyment that you hope he’ll get because you read it and loved it? Then again, is it a book that you’ve always wanted to read?

    End of Year Book Swap makes Goons happy! It’s part of the giving nature of Tough Guy Book Club and the excitement of choosing a book for someone you hardly know, maybe have never met, but who enjoys being part of something big and strong and healthy.

    Books are what bind us to reality, to fantasy and to paths in life that lead to like-minded people. Choosing and giving books fulfils our need to share and in many ways explains who you are.

    The thrill of receiving a book in the mail is just as good. Some Goon from another town, city or state has gone to the trouble of choosing a tome just for you. Sometimes the book comes with an accompanying letter or card, written by the sender explaining why they chose that book. In the end it doesn’t matter, you’ve done something nice for someone and it’s a good way to finish the year.

    The Goon at the other end feels the same way. No matter what he’s going through or has been through in the year past, your book is something that can only bring cheer.

    It’s a feel good story that has no end. Every year regardless of what goes down, you can be part of something good.

    -Steve Bruce (Williamstown Chapter)

  • Monthly challenge September – #beerwithastranger

    Posted on Sep 05, 2019

    This challenge was about getting outside your normal circle and getting to know a goon you don’t know much about. Blokes have a reputation for not being good at getting out there socially so it was great to see the goons putting a major dent in that stereotype.

    We saw a lot of posts of goons having great conversations and experiences, finding common ground and fascination in subjects they haven’t considered before. Everything from learning French to travelling, how to write a proper murder mystery, flame grilled meats, architecture, lessons on the Scottish legal system, relationships, how to learn from fuckups, a night at open mic comedy and of course, a whole shed load of talking about books.

    That description could be a greatest hits of all the catch ups or it could be a summary of just one of them. In the end, one hashtag summed it up perfectly with #strangersnomore.

    If that sounds good to you (and it is) come along to a club meet. There’s no reason why you can’t do the challenge even after it’s done. You can find us with the Find Us tab or email us any questions via the Contact tab.

    As always, see you first Wednesday of the month, it doesn’t matter if you have read the book or not.

  • TGBC Camp 2019

    Posted on Jun 19, 2019

    We've been to a mountain range national park, a high-country lake, the rugged southern coast and now we're headed to Victoria's longest river. It's difficult to capture a TGBC camp with words. It's different things to everybody. It's slow and steady or intrepid and exciting. It's fire and beer and poetry and hiking and comradery. It's mountain peaks, giant swings, things you haven't done before, childhood board games and sleeping in your chair. It's meeting our guys en masse and swapping stories you'll never otherwise hear. It's our annual pilgrimage.

  • The Monthly Challenge

    Posted on May 07, 2019

    Encompassing more than just reading a book each month, Tough Guy Book Club has challenges for members. This started with a yearly reminder to get a blood pressure test and some fundraising activities for men’s health initiatives, over time, these challenges have evolved and become a staple each month. Each task focuses on things important to every goon in the club and members are encouraged to get involved and share their experiences in the Facebook ‘Pool Hall’. Some of the challenges focus on things that blokes are generally not good at, such as looking after ourselves and getting check-ups, others involve sampling tasty beverages or even just visiting the local library.

    Participating in the challenges each month has helped build greater connection between goons. The club has been expanding rapidly and opening chapters all over – while a shared love of reading unites the members, these motivations also bring us together. In giving members something to achieve during the month, we have a shared experience. This has allowed reflection and the opportunity to give or seek advice. Not only can this be a help to the goon themselves, they are a wonderful source of great discussion during monthly meets.

    One of the goals of Tough Guy Book Club is to give blokes a place to turn up and talk about interesting topics through questions about a book. These challenges can allow a goon to make some positive impacts as it often requires members to look outside of themselves. As with all parts of Tough Guy Book Club, the challenges are an invitation. Some goons will go above and beyond and take the challenge to a place many would never even think of. These challenges are not a requirement for membership to the club, but we hope they are easy enough for everyone to get involved, take a picture and upload it to the Pool Hall.

    Gavin Baumber(Redlands Chapter)

  • Lismore Chapter Kick Off

    Posted on Apr 01, 2019

    We’ve done it. We’re proud to announce that with a LOT of help from our friend and new Chapter President David Harris, we have finally opened our 2nd chapter in New South Wales. Join us in welcoming the lads of the Northern Rivers to Tough Guy Book Club with the opening of the mighty, but probably a little odd, Lismore Chapter!

    This group will be meeting at the grand old Northern Rivers hotel and will be lead by David Harris. Welcome to the gang lads. If you’re in the Lismore and Nimbin area and you’re interested in learning more about our club, just rock up and have a beer with us. We will be going over what we are about, how our club works and what you need to do to get on board.

    You can find this Chapters current event info in the Find Us tab on this site. You can also email us any questions to via the Contact tab.

  • Heyfield Chapter Opening

    Posted on Mar 05, 2019

    Though most of the region is on fire the mighty Heyfield Chapter could not be stopped opening tonight. Seriously, there’s bush fires all over Gippsland and the town of Heyfield is real smoky today but with the experienced hand of Clean Pete at the wheel we know they’ll do just fine.

    The town once know as Hayfield has a long and sometimes strange history that largely centers around timber and the land but as a a stopping point for diggers on their way to the Gippsland goldfields it really comes into it's own. We are honered to be a part of this towns future history.

    So, welcome to all the new lads down their tonight at the Railway Hotel and big thanks to the mighty Briagolong Chapter goons for making the trip down for their opening night. Have a good night, see you next month.

