10

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Best books you've read for Paleo, but aren't necessarily aren't about Paleo?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 26, 2011 at 7:32 PM

I've been thinking about the books I've read on Paleo, and realized that the best books for me weren't specifically about Paleo. Rather they got me to think in surprising new ways about food in general, then later I refined my diet in a more Paleo direction.

What books (or sites or people) who really made a profound difference to you, whether or not they were actually about Paleo?

The two books that really stand out for me (possibly because of when I read them as their content) were:

  • Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. I'm sure most here know the importance of this book, which was literally life-changing for me. I could almost feel my mindset making a sudden u-turn (complete with squealing brakes) in my understanding of diet and health, and even of life. I didn't even start with a 'Diet' like Atkins or Paleo or whatever the names are. Instead I simply stopped eating carbs and began to educate myself about variations later.

  • Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food by Catherine and Luke Shanahan. Not exactly Paleo and perhaps not so well known as some, but to me this was a very important book. It really illuminated how our bodies and our genes are in a dynamic relationship with our environment and our food, and that living foods are very different from 'dead' foods (and explains why - lots of strong science, something I also appreciated about GCBC above). Their critique is that (theory aside) it's hard to get comprehensive information about the actual neolithic diet, but there are many diets in traditional cultures that are very healthy, that they have very consistent commonalities even if the cultures and locations are very different (say, Eskimo and Swahili). It's because of this book that I've fully embraced cultured milk products like kefir (and I'm making my own sauerkraut too), and it feels completely right even if not exactly "paleo" to some.

There are other excellent books about diet in general and Paleo in particular that have been informative and useful, but the two above were for me major and exciting milestones.

What about yours?

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on April 29, 2011
at 06:31 PM

If I hadn't thinking mostly about food books, I might have put Guns, Germs and Steel in my original list. It's fantastic - and a little scary too (I'm hesitant to read Collapse for that reason). And that reminds of one of my very first 'life changing' books: The Unsettling of America by Wendell Berry. This is where I first opened my eyes to the relationship between culture, agriculture, society, farms, compost, economics - it's a real eye-opener. Perhaps a little out-dated now and perhaps doesn't contain much new for this crowd, but it's one of my 'top 10 in my life' books.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 28, 2011
at 04:50 AM

I'm reading "cheap" right now and also struggling through the dense "good calories/bad calories" but I think "the vegetarian Myth" is up there with "omnivores dilemma" great list.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on April 27, 2011
at 06:09 PM

Ah yeah that would be a good idea. I did actually read an article by Harris addressing his critics. Any time science tries to step into the land of ethics or human psychology immediately you get dozens of wackos with a messy polemic.

Eecc48184707bc26bce631485b5b7e34

(4764)

on April 27, 2011
at 04:56 PM

Hey Thomas, EP is not influenced by Rand but rather Rand and EP are both influenced by Darwin.

Eecc48184707bc26bce631485b5b7e34

(4764)

on April 27, 2011
at 04:48 PM

Yes, I have a huge bibliocybercrush on Sam Harris. *goes to google EP evidence supporting said crush*

Eecc48184707bc26bce631485b5b7e34

(4764)

on April 27, 2011
at 04:45 PM

Stabbs, you can skip Simopoulous. It's the Biosynthesis of Prostaglandins paper distilled into more user friendly vocab. re: 2, 4-6 etc...library! Skip the reviews of Harris' book unless you read his rebuttals as well. It's odd how much seemed to be purposefully taken out of context to give reviewers something to write about. Or maybe I'm just terribly biased b/c Harrris is cognitive scientist, philosopher, evolutionist and atheist making his fitness displays exactly the kind that work for me. And he's so calm when confronted with the likes of Chopra.

03281912f1cb9e4e771a8a83af302e3a

(1204)

on April 27, 2011
at 04:06 AM

I am reading Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond right now, and forgot to put it on the list. It is truly one of the best books I have read. Extremely thought provoking. Can you recommend any physiology/biology books that are dumbed-down enough to keep things well rounded and interesting?

