Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
28 Mar

6 Books I Am Reading Right Now (plus the Official Release Date of The Primal Connection)

I regularly get emails asking what’s on my bookshelf (or RSS feed). Now and then I like to answer those questions and share a bit of what I’ve been up to. Truth be told, my reading of late has revolved around themes I’m covering in my upcoming book, The Primal Connection. Think along the lines of play, creativity, ancient wisdom, sensory experience, social bonds, hunter-gatherer history, and an inner wild (to name just a few). In other words, it covers the many lifestyle elements that can further connect us with our inherent blueprints – beyond the basics of diet and fitness. The method (as always) examines the incongruence between how we evolved and how we live today. The purpose, of course, is informed choice to help us create healthier, more content, and fulfilled lives in the modern age. I’ll make an official, more detailed announcement in the coming weeks, but I can happily divulge this much today: it will be hitting the shelves September 17th.

Now for a look at some of the books I’ve been reading…

The Two Million-Year-Old Self by Anthony Stevens

Stevens is a Jungian analyst who makes the case for archetypal psychiatry by suggesting we’re more than the sum of our individual experiences – that we come into life with a genetic blueprint and its “‘psycho-biological’” expectations. To confound these expectations, as modern life often does, creates a deeply-reaching “frustration of archetypal intent.” Such is a formidable source of modern discontent and malady, Stevens proposes. He discusses the archetypal significance of ritual and traditional healing relationships as well as the power of our “environment of evolutionary adaptedness.” We find fundamental vitality, he suggests, when we “risk making ourselves vulnerable to the influence of the primordial survivor in our own lives.” Steven’s book is an amazing, if provocative, read that illuminates a distinctive but compelling perspective on mental health.

The Bridge to Humanity: How Affect Hunger Trumps the Selfish Gene by Walter Goldschmidt

We’ve known for some time that the selfish gene model couldn’t fill in the full picture of our evolutionary development. What about the forces of altruism, kin loyalty, compassion, etc.? Goldschmidt goes beyond the usual discussions of kin selection to examine our species’ “biological ontogeny for affect hunger” – our changing but ever-present, lifelong need for social affection and belonging. Affect hunger, he argues, motivated the acquisition of culture and language and fostered a sense of mutuality within early human societies. Using evidence as diverse as ethnography to neurological research, he makes the case for this instinctual demand as it plays out throughout the life cycle and argues that modernity has reshaped its form but not force. In doing so, he takes up questions of social order, status, specialization, and modern depersonalization. It’s definitely a unique anthropological text and an illuminating perspective on social wellness.

Deep Play by Diane Ackerman

Somehow I can’t read enough about play, and this find is definitely at the top of the list. For any Ackerman fans out there, you know her style – deeply confessional, lavishly metaphorical – is reason enough to pick up her books. Her work is always an amazing sensory encounter. (On that note, I’d recommend her A Natural History of the Senses as well.) All this said, Deep Play covers the emotional experience of play like no other. She focuses on more intense, “deep” forms of play, those that brings us to states of ecstasy, reverie, and exhilaration – along the lines of Maslow’s “peak experiences.” She examines deep play within the realms of movement and physicality, creativity, spirituality, and wilderness. In addition to the historical and cultural commentary, she includes many personal examples of her own deep play as well. She’s an incredible writer and truly a woman who’s lived a rich life.

The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World by Wade Davis

As an anthropologist and photographer/writer (he’s currently an Explorer-in-Residence for National Geographic), Davis has spent decades traveling the world and spending time in some of the world’s last, most isolated traditional societies. For anyone interested in the lifestyle (with its remarkable, vanishing knowledge and skills) of our ancient ancestors, this book is an incredible read. Using both his personal and anthropological understanding of these groups, he challenges assumptions about modern progress and the “natural” trajectory of humanity. Within intimately drawn accounts, he illustrates the rich lives and forgotten mastery of several traditional societies across the globe. Compelling, also, is his discussion of the “ethnosphere,” which he defines as “the sum total of all thoughts and intuitions, myths and beliefs, ideas and inspirations brought into being by the human imagination since the dawn of consciousness.” It’s an awe-inspiring concept and a little appreciated legacy, he contends, that we’re rapidly losing as traditional cultures go extinct.

