21 Books to Begin 2018

Inline Books to Begin 2018The book is an ancient technology whose importance has only increased in modern times. With a book, you gain access to another person’s mind or life experiences. That’s hard to beat. People who aren’t reading are really selling themselves short and missing out on an enjoyable pastime as well as a leg up on the competition.

Here are some fantastic books to dig into this coming year. Most of them are new and deal with health, fitness, and nutrition. Others are about history, productivity, or self-improvement. Some are just fun reads. They’re some of my recent (or long-time) favorites and all great options for people looking to read more this coming year.

Health and Nutrition

Keto Reset by yours truly and Brad Kearns

Keto_ResetWhat can I say? I’m shamelessly sticking this at the top because giving people the tools to unlock their inherent fat-burning abilities is extremely important. And not just for the way we look in a mirror and fit our clothes, but also for how our brain functions, how we age, and how we burn fuel during physical activity. Not everyone has to (or even should) go keto forever, but everyone should spend some time in a ketogenic state. This book reveals the best way to do so safely and sustainably.

For: Anyone who wants to burn fat more effectively.


Wired to Eat by Robb Wolf

Wired_to_EatRobb is one of the greatest at breaking down complex scientific topics into easily-digestible nuggets of actionable information that anyone can absorb and utilize. This latest book is a few hundreds pages of exactly that. If you want to understand why eating and moving right is so hard for so many on a biochemical and behavioral level—and then learn how to overcome it to achieve optimal health and wellness—read this book.

For: Anyone struggling with eating or exercising the way they know they should.


Genius Foods by Max Lugavere

More than how much we can lift, how fast we can run, or even how good we look naked, our primary concern—above all else—is making our brains work well into old age. Nobody wants to lose control of their mental faculties, because once that goes, everything else follows and nothing else matters. Lugavere’s upcoming book (due March 2018) explains how to prevent dementia, improve cognitive function, and preserve psychological health using nutritional and lifestyle interventions. Very important topic.

For: Big-brained hominids.


Unconventional Medicine by Chris Kresser

Unconventional MedicineI always like to hear and read what Chris has to say on health and nutrition. He’s very careful with his recommendations and rarely makes mistakes. With that in mind, his latest book is a powerful and convincing plea for medical practitioners to help him fix a broken medical system that applies ineffective bandaids to complex chronic health issues rather than try to solve them. If you think we need to redesign healthcare (we do) and aren’t impressed with any of the current offerings on the table (me neither), this book will show us a way forward.

For: Fed-up, burned-out doctors.


Body Love by Kelly LeVeque

Body_LoveDo you love your body? Few do. Kelly LeVeque shows you how to stop the food obsession and start loving your body, but not because you’re deluded about your own health and fitness. You’ll learn to love it because you’ve made it fit and healthy.

For: People looking for a different perspective.


Paleo Principles by Sarah Ballantyne

Paleo_PrinciplesA one-stop shop for going paleo that includes everything you’ll need, including the science behind the diet, step-by-step guides for incorporating the new way of eating and living, meal plans, recipes, and well, what else could you ever need?

For: Beginners or old-timers who need a refresher.


The Salt Fix by James NiColantonio

Salt_FixFor decades the experts have inundated us with recommendations to reduce salt in our diets. They said it was responsible for hypertension and heart disease, bloating and kidney disease. The Salt Fix destroys these myths, explaining not only why salt isn’t the villain it’s made out to be but also why salt is an essential part of the human diet. A great read.

For: Anyone still a little nervous about sodium.


Fitness and Movement

The Brave Athlete by Simon Marshall and Paterson Lesley

Brave_AthleteBetween cutting edge nutrition and training techniques, gadgets that track recovery, mobility programs designed to minimize injuries and advanced surgical techniques designed to fix them, modern athletes have the physical side of competition pretty well taken care of. Unfortunately, those can’t really help the mental side of it all. In The Brave Athlete, sport psychologist Marshall and elite triathlete Lesley provide the tools for getting to and defeating the root cause of the mental dilemmas modern athletes face.

For: Athletes.


Deskbound by Kelly Starrett

DeskboundWe all know how excessive sitting is destroying our bodies and setting us up for shorter, worse lives. In this book, Kelly Starrett doesn’t just diagnose the problem. He gives you specific movements, skills, and other solutions to not only sit less, but make the sitting you do less damaging.

For: Desk jockeys.



