When the going gets tough, the tough get reading.

A chapter of the Tough Guy Book Club has opened in Williamstown and founder Steve Bruce said it was attracting strong interest.

Each month (except January), the guys meet up to “engage in bare-knuckled conversation about the manly classics of contemporary literature”.

“It’s a book club that is for men who like to think,” Mr Bruce said.

“It’s called the Tough Guy Book Club because we read about guys that are doing it tough as well as guys that are tough, and it’s an opportunity for guys to meet other guys on a level that has nothing to do with work.

“That’s actually one of the rules of the club – that work is not meant to be mentioned or talked about.”

The club, started by a Brunswick man, has grown to more than 20 chapters Australia-wide and three in the US. Mr Bruce said it was actually about much more than books.

“We also give guys the opportunity to talk about things,” he said.

“It’s an opportunity to touch on men’s mental health, to give guys the opportunity to just have a chat.

“We’ve had guys that have opened up and have talked about things that they wouldn’t normally talk about, whether that be upbringing, things that have happened in their life, things that they’re going through now, problems with partners, those sorts of things.”

Tough Guy Book Club meets 7pm on the first Wednesday of the month (except January) at Customs House Hotel in Williamstown.