After the Ice: A Global Human History 20,000-5000 BC by Steven Mithen

If you ever thought anthropology was dry as old beef jerky, you’d welcome Mithen’s approach. Using a rich array of the best evidence that exists about this prehistoric era, he spins an amazing – and engaging – narrative of life during this period as it likely looked across all corners of the globe. John Lubbock, Mithen’s fictional device and time traveler narrator, shares his observations of the early cultures he encounters while Mithen weaves additional anthropological theory and detail into the chapters. The result? It’s by far the most appealing and one of the most broadly informative anthropology texts I’ve come across. Mithen gives readers a window into the “day to day” lives of our hunter gatherer and early farming ancestors. He also offers an in-depth explanation of the sporadic transition from foraging to agricultural lifestyles and explains the little appreciated climate and population related factors behind this shift.

Wisdom and the Senses: The Way of Creativity by Joan M. Erikson

It’s generally known that Joan Erikson, a psychologist in her own right, contributed significantly to the work of her husband, the late Erik Erikson, who created the well-known and revolutionary theory on psycho-social development across the life stages. In Wisdom and the Senses, she weaves her own take on the life cycle model. Specifically, she examines creativity through the lens of ontogeny, the epigenetically rooted, “time-specific developmental confrontation[s]” we encounter throughout our life stages. As children and as adults, she argues, we’re subject to a “timed pattern,” or “life sequence” of challenges that creativity can poignantly apprehend and engage. She discusses everything from play to art, possessions to relationships with deep nuance and unique dimension. Our sensory experiences, she says, comprise the base for finding our way through these stages and the questions they present. The senses represent the raw material we use to interpret the world and to create an imaginative, vital life for ourselves.

Thanks for reading today, everyone, and know that I appreciate the personal emails. I’ll have more about the book coming up. In the meantime, I hope this post gives a satisfying early glimpse. The staff and I are excited to be in the home stretch. Let me know your thoughts – and share your own reading suggestions with the Primal community. Have a great week, everybody!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. :)

    Onge wrote on March 28th, 2012
  2. Ok that’s the “be first to post” ticked off.

    Onge wrote on March 28th, 2012
  3. All very interesting sounding books, Mark. Any person of Faith would recognize these as books of “discovery” of the wonders of creation, and the benevolence of our Creator. There is no dissonance between creation, evolution, and discovery – it’s all wonderful and should be celebrated instead of falsely set up as mutually exclusive. Looking forward to your new book too.

    Barbara Hvilivitzky wrote on March 28th, 2012
    • I agree! I don’t understand why evolution = no creation in people’s minds.

      rabbit_trail wrote on March 30th, 2012
      • Yea, that position has always fascinated me as well.

        As for the books, I’ve never heard of any of them but The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World sounds very interesting. I might have to check that one out.

        Mrfuzzybear wrote on March 31st, 2012
      • Simple. If you are a “God” then why have something evolve? Not real smart. Why would an all powerful God that can do anything and knows everything need a day of rest? Why would a God age or look like a white haired old man, according to the Bible? Not much logic in the Bible. So yeah, people logically don’t mix evolution with creation. There is NO proof of creation.

        realisticfacto wrote on April 1st, 2012
      • I agree with you but their reasoning is the literal interpretation of the Bible. The it said the Earth was created in 7 days so millions of years of evolution doesn’t jibe with that.

        Sean wrote on April 13th, 2012
    • Wow. Gotta disagree big time. Keep in mind, Faith only exists where there is NO Evidence. IF there even was a “creator” it certainly was not a very intelligent one. If you can get a piece of food stuck in your wind pipe, that is not intelligent design. I could go on, but this is a health and fitness sight, even though you started it with your ignorant creation comment. If you can prove your claim then you are on your way to vast fame.

      realisticfacto wrote on April 1st, 2012
  4. Hi Mark, all great books. Looking forward to reading After the Ice but off topic, have you ever considered producing a show like “the greatest losers” in paleo form. After listening to Dr McGuff podcast this thought came to me as he is so eloquent in explaining paleo. I think it would be a great vehicle to bring to the masses who don’t quite get it. Just a thought. Keep up the great work you do. Regards

    Jina wrote on March 28th, 2012
    • +1

      Jess wrote on March 28th, 2012
  5. “After The Ice” is on my to-read list now. Any other non-fiction recommendations?

