- Bernstein, Richard K. Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution. Bernstein is a “recovered” diabetic and an engineer-turned-physician who pioneered self-monitoring of blood glucose and soon learned that the standard ADA dietary device was mistaken.While nominally directed to diabetics, his book presents one of the most cogent cases I’ve seen for how anyone can reverse insulin resistance, normalize blood sugar, and improve their health using low carbohydrate diet and strenuous exercise. He provides a great explanation of how exercise improves insulin sensitivity, why anaerobic weight-bearing exercise is superior to aerobics, and why the “inverted pyramid system” is the most efficient way to do weight training.
- Bethell, Tom. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science. Chapters 3 and 4 provide a good overview of hormesis and its controversial challenge to the LNT (Linear No-Threshold) view of toxicology. The discussion covers of hormetic effects of natural and man-made radiation, and chemical toxins such as dioxin, PCBs, mercury and — yes, alcohol.
- Daniels, Aubrey. Other People’s Habits: How to use Positive Reinforcement to Bring Out the Best in People Around You. One of the clearest and most practical explanations of the science of behaviorism, especially what makes reinforcement fail or succeed. Many people think they know how to use positive reinforcement, but Daniels points out the pitfalls and common mistakes people make in this regard.
- Doidge, Norman. The Brain that Changes Itself. A remarkable compilation of case studies which illustrate the revolution in neuroplasticity, demonstrating how the brain can be trained to overcome handicaps involving motor function, balance, intelligence and even psychiatric disorders.
- Irvine, William B., A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy. A clear exposition of what the Stoics taught and how their teachings can be usefully adapted to overcoming adversity in modern life.
- Leonard, George. Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment. This is a very succinct classic work applying the lessons of the martial arts to sustaining success and overcoming plateaus in any personal or organizational endeavor. Contrary to the advice of many to focus on goals, Leonard shows that too narrow a focus on goals can hurt motivation and decrease fulfillment. This book is discussed on this pageof the blog.
- Loehr, James E., Stress for Success: The Proven Program for Transforming Stress into Positive Energy at Work; and Loehr, Jim and Schwartz, Tony, The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal. Loehr coached elite athletes for years and developed a methodology of high intensity interval training, interspersed with rest and recovery to avoid overtraining and burnout. In these books, the authors apply this framework to the mastering the challenges of everyday living faced by the “corporate athlete”.
- Pavlov, Ivan P. Conditioned Reflexes. This work compiles Pavlov’s 1924 lectures on his classic studies of conditioned responses of digestion in dogs. His experiments are brilliantly designed and his lectures reveal much more interesting detail than is found in short popular summaries. On every page there are ideas that we could all put to use in modifying our own psychology. It is amazing to me that the fields of weight loss and self-help have almost totally overlooked this book, which after all is about the psychology of digestion!
- Pryor, Karen. Don’t Shoot the Dog: The New Art of Teaching and Training. One of the clearest, most practical discussions of how to use reinforcement to shape behavior. Despite the humorous title, and Pryor’s background as an animal behaviorist, most of this entertaining book is about changing human behavior — that of others and yourself. Chapter 4 on “Untraining: Using Reinforcement to Get Rid of Behavior You Don’t Want” is an excellent overview of extinction, counter-conditioning and related techniques for deconditioning.
- Reinert, Erik S. How Rich Countries Got Rich…and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor. A close look at economic history reveals that the powerhouses of Renaissance Italy, nineteenth century America, and post-WWII Korea embraced protectionism before they opened up to free trade, providing an argument for economic strength by graduated exposure to competition.
- Taubes, Gary. Good Calories, Bad Calories. In this brilliant re-appraisal of the scientific consensus on the role of diet in cardiovascular health and obesity, Taubes highlights the central role that hormones — most importantly insulin — play in weight control. In the last chapter of the book on “Hunger and Satiety”, Taubes shows that hunger and appetite are largely under the control of insulin. This is a good basis for the Deconditioning Diet, in which insulin levels can be effectively controlled not just by what you eat, but by learning how to dampen your initial insulin response to hunger cravings.
- Velasquez-Manoff, Moises. An Epidemic of Absence: A New Way of Understanding Allergies and Autoimmune Diseases. An illuminating re-conceptualization of the nature evolution of asthma, allergies and autoimmune diseases. Humans and other mammals co-evolved in close association with gut microflora, viruses and parasites. In the course of time, these organisms have come to play an essential role in moderating the inflammatory side of our immune systems. The author marshals powerful evidence to show how advances in sanitation and urban living have deprived us of these microbial services, leading to an explosion of allergic and autoimmune disease.