918ecd2369c4e8cd6a2d66846c20137c

(285)

on April 27, 2011
at 03:30 AM

Another great Paleo-ish cookbook is Good Meat: The Complete Guide to Sourcing and Cooking Sustainable Meat by Deborah Krasner

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on April 27, 2011
at 02:33 AM

Nice list is right. 1. Haven't read it, probably don't need it but if you say it's good then others should read it. 2. Need it. 3. Ordered it, haven't received it. 4. Need it. 5. need it. 6. Need it. 7. Currently reading, awesome and perfect so far. 8. Need it. 9. I like Sam Harris and read an article about his book, although I don't remember being too impressed. But I might read it if I find it cheap. 10. Read it, awesome of course. 11. Need it ++++

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25482)

on April 27, 2011
at 01:53 AM

love your choices and have read them all. They just added fuel to my fire. Now I am on to biologic processes that eliminate them as factors in my life and those i take of.

D8195c5ae6c967027a3133d74969d0e1

(543)

on April 27, 2011
at 12:08 AM

You guys are amazing - a wealth of inventory - another lead - and another blog that I'll have to follow - ugh -

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on April 27, 2011
at 12:04 AM

Another great list! I've reserved some of these at the library already :-)

D8195c5ae6c967027a3133d74969d0e1

(543)

on April 26, 2011
at 11:54 PM

this is a great list - most is new to me - but I'm curious about evolutionary psychiatry - and really like Hitchens - I've probably out-grown some of these! Thanks for both the topic and the answer!

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on April 26, 2011
at 11:50 PM

Thanks - downloaded it and I'll read it soon

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on April 26, 2011
at 10:04 PM

The Skinny Bitch book put about 15 pounds on my body.

Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 26, 2011
at 09:23 PM

found the free pdf here, btw: http://www.aupress.ca/books/120137/ebook/99Z_Brink_2008-Imagining_Head_Smashed_In.pdf

Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 26, 2011
at 09:23 PM

just downloaded the free pdf, looks like a great read! thanks!

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on April 26, 2011
at 09:04 PM

I've read a lot of 'On Food and Cooking' - it's incredible

Medium avatar

(5639)

on April 26, 2011
at 08:44 PM

not only that, the book is all about sugar, and not changing but finding acceptable substitutes.

Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 26, 2011
at 08:40 PM

i've worked at some pretty great restaurants in Chicago but as front of the house. i love to cook, but even more than that i love to eat really well. you learn a lot working at good places with talented people.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on April 26, 2011
at 08:39 PM

She's not the enemy just because she's vegan. She's the enemy because she encourages women to be skinny and weak.

1fc9c11cf23b2f62ac78979de933ad83

(2435)

on April 26, 2011
at 08:32 PM

You sound like a culinary student!

Bad3a78e228c67a7513c28f17c36b3cf

(1387)

on April 26, 2011
at 08:30 PM

have to check these out!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 26, 2011
at 08:29 PM

Excellent list Tartare!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 26, 2011
at 08:23 PM

The Evolutionary Psychology school (i.e Buss et al) seems to be more influenced by Ayn Rand than knowledge of Hunter-Gather societies. Here, I suggest you start by reading this essay by Marshall Sahlins: http://www.utopie.it/documenti/documenti_esd/Sahlins.pdf

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on April 26, 2011
at 08:16 PM

Wow - quite a list! And I don't think I've ready *any* of these! I have read a fair amount of Dawkins, but not that particular one

Medium avatar

(5639)

on April 26, 2011
at 08:15 PM

Uhhh...she's vegan (i.e. The Enemy), and her advice is crap. Maybe you should do a little more research. http://www.hunter-gatherer.com/blog/skinny-bitch-top-highlighted-passages-kindle

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9 Answers

10
Eecc48184707bc26bce631485b5b7e34

on April 26, 2011
at 08:06 PM

The Omega Diet by Artemis Simopoulous http://www.amazon.com/Omega-Diet-Lifesaving-Nutritional-Program/dp/0060930233/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_1

It's an excellent fatty acid primer even if her dietary recommendations fall short. Really really good book.