    I recall earlier posts where you mentioned Game of Thrones. I was slow to jump on board… but I can’t get enough of the books now! It’s also one of only a handful of things I will make time to watch on TV.

    Primal Texas wrote on March 28th, 2012
    • comes back this weekend so pumped!

      Jake wrote on March 28th, 2012
  6. I remember when you told us about this upcoming book last year at Primal Con. I was super stoked about it coming out. I remember you saying you had most of it written if I am not mistaken but then started over.

    I LOVE where you are taking your blog. Food, nutrition and fitness is still discussed but diving into these deeper topics that all 6 of these books discuss is extremely intriguing.

    I can’t wait for more updates!

    I’ll be adding all of these books to my wishlist right now. I’m strongly considering buying a kindle so I hope all of these books have kindle versions!

    Primal Toad wrote on March 28th, 2012
    • I agree. I love where this blog is going. The ‘other’ aspects of paleo need a far greater amount of exposure – play, sleep, contemplation.

      Alison Golden wrote on March 28th, 2012
      • I agree, too. For me, getting enough sleep and movement have been much more difficult than eating better. The posts of the last few weeks have really prodded me to pay more attention to these areas of my life and to how I feel when I DO get a good nights sleep vs. the rest of the week. Who knew I could be so cheerful!?

        Meesha wrote on March 28th, 2012
        • The sleep/play/contemplate aspect of living may be super important, but writing about it seems like a difficult task.

          Tweaking diet is like playing Oregon Trail…you can continuously gather rations and track losses. Tweaking the less-trackable aspects of life is tougher. The Zen approach to achieving realizations involves koans, simplicity, and discipline. Will Mark delve into the more mysterious ways to change lifestyle?

          Kamal Patel wrote on March 28th, 2012
  7. This will be an important book. There is much more to “primal living” then just food and movement. Its what Terence Mckenna called “the archaic revival”. As the culture becomes sicker and sicker it will look back to the past for answers. There are far reaching implications for restructuring the institutions and political systems which stifle creativity, humanity , and health.

    Ian wrote on March 28th, 2012
  8. super excited for the primal connection

    Jake wrote on March 28th, 2012
  9. I really want to read “The Bridge to Humanity,” but every time I look at it all I see is the Papyrus typeface on the cover and then I wake up hours later with a tension headache.

    I.C. wrote on March 28th, 2012
    • Papyrus is to printed books what Comic Sans is to websites 😛

      Elizabeth wrote on March 28th, 2012
  10. This is a great topic for Mark. I don’t think there are very many people who could break this stuff down into digestible relevant pieces and make it applicable but if anyone can do it, Mark can.I have never been able to shake the hollowness of my own existence.

    Grokitmus Primal wrote on March 28th, 2012
  11. How do you get time to read all these books, write a book and write daily posts? I have enough trouble just keeping up with reading this blog.

    Mike wrote on March 28th, 2012
  12. Can’t wait for the book, Mark. I used to only read this blog casually but have been a daily observer lately. Good stuff here, and kudos for the community and movement you have developed.

    Daniel Wallen wrote on March 28th, 2012
  13. I think I am going to add The Wayfinders and After the Ice to my April reading list.

    Gary Deagle wrote on March 28th, 2012
  14. what? Not a single airport thriller or celebrity bio or script? Don’t you live in Malibu?

    fitmom wrote on March 28th, 2012
  15. Hi Mark Great List of books , but what about some Jack Reacher for the chill out monents :-)

    vince wrote on March 28th, 2012
  16. Nice book selection. Plan to read all of them.

