I’ve told more people about this book than any other book. When people ask how I prevent injuries, I tell them about this book. When people ask me how much I ‘train’, I explain that everyone is ‘training’ the exact same amount of time. When I'm met with their perplexed look, I tell them about this book. Move Your DNA is a practical and accessible must-read manual for operating your body in the modern world.
This book is a trip. Evolutionary Biologist Olivia Judson poses as a sex columnist who answers the reproductive woes of creatures of all sizes. This educational book reveals how boring human sex is compared to bugs that have mass orgies inside dragonfly ears and animals with shovel-shaped penises.
Who’s it for? People who love nature shows, fun facts, and sex columns.
I TORE through this book in a day. I walked while reading. I took it to the toilet. I didn’t even want to look at my phone.
I knew I loved Trevor Noah before I read this brilliant memoir, but now, I am a bona fide SUPER fan. Noah masterfully weaves shocking personal stories and insight into the harshness of Apartheid South Africa together with his comedic magic.
Who’s it for? People who love short stories told by the person who lived them
Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication by Oren Jay Sofer
I started diving into NVC (nonviolent communication) last year. While I was so grateful to have access to this information, I was frustrated that I didn’t even hear of it until my mid-thirties. Though I wish I’d been able to practice this stuff earlier in life, books like this have been instrumental in my process of becoming a more conscious communicator—with myself and others. If only we learned this in school...
Who it’s for: Anyone willing to upgrade the way they communicate.
Nonviolent Communication: The Basics As I Know and Use Them by Wayland Meyers
This book is just a little larger than a cell phone, but it is incredibly practical, and it might just change your life. I first heard about this book on a Paul Chek podcast when he said he hands it to anyone dealing with interpersonal issues.
I genuinely believe that the world will be a better place when we learn to stop demeaning our human bodies. As someone who coaches others to be more present in their bodies, this book opened my eyes to ways I can be a better advocate for, and an example of, self-love.
It is full of passages I will return to, like this one:
“Radical self-love summons us to be our most expansive selves, knowing that the more unflinchingly powerful we allow ourselves to be, the more unflinchingly powerful others feel capable of being."
Since reading it, I’ve cared less about how I look in a way that feels more aligned with my values.
Who’s it for? People interested in rebelling against systems of oppression and learning about the path to radical self-love.
If you love having control over your habits and optimizing your day for maximum creativity and productivity, or if you struggled doing these things, this book could help. After implementing some tips from just the first few chapters, I was able to integrate a few positive habits that just weren’t happening. As Clear explains, little habits add up in ways we rarely consider. Clear has dedicated his life to understanding habit formation, and I feel like this book can help save its readers a lot of future stress.
Who’s it for: People interested in breaking old patterns in favor of new, more rewarding ones
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
My friend Cherry passed this book me. After the first few stories, I was reconsidering my entire life (in a good way) and realized that if you care about people, you will tell them about this book. Tiny Beautiful Things is an assembly of Strayed’s work on the therumpus.net advice column under the pseudonym ‘Sugar.’ (Hint: you can also read the pieces there for free, but I needed to hold these stories in my hands.)
Who’s it for: People willing to let an advice column rip their hearts open
Sweat Your Prayers: The Five Rhythms of The Soul by Gabrielle Roth
I picked up this book after a cathartic Five Rhythms class where the movements brought me to tears repeatedly. Sadly, I became familiar with Roth’s work after her passing (I would have loved to let her words move me), but I feel connected to her through her legacy, and her message that we are all dancers and keeping your dance dormant is a disservice to the world.
Who’s it for: People who offer any excuse as to why they can’t dance, those that are interested in using dance to know themselves, and creative movement teachers
Bodyfulness is a rare book: it’s at once a movement manual suitable for beginners, an inspiring work for the somatically oriented, and a political statement on how our individual bodily experiences shape the world. The author founded the Somatic Counseling program at Naropa University and has been in practice for more than thirty years.
“The body isn’t a thing we have but an experience we are. Bodyfulness is about working toward our potential as a whole human animal that breathes as well as thinks, moves as well as sits still, takes action as well as considers, and exists not because it thinks but because it dances, stretches, bounces, gazes, focuses, and attunes to others.“
Who’s it for: Anyone willing to listen to their breath, play, and use movement as a tool for social change.
The main ideas are: enjoyment of meditation is trainable, the benefits are undeniable, and you can overcome the notion that you don’t have time. Our misconceptions about meditation are the greatest obstacle to accessing this enormously beneficial practice. The title won me over immediately, and the inside did not disappoint!
The writing is clean, witty, and broken up with a variety of meditation scripts. Plus, I think this book may equip mindful movement instructors with cues and approaches to bring their class into a more focused state.
Who’s it for: People interested in meditation that feel like they don’t understand it and can’t find the time.
While Move Your DNA takes a biomechanical approach to explain why we must re-wild ourselves to thrive, Stalking Wild Psoas expresses the same sentiment—through diametrically opposed attestations. Koch encourages you to ditch mechanistic viewpoints and to discover your bio-intelligence through somatic awakening and creative expression.
(Note: If the above sentences made your head hurt, this probably isn’t your type of book.)
Who’s it for: Exploratory movement lovers interested in esoteric perspectives on self-healing and bodily knowing.
We Are Never Meeting In Real Life by Samantha Irby
I spent many nights in bed audibly chuckling at Irby’s candid descriptions of things most people would never share. Take the line, “I slipped into the closest stall and waited a few seconds before letting out the loudest, grossest fart any non-zoo animal had ever emitted...”, for example. I’ll warn you, Irby’s humor is grim, and her disdain for most people and creatures is strong, but her grasp on comedic essay writing lit my fire.
Who’s it for: People who enjoy well-written dirty jokes and dark humor.