And so much more. Evolutionary psychology and evolutionary biology are continually and most powerfully reminding us of how important it is to understand and work with our biology....paleo to the core.

Evolution of Desire - David Buss http://www.amazon.com/Evolution-Desire-Revised-4/dp/046500802X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1303847942&sr=8-1

The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature- Matt Ridley http://www.amazon.com/Red-Queen-Evolution-Human-Nature/dp/0060556579/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1303847973&sr=8-8

The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature-Geoffrey F. Miller http://www.amazon.com/Mating-Mind-Sexual-Choice-Evolution/dp/038549517X/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&qid=1303847973&sr=8-12

The Evolution of Personality and Individual Differences - David Buss et al http://www.amazon.com/Evolution-Personality-Individual-Differences/dp/0195372093/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1303847973&sr=8-6

Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior by Geoffrey Miller http://www.amazon.com/Spent-Sex-Evolution-Consumer-Behavior/dp/B002ZNJWHW/ref=pd_sim_b_3

The Moral Animal: Why We Are, the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology http://www.amazon.com/Moral-Animal-Science-Evolutionary-Psychology/dp/0679763996/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1303847869&sr=8-1

The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation http://www.amazon.com/Origins-Virtue-Instincts-Evolution-Cooperation/dp/0140264450/ref=pd_sim_b_8

The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values by Sam Harris http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=sam+harris&x=0&y=0

The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins http://www.amazon.com/Greatest-Show-Earth-Evidence-Evolution/dp/1416594795/ref=pd_sim_b_4

God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens http://www.amazon.com/God-Not-Great-Religion-Everything/dp/0446697966/ref=pd_sim_b_6

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on April 27, 2011
at 02:33 AM

Nice list is right. 1. Haven't read it, probably don't need it but if you say it's good then others should read it. 2. Need it. 3. Ordered it, haven't received it. 4. Need it. 5. need it. 6. Need it. 7. Currently reading, awesome and perfect so far. 8. Need it. 9. I like Sam Harris and read an article about his book, although I don't remember being too impressed. But I might read it if I find it cheap. 10. Read it, awesome of course. 11. Need it ++++

D8195c5ae6c967027a3133d74969d0e1

(543)

on April 26, 2011
at 11:54 PM

this is a great list - most is new to me - but I'm curious about evolutionary psychiatry - and really like Hitchens - I've probably out-grown some of these! Thanks for both the topic and the answer!

Eecc48184707bc26bce631485b5b7e34

(4764)

on April 27, 2011
at 04:48 PM

Yes, I have a huge bibliocybercrush on Sam Harris. *goes to google EP evidence supporting said crush*

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on April 26, 2011
at 08:16 PM

Wow - quite a list! And I don't think I've ready *any* of these! I have read a fair amount of Dawkins, but not that particular one

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 26, 2011
at 08:23 PM

The Evolutionary Psychology school (i.e Buss et al) seems to be more influenced by Ayn Rand than knowledge of Hunter-Gather societies. Here, I suggest you start by reading this essay by Marshall Sahlins: http://www.utopie.it/documenti/documenti_esd/Sahlins.pdf

Eecc48184707bc26bce631485b5b7e34

(4764)

on April 27, 2011
at 04:45 PM

Stabbs, you can skip Simopoulous. It's the Biosynthesis of Prostaglandins paper distilled into more user friendly vocab. re: 2, 4-6 etc...library! Skip the reviews of Harris' book unless you read his rebuttals as well. It's odd how much seemed to be purposefully taken out of context to give reviewers something to write about. Or maybe I'm just terribly biased b/c Harrris is cognitive scientist, philosopher, evolutionist and atheist making his fitness displays exactly the kind that work for me. And he's so calm when confronted with the likes of Chopra.

