What I’m Reading: The Future of Performance, How to Change the World, and “Imaginary Time”

I’m always fascinated to learn what other people are reading – especially those people I admire.

When Tim Ferriss shares his latest book club recommendation, I listen.

If Ramit recommends his favorite psychology books, I’m going to buy one of those titles.

When my daughter demands I read Everyone Poops for the 7th time, you can bet your next race registration fee that I’ll be reading more about poop.

Today I’m going to share the three must-have books that I’m reading right now.

Most of them aren’t about running – can you believe that I have interests outside of training theory and periodization models?! – but all of them are fascinating books that will change how you view the world.

If you only read about running, check out my extensive list of recommended running books. Or you can see what was on my bookshelf last year here.

Faster, Higher, Stronger

Faster Higher StrongerI first mentioned this book in episode 4 of Q&A with Coach. I still haven’t finished it (I have a bad habit of reading 3+ books at once) but it’s awesome.

Faster, Higher, Stronger: How Sports Science is Creating a New Generation of Superathletes – And What We Can Learn From Them by Matt McClusky wins the award for longest sub-title. But also for the cool factor.

From the inside flap:

“Examining the ever-evolving intersection of sports, science, and technology, McClusky explores:

  • Tricks for the brain to help the body fight fatigue
  • Nutritional hacks that fuel athletes
  • The huge impact data can have on training
  • Smart ways to  speed up learning a new skill
  • The competitive benefits of being a late bloomer

Brimming with cutting-edge science and gripping anecdotes, Faster, Higher, Stronger is a fascinating, exhilerating look at how far we can push the boundaries of our bodies and minds.”

Awesome, right?

What I’m particularly interested in is the chapter on recovery. Few runners realize that recovery is just as important as training and there are countless insights in that chapter alone that could change your training.

For example, did you know that one-off efforts and high intensity efforts are negatively impacted by lack of sleep (obviously), but sustained efforts and aerobic work seem to suffer an even larger setback?

So, your CrossFit buddy who has a 20-minute WOD might razz you for needing your beauty sleep before a long run, but there’s a physiological reason why you need more sleep than he does.

Check out the book on Amazon here.

Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth, and Impact the World

BoldSometimes, I buy a book simply because the author is someone I need to learn about.

In the case of Bold, co-author Peter Diamandis is like a modern-day Benjamin Franklin:

  • After getting degrees in molecular genetics and aerospace engineering from MIT, he got his MD from Harvard Medical School
  • A NYT-bestselling author, he’s the founder of more than 15 high-tech companies
  • He’s the executive chairman of the Singularity University (goal: to solve humanity’s biggest problems)
  • Founder of Planetary Resources, Inc., which hopes to mine asteroids for mineral resources
  • Cofounder of Human Longevity, Inc., which hopes to extend average human lifespan by 30 years

If someone with that type of resume writes a book about how to change the world, I’m going to buy it in a second.

And I did.

Diamandis’ coauthor is also no slouch. Steven Kotler is a NYT-bestselling author and director of research at the Flow Genome Project. His work has been translated into 35 languages and his articles have appeared in over 70 publications.

The opening chapters are stunning, exploring how exponential technologies like 3-D printing, artificial intelligence, and synthetic biology can combine with “moonshot thinking” to impact the lives of billions around the world.

If you’re interested in thinking at scale, science fiction-like technology, and the power of crowdfunding, then Bold is a must-read.

A Brief History of Time

A Brief History of TimeI’m a space geek.

I devoured Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey with Neil deGrasse Tyson. I’m fascinated by the Fermi Paradox. And in college, I bought a book about string theory.

So it’s no surprise that I’m reading Stephen Hawking’s classic book A Brief History of Time

Where else can you nerd out on the fate of the universe? Or the difference between “real time” and “imaginary time?”

Or my favorite mind-bender: is there a boundary to the universe or is it unending?

My brain hurts just thinking about it.

If learning about black holes and the possibility that time didn’t even exist before the Big Bang gets you riled up, you have to read A Brief History of Time. 

See more details here.

What’s On Your Reading List?

These are just a few of the books in my “to read” pile. You’ll also see:

Now it’s your turn – what’s on YOUR reading list?

Leave a comment below telling the SR community what you’re reading. If you’re like me, you love book recommendations, so this should be fun.

Thanks and enjoy!

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  1. chip gorman says:

    Reading “Leadership and Self Deception” and “Washington’s Secret Six:The Spy Ring that Saved The American Revolution”

  2. Currently I am reading, What Keeps You Up At Night, How to Find Peace While Chasing Your Dreams By Pete Wilson. I am only 2 or 3 chapters in but this is a great and insightful guide to overcoming the things keep us from achieving our dreams and potential!

  3. Shelley says:

    Manhunt: The 12 day chase for Lincoln’s killer by James L Seanson. Very exciting and reads like a novel.

  4. i just finished reading “4:09:43” by Hal Higdon and am just about all the way through “Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning”. after that i’m back to “The Intent To Live” by larry moss.

  5. Christie says:

    The #1 New York Times bestseller, Your Best Life Now by Joel Osteen , focuses on the common dreams many of us have for ourselves: dreams to make our lives even better. What I love is the message he delivers in the power of our every day thoughts and how we can change the direction of our lives by our perspective in situations. These principles can be applied to any facet of our lives. He does reference the Bible with a very sincere, non- judgmental and realistic voice to any who want to read.

  6. Shelley says:

    Jason you would also like Time Traveler: A Scientist’s Personal Mission to Make Time Travel a Reality. It is written by a professor at UCONN. Ronald Mallett. It is his personal story. Very good and the theory is explained very well.