  • Castlemaine Chapter Founded

    Posted on Feb 15, 2019

    TGBC is pleased to announce that we will be opening a chapter in the Victorian town of Castlemaine in March. Castlemaine is a town with a long history, great bookshops and many fine drinking establishments. It was meant to be and now it is. Happening at The Bridge Hotel, details of the event can be found here.

  • Goon Profile – Alex Dobson

    Posted on Feb 12, 2019

    Name:
    Alex Dobson

    **Chapter:
    Sydney

    Who are you:
    Wine wanker, pasta nerd and passionate lover of, and advocate for, all forms of creative expression from fashion to fine art.

    How long have you been with TGBC:
    TGBC: March 2015?

    How did you end up coming to TGBC:
    Shay messaged me on Facebook and told me about about it and I just showed up. Just three of us then and I knew no one.

    What’s your favourite TGBC book?
    I am Pilgrim...just kidding, it is probably A Brief History of Seven Killings with several others in close competition including East of Eden, Blood Meridian, and Eye of the Sheep.

    Why are you a member of TGBC:
    It is a rare and treasured moment when I get to be away from work and home and about and in a room of great people from different walks of life, many of whom I would never have met otherwise, talking about books, life and the universe.

    What book have we not read yet that you’d like to do at TGBC:
    Something written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I have developed a keen interest in Nigeria via its political fuelled music from the 60’s through to the 70’s and am keen to immerse myself further and Chimanmanda’s works seem like a great place to start.

  • TGBC Book Swap 2018

    Posted on Feb 12, 2019

    Yet again piles of our goons have participated in our end of year book swap. This year we had 140 goons get involved and send guys they have never met a book, or books, or books and booze, or books and booze and a knife. I personally got a book about the lives of two fighters before and after one kills the other in the ring, a zine of knockout poetry, a couple of gangsters trading cards and a drawing of the hammered Santa, so I was pretty fucking stoked, and I hope you were to.

    We’d like to thank everyone who was involved, those who shared a photo of what they got on the Pool Hall, and especially thank those that managed to get their package in the mail in a reasonable time this year.

    Hope everyone had a happy holidays with enough time to hit the books. See you soon.

  • Windsor and Yarraville Chapters Kick Off

    Posted on Feb 05, 2019

    2019 is off to a flying start with 2 Melbourne Chapters opeing tonight.

    The first is one directly between the existing Footscray and Williamstown Chapters in the notoriously civilised but likes to party suburb of Yarraville, which continues our ongoing expansion into the western districts. This constant domination on the western front is due to constant effort of our team from the west, Steve Bruce, James Barry, Tony Duras, Peter Defteros, and our other great officers out that way.

    The next is Chapter stuck directly in the heart of the south side. Collingwood Original Rob O’Reilly has taken up the challenge to open up the Windsor Chapter, just off Chapel St at the awesome Windsor Castle Hotel. We've struggled with opening sustainable Chapters down south before but is anyone can do it, it'd be "The Irish Mallet" Rob O’Reilly.

    We’d like to thanks all these officer and welcome all the new goons who may be attending either of these Chapters tonight.
    Have a good night and see you next month.

  • TGBC Movember Team – 2018

    Posted on Dec 05, 2018

    This last month a bunch of our goons grew moustaches (or ran k’s) to raise money for vital men’s health research and there was truly some shockingly bad ones. Seriously, on its best day this clubs not exactly an oil painting but the mo’s really turned that shit up to eleven.

    But jokes aside, I’m so proud that we as a club threw ourselves into November this year. In the end we raised a truly remarkable $14,828 for men’s health research and suicide prevention. I’d like to thank everyone who supported our Mo team, whether that being with cash or just positive comments online.

    Next, I’d like to say a special thank you to the 46 solid as fuck goons that signed up to November, each of you is excellent and you should know that your work on this helps save lives. I’d of course also like to draw special attention to David, Dave, and Pete who all cracked the grand mark in the fundraising stakes, well done guys.

    But then we have to mention our man Alex Dodson, anyone who is lucky enough to be this bastards friend online knows that he really made an effort to put the word out about what we were doing and why, this ended with him raising a massive $2,575. Congratulation Alex and everyone else involved.

    Now go shave that shit off.

  • Hemingway Month 2018

    Posted on Jul 03, 2018

    Every year we have Hemingway Month. We do this because he is interesting.
    He’s an icon of 20th century masculinity, with all the drinking, women and guns but he’s also a mean, misogynistic alcoholic who was worried about how much of a man he was seen as by others. He won both a Pulitzer for fiction and a Nobel Prize for literature by most believe his prolific drinking held him back from his true potential.

    He loved the brutal macho nature of bullfighting, big game hunting, chasing dames and wars but he’s suffered from crushing insecurity, paranoia and lifelong concern about his sexuality. He’s writing and lifestyle made him the hero of many, including writers like Hunter S Thompson and a hundred others. His characters and he are always on an adventure to experience the most life they can but most of his characters die and he killed himself by shooting himself in the face.

    His writing style is full of curt blunt observations, plain short sentences and mechanical repetition but there’s beauty in it. If you put it all together Ernest Hemingway was not the king of masculinity, he’s this truly remarkable but also tragic guy who lived an insane life.

    He won the Italian Silver Medal of Valour and the USA Bronze Star, he survived two incredibly serious plane crashes, he may have been a KGB spy but shit at it or a double agent who knows, he had hunted and killed anything that walked, he had four wives all remarkable women, he drank everything, he told tall tales, he boxed, fished, collected urinals from his favourite bars.