Eecc48184707bc26bce631485b5b7e34

(4764)

on April 27, 2011
at 04:56 PM

Hey Thomas, EP is not influenced by Rand but rather Rand and EP are both influenced by Darwin.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on April 27, 2011
at 06:09 PM

Ah yeah that would be a good idea. I did actually read an article by Harris addressing his critics. Any time science tries to step into the land of ethics or human psychology immediately you get dozens of wackos with a messy polemic.

5
Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 26, 2011
at 08:22 PM

My current cookbook picks would look something like this:

-"Meat" by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (HF-W just rocks my world in general and his Escape to River Cottage series, from the UK but i watched the first few seasons on Amazon, is really delightful and entertaining)

-"Charcuterie" by Brian Polcyn and Michael Ruhlman. A master class in making pates, sausage and other cured meats.

-"The Whole Beast, nose to tail eating" by Fergus Henderson. A cult classic. Offal!

-"On Food and Cooking" by Harold McGee. Information on the science behind cooking.

-"Cured" by Lindy Wildsmith nicely illustrated book on basic techniques for preserving meats, fish, veggies, etc (I've been making my own gravlax and want to try some more of the recipes here)

-"Herbs and Spices" by Jill Norman mmm, a reference guide to herbs and spices, good combinations and recommended uses. Herbs and spices are a cook's BFFs.

"la Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange" - the book that got Julia Child cooking, an old tome covering everything on French Home Cooking, written by a woman with lots of strong opinions back in the day.

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on April 26, 2011
at 09:04 PM

I've read a lot of 'On Food and Cooking' - it's incredible

918ecd2369c4e8cd6a2d66846c20137c

(285)

on April 27, 2011
at 03:30 AM

Another great Paleo-ish cookbook is Good Meat: The Complete Guide to Sourcing and Cooking Sustainable Meat by Deborah Krasner

Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 26, 2011
at 08:40 PM

i've worked at some pretty great restaurants in Chicago but as front of the house. i love to cook, but even more than that i love to eat really well. you learn a lot working at good places with talented people.

1fc9c11cf23b2f62ac78979de933ad83

(2435)

on April 26, 2011
at 08:32 PM

You sound like a culinary student!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 26, 2011
at 08:29 PM

Excellent list Tartare!

Bad3a78e228c67a7513c28f17c36b3cf

(1387)

on April 26, 2011
at 08:30 PM

have to check these out!

4
03281912f1cb9e4e771a8a83af302e3a

(1204)

on April 26, 2011
at 09:52 PM

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan was the second book after GCBC that really got me thinking about nutrition, and how broken the American Food Culture is. Later on both The Botany of Desire and In Defense of Food by te same author really put an exclamation point on the points made in Omnivore's even though written before and after, respectively.

Nina Planck's Real Food was a great read full of supplemental info as well.

For the non-food books, I would have to say Endurance by Alfred Lansing about Sir Earnest Shackleton's doomed expedition to the Antarctic as well as PT 109 by Robert J. Donovan about John F Kennedy in WWII were very influential in terms of survival and how things could be soooo much worse than they are. These are both very inspirational.

Born To Run by Christopher McDougall is a fascinating read and chock full of tasty bits of physiology, evolutionary theory, and anthropology. The story is compelling enough to keep you interested in the characters, and just nerdy enough to make me seek out more information. It also helped to get back on my feet and running again. I think I bought my minimalist shoes the second day after finishing it.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25482)

on April 27, 2011
at 01:53 AM

love your choices and have read them all. They just added fuel to my fire. Now I am on to biologic processes that eliminate them as factors in my life and those i take of.

03281912f1cb9e4e771a8a83af302e3a

(1204)

on April 27, 2011
at 04:06 AM

I am reading Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond right now, and forgot to put it on the list. It is truly one of the best books I have read. Extremely thought provoking. Can you recommend any physiology/biology books that are dumbed-down enough to keep things well rounded and interesting?

