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Novel challenge for tough guys who like to read

The Tough Guy Book Club has produced a book of short stories written by members across 82 ‘Chapters’ of the popular grassroots men’s health organisation.

TGBC  members – affectionately called ‘Goons’ – meet regularly to socialise and discuss a nominated book. They are also set a monthly challenge.

“Maybe it’s getting your blood pressure checked (one we do every year), maybe it’s planting a tree, maybe it’s having a beer with someone you haven’t had a beer with,” explains founder Shay Leighton.

“TGBC challenges are meant to be moderately difficult but not impossible. For some Goons it pushes them to do something they don’t usually do or haven’t done in a while, which is hard. Sometimes it’s just finding the time to do it - we all have lives outside of club, mostly.”

Last October Goons were set the challenge of writing a short story between 2000 and 5000 words.

The short story had to feature a key and some sort of offer.

“Obviously some found it easier than others; we don’t talk about work here, but we’re sure there are a few professional writers in the club. For some Goons it was a bit of a sprint/stumble to finish, flinging words on a page just to get to that magical 2,000 words. Others had to cut things back.”

The result is a collection of Short Stories by Goons (Vol.1), which will be launched at the Clunes Booktown Festival on 25-26 March.


The Tough Guy Book Club won the Victorian Men’s Health Award in 2020. Described as a “Fight Club for the mind” groups, or ‘Chapters’ meet monthly in bars and pubs to discuss the same book.

Shay started the TGBC in 2013 and there are now 82 Chapters in Australia, including several in the UK, US and New Zealand.

Find a Chapter

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