    Each day of his life was dedicated to the question “what is it to be a man”?... Every year we have Hemingway Month. We do this because he is interesting.

  • Goon Profile – "Clean" Pete Collings

    Posted on May 31, 2018

    Name:
    "Clean" Pete Collings

    **Chapter:
    Castlemaine East

    Who are you:
    An ordinary bloke with extraordinary dreams. I'm also a proud husband to an awesome woman and father to two awesome teenage girls.

    How long have you been with TGBC:
    My first meeting was in August 2017 (I hadn't read the book, I think it was The Old Man and the Sea). Haven't missed a gig since.

    What’s your favourite TGBC book?
    A Clockwork Orange mostly because of the [dark] humour and different approach to the struggle of good verses evil.

    Why are you a member of TGBC:
    I'm an avid reader and had no local friends. TGBC has been a great thing to be a part of.

    What book have we not read yet that you’d like to do at TGBC:
    I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak

  • Now recruiting in Adelaide

    Posted on May 31, 2018

    We have chapters all up the east coast of Australia but now it is time to move west. We are looking for people who live in Adelaide and are interested in helping us get a chapter off the ground there. If you know anyone that you think would be keen, please pass this information on.

  • Point to Pinnacle (The Outcome)

    Posted on Nov 19, 2017

    I didn’t sleep. I had an early start and I was worried I’d sleep in. I was too hot under the medium thickness spring/autumn doona and kept stealing sweaty glances at the clock.

    23:17

    00:43

    03:56

    04:32

    I got up before my alarm and turned the coffee machine on. It clicked and hissed as the boiler got to temperature. While I waited for Wash to emerge from the spare room I put on my running gear. Shorts that I knew wouldn’t chafe, thick socks, a Tough Guy Book Club singlet and newish runners I had been carefully wearing in.

    I checked my supplies for the 20th time. I had enough energy gel and my copy of Murakami’s “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running”. These would be with me on my way up the mountain. The Jalapeño and Cheddar chips, Cascade Larger cans, t-shirt and thongs would be taking the bus, waiting for me at the finish line.

    Wash came out of the bathroom and we said a quick g’day. I got the porridge bubbling on the stove along with some stewed apple I had frozen from Autumn. I made tea for Alex and we had a quiet breakfast, contemplating the task ahead of us.

    The nerves started to kick in (and so had the coffee) so I headed to the loo again. One last shit before the gun goes off and I couldn’t stop to poo.

    My sister in law arrived and we all discussed tactics. Having run segments of the course during months of training we knew what pace would get us to the top, where to use gels and where the drink stations would be. We knew where it got steep and where we were going to struggle.

    We had trained through rain, snow, ice, wind, sunrises and sunsets. Race day came with warnings about the heat and lack of shade on the course. At the muster area for the start it was already 27 degrees at 7am. We had not trained for that.

    The nerves and excitement as we all huddled together at the start line reached an oppressive crescendo. I knew this was going to hurt and I wanted to get started. I wasn’t aiming to break records. I just wanted to get there without walking. I hoped my knees held out. I hoped my back held out. I hoped my calves and shins and quads didn’t cramp. I hoped the stitch passed quickly. I hoped I didn’t literally shit myself.

    BANG!

    I glanced at Wash and Mils with a wry smile and we shuffled across the line and into open space. We started along the flat at a decent pace, trying to find gaps between the other runners without speeding up or slowing down too much. Before too long the incline began and the pack thinned out. We found our stride and the pace was good.

    After about 5Km my pace was too fast. I had sat at just over 6 minute Kms and I knew if I wanted to reach the top I had to be at 8 minutes per Kilometre. Lucy had found a way to get higher up the course so she could cheer us on again. The surprise and joy of her excitement invigorated me.

    I didn’t eat my gel at Strickland Avenue like I’d planned. It was hot and there wasn’t any shade. I drank at every station but I got thirsty pretty quickly. Heading in to Fern Tree the tall gums and altitude offered a little shade and some relief from the heat. A couple on bagpipes spurred me on around the steep turn on to Pinnacle road and the climb up the final 12Km.

    Fern Tree Tavern to the Springs was my favourite leg during training. It had a decent incline and was a good warm up leading to the super steep Springs to Chalet leg. But on race day I blew up. Going off piste with pace, hydration and nutrition really fucked me.

    I was nauseous. Salty mouth, verge of gagging nauseous. My legs were heavy and my breath was laboured. I was half way to the Springs and I stopped running. I told myself I’d run again in a bit. I told myself I’d run again when I could see the Springs. I told myself I’d run again after a drink at the Springs. I lurched into a slow shuffle. Cramp. I stopped running.

    The rest of the race was a heartbreakingly slow and hot walk to the top. I had trained for 4 months to avoid this exact situation. I wanted to make it without walking but ended up walking 7km. I was gutted and annoyed and contemplated taking the Fingerpost Track home. Fuck this shit. But Wash and Amelia were at the top waiting for me. So I pushed on.

    With a K to go I heard cheering and music. I started shuffling again and this time I wasn’t going to stop. People I didn’t know were shouting encouragement. A Mobart Mo Bro complimented my moustache. I smiled through my grimace as Mils and Wash met me with 100 metres to go and ran with me across the finish line. Other people I knew cheered for me.

    Mils handed me a bottled water and I limped to get my participation medallion. I sat on a rock out of the way and held back tears of frustration and disappointment.

    Wash said, “You did it mate, you did it!”

    And I guess I did.

    Sam Stops (Hobart Chapter)

  • Bendigo and Ballarat Incoming.

