"I saw few die of hunger; of eating, a hundred thousand." -Ben Franklin

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Book Recommendations from a Paleo Bookworm

Many things have changed in my life over the last few years: new school, new city, new friends, new body, new passions (i.e. nutrition/Paleo)... But one thing has remained constant throughout my entire life: my love of reading. I am such a bookworm-- if I'm not reading Paleo blogs online, chances are you can find me reading a book... and lately my books of choice have been about nutrition or evolutionary anthropology. A big question for newcomers to the Paleo lifestyle is, "What should I read?," so I'd like to dedicate this blog to my favorite books on evolutionary and modern anthropology/nutrition, the Paleo/Primal lifestyle, evolutionary fitness, and cooking... and alert you to some new books coming out within the next few months.

Evolutionary and Modern Anthropology/Nutrition:
-Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston Price. Price, a dentist, studied indigenous tribes all throughout the world and concluded based on their teeth that the Western diet (i.e. sugar, processed crap) has caused dental and other health problems. This is a must-read, and Price's legacy lives on through the Weston A. Price Foundation.
-The Jungle Effect by Daphne Miller. Taking inspiration from Price, Miller examined indigenous diets and found them to be leaps and bounds healthier than the Western diet.
-In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. Perhaps best-known for the "7 Rules for Eating," this book examines the food issues in Western society and reminds us to shop the perimeter of the supermarket and to not eat anything our great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. (The Omnivore's Dilemma, also by Pollan, is another great read.)
-Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat (And What to Do About It) by Gary Taubes. Both books pretty much have the same message, but WWGF is for people (like me) who don't really understand the hardcore scientific details behind the research in GCBC. Taubes is quite Paleo in his approach (he was even at the Ancestral Health Symposium last weekend!), and both books are extremely well-researched and absolutely worth reading.
-Change Your Body, Change the World: Reflections on Health and the Human Predicament by Frank Forencich. This book explains how we've become unhealthy because we're stressed out, stay indoors, and have forgotten how to play. He uses such brilliant metaphors to get his points across, and really makes you examine your lifestyle and those of the people around you.
-African Exodus: The Origins of Modern Humanity by Christopher Stringer and Robin McKie. Really fascinating book about our origins in Africa: we all evolved from the humans that left the continent about 100,000 years ago and migrated all over the world. (This is also a Robb Wolf-recommended book!)

Paleo/Primal/Evolutionary Nutrition:
-The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain. This is the original Paleo diet book-- Cordain came out with this over a decade ago and it's still one of the most well-researched and informative books out there (Cordain is also Robb Wolf's mentor!). This was also my first book on the Paleo lifestyle, and I highly recommend it to everyone.
-The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf. If you know anything about Robb Wolf, you know that he's one smart and funny guy. This book, like his site and podcasts, is highly informative, hilarious, and very accessible to readers without scientific background. A must-read!
-The New Evolution Diet by Art DeVany. This book is well-written, informative, detailed, and is more than just a diet or fitness book: it's a book about making a lifestyle change and living the way evolution and nature have intended. DeVany also just rocks-- check him out in this video!
-The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson. Move frequently at a slow pace. Lift heavy things. Sprint. Follow the Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid. Sisson provides his unique take on evolutionary nutrition and fitness, and this is definitely worth reading!
-Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora T. Gedgaudas. I don't know why this book isn't talked about more, because it is phenomenal. I referenced it a lot a few blog posts ago, and I still can't talk enough about how much I think everyone should read this. Gedgaudas provides a plethora of information and research that isn't in the other Paleo/Primal books, and her writing style is very clear and easy to understand. PBPM is almost entirely nutrition-based, and is probably the best crash-course in Paleo nutrition out there.

Evolutionary Fitness:
-Exuberant Animal: The Power of Health, Play, and Joyful Movement by Frank Forencich. Although many of the Paleo/Primal books talk about evolutionary fitness, this book is dedicated completely to it. We are animals! Go outside in nature and play! I also love Forencich's writing style: humorous, informative, and easy to read.
-Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. I'm not much of a runner, but this is one of my all-time favorite books. This true account of McDougall's search for the Tarahumara, a tribe in Mexico that runs hundreds of miles injury-free in huaraches, explains how running shoes have messed up the feet and that we're better off going barefoot. The stories he tells are so fascinating that you will not want to put this book down (well, okay, you might... but just to go outside and run barefoot!).

Paleo/Primal Cookbooks:
-Everyday Paleo by Sarah Fragoso. New to Paleo? Trying to raise a Paleo family? This one's for you! Featuring information on everyday Paleo living, home fitness, school lunch ideas for your kids, and a ton of mouth-watering recipes, this is a must-have.
-Primal Blueprint: Quick & Easy Meals by Mark Sisson. Quick, easy, Primal, and delicious-- an absolute must for anyone following this lifestyle! Not only are his meals fantastic, but he also provides the nutritional breakdown for each of his meals as well. (The breakfast dishes in PB: Q&E are my favorite part of this book!)
-The Paleo Diet Cookbook by Loren Cordain. A great collection of Paleo meals for all types of occasions-- I've made a bunch of his chicken dishes, and they were all really great!

Coming Soon:
-Paleo Comfort Foods by Julie & Charles Mayfield. I love the message on their site: "Food is life, and is a very fun part of our life, and as much as we love to cook for our friends and families, we love being able to share these recipes with you." And Robb Wolf wrote the foreword! (Release: September 2011)
-Make It Paleo by Bill Staley and Hayley Mason of The Food Lovers Primal Palate, one of my favorite sites for recipes. I am so excited for this-- their recipes (and food photography) are incredible, and Mark Sisson wrote the foreword. Congrats, Bill and Hayley-- this is going to be fantastic! (Release: October 2011)
-The Primal Connection by Mark Sisson. This book will, according to Sisson's site, "explore how and why our modern lives have created such conflict with our hunter-gatherer brains and what specific actions we can take to realign ourselves with the hard-wired expectations of those 10,000 year-old genes." (Release: June 2012)

This is great:

Quote of the Day:
"If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of distance run, then yours is the Earth and everything that's in it." -Rudyard Kipling, "If"


  1. I am going to the store tomorrow to pick up Born To Run. I bought some huaraches and have started to run in them. I wasn't sure if I would like a book on running but read an excerpt tonight and decided I have to have it.

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