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on April 29, 2011
at 06:31 PM

If I hadn't thinking mostly about food books, I might have put Guns, Germs and Steel in my original list. It's fantastic - and a little scary too (I'm hesitant to read Collapse for that reason). And that reminds of one of my very first 'life changing' books: The Unsettling of America by Wendell Berry. This is where I first opened my eyes to the relationship between culture, agriculture, society, farms, compost, economics - it's a real eye-opener. Perhaps a little out-dated now and perhaps doesn't contain much new for this crowd, but it's one of my 'top 10 in my life' books.

3
03f5a69fde4012b827ebdb6d93b71e7a

on April 26, 2011
at 11:00 PM

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on April 27, 2011
at 12:04 AM

Another great list! I've reserved some of these at the library already :-)

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 28, 2011
at 04:50 AM

I'm reading "cheap" right now and also struggling through the dense "good calories/bad calories" but I think "the vegetarian Myth" is up there with "omnivores dilemma" great list.

3
0d2dec01a5ed9363a9915e111ae13f7e

on April 26, 2011
at 08:56 PM

http://www.archevore.com/panu-weblog/2011/4/4/imagining-head-smashed-in.html

Imagining Head Smashed In a great scholarly work on Blackfoot N.American Native tribes' harvesting and processing of bison fat! Available as a free PDF.

Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 26, 2011
at 09:23 PM

just downloaded the free pdf, looks like a great read! thanks!

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on April 26, 2011
at 11:50 PM

Thanks - downloaded it and I'll read it soon

D8195c5ae6c967027a3133d74969d0e1

(543)

on April 27, 2011
at 12:08 AM

You guys are amazing - a wealth of inventory - another lead - and another blog that I'll have to follow - ugh -

Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 26, 2011
at 09:23 PM

found the free pdf here, btw: http://www.aupress.ca/books/120137/ebook/99Z_Brink_2008-Imagining_Head_Smashed_In.pdf

1
Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25482)

on April 27, 2011
at 01:51 AM

1.Power Sex and Suicide by Nick Lane

2.Telomeres edited by Titia de Lange, V. Lundbald and E. Blackburn Cold Spring Harbor Press

My current reading is all about aging and telomeres because all things filter via these paths.

1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 26, 2011
at 08:28 PM

How about these: "Stone Age Economics" and "Sex At Dawn"

0
Db4ad76f6f307a6f577e175710049172

on April 27, 2011
at 02:21 AM

I found Ishmael by Daniel Quinn to fit into paleo philosophy well, or at least my variant. It's more of a look at the agrarian civilization that we belong to, and how it will likely fail. The same kind of thought can be/is applied to the agricultural system, that the conventional system is inherently flawed, and another system needs to take it's place.

EDIT: I forgot to mention that Quinn references hunter-gatherer and pastoral cultures to make comparisons with Western Civilization.

-6
3ae60935f7d6c1578f8d8b738c70451f

on April 26, 2011
at 07:58 PM

skinny b*tch is a great book... they are vegetarians( anti paleo lol) but have a ton of great info about ways to get you vitamins and stuff from foods.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on April 26, 2011
at 08:39 PM

She's not the enemy just because she's vegan. She's the enemy because she encourages women to be skinny and weak.

Medium avatar

(5639)

on April 26, 2011
at 08:44 PM

not only that, the book is all about sugar, and not changing but finding acceptable substitutes.

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on April 26, 2011
at 10:04 PM

The Skinny Bitch book put about 15 pounds on my body.

Medium avatar

(5639)

on April 26, 2011
at 08:15 PM

Uhhh...she's vegan (i.e. The Enemy), and her advice is crap. Maybe you should do a little more research. http://www.hunter-gatherer.com/blog/skinny-bitch-top-highlighted-passages-kindle

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