    Posted on Nov 05, 2017

    To round out another great year for our club we are opening two Chapters this December, the long overdue Bendigo and Ballarat. We’ve been planning on open many more central Victorian Chapters after our success in Castlemaine and these two towns are the obvious places to start.

    Our Ballarat Chapter will be kicking off with its first meet at the excellent North Briton Hotel. It’s a traditional English style pub with classic pub food and a very solid wine list. The Bendigo Chapter however is going for something a bit more modern, it’s going to be upstairs at well know The Metropolitan Hotel.

    Both of these Chapters will have their first meet on the 6th of December at 7pm.

    This month we are reading the semi-autobiographical novel Johnno by Australian author David Malouf. Grab a copy and start knocking over a couple of pages today. If you don’t get a hold of it in time turn up anyway, no one cares if you read the book. See you then.

  • TGBC Ocsober Team 2017

    Posted on Oct 31, 2017

    This year to change things up a bit, instead of participating in Movember as a club like we usually do, we decided to put a team together for Ocsober. It’s a charity fundraiser where you promise to lay off the beers for a month. That, for our guys was always going to be a lot more challenging than not shaving for a month and for a lot of our goons, gave them a bit of time to think about how much they put away as well. Especially if they found it hard to do.

    The charity itself raises money for drug and alcohol education for kids, and all of us at TGBC know how important it is to have our next generation of young men can have a better relationship with booze than this one. The money goes to fund the Life Education program which a lot of our younger guys remember as the Harold the Giraffe classes.

    In the end our team consisted of TGBC Member from 9 different Chapters and came in as the 7th highest raising team nationally with an impressive $1749.23. A massive shout out to our highest fundraiser and club celebrity Mick Lawless on $406.98

    Nice work lads.

  • Castlemaine Billy Cart Challenge

    Posted on Oct 23, 2017

    It started out in 1949 as The Apex Soap Box Derby. In 2017 it would return as the Castlemaine Billy Cart Challenge.

    When our goons in the Victorian town of Castlemaine got wind of the challenge, they got romanticising. Naturally, nearly everyone had great ideas straight off the bat. Glorious ideas. And judging by experience, it was surely destined to remain just an idea.

    Not so! Some couldn’t let it go and experienced interrupted sleep and work computer distraction. A handful of motivated TGBC dreamers began meeting up, researching the science, considering designs, sketching unreadable abstract doodles on napkins and discussing how none of us knew how to do any of the work. But there was passion.

    Word got out and a local mechanic jumped on board to give the boys a hand. From that point on, a miraculous beast made of metal and rubber began to take shape. A scrapped wheelbarrow, four-wheeler motorbike, low-rider bicycle, pee-wee motorbike, ride-on mower, a racing seat and harness and a bunch of salvaged metal went into the Rat Rod styled creation soon known as Tough Guy Billy Cart. Boring, yes, but when they couldn’t decide between ‘To Thrill a Mocking Hill’, ‘Cormac McCarty’, or plain old ‘On The Road’, their indecision eventually lead to late panic on registration day that forced their hand.

    It felt like the entire town was out on race day. It was bluebird skies with a vibrant community buzz. A handful of brave men and boys took turns strapping into Tough Guy Billy Cart and committing to epic time trial runs down Monument Hill. Our boys were proud of their efforts and to be part of such an excellent event raising money for local suicide prevention network, ELM. The cart came up a treat and turned plenty of heads, even securing a front page in the local rag.

    Alex "Wash" Playsted (Castlemaine Chapter)

  • Goon Profile – Sam Stops

    Posted on Oct 18, 2017

    Name:
    Sam Stops

    **Chapter:
    I feel most at home at Hobart chapter.

    Who are you:
    I’m your average man in his late 30s. I have a beautiful wife who’s way out of my league and we own a home in South Hobart. We have a good sized back yard which is nice and flat for our Labrador cross with bad hips. My favourite days are ones I spend at home in my boardshorts faffing about with a beer in my hand, with or without guests. I probably drink too much and eat too much meat.

    How long have you been with TGBC:
    My first book for TGBC was “Wake in Fright” by Kenneth Cook in March 2016. It was my favourite read until East of Eden took the top spot.

    What’s your favourite TGBC book?
    It’s hard to nail down why East of Eden has been my favourite book so far. It was our long summer read (with no meeting in January we had 2 months) but I left it to the last minute as usual. With a week to go I still had 600 pages and couldn’t put it down. I think I loved it because the characters are relatable in their flaws but want to be good. There is also a very obvious evil presence who never ceases to shock.

    Why are you a member of TGBC:
    My reasons for being in TGBC have changed and developed in the 2 years I’ve been a member. I started because I love reading and wasn’t doing enough of it. Meet me for a few beers one day and I’ll tell you what it means to me now.

    What book have we not read yet that you’d like to do at TGBC:
    I would love to read “Trainspotting” by Irvine Welsh and talk about it with the goons. I have read a lot of his stuff but never got around to this famous work. I find his writing challenging and grotesque but fascinating and rewarding too.

  • Point to Pinnacle

    Posted on Oct 10, 2017

    Point to Pinnacle

    On the 19th of November, well know goons Wash and Sam Stops Presedent of Hobart Chapter are tackling the self proclaimed “World’s Toughest Half Marathon”. It starts at sea level and over the 21.1 Km course ascends 1270m to the pinnacle of Kunanyi (Mt Wellington).
    If that sounds like something you'd like to do there is a Tough Guy Book Club team you can sign up to if you’re keen on joining them – register on the website www.pointtopinnacle.com.au. For those that like that kind of thing but want to take it a little easier there is a 10km option as well as a walking event but places are limited and sell out quickly. Participants will be sporting TGBC singlets and will receive an event book. And of course celebratory drinks will follow!

