Kim's Top 10 Wild Books of 2023

Hey League!

It’s time again for my now-annual, year-end wild book review! 

#10 Nourishing Diets : How Paleo, Ancestral, and Traditional People Really Ate by Sally Fallon Morell
I always hesitate to include nutrition-focused books. How we eat is wrapped up in our cultures, families, morals, and our biochemical individuality which means we’ll never agree on what is best because what that looks like varies. But I’m including this one because of the detail about the diets of indigenous groups on each continent, which I found fascinating and valuable.

Fire quote: “Reading the descriptions of the varied and unusual foods that comprised a healthy traditional diet I felt a profound sense of sadness for what we have lost. Even the most “foodie” of us…live in a food desert compared to the incredible diversity afforded to traditional people.” 

#9 Why Fish Don’t Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life by Lulu Miller

On the surface, this is a true story about a scientist who classified many new species of fish, but lost his data in a tragedy and had to start over. But really, it is a book about perseverance and finding order in chaos with a surprisingly fascinating revelation about fish. You might not be interested in fish, but I promise it will be thought-provoking and have you wondering about everything you've learned about how we classify life. 

Fire quote: “Enjoy the journey. Savor the small things. The “luscious” taste of a peach, the “lavish” colors of tropical fish, the rush from exercise that allows one to experience “the stern joy which warriors feel.”

Those last six words! Do you not feel like a Spartan warrior when you finish a solid workout? I do, it’s part of what keeps me going back. 

#8 Walking by Henry David Thoreau
This is an essay about the thoughts Thoreau had during his many long walks. He used walking as a way to process thoughts, release the tensions of life, and be in nature. 

Fire quote: “In short, all good things are wild and free.”

#7 The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light by Paul Bogard
Billions of people live in areas where they never see true darkness. What impact does that have on us? What impact does it have on the world around us? This book tackles the subject.

Fire quote: “What do we lose when we are so afraid of darkness that we never experience its beauty or understand its value for our world?”

#6 Original Wisdom: Stories of an Ancient Way of Knowing by Robert Wolff
The author is a psychologist who spent years living with indigenous people in Malaysia. His insights into where we come from and where we are going make for a wonderful story full of connectedness to true wildness. 

Fire quote: “Our society thinks of privacy differently. We have more private physical space than anyone in the history of mankind. Yet we are also more alienated from each other – and the world that nurtures us – than anyone else in history.” 

#5 Rethink Your Position: Reshape Your Exercise, Yoga, and Everyday Movement, One Part at a Time by Katy Bowman
Another winner by Katy! Last year I recommended her “Move Your DNA” book, which really delves into the science of proper human movement. This simplifies things into actions we can do during the day to break up our sedentary lives. This book is broken down into parts of the body with simple movements to improve alignments that you can do almost anywhere with items you have at home. She covers “tech neck” from our heavy phone use, posture issues from too much sitting, walking alignment, and foot health (and everything in between!)

Fire quote: “While individual capacities for movements may be unique, everybody needs movement.” 

#4 and 3 Becoming a Supple Leopard by Dr. Kelly Starrett  and Glen Cardoza and Built to Move by Dr. Kelly Starrett and Julie Starrett

Supple Leopard is an excellent book but it has a lot of information which could be overwhelming for someone who just wants to work on their plantar fasciitis. But if you have an interest in whole-body mechanics and the breakdown of how issues begin and the cascade of problems they can cause in tissues and musculature, this is the book for you! Kelly writes in a manner that is easy to understand even if you do not have a strong anatomy background. My favorite part is that he’s one of few people that discuss the role of an overprotective nervous system when trying to heal painful conditions.

Fire quote: “The human body has an immense capacity to heal itself. At any age, and in nearly any state, the human animal is capable of an incredible amount of tissue repair and remodeling.”

Built to Move, by comparison, allows anyone to make use of the Starrett’s wealth of information about the human body to improve painful tissues and improve mobility. The book has several assessments you can do on a regular basis along with recommended ways to mobilize to improve those assessments. Everything is designed so you can easily do assessments and mobilizations at home

Fire quote: “It’s worth reiterating that you can work out like a fiend for an hour each morning, and healthy as that is for your cardiorespiratory system, it doesn’t mean you can spend the rest of the day sitting in a chair and consider yourself in good health.” 

#2 Scarcity Brain: Fix Your Craving Mindset and Rewire Your Habits to Thrive with Enough by Michael Easter
On the heels of his book “Comfort Crisis” comes another great addition. I love how Easter winds facts with a good story. Scarcity Brain is a book about understanding how our brains view “scarcity” and the impacts it has on our modern lives. Perhaps you want to go out for a casino night with your friends but don’t want to break the bank. Or you want to enjoy the benefits of social media without all the pitfalls. This book can help you understand how your brain receives this information and what it does with it, so that you are going in fully armed to make a conscious choice that works for you, rather than being taken for a ride when your nature is used against you instead. Companies pay big money to hire experts who know our tendency to seek rewards. They know eventually you’ll get frustrated with that level of Candy Crush and spend the $5 to buy items to get passed it. They know you’ll keep pushing the BET button on the slot machine to get back the $10 you just lost. You can short-circuit that cycle by understanding how your brain thinks. 

Fire quote: “Do we overlook subtraction as a way to change things?” 

Our brains are wired to see “bigger, better, more” and to think of “less” as undesirable. Even if we logically know that adding too much isn’t good or might be costly, we are driven to do so. This was probably my favorite section of the book because it’s so true for me. Have a problem? I must need to add something to fix it. A new item, a new perspective, a new strategy. Often we need to clear a path instead by removing something rather than adding more.

#1 Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity by Dr. Peter Attia
I hesitated on picking this one up. Mostly because I’ve read so many similar books I wasn’t sure the info would be anything new. But this is probably my favorite non-fiction book of the year.

I want a balance of a long life that is also a quality life. I’d rather live well than to languish in suffering. Who wouldn’t? Yet often in our current medical model we are striving for quantity rather than quality. That is what this book tackles. Most books that I read take the angle that nutrition is the #1 thing we can do for our health and longevity. Attia takes another tact and says it’s actually exercise that has the most power to determine how you will live the remainder of your life. But he also tackles mental, emotional, cognitive, and physical health. Along with nutrition, hormones, sleep, breathing, and a few other things. The point of the book is to help you become a strategist for the life you want to live down the road, not just today. 

Fire quote: “To be able to climb flights of stairs in your eighties means you should be able to sprint up those stairs today. You need to be doing much more now to armor yourself against the natural and precipitous decline in strength and aerobic capacity that you will undergo as you age.” 

I had never thought of exercise or movement in that way. Of course, I knew that what I do today impacts tomorrow. But I never considered that if I want to do a variety of things when I am 80, I better be doing those things at a higher capacity today and protecting my strength, aerobic capacity, and stability. Yesterday my son had a checkup and we took the stairs for all 5 flights, both up and down. I thought about this quote from the book as we did so. 

Let me know what you’ve been reading! What book(s) made the biggest impact on you this year?

Happy reading, and take the stairs!


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