    New to board. Have you ever discussed

    1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created
    Charles C. Mann

    Discusses all the most recent archealogical finds concerning pre Columbian North American cultures.

    Doug wrote on March 28th, 2012
    • & 1492 is good too

      dmunro wrote on March 30th, 2012
  17. Can’t want for the book… seriously send me a rough draft.

    ZMC wrote on March 28th, 2012
  18. Intresting, I’m sure I’ll pick up atleast one of these books!

    But one thing.. I’ve heard so much about how importnant survival was for humanity and it makes sense that this has evolved a thinking that one should take care of themselves first.
    Im suffering with Borderline Personality Disorder and when I was searching around I once saw a comment asking if the “positive” traits that can come with borderline personality is somehow an evolvement from the brutal cold survival insticts of the past.
    I did not really think more about that but I read about being an “emophane personality” which is common with BPD, and Im definelty like that. My point is, could this be in some extent true?

    Though BPD comes with alot of very awful stuff… I dont feel very fit for survival or like a good example of a human being!

    888erkan wrote on March 28th, 2012
    • Don’t let psychology ruin your life, especially not evo-psych. The whole field is about 10 percent guesswork and 90 percent imagination, and EP is more like 1/99.

      You might find better comfort in talking to a clergy, or parent, or someone who views you as more than just a bunch of matter-in-motion.

      Because you certainly are, and you’re loved, and that’s more crucial than feeling “fit for survival.” You ain’t dead yet, are you?

      Bennett wrote on March 28th, 2012
      • Thank you for those words. You are a very warm human.

        But I did not mean to put myself down, just so you know.

        888erkan wrote on March 29th, 2012
  19. It’s always nice to see someone else noting what Gould did a long time ago–The Selfish Gene just doesn’t adequately cover the evidence, or the human experience. Then again, it was a “young man’s book”, as some mentor of his put it.

    Someone marked once that it’s amusing to watch great men of science climb the mountain of ignorance until they reach the summit of knowledge–only to find a monastery already built there.

    Bennett wrote on March 28th, 2012
  20. Very nice list Mark. Congrats on the upcoming book. I’ll definitely pick that one up;)

    Donovan Owens wrote on March 28th, 2012
  21. Thanks for an eye opening blog and website which has affected me in a very positive way, in a short time.

    Greg Herman wrote on March 28th, 2012
  22. Mark,

    You should also check out “Sex at Dawn” by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá. It brings light to aspects of Grok’s life that you have yet to get into.

    Much like the subject matter that you have so admirably brought to our attention, the book provides some compelling explanations for how we got to be the way we are, and why some aspects of modern life don’t seem to work the way we think that they should.

    Dane Thomas wrote on March 28th, 2012
    • Great! Didn’t see your recommendation on time so I mentioned it too. Amazing book!

      spaceman spiff wrote on March 28th, 2012
  23. I have added 4 out of 6 into my Amazon cart. Thank you for very well-written reviews and thoughtful ongoing inquiry. I have a favor to ask: would it be possible to list the nutrition values of the recipes in Primal Cookbook? I love both of the books, look forward to more, would love to know your East Coast lecture schedule. Keep up the good work, Mark and Co. Sincerely, Susan, Registered Nurse

    Susan wrote on March 28th, 2012
  24. You should read “Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality”. Now that’s an evolutionary book with some nice twists and eye openers.

    I do love your list though, awesome recommendations!

    spaceman spiff wrote on March 28th, 2012
  25. Hi Mark:

    We did your program for a month and fell off while in vacation in South America. Ready to go again, but somehow we have lost our “guide” Remember most of it, but wonder if there are updates or if you ever had a discussion about goat cheese. We are great fans of quinoa since going to Peru.

    Lynn Davis wrote on March 28th, 2012
  26. Is Primal Connection gonna be available the same date in Canada, or do we have to wait a bit? :)

    Nionvox wrote on March 28th, 2012
  27. Thanks Mark! Picked up 3 of em used for a song and dance at Amazon. Look forward to reading them!

    Keep up all the good work!

