Reading changed my life. I loved to read as a kid but replaced books with games and other hobbies as I grew older. In my early 20s, however, I slowly became a voracious reader. I owe most of that to fitness, as my reading obsession began with scouring fitness and nutrition blogs and articles. Eventually, that evolved into fitness and nutrition books, and that turned into self-development across all domains.
In 2015, I read a total of 22 books. In 2016, I upped it to 62 books. Below you’ll find, in no particular order, the best of the best for health, fitness, happiness, and even relaxation with the bonus list.
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The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Why we do the things we do and how you can identify your cues, routines, and rewards to modify your habits. The author does a fantastic job of explaining the science and research through real-world stories, making this the best and only book you should read on habits. Buy it here.
The Lean Muscle Diet by Lou Shuler and Alan Aragon
It’s the only diet book on the list for good reason. The methods are sustainable, flexible, effective, and food camp agnostic. Buy it here.
Never Let Go by Dan John
Dan John is one of the best in the business at simplifying training and nutrition. You’ll learn about getting stronger, faster, and leaner. You’ll learn about conditioning for certain sports or general fitness. Basically, you’ll learn everything you need to know for long-term fitness success. Buy it here.
You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero
My most gifted and recommended book of 2016. You’ll feel better, stronger, and more empowered almost immediately. Buy it here.
The One Thing by Gary Keller
Stop focusing on dumb things that don’t move the needle and learn to prioritize what really matters. Buy it here.
Precision Nutrition’s Gourmet Cookbook
Great recipes with your fitness and training in mind. Buy it here.
If You’re an Uber-Training-Nerd
Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy by Brad Schoenfeld
This book is a monster, but you’ll learn everything you need to know (at least for now) about muscle growth and development. You’ll crush other gym bros with your immense knowledge after completing just a quarter of this book. Buy it here.
Can You Go?: Assessments and Program Design for the Active Athlete and Everybody Else by Dan John
As you advance in your own training, you’ll begin to accumulate wear and tear. The point of training, after all, is to create stress to adapt to. This book teaches easy ways to assess yourself before you wreck yourself. If you’re wanting to further your knowledge of the body and strength training progression, this is a must read. Buy it here.
Becoming a Supple Leopard 2nd Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance by Dr. Kelly Starrett
Want to know how to fix any ache or pain while simultaneously becoming mobile, agile, and hostile? This is the book for you. Buy it here.
I’m going to include three fiction books, which have zero to do with health and fitness. Or do they?
As a kid, I loved reading fiction but somewhere along the way lost the fire (read: school) and replaced it with nonfiction. That was until I picked up the first book on this bonus list. I wanted something to take my mind off things and relax at the end of the day. TV shows are great, but I feel guilty sometimes if I’m not moving forward. A book, even fiction, seems to bridge the gap. Since incorporating fiction, I’ve noticed a boost to my mental health and ability to relax. I feel that it helps me put things into perspective and not take everything so seriously. Maybe you’ll experience the same.
Since incorporating fiction, I’ve noticed a boost to my mental health and ability to relax. I feel that it helps me put things into perspective and not take everything so seriously. And oddly enough, fiction seems to cause ideation (or the blending of ideas from nonfiction works) to occur. Hopefully, you’ll experience the same.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
In a futuristic world where everyone spends large portions of their lives in a virtual reality, the death of one of the world’s Steve Jobs-like creators sparks a worldwide challenge to inherit his fortune and company. It’s like the Matrix mixed with a bit of 80s nostalgia and online gaming. You’ll have a lot of fun reading this. Buy it here.
The Name of the Wind
Oh man, where to start with this one. It’s quite possibly one of the best books I’ve ever read. Take that with a grain of salt, as it’s been a while since I’ve taken a deep dive into fiction. Still, this book is a massive tale about a boy and his quest to become a hero and legend, despite all odds. I’ve heard it described as Harry Potter meets Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, but I don’t know if that does it justice. It might sound weird, but this book inspired me to quit my job in management and pursue what I love full time. Buy it here.
The Alchemist by Paula Coelho
A fable about a boy in search of treasure that teaches lessons about overcoming your fears, perseverance, living in the present, self-awareness, and umpteen other valuable life skills. We learn from stories much faster than from reading strategies (nonfiction). This story will stick with you, as will the lessons inside. Buy it here.
“You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it’s better to listen to what it has to say. That way, you’ll never have to fear an unanticipated blow.” – Paula Coelho