  • The Camp of Frost Lake - Daniel McMahon

    Posted on Oct 06, 2017

    You’re hanging from a wire, attached to a dead eucalyptus tree, suspended over a freezing lake in alpine Victoria. Your zipline harness pulls your thighs up to your shoulders and your testicles up somewhere around your chin. Your breath is choking hot, because for some reason you’re wearing a latex mask that looks like Kim Jong Un. Through the eyeholes you can see people waiting on the lake shore, down at the end of the wire. One is ready to catch and uncouple you safely. The other two are drawing longbows with foam-tipped arrows, taking aim at your helpless dangling arse. But you’re not afraid. You’re not even nervous. You met these people two days ago but you trust them absolutely. You can’t wait to take your arrows in the arse, wriggle out of the harness, run to grab a longbow and shoot them in theirs. Welcome to Tough Guy Book Camp.

    Read More »
  • Goon Profile – Steve Bruce

    Posted on Jul 11, 2017

    Name:
    Steve Bruce

    **Chapter:
    Williamstown Vic

    Who are you:
    An older dude with modern thoughts, who can be found blowing harp, skiing, writing or reading (not necessarily in that order).

    How long have you been with TGBC:
    My first meeting was To Kill a Mockingbird at Footscray Chapter.

    What’s your favourite TGBC book?
    This is a hard question as 'Blood Meridian' is way up the top of the list, wrestling with 'Home' and 'The Eye of the Sheep'. 'Ham On Rye' has 'Trout Fishing in America' in a full nelson and 'Good Omens' and 'Hitchikers Guide' are taunting 'The Old Man and the Sea'.

    Why are you a member of TGBC:
    I love the honesty. The interaction between men of differing ages and various walks of life. The opportunity to read books, that have in the past, been outside the scope of what I would normally read. I like being accountable for my take on a story and then to learn from what other guy's perceptions are of the same work.

    What book have we not read yet that you’d like to do at TGBC:
    Cormac McCarthy's 'Suttree' and Murakami's 'Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki'.

  • Toowoomba Chapter Founded

    Posted on Jun 06, 2017

    Today we welcome on-board our newest crew, the mighty Toowoomba Chapter. This first meet will be tonight the 7th of June at the Spotted Cow around 7pm. If you never been to “The Cow” before it’s a great local boozer with an excellent beer list.

    So from today onwards, if you’re in Toowoomba and you’re interested in learning more about our club, just rock up and have a beer with us. We will be going over what we are about, how our club works and what you need to do to get on board.

    You can find this Chapters current event info in the Find Us tab on this site. You can also email us any questions to via the Contact tab.

  • Camp 2017 Tickets Now On Sale

    Posted on Mar 31, 2017

    Tickets for TGBC Camp 2017 are now for sale on this website via the Store tab. You can buy full tickets or you can buy a tenth of a ticket. If you have bought 10 of these by camp you have a whole ticket. Student, pensioner, and unwaged discounts can be arranged if you contact the club or your Chapter President directly.

    This years a ticket will again includes all food and beers for the whole camp, activities, accommodation, transport to and from the airport and 1 flight from your home state to Melbourne (as long as you book early enough).

    We have now booked our camp site and it’s similar to last years, being that it’s bunk cabins, around a central fire pit, with a short walk to the dining hall and wet weather shed, the difference is it’s on the shore of a lake. Activities will again have the same range of flexibility and diversity in them to accommodate all tastes. Shay for one stood next to a fire and cracked tins for 3 and a half days while others read books, played cards or climbed mountains.

    Camp goes from 29th of September to the 2nd of October and is 4 days and 3 nights of fun and full time book club shit, honestly there’s not a man who didn’t come away from last year with great stories to tell.

    If you have questions or concerns please contact the club or your Chapter President.

  • Castlemaine Chapter Founded

    Posted on Mar 01, 2017

    In an exciting club first, TGBC has broken away from its metropolitan roots to establish its first regional chapter. An hour and a half north of Melbourne, in the Victorian Goldfields district, our new Castlemaine Chapter has moved into The Bridge Hotel.

    At the foot of the hill upon which the town's historic jail imposes as a monument to a gritty penal history, the first TGBC Castlemaine chapter took its first steps this March with a meet to discuss the American classic Jack Kerouac’s On The Road. 5 lads, starting as strangers, wasted no time ripping into one rowdy conversation on life, responsibility, and freedom. Points were made, glasses were empty and some remarkable things came up from each goons unique take on this beat era classic.

    Venue wise, we’ve found our country home away from home. With an excellent beer garden for summer, a long-tabled private room for winter, and excellent craft beers both on tab and in the bottle, The Bridge Hotel has everything we look for in a joint.

    Here's to making our own history in regional Victoria.

    (Photo: Castlemaine Volunteer Fire Brigade 1880's)

  • Monash Clayton Chapter Enters The Ring

    Posted on Feb 07, 2017

    Where better to procrastinate with a great book?

    Tough Guy Book Club is coming down to Monash University Clayton campus, to found our new Monash Clayton Chapter. Furthering our reach and building on the remarkable diversity in our ranks, our crew is chuffed to be welcoming Monash students to our first on-campus chapter.

    To celebrate we are having a bit of a meet and greet to answer questions and get to know folks on March the 22nd at 7 pm down at their campus pub called the Sir John. If you’re in the area come down for a refreshing beverage and to meet some of our goons.