    Chris wrote on March 28th, 2012
  28. After the Ice is fascinating. Paleo/Primal types may be confounded by evidence of malnutrition among hunter-gatherers, but the book gives a convincing picture of the long passage between hunting/gathering and grain-based serfdom. It seems as though there have been many forks in the road where more ecologically and individually healthy choices could have been made.

    It should be tatooed on the inside of reader’s eyelids that the ‘selfish gene’ concept is about GENES, not individuals or societies. There is nothing in Dawkins’ ideas that makes any virtue of Randish ‘selfishness.’

    John the Drunkard wrote on March 28th, 2012
  29. You need to add Joel Salatin’s (Polyface Farms) latest to that list, Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World

    Looking forward to adding to my list from yours!

    Wendy wrote on March 28th, 2012
  30. Hey, Mark! I dig your list. Just wanted to let you know that your Jungian-archetypal book set off some bells in my head. Back in college, I took a wonderful class entitled ‘Witches and Bitches” that discussed the female archetype in detail. In this amazing class, we read some really juicy primal reads, which I shall share with you: The Great Mother by Erich Neumann (he’s Jungian!) and The Metamorphosis of Baubo by Winifred Lubell (talks about positive ancient associations with women’s sexuality that is slowly corrupted over time). I know these books are “lady books,” but they’re worth a read!

    Laurie wrote on March 28th, 2012
  31. Cool recommendations. I also like seeing humans being treated as though we have both consciousness and a conscience; those two factors are frequently left out in modern “science.”

    I haven’t read any of those books yet, but I’d like to make some comments on a few anyway 😛

    2 Million Yr Old Self: race, gender, intelligence, and psychological type (MBTI/Kiersey temperament theory) – all are (partially or totally) inherited, and all strongly influence one’s “unique” experience of life. I don’t understand how anybody could believe we are only the result of our experiences.

    Bridge to Humanity/Selfish Gene: evidence has been mounting for many years that, although gene selection is undeniably the major factor, group selection definitely also exists. Even if gene selection is 80% of human evolution, that would leave 20% for group selection – a significant factor. The interaction of those two evolutionary forces is begging for investigation.

    [On a related note, the psychopathic personalities who have wormed there way to the top of business, gov, religion, and science are having a warping effect on the whole, alienating us to our humanity. But I digress..]

    After the Ice: In my post “Low-carb or Low-fat”, I compare “The 10,000 Yr Explosion” w/ “Guns, Germs, and Steel” to explore how the human species is still adapting to agriculture.

    Jeffrey of Troy wrote on March 28th, 2012
  32. Im reading two million year old self at the moment too :-) what a coincidence :-)

    eduardas kubilinskas wrote on March 28th, 2012
  33. Thank you so much for this amazing list. I can’t wait to read every one of these and am so grateful for how deep the Paleo philosophy really goes.

    Meg McCall wrote on March 28th, 2012
  34. Great news about your newest book – I know what to request for my birthday, September 17th!

    Paul Witsaman wrote on March 28th, 2012
  35. Here’s a book I found last year, well before discovering Primal (been Primal since about 1 March this year – so far, so excellent). When reading a review of it, I found the book calling out to me. It fits well with many primal/paleo themes (though some recipes have sugar/grains, so you may wish to ignore those parts):

    Fat, An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, With Recipes – by Jennifer McLagan.

    Violet wrote on March 28th, 2012
  36. As a music therapist, i love the whole qualitative direction (fun and creativity). :)

    Nikhil wrote on March 28th, 2012
  37. Wow, these all look like fantastic reads. Thanks for sharing this with us Mark. Good stuff.

    Lex wrote on March 28th, 2012
  38. Wow! What a wonderful list of books. I will be ordering one for my oldest son and 3 for myself. The family can pick and choose from there. I know I should read all 5. Thanks so much.

    Dr. John

    John Oro wrote on March 28th, 2012
  39. Christopher Ryan’s _Sex at Dawn_ might have some appeal to the ancestral health crowd, too.

    Louise D wrote on March 28th, 2012

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