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Top 9 of 2019 (BOOKS)

Updated: Jan 2, 2020

For the past 2 years I've shared my top 9 books, instead of photos from instagram, for the new year. I'm continuing that tradition this year; posted below are my TOP 9 in 2019!


Not about paddling, athletes. It's all about the lovable Octopus. With my background and Master's degree in Marine Biology, I like to read at least one book involving that subject each year. The more I try and understand human cognition from a self-improvement point of view, the more I don't understand. I want to understand why humans are able to change, or not, and I thought looking into other animals that are self-aware may shed some light on the subject. It didn't really, but I love the Octopus more now.

After their book "Peak Performance" I was enamored. That book was my #1 book of 2018, and I've re-read it since. So, when I heard they were coming out with another book, I was super stoked. This book was good, with a lot of quotable statements, great for the instagram creative, but it lacked the depth and impact of their previous book. I still enjoyed the read and the idea that to be really great at something you may have to become unbalanced.

This was a pleasant and quick read, nothing life-altering... if you already have GRIT. But if you're not one to get back up and push harder after you get knocked down - then this book should be at the top of your list. Let's be clear, the ability to keep driving forward in the face of constant setbacks may not get you all the way to your goal. You may still never achieve what you set out to achieve, but you'll be pretty damn good at whatever it is, and you will be resilient.

I really enjoyed some of the debunking of recovery techniques shared by Dr. Bubbs, and found a few that were worth adding to my repertoire that weren't there already. He goes beyond saying things you may already know like "protein is good" and gives you the recommended daily numbers so you can calculate YOUR peak values for various metrics.

Last year I started Taleb's "Black Swan" and loved it, I finished it and started in on this one. First off, I laughed. I enjoyed his cynicism and his "no bullshit" attitude. Second, I enjoyed his concept of anti-fragility. I feel like most humans may be, at least slightly, anti-fragile. We need a little hardship to flourish, without some hardship we wind up soft and lazy. It's a long read and not for the P.C.

There's not a lot of science, and most of what he presents is very anecdotal, BUT there's something to be said for Maffetone's reputation. Often, when it comes to athletics, the coaches that have been in the game for a long time know what they have seen and experienced with their athletes, and the science usually follows decades later. I think this book is a good example of that. He doesn't share any peer-reviewed info, only what he has experienced first hand. And that is valuable in its own right. These are tips you've probably heard time and time again, but somehow when I read this book, it really hit home and I started practicing what I preach. Maybe it will help you slow down to speed up too.

Where the Big Book by Maffetone left me wanting, this book filled in the science. I read them at about the same time. Dry and science-y, I enjoyed a deeper understanding of the physiology of endurance training. It goes on to help you understand how to build a training program, and the essential components. Unfortunately, because it is about running, a lot of the examples given are pace based. This is cool if you have a flat place with no wind or current and can train based on pace. However, pace-based training aside, I had a few epiphanies when reading this one, and it is a MUST for anyone that is trying to self-coach.

Hot off the Patagonia Presses, this book was published this year. If you're not looking to read long or dry endurance books like The Science of Running and The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing, then just grab this one. If you have time or need more later, visit my #3 and #4 books. This book gave me everything that #3 and #4 did not, PLUS since the athletes this book is geared towards can't train based on pace, they give valid strategies to build a training program without pace-zones. This book is much more applicable to paddlers, start here for sure.

Not everything I read is science! And it was a hard call between Training for the Uphill Athlete and Island of Sea Women for my #1 spot this year. This one was historical fiction. I laughed, cried, and ended up absolutely furious. I loved my books on training, but this one changed the way I see the world and the way we have constructed society and our government/corporate/consumerism system. That's NOT what this book is actually about, but here's something that had a profound impact on ME: These incredibly strong and self sufficient women were on an island minding their own business, when a larger country comes in and changes their entire way of life. In essence telling them they can't farm or harvest food from the land and sea and live the way they have for as long as they've known. Their children are forced to work for meager wages and become part of the system so they can PAY for food and their homes. BEFORE THESE GREEDY MILITANT ASS-HATS ARRIVED, they didn't have to pay anybody for anything, there was no waste, nothing came in plastic, and the women worked while the men watched the kids. This is a world that I can say I would love to live in, it was simple. It brings me to tears to think that it can never exist like this again. We humans should be ashamed of ourselves and our greed. That is all.

(If you click on the links/titles it will take you to amazon, where if you purchase the book, I may receive a percentage of the sale. That would be cool. Here's the FULL BOOK LIST. Also, if you don't already have audible, you can get a membership here. I like audio books for long, slow paddles and hikes in the woods.)

Don't forget to check out the #TopNine from 2017 and 2018 for other great reads!

Also, honorable mention for the remaining books/audiobooks I read/listened to this year:

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