    Either way, the Monash Clayton Chapter will get underway this March with the first full Chapter Meet being the 5th of April at 7 pm at the Sir John. The book we will be banging on about is the remarkable Beat classic On The Road by Jack Kerouac. It’s a book of roughnecks, roads and rye whiskey. It’s also excellent so grab a copy and get reading.

    So long story short, the rules are the same, the books are the same, but oh, to be a fly on the wall with these blokes! We’re seriously looking forward to hearing some fresh perspectives in rowdy chats while paying student happy hour drink prices. See you there.

    We'd also like to send a shout out to the great staff of Monash University for this opportunity.

  • TGBC Camp 2017

    Posted on Jan 10, 2017

    After the roaring success of last year’s camp we are gearing up to do it all over again. The camp will be held over grand final weekend, 29th September - 2nd October. We are currently on the hunt for a new location, if you have any suggestions please get in touch. More details to follow.

  • Goon Profile – James Barry

    Posted on Dec 31, 2016

    Name?
    James Barry

    Chapter?
    Footscray – Victoria, Australia

    Who are you?
    I’m a Queenslander by birth, a son to loving parents, and an elder brother. I equate music to life.

    How long have you been with Tough Guy Book Club?
    My first meet was February 2016, “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman.

    What’s your favourite TGBC book? And Why?
    Australian fiction always bats above its average on the world stage. From David Malouf’s description in “Johnno” of rain hitting the fresh bitumen streets of post-war Brisbane; capturing the laconic sarcasm of a publican and a solitary customer in Kenneth Cook’s “Wake In Fright”; or perhaps Rohan Wilson’s ability to personalise the extermination of indigenous society in “The Roving Party” from the viewpoint of an aboriginal hunter. Our tales are unique and the unpleasant kernels of truth wedged into our national identity make for great storytelling.

    Why are you a member of Tough Guy Book Club?
    Why did I join TGBC? Initially it was to make some connections in a new city. More importantly, I came back because I felt a sense of camaraderie in reading something that I can talk to any bloke around the country (or the world) about each month. Plus my local venue Bar Josephine has a wonderful selection of books on the walls... and excellent craft beers!

    What book have we not read yet that you’d like to do at TGBC?
    If I’m picking a book for the summer break I cannot look past Xavier Herbert’s “Capricornia”.

  • Kris Kringle 2016

    Posted on Dec 27, 2016

    Our annual holiday period book-swap has been a wild success this year, with 70 members coming from every single chapter, including our American brothers and some rural goons who play along from home, signing up to be involved in the holiday tradition.

    Each year in December our goons sign up to send a book to a fellow TGBC guy they have never met and receive one from an anonymous source. Many of our lads take a book they love off their shelf and send it to a goon they don’t know hoping they will appreciate it as much as they did. This year we’ve seen a pile of great books both new and old sent by our guys from around the country and in some cases around the world.

    Again it's been a great way to start the new year and we look forward to running it again at the end of 2017.

    Happy Holidays.

  • Movember 2016 Wrap Up

    Posted on Dec 06, 2016

    Once again our goons have participated in Movember by growing moustaches as a way to raise money and awareness for men’s health. Like last year these moustaches were as unique as the lads themselves ranging from very impressive to absolutely disgusting and everything in between.

    This year we had 16 of our guys (including 1 dog) across 9 chapters take the challenge and sign up. By the end of the month our final total raised for men’s health was $2149 and I know a lot of goons and their partners were pretty happy to see the back of the Mo’s but I also know of a couple that had definitely stuck around beyond the month's end. We’d like to thank all the guys that joined the TGBC November team and grew the Mo this year, with a special shout out to John Mike Shirley from Sydney chapter who lead the pack in donations with a massive total of $434.

    A very special thank you goes out to Michael Pfundt for taking the time to lead this campaign and losing the beard to do it. He put a lot of work into it so if you see him, give him a cheers.

  • Movember

    Posted on Oct 31, 2016

    As you may or may not know it’s Movember and it’s good to see that TGBC has a strong team this year. Movember raises awareness and funds for Men’s Health issues around the globe and gives everyone a chance to look like a fiend, improve their health through exercise, or both. If you haven’t joined you still can. Every amount counts towards keeping tough guys healthy around the world. Also if you’d like to make a personal donation head over to the TGBC Movember page.

  • Canberra Chapter Founded

    Posted on Jul 16, 2016

    This month the TGBC Empire expands by two chapters, first we had Launceston, and now Canberra. It’s time. Venue is still to be decided but it is definitely happening. Stay tuned for extra details.

  • Goon Profile – Greg Jenkins

    Posted on Jul 15, 2016

    Name:
    Greg Jenkins

    **Chapter:
    Footscray Chapter

    Who are you:
    Who am I? I’m excited by humour, wordplay and ideas. I love writing songs and poems, playing various instruments and performing it all. My Permaculture garden brings me joy and frustration and I love cycle touring, cooking, eating and socialising.

    How long have you been with TGBC:
    I have been with TGBC since June 2016.

    What’s your favourite TGBC book?
    My favourite TGBC book? That’s a toughie – I really enjoyed re-reading “The Hitchhikers Guide…”and I loved “Bad Omens” too; I think there’s theme there: humour and a certain world-weary point of view* .. on the other hand, why don’t I go for “The Dispossessed”: politics and science fiction – another two of my favourite things!

    Why are you a member of TGBC:
    I’m a member because I love the meetings. It gets me reading books, especially ones I would never have chosen for myself, and it’s great to discuss them, and the issues they address, with other blokes. (The beer is nice too!)