  7. Helena says:

    Right now I’m reading a fascinating book called A Guide to Better Movement, by Todd Hargrove. It combines the science of biomechanics and movement with the neural side of things, which a lot of resources often neglect. I picked up the book originally to learn insights into pain and how it relates to physical performance. It’s truly a gem.

  8. Lauren says:

    The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss. His writing style is entertaining and the premise is unique. Plus he went to great lengths to interview fitness experts with all kinds of specialties. It’s like a big bible of fitness.

    Also, Chris McDougall’s new book Natural Born Heroes. Chris is a great storyteller too and I’m really enjoying this book. His Born to Run was also amazing.

  9. I love book recommendations! Thanks for these; Faster, Stronger, Higher sounds right up my ally. I just finished The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying. It was fabulous and believe it or not, I think it can help our running 🙂

  10. Reading Life after War: The Survivors by Angela White

  11. Great post Jason. I’m reading ‘Flash Boys’ these days! Getting to know about high frequency trading in stock markets!!

  12. I’m almost done with Meb’s new book, Meb for Mortals. Biggest training takeaway so far is his use of a 9-day cycle rather than a 7 day cycle–basically hard day-2 “easy” days, etc. Interesting to hear the variety of issues he deals with–in such a modest way–during racing and training. Also impressed with how aware he seems to be of real-world issues for “mortals”–family time, early morning rush, etc.

  13. Andrew hyland says:

    Running with the Kenyans

  14. A terrific book all about excellence and where it can be found. Highly recommended.


  15. Craig Todd says:

    I highly recommend “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson. The gist of the book is that the key to success in any endeavor is to choose to do the little things that are just as easy to choose not to do. I rarely make bold statements like this, but this book has the potential to change your whole outlook on life and your goals.

    – Craig Todd

  16. Jamie Theriault says:

    Faster, Higher, Stronger and The Sports Gene are on the top of my list, however, i just started Meb for Mortals. I would also highly recommend Quick Strength for Runners and Anatomy for Runners. I read those last year as I began PT for the first time for an inactive glute muscle. A lot of what I learned reiterated stuff I’ve found on this website too! 😉

  17. I just read Born to Run by Chris McDougall. An excellent book that has a variety of science, story and of course, running. Definetly recommend it to all runners

  18. Ben McKinley says:

    Hey Jason, just finished reading ‘Born to Run’ again, but no need to recommend that to your readers I’m sure! Another great one: ‘The Rider’ by Tim Krabbe, even if you’re not into cycling, the racer in you will love it. And for the space nerds (I’m an astrophysicist by trade) can’t go past the classic: ‘Cosmos’ by Carl Sagan

  19. Michelle says:

    I’m reading Spartan Up! by Joe De Sena, founder of Spartan Race. The Spartan Race seems like a hardcore challenge and it does have elite athletes – but the main premise is to get comfortable being uncomfortable. If you go through unpleasant experiences every day (burpees, anyone?), the rest of your work will seem much more bearable in comparison. This book is really a mix of basic fitness info, lifestyle and mindset tips, and random but useful thoughts. I really like it!

  20. Jennifer Hoffman says:

    I am a teacher and I like to read what my students read . I am attempting to read all the Newberry Medal books. I just finished “A Wrinkle in Time”. Such a great time travel story for going kids. There is something so pure and genuine about children’s literature. Thanks for the great recommendations by the way.

  21. Rony Vega says:

    I’m reading “Born to Run” by Christopher Mcdougall… It’s a very inspiring book, and my next one in the line “Meb for Mortals” by the great Meb Keflezighi! Also reading ARE study guide in preparation for my A.R.E. exams.

  22. Louis coyne says:

    Hi Jason, another good post, keep ’em coming. Like you I generally have a couple of books on the go. At the moment reading the chimp paradox, a sport psychology text book I got off eBay, racing weight and 80/20 running from Matt Fitzgerald. Hoping to knock out a significant pb in an autumn marathon so devouring all the info now to make my training as dialled in as possible. Your work is helping a great deal also.

  23. I’ve got three books I’m reading now, too:
    -Natural Born Heroes by Christopher McDougall. Born to Run changed my life, and I got to meet him on Marathon Monday – big Chris McDougall fan. Great book so far (50 pages in) which explores what makes heroes.

    -Salt, Sugar & Fat by Michael Moss about how the food industry has pushed our food supply to a very dangerous place, and what you can do about it for your own health.

    -The Plantpower Way by Rich Roll & Julie Piatt. Vegan recipe and lifestyle book from this amazing couple. I’m a big fan and follower of Rich, and became vegan after reading Beyond Ultra (his biography – fantastic book). The photography in this book is amazing, the guidance – and reasoning behind the guidance – is so useful, and the food ideas are great.

  24. I’m halfway through “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin and am recommending it to everyone I know, and now also folks I don’t know! It’s a memoir-style book about her year-long project to act and be more happy everyday. Really great!

  25. Great looking books always on the look out for gold mines of knowledge these books look just like the kind of mines I dig. Ps couple of books I think you should check out.
    Way of the seal by mark Devine
    Sam Walton made in America
    Inheiritance by Dr Sharon moalem
    How to get out of your own way by tyresse Gibson and last but not least the happiness hypothesis. Colud list 109000000 more books but these should keep you on the edge of your prefrontal cortex for a few weeks thanks for all that you do with your site helping runners run better helping people live better I’m truly thankful for what you do.
    Jason (woods)

  26. I am just finishing The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins (really interesting read, I highly suggest it!), next up is Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, then back to running/training books after that. Thanks for the recommendations, these books look awesome.

    One of the best books I have ever read was My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor. It is a quick read, but incredible insight into your brain and the inner peace few of us tap into. I would recommend this book to anyone.

    Also, I am glad to learn there are other exercise/space/finance geeks out there.

  27. So I’m wondering – who won the book?