I read a lot. Most writers do. You may think I spend most of my time reading sword books, but it isn’t so. Probably the most important books I’ve read in the last year or so are entirely sword-free! My home is filled with books- and about half of them are in boxes in the loft- clearly we should have made one of the children sleep in the cupboard under the stairs and used one of the bedrooms as a library.
As you can see from this photo of one bookshelf in my study, I read on a wide range of topics, and I clearly have no idea how to organise a library. My current approach is to find a space on a shelf in which a new book can physically fit, and let my visual memory make finding the book possible.
Much of the non-fiction I’m reading at the moment is to do with health in one form or another. As I see it, there are three pillars to physical health: sleep, movement, and food. Movement explicitly includes breathing.
Far and away the best book on sleep I’ve ever read is Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker. It’s a thorough description of the current scientific research on the subject, by a career scientist in the field, and includes a lot of actionable advice if you're having trouble sleeping. (Let me note here that all links are affiliate, which means I get paid a small fee if you buy the book, which costs you nothing but helps me keep the lights on. If that bothers you feel free to just search for the book by title and author.)
When it comes to food there are so many conflicting views on the subject. Some people still believe that dietary fat is bad for you! Probably the most important book I’ve read on the health implications of food is Personalized Medicine. It has lead me on a fascinating quest into the way my body reacts to certain foods. You can read more about that here. While on the subject of food, the best cookbook my wife and I have used in a very long time is Ian Haste’s The Seven Day Basket. Almost every recipe we’ve tried so far has been a family-wide hit: my younger daughter declared that the beef rendang we had the other night ought to be our Christmas dinner this year.
Regarding movement, I regard all exercises as breathing exercises, and have done for a very long time. James Nestor’s new book Breath is an utterly unmissable overview of the subject, with in-depth examinations of a huge range of breathing styles and their effects. For a more complete review, see here.
And on the subject of health, ageing is becoming a more urgent interest as I near 50. The only book I’ve found worth reading on the subject (because it dives deep into the science of what’s actually happening at the cellular level as we age) is Lifespan, by David A. Sinclair. It’s excellent. If you want to know about rapamycin, mTOR, fasting, metformin, NMN, and a badgillion other ageing related things, read this book. It might literally add decades to your life.
Alright, a couple of martial arts books for you.
Fear is the Mind Killer by Kaja Sadowski is essential reading for anyone running a club or teaching a class. It is an extraordinary resource, especially in the areas of creating the club culture you want, and in how to train for the real thing. I cannot recommend it too highly.
The Book of Martial Power by Steven J. Pearlman is also unmissable. It’s one of the very few martial arts books that goes deep into principles, and as such anyone training literally any martial art should read this book. It’s awesome.
And finally: a friend of mine is writing really fun thrillers starring an ex-porn star called Butch Bliss. I could describe the books at length, but why bother when you can get a free taste by joining his mailing list here: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/pyx8j9tgfm If you like the novella he’s giving away, you’ll love the two novels in the series so far: Hidden Palms, and Snake Road. Just the thing for a long flight (back when aeroplanes were a thing) or indeed for taking your mind off the plague.
If you're enjoying reading my writing about books, then there are many more such posts on this blog! Here are all the ones I could find, there are probably more. My command of “topic” and “tag” is not what it could be.
Making History review of my father's More Sherlock Holmes than James Herriot
Let’s illuminate Invisible Women this lead to me starting a podcast