Kitchen Intuition by Devyn Sisson

Kitchen_IntuitionI may be biased. This is my daughter’s book, and I’m the publisher. I don’t care—I was there during the hundreds of hours of recipe trials. I tasted it all. I smelled it all. The food is good. Best of all, Devyn’s book fills a void for many of her generation who don’t know their way around the kitchen. cooking is an important skill that too many people are letting drift into obscurity; buy this book and fight back!

For: Anyone who wants to discover (or rekindle) a love for cooking.


The Primal Kitchen Cookbook by yours truly

Primal_Kitchen_CookbookI got together with some of the top names in paleo and Primal to cook some awesome food then tell you guys how to cook it, too. Many of the recipes use Primal Kitchen products, so be warned (thoughh you can always make substitutions; they just might not taste the same!).

For: Anyone who likes MDA.


Ready or Not! by Michelle Tam and Henry Fong

Ready or NotNomNomPaleo continues to be the best paleo recipe blog around, and now they’re out with a brand new book. It’s got their signature aesthetic style that everyone knows and loves. It’s got the requisite beautiful photography. But most important, the food is really, really good. Buy this one.

For: Fans of umami.


Healing Mushrooms by Tero Isokauppila

Healing MushroomsMushrooms are a mystery. They’re often relegated to the vegetable category, but they’re much more than that. There are hundreds of edible mushrooms available, and they’re all different from each other. What’s coolest is that mushrooms don’t just taste great. They’re usually downright medicinal. If you’re curious about eating these incredibly healthy life forms but don’t know where to start, this book is just the ticket.

For: People who listened to Paul Stamets on Joe Rogan the other day.


Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat

Salt FatMore than just write a recipe book, Nosrat lays out the basic blueprint for creating food that tastes good to the largest audience. Recipes are great and all, but by reading this book you’ll learn how to use basic elements of good cooking—salt, for enhancing flavor; fat, for delivering flavor and providing textural richness; acid, for balancing flavors; and heat, for controlling the texture of the food. Everything after that is just window dressing. 

For: Beginners and advanced cooks.


Against All Grain Celebrations by Danielle Walker

CelebrationsDespite (or perhaps because of) having an autoimmune disease, Danielle Walker cooks incredible food. She can’t eat grains or dairy, which many foodies consider a death knell for any real chef. Not so: Against All Grain Celebrations shows how cooking with only ancestral, paleo ingredients is more than you need to make food that outshines everything else at the party.

For: People food food intolerances, autoimmune diseases, or a desire to eat delicious food.



Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux

Mosquito_CoastThis is one of my favorite books of all time. It’s the story of a brilliant but unrecognized inventor who uproots his family to move to the Honduran jungle, where he tries to start a small slice of civilization free of rampant consumerism and crushing materialism. I use his descent into madness as a barometer for my outrage at society.

The movie’s pretty good, too, with the late and great River Phoenix along with one of Harrison Ford’s best and most under-appreciated performances.

For: Outsiders.


Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz

OrphanXThis is just a well-done thriller about a former secret agent who left the fold after doing one too many unsavory jobs and now works pro-bono for good causes. Great for a rainy weekend or day at the beach (weather depending).

For: Fans of the Jason Bourne books/movies.



Philip K. Dick short story collection by Philip K. Dick

PhilipI’ve read a lot of Dick short stories, and I can never keep track of which collections are which. All I know is that he’s a master at building horrifying yet believable worlds in the span of a few pages. He’s got some great novels, like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and The Man in the High Castle, but some of them run a bit long and sprawl a bit too much. His short stories are more focused, easy to digest, and sit with you a long time. This particular collection includes Minority Report (inspired the movie) and We Can Remember It For You Wholesale (inspired Total Recall).

For: People wondering about what the future holds, fans of Black Mirror.


The Force by Don Winslow

ForceThe best novel I’ve read in many years. This is cop fiction at its very best, but it’s also not a book to be pigeonholed. Complex in its portrait of a city and a central character, there’s real meat to be appreciated here. Be warned, though: it’s dark, gritty, and unrelenting.

For: Anyone into crime novels.



Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss

TribeTim Ferriss is the king of productivity, and in this latest book, he draws on his considerable well of mentors for their advice about how to live and work well. He sent 11 questions (read them here) to all the experts, iconoclasts, and top performers he knows, then compiled their answers in this new book. It’s a great one to thumb through and digest in bits and bites.

For: Anyone who wants to know how the greats think.


Deep Work by Cal Newport

Deep WorkWe have more productivity tools than ever before. We can access millions of books, articles, studies, and lectures in seconds, much of it free. This ease of access to information is a blessing and a curse, because there are distracting forces vying for our attention. It’s far easier to get sucked into your email,  social media spat, or a clickbait article than it is to stay focused for hours at a time on a task or learning something that will further your goals. But those who can stay focused and do what Cal Newport calls “deep work” will have a huge advantage in the coming years.