    What book have we not read yet that you’d like to do at TGBC:
    I’m tempted to say “The Phantom Tollbooth” (by Norton Juster) fantastic wordplay but a bit “young”, perhaps … So I’ll recommend “The Grapes of Wrath”. *World weary weltanschauung is a more alliterative – (especially if you do it all with a German accent)! ** indecision might be another theme!

  • Launceston Chapter Founded

    Posted on Jul 13, 2016

    Not to be outdone by Hobart opening only a few months ago, we now welcome Launceston into the ever expanding TGBC community. The lads there will be meeting at the Royal Oak hotel

    Tough Guy Book Club is a network of monthly book clubs for men that concentrate on masculine classics. Our clubs are a place for guys to meet up, to read great books, talk some shit and drink some beers.

    How this works is if you are interested in learning more about our club, you rock up and have a beer with us. We will be going over what we are about, how our club works and what you need to do to get on board.

    This meet shall be held at The Royal Oak Hotel 14 Brisbane St, Launceston TAS 7250 at 7pm on Wednesday the 3th of August.

    If you have thought about joining us but never got around to it. This is the time.

  • Hemingway Month

    Posted on Jun 30, 2016

    This time of year we read a book by Hemingway, this month it’s A Farewell To Arms. We like the guy, he’s a helluva writer, but we also like to acknowledge the faults that are clearly evident in his tough guy persona. He was a hard man who loved a fight but the sad truth is that he killed himself after a long struggle with depression; he is the embodiment of some issues that still affect many men today. So, this month we dive deep into a bit of serious literature and tackle some big issues.

  • TGBC 2016 Camp

    Posted on Jun 21, 2016

    All the pieces are in place for the 2016 TGBC Camp to go ahead.

    Now comes your part. This is a call to action.

    Whether you’re an old hand or a recent addition to book club, meeting up with dudes from other chapters and revelling in all the good stuff that speaks to us collectively has always proven to be an excellent idea and memorable time. Camp, however, promises to be the apex of our social calendar to date. You need to be a part of it.

    What is camp? On AFL grand final weekend, from Friday 30th September until Monday 3rd October, intrepid Tough Guys from any and all of our chapters across the country will descend upon the mighty Grampian National Park in western Victoria. We have an entire outdoor recreation camp to ourselves, including comfortable cabin accommodation. Yes, it’s a bit luxurious, but don’t let this stop you pitching a tent if you prefer the added toughness required to do so.

    At camp, we will have ample outdoor and indoor space where we can light fires, kick a footy, swing a cricket bat, paddle canoes, drop a line in, climb a cliff, be flung through the air and roam through the bush. Of course, you can also simply put your feet up and get lost in a book. There are no rules or obligations. We’ll set up a big screen for the big game for anyone who wants to watch it. We’ll also be running a special camp edition of book club, book included. All food and drink is catered for. You’ll never be hungry or thirsty.

    Off site, there are loads of options for hiking, fishing and taking in the spectacular sights of the surrounding mountain ranges. Those so inclined might attempt to conquer Mount Difficult which, by all accounts, is not to be sneezed at.

    Camp costs $360. For this you get: • Accommodation for 3 nights in the amazing Grampians • All food for the whole camp • Cold beers for the whole camp • A free book for the camp meet • 1 flight if you live outside of VIC • Transport to and from the airport

    Remember, VIC, NSW and QLD goons all have public holidays on this weekend.

    There are payment plans available, however time is now a bigger consideration as the date is looming. Lock in your first payment asap. Kick this beast into gear. We also have an unwaged option. If you are unwaged or a student, or would like to discuss anything else to do with payments, please call Shay for a chat.

    So what now?


    As mentioned, this is a call to action. We’re now asking that you take the next step and make a payment, either part or whole. Those who know you’re going, it’s time to show us the fibre of your fabric. Those who are undecided, it’s time to ask questions, look at dates and book time off if need be. It is amazing to have confirmations from inside and beyond Victoria already and we’re excited to hear from as many of you others as can swing it. GET ON BOARD.


    Hit up the event chat board on FB or email us if you’d like to know more. Get around it, lads! It’s TGBC CAMP 2016!

  • Festival of Steve

    Posted on May 26, 2016

    This weekend there will be a delegation of TGBC members manning a stall at The Festival of Steve at Federation Square in Melbourne. Billed as a day for the modern man, the FOS features whisky master classes, pool tournaments and bunch of lads talking about books.

  • Hobart Chapter Founded

    Posted on Apr 24, 2016

    This month we welcome another new chapter into the fold.

    The guys will be meeting at: Shambles Brewery 222 Elizabeth St, Hobart

    How this works is if you are interested in learning more about our club, you rock up and have a beer with us. We will be going over what we are about, how our club works and what you need to do to get on board.

    If you know any guys down in Tassie who might be interested, make sure you let them know.

  • Anzac Day

    Posted on Apr 24, 2016

    Lest We Forget

  • Stella Prize

    Posted on Apr 18, 2016

    Congratulations to Charlotte Wood, winner of this year’s Stella Prize for The Natural Way Of Things. This prize, awarded to female Australian writers, is an important edition to our literary culture. If you would like to know more about why you don’t see many female authors on our reading list, get in touch with us on the contact page for a chat.

  • Grapes at 77

    Posted on Apr 13, 2016

    77 years ago today, on the 14th of April 1939 John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath was released. That’s all.

