Thursday, October 14, 2010

Reading is Fun

The next time you find yourself at the library and apoplectic with anger because that douchebag who checked out the one copy of "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret" still hasn't returned it, take a deep breath and consider some alternatives. Here are a bunch of books you might like if:

You're curious about paleo nutrition:

The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet by Robb Wolf – Robb is the man. This is easily the best and most accessible book on the mass market about the science and implementation of a paleo diet. If your budget allows for just one book on nutrition, buy this one.

The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson - Despite my misgivings about Sisson, The Primal Blueprint is a solid introduction to paleo nutrition and fitness, and it gave me my first taste of what a clean, sustainable dietary approach should look like.

Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health by Gary Taubes – If you’re a biochem nerd, you will geek out on this massive tome about the science behind (and benefits of) low-carb, pre-agricultural nutrition.

The Protein Power Lifeplan by Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades – The Eades (creators of the Sous Vide Supreme!) have been on the low-carb, whole-foods scene longer than just about anyone else. This book is a great representation of their work.

The Paleo Diet for Athletes: A Nutritional Formula for Peak Athletic Performance by Loren Cordain & Joe Friel – Although this book is geared towards long-distance runners, bicyclists and triathletes, there’s still a lot of information in here about how to a paleo diet can take the place of an endurance athlete’s traditional carb-loading approach. (If you're not an endurance athlete, check out Loren Cordain's The Paleo Diet instead.)

Your vegetarian friends are harassing you about eating meat:

The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability by Lierre Keith – Keith’s writing can get a bit florid, but her story and arguments are compelling. Her personal narrative (about her switch from vegan to omnivore) is intertwined with strong counterarguments against the moral, environmental and health claims often asserted by vegetarians.

You want to improve your Olympic lifting technique (because you're CrossFitting, or just because you want to develop some kick-ass explosive power):

Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe – Whether you’re new to Olympic lifting or a grizzled vet, Rip’s book is the bible on all things barbell-related.

Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes & Coaches by Greg Everett – While Rip’s book focuses like a laser on basic movements (deadlifts, squats, etc.), Greg Everett gets into the nitty-gritty of the explosive O-lifts, like snatches and clean & jerks. Together with Starting Strength, you pretty much have all the bases covered.

You're eyeing a pair of Vibram FiveFingers shoes:

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall – Suspenseful, engaging, informative, eye-opening. This is the book that triggered the barefoot running craze. Vibram really ought to cut McDougall in on a share of the profits from the company’s FiveFingers sales.

The Barefoot Running Book: A Practical Guide to the Art and Science of Barefoot and Minimalist Shoe Running by Jason Robillard – This little book is comprehensive yet fits into your pants pocket. It’s a great primer for those looking to transition into barefoot running. (My only complaint with the first edition of the book is that it’s printed in Papyrus font, which I abhor on a visceral level.)

Yoga's your cup of tea:

The Athlete's Guide to Yoga: An Integrated Approach to Strength, Flexibility, and Focus by Sage Rountree – When I started doing yoga, I had no idea what to watch for, or how to correct my form. Rountree’s book helped immensely, and it (thankfully) glosses over the spiritual stuff in favor of discussing yoga's effects on athletic performance. Plus: color photos!

The Great Oom: The Improbable Birth of Yoga in America by Robert Love – A strangely compelling biography of Pierre Bernard, arguably the father of American yoga, and certainly one of the most oddly charismatic figures of the early 20th century. The Great Oom is a fascinating read, filled with scandal (seduction of young girls! sacred orgies!) and general weirdness (midgets playing baseball! body piercings under trance!).

Happy reading!