For: Anyone interested in overcoming distraction and increasing focus.


History and Culture

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

SapiensSapiens follows humans from our early proto-hominid days up through the present day. From encounters to Neanderthals to the cognitive revolution to the advent of agriculture to the creation of money as a concept to the establishment of the major religions to the scientific revoltuion to the industrial revolution to the information age to what Harari suspects will be the end of Homo sapiens as we know them (us), the book is an entertaining overview of human history and a clever guess at what may lie in store.

For: Anyone interested in grand narratives.


The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis

AbolitionBy no means a recent release, this is C.S. Lewis’ argument against moral relativity and for the existence of an objective, foundational moral code, which he calls the Tao. I’m not sure where I come down on the question, but it’s certainly something I’ve been thinking about harder than ever. It’s a quick but heavy read.

For: Anyone looking to get their bearings.


That’s it for me, folks. What about you? What are you reading? What are you planning to read? (I’m always on the lookout for new favorites.) Thanks for stopping by today. Take care, everybody.


About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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34 thoughts on “21 Books to Begin 2018”

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  1. What a fun blog post! Reading is a wonderful stress reliever and it goes so well with the primal lifestyle. I look forward to curling up in my pajamas by the fire with a cup of tea and one of these titles. Thank you!

  2. Thanks for the list. I’ve been an avid reader since I was very young and still read everything I can get my hands on.

  3. I grabbed my pen! More books to track down, thanks!

    I’d also recommend “A New Path” by Arthur Haines (just published this month). It’s about how we’ve become domesticated and the detrimental effects that are occurring/have occurred to our bodies. He promotes what is commonly called Rewilding and it fits perfectly with the Paleo lifestyle Mark Sisson promotes.

  4. I would add When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi. It’s always good to get a clear eyed look at mortality.

    1. I just finished when breath becomes air this morning. I will second your recommendation of this book. It is very interesting and emotionally moving. Great book.

  5. Seconding the recommendation for The Keto Reset Diet. Though my quibbles with the content are extensive, that is a compliment. Few books are so engaging. Most importantly, reading this book pushed me into doing the experiment, which has had tremendously positive results.

    Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food by Cate Shanahan is another very important book for readers of this site. It is full of paleo insights and perspectives not found elsewhere.

    Also of interest to applied anthropologists is The Way of Men by Jack Donovan (h/t Liver King). Understanding traditional paleo gender roles explains a great deal of modern problems with relationships, fertility, and economics. The book is worth the price solely for its concept of the “bonobo masturbation society.”

    Finally, here’s one you’ve never heard of: On Pain by Ernst Jünger. Written between the world wars, Jünger investigates the ancestral understanding of pain as a force to be embraced and transcended rather than anaesthetized and avoided. His message was never more relevant than today as many of the trends in his time are trending once again in ours — bigly.

    1. Timothy, glad you enjoyed The Keto Reset Diet and have had success with your own experiment around it. I also wholeheartedly recommend Cate Shanahan’s book. This was definitely an oversight – probably because it came out so early in the year. Nonetheless, I appreciate the reminder. She’s a top notch voice in the ancestral space, and I always enjoy working with her. I’m familiar with On Pain, but it’s been quite a few years since my perusal of that one. Sounds like a good book to go back to. Thanks for the feedback – M

      1. Thank you, Mark! Delighted that you have read On Pain. One of Jünger’s introductory sentences describes your own work very well: “We are striving for the effect of a bombshell bursting with delayed action, and we promise the attentive reader that he shall not be spared.”

  6. I am looking forward to Each Rich and Live Long by Ivor Cummins and Jeffry Gerber.

  7. Kelly has some awesome insight! I can’t wait to start reading…I know what’s on my Christmas list.

  8. Just ordered four of these books … two for me and two for my wife who loves mystery novels, thanks Mark!

  9. It strikes me as odd that yesterday the question was raised, “Why Aren’t We Talking About the Cognitive Health Crisis?” and then today’s list of books did not include Amy Berger’s Alzheimer’s Antidote. It certain relieves a lot of stress for me to know that there are some steps one can take to help avoid that possible fate.

    1. You obviously missed the 3rd book on this list which is about preventing cognitive decline. Reading: it’s not just for kids!