  • New Melbourne City Chapter

    Posted on Apr 12, 2016

    Spend your days in a cubical, work nights pouring beers, drive people about town for a living, or got a corner office on the 19th floor? You are all welcome. On Wednesday the 4th of May 2016 we shall be founding our new Melbourne City chapter of Tough Guy Book Club. This chapter has been specifically built with guys who work and live inner city in mind. If you’ve thought about joining us before or you’ve never heard of us at all this a great time to come down for a beer and see what we’re about. The meet shall be held at 7pm at the Royal Melbourne Hotel, 629 Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000. Email us if you have any questions.

    See you there.

    19:00. 4/5/16. Royal Melbourne

  • International Women’s Day

    Posted on Mar 07, 2016

    Happy International Women's Day, a good time (as is any day) to celebrate all the great women in our lives and the battle for gender equality. TGBC is committed to gender equality.

  • Geelong Chapter Founded

    Posted on Feb 10, 2016

    We are kicking off this new chapter in Geelong, the tough Victorian city on Corio Bay.

    This meet shall be held at The Lord Nelson Hotel, Malop St & Bellerine St, Geelong at 7pm on Wednesday the 2rd of March.

    How this works is if you are interested in learning more about our club, you rock up and have a beer with us. We will be going over what we are about, how our club works and what you need to do to get on board.

    If you have thought about joining us but never got around to it. This is the time.

    (Photo: Geelong Norton Motorcycle Club 1930)

  • Footscray Chapter Founded

    Posted on Feb 02, 2016

    In the tough suburbs of western Melbourne a new chapter is born.

    Carrying on out the back of the Mona Castle, 45-53 Austin St, Footscray VIC 3011.

    Head on through past the screens as the pokies, we’ll be sitting out the back under the heaters.

  • New Year Resolution

    Posted on Jan 06, 2016

    The good folk at Beyond Blue reckon instead of making New Year's Resolutions you should concentrate on these 4 things.

    Now we can definitely help you with 3 of them, but sadly you are still going to have to get off your arse to do exercise or, I don’t know, eat some vegetables or something.

  • Movember

    Posted on Aug 22, 2015

    We will be entering a team in Movember this year. Please join us in growing a gross moustache this November to help raise money for Prostate cancer, which 1 in 7 of us will get. That’s more than 1 guy per club. The person who raises the highest amount will get all club books in 2016 on the house; there will also be some other prizes, too. More details to follow.

  • North Fitzroy Chapter Founded

    Posted on Jul 07, 2015

    We would like to welcome the latest chapter into the fold, North Fitzroy. They'll be getting their chatting done at The Pinnacle, an ace venue with heaps of good beer on tap and tasty food. If you know anyone that lives in the area and reckon they would be keen make sure you send them along.

  • TGBC Hoodies Now Available

    Posted on Feb 08, 2015

    The first of our merch has arrived.

    Over the coming months we shall be releasing a couple of pieces of Tough Guy Book Club supporter wear and today we got the delivery of our first items able to be ordered. So from now on we have TGBC hoodies, they are good quality and medium thickness with zip, they come in black with the TGBC logo in white embroider on them, and available in all sizes from XS-XXL. (Larger available on special request)

    In time they will be able be bought on the site but until then if you are interested in getting one just email us and we’ll arrange it with you. They are $45 including postage.

  • Adelaide Chapter Set Back

    Posted on Jan 01, 2015

    At the very last stages of starting the Adelaide Chapter of the Tough Guy Book Club we have hit a major hurdle. The local lad who was leading the charge on starting the chapter has been told that he is being transferred to a mine in the outback so he will no longer be able to finish what he started. He is however starting our first chapter at a mine which we are pretty fucking excited about.

    Read More »
  • Sydney Chapter Founded

    Posted on Sep 30, 2014

    Tough Guy Book Club comes to Australia’s largest city. In a private room upstairs at the aptly named Shakespeare Hotel in Surry Hills the founding meet of the first Sydney Chapter was held. This Chapter was stuck in the planning stage for a long time and we are glad that it’s up and running because we get more emails asking about meeting information from this city than any other. Chapter President Leigh led a small but interesting discussion on The Razor's Edge over beers and burgers.

    Read More »
  • R U OK Day

    Posted on Sep 10, 2014

    R U OK Day is great initiative and we support it 100%. Weirdly one of the most important things you can do is ask your mates if they are ok. Guys don’t ask for help and we don’t like to complain. We don’t really tell each other if we are having a shit time of it. We usually suffer in silence because we are too tough to talk about it and even if we are not, we have it all our social stuff set up so asking for help is a fucking nightmare. Don’t let your mates be part of a “we didn’t know he was having problems” story.

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  • North Melbourne Chapter Founded

    Posted on Aug 05, 2014

    Tonight, 6th of August 2014 at a bar called Prudence over a couple a beers, the North Melbourne chapter of the Tough Guy Book Club was founded. Chapter President Simon kicked off their first official meet with a discussion about The Fight by Norman Mailer (1975). Even though there was a small turn out, like most new chapters, everyone had a pretty good time and more than a couple shots. We are really happy to have Simon and his North Melbourne Goons on board as the second Melbourne chapter.

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  • Hemingway Month

    Posted on Jun 30, 2014

    This July we are dedicating to Ernest Hemingway who is one of the most important writers as well as iconic character of the 20th century. July being a rather fitting month to celebrate the life and works of Hemingway being as he was both born and killed himself during the month. As part of our TGBC Hemingway month we shall be reading For Whom the Bell Tolls. Which is possibly one of his best novels because he works in the themes he is most suited; camaraderie, inevitability, and suicide.

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