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I think the book is a must. While a lot of info is covered in the forums, the answers are from non-experts. While we may have personal experiences we would like to share, our own recipe for progress is not nescesarily going to work for everyone else. The book provides easy reference to ojective, error-free information on all subjects concerned with PB living. Relying on just forum posts for your diet information would be unwise, in my opinion. The book is packed with information, and I read and re-read sections regularly, and often learn something new with each read or two, or come across something I had previously forgotton.
It also functions as a tool to help you actively participate in the forums. By being confident in your knowledge of PB, you can be sure that youre giving out good advice to others.
I honestly dont know how people get by without the book.
I've found that most of the information in the book has been covered in a MDA blog post at one point or another, BUT reading the book is still a useful exercise to clarify or refresh any fuzzy points, and to get a better view of the PB as a whole.
Mark's writing style is extremely easy to read. You wont regret buying the book. I've bought 2 (I gave my original copy to a friend who is a slow reader and just felt that I needed another to have beside my bedside to refresh me when i go off the rails)
"I know what my body needs and what it can handle. There's no better way to achieve my goal than what im doing now. If my regimen leads to my death, be it in six days or six months...I will die fullfiled. The outcome is irrelavent so long as i steer towards my fate. If death is to be my prize, i welcome it with open arms."
While I don't think the book is necessary at all, it does tie everything together into a nice package. Also, I'm more than willing to buy a reasonably priced book (or books) from Mark, Robb Wolf, and Melissa Urban/Byers as they have all provided a HUGE amount of information for free and given me the tools to change my life. Even if I never read the books I buy from them, it's worth the price to support the community, and have something to loan people who are interested in starting this lifestyle as well.