  10. I’ve been a huge fan of MDA for years and have never posted before, but I’ve just finished reading “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker, PhD and it’s one of the most important books I’ve ever read. Here’s a quick summary: getting 8 hours of sleep every night is unbelievably good for you, and not getting 8 hours of sleep each night is unbelievably bad for you. Don’t miss it.

  11. Thank you! I own 4 of these. I will buy the rest. would add “Hacking of the American Mind” by Robert Lustig

  12. Great list!! I love to read, and have started keeping a list (on the notes section of my phone) of books I want to read. I have to admit that social media has cut into my reading time. I tend to read more when I travel. And funny you should mention Keto Reset…just tried yet another recipe tonight (the Thai Soup with Shrimp) and it was totally amazing! Really love that book.

  13. I wholeheartedly concur with the Sapiens recommendation. Definitely one of my favorite books I’ve read this year.

  14. Love some of these recommendations! I’ve never heard of a few of them, so I’m definitely going to check them out. I already read the first two on the list though. 🙂
    On the salt thing, I’ve always wondered why Dr. Loren Cordain still holds a strong position against added salt. I read his posts about it and I wonder if what he presents shouldn’t be ignored.

  15. Love the variety of selections. Especially love that you included The Mosquito Coast. Have not read the book yet, but absolutely love the movie. It leaves me thinking about what are the essentials we really need for everyday life.

  16. Loved, loved, loved this: ‘I’m not sure where I come down on the question, but it’s certainly something I’ve been thinking about harder than ever.’

    Forgive me if I say you saved the best for last (John 2:10); if CSL works for you, consider ‘The Great Divorce.’

    Thanks for bringing an early morning smile.

  17. As Michael mentioned, looking for forward to “Eat Rich and Live Long” as well as “Keto Cure” by Jimmy Moore and Adam Nally.
    Was pleased to see Abolition of Man on the list as CSL is probably my favorite author–“Great Divorce”, “Perelandra”, “Screwtape Letters” all have deep insight while remaining enjoyable reads.

  18. I have already read keto reset and wired to eat both of which, as a primal health coach, I highly rate and recommend.

    Having also almost completed training as a DNAfit.com certified trainer I recommend the 85%solution by Dan Purcer MD. With my genetic testing results now in they show I genitically code for high levels of inflamation with a strong predisposition toward heart disease. From the information in 85% it turns out, for various reasons, a strongly vegetarian diet is the direction I should be heading in. Who knew!!??

    Anyways, apologies for skewing off topic, if you haven’t caught the Paul Stamets interview on Joe Rogan it’s serious must as I’m now heavily researching fungi supplementation as part of my lifestyle protocol.

    I never placed much credence in supplementation before but now view it, depending on your particular set of health circumstances, as not far off being required.

    Other reads that are a serious goer: The Great Cholesterol Con by Dr Malcolm Kendrick, Sleep by Josephine Green and Get Strong by Danny and Al kavadlo (whom are imho the mutts nuts for calisthenics and bodyweight training).

  19. It’s been a while since I visited MDA. I was delighted to see this blog post since I’m always looking for books worth reading. I’m especially interested in the book Genius Foods because of the recent spate of relatively young men suffering from dementia has been in the news lately.

  20. Dear mark, I picked up “Wired to eat” and am in the process of reading it. Love it thus far, and have of course read your primal blueprint thrice (third time to make sure I understood the processes well enough to help convert family and friends- thanks to you!) however, page 46 of the book you recommend (at bottom of page in asteriks) essentially states the lipid hypothesis has been proven wrong and fat can be released from adipocytes in cells DURING the presence of lipid hypothesis. Your book, however, states that in the presence of excess insulin we cannot release/burn fat

    My question therefor is- do you take back this claim or do you still buy into the lipid hypothesis? I would like to think our bodies are smart enough to release/use both sources of energy simultaneously (again, contrary to your blueprint but seemingly inline with Robb Wolfs book)

    Much love !!

  21. I’d love to hear more about your thoughts on the C.S. Lewis book! Such an interesting topic!

  22. After a long hiatus from MDA (and the internet in general), very excited to come back and see you’re interested in C.S. Lewis’ arguments. I highly recommend Fr. Seraphim Rose’s “Nihilism” if you’re looking for a short but incredibly rich read on the importance of objective Truth and the consequences of the lack thereof in modern society.

  23. Mark have you read “The Body Keeps the Score” by Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk? Healing mind, body, and brain in trauma. If not I really really suggest it. Amazing 30yrs of work with people who have suffered trauma and so applicable to any human in how our psychology is so thoroughly enmeshed with our physicality. I think you would really appreciate it. Happy 2018!