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What I’m Reading

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I think most of you know that I’m a big reader. And, despite that fact that this is primarily a fitness blog, on this site I’ve reviewed and discussed things ranging from Twilight to business books.

I often get emails and (more frequently) questions on my Facebook page asking what I’m reading or for some book recommendations, so I thought I’d do a video discussing what I’m reading or have recently read.

It’s important to note that most of these aren’t fitness books. Usually, I’m reading 1-2 fitness books (or e-books) at any given time, and whichever one I’m talking about on my blog during a promotion is one I’ve read most recently.

I read Arnel and Joel’s 1,000 Calorie Challenge a while back, but because it’s going on sale in about a week, I’ll just review it for you then. (NOTE: I actually helped a lot with the workouts on that book, and appear in a good number of the videos).

Getting back to it, I thought it would be fun to do a video instead of just text. Of course, not all of you LIKE video, or, more to the point, I have to assume a number of you don’t like ME on video (ha, just kidding, that’s crazy talk). But in all seriousness you may not have 11 minutes to dedicate to the vid; so for those of you who’d rather read, I’ll also add in some text below.

Just a brief breakdown:

1) The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau – A book sent to me by Craig Ballantyne, the Art of Non-Conformity is the book adaptation of Chris’ online manifesto, A Brief Guide to World Domination. Like a lot of books on “new business” or Internet business, this book has a strong “story” component. During the course of the book, you’ll not only get guiding information on how to work towards an Internet business or live a mobile lifestyle, you’ll learn Chris’ story and how he was able to do such.

I mention in the video that while I enjoyed AoNC, I wasn’t blown away by it. I’ll qualify that by saying that I probably would have been, if I hadn’t already read The Four Hour Work Week and Crush It! One of the differences here, though, Is Chris has a very strong push towards giving back and discusses charity work in a bit greater depth than either of those book.

2) The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha – This was a fun book. Basically, it’s just a list of really cool but small things that happen in life that make you smile. In a world filled with un-cool stuff, Neil’s book is a really interesting way to remind you of all the awesome things around you. Appreciate the small stuff. Everything from the Smell and Sound of a Campfire to Watching the Price is Right When You’re Home Sick is covered here.

A fun book, a quick read. Also check out www.1000awesomethings.com

3) Seneca, Letters from a Stoic
by Lucius Annaeus Seneca– This was sent to me by Tim Ferriss after we met this summer. I honestly cannot summarize this book, so I really won’t try. It’s very weight material, and will change your view. More than that, it will change your view on your view. Woah. Deep. Okay, so, you should read this book. However, Tim actually did an entire blog post on it here; so for those of you who would like to start with that as a primer, have at it.

4) The Lion of Al-Rassan
by Guy Gavriel Kay – Sent to me Coach Adam Steer, the Lions of Al-Rassan falls under the genre of historical fantasty, which basically means that it takes actual historical events and re-tells them with some traditional elements of fantasy. In this case, Kay is telling his version of a the El Cid tale, and does a great job.

I’m a big fantasy geek, and I’ve read everything from the Lord of the Rings to stuff from Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms. Hell, not only did I play Dungeons & Dragons, I also played Magic: the Gathering–so you KNOW I’m a super-nerd.

NOTE: For you fantasy snobs out there, before you jump on me for reading TSR/Wizards of the Coast “crap,” I have also read everything by Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind, Terry Brooks, and George R.R. Martin; so don’t hate.

Having said that, I know there are a lot of people who are not nearly as nerdy as I am. The Lions of Al-Rassan is a more serious take on fantasy. So, if you like history but you aren’t wild about wizards and dragons, you’ll enjoy this. On the other hand, if you enjoy the more hardcore stuff, you’ll still enjoy it.

Well written, well executed, I give it two thumbs up.

5) The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition by Dr. John Berardi – This book serves as the main text for the Precision Nutrition certification course. Nearly 500 pages of material, I’ve only gotten through about a third of it at this point, but if the rest is similar, I can endorse this book with the whole of my fervor.

PN is a company that runs a number of coaching programs, and has worked with over 50,000 clients in the past years.

The PN Cert is newer, though. Only opening 2-4 times year, Berardi and his team allow training and nutrition people to become part of a class and learn the methods that PN uses to get it’s clients amazing results. If you’re a coach, you DEFINITELY should take a look, and even if you’re not but just have a strong interested in the science of nutrition, it’s worth every penny.

Okay guys, that’s it for me (this week, anyway!)

What are YOU reading? Both fitness and NON-fitness stuff. You guys know I read more than I do just about anything else, so I’d really love your recommendations.

Let’s get this party started.

PS – make it viral – “likes,” tweets, stumbles, and diggs are much appreciated. Thanks!

About the Author

John Romaniello is a level 70 orc wizard who spends his days lifting heavy shit and his nights fighting crime. When not doing that, he serves as the Chief Bro King of the Roman Empire and Executive Editor here on RFS. You can read his articles here, and rants on Facebook.

  • I bet you'd enjoy The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle. He talks about what he learned visiting talent beds around the world — breaking through plateaus, high-velocity learning, how to think like an under-dog…

  • Hey John!

    Gosh do I love reading, too. If only time wasn't an issue; I have such a backlog of stuff to read it's scary.

    And NOW you just added 5 more of them. OK, Lions of Al-Rassan was already in my list because I pretty much plan to read all of Kay's collection. I got through Ysabel first, then the Sarantine Mosaic series, Last Light of the Sun, and Tigana. They were all gorgeous, so I really recommend them all. They got the same care in the writing as I'm sure you saw in Al-Rassan.

    Another book that I got hooked into (it's actually a brick) is Atlas Shrugged from Ayn Rand. It's considered as a classic, albeit maybe a bit less known to the public. I'm almost halfway through and there's so much stuff happening in there. But what's really out of league in there, is the characters' values and opinions. They're self-proclaimed selfish and greedy, and yet they're heroes. They have very reasonable/debatable reasons to their vision of good; It totally screws away the usual values you'll see brought up almost everywhere else.

    Oh; I don't know if you came over my blog recently; I've just done my 130km around-montreal biking challenge a week ago. If you care to check it out ;)

    Happy reading!

    Mat

  • Hi, Roman.

    If you're at all interested in a mix of fantasy and detective books, check out the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher.

    He has fun with fantasy and Noir, and the universe is incredibly well thought out.

    DO NOT WATCH THE TV SHOW.

    It's a load of crap.

  • I love the Art of Nonconformity!!

    I am reading Grammar for the Soul, and just finished Acupuncture Is Like Noodles. Food Rules by Michael Pollan is also on my nightstand, as well as Made to Stick (which I've almost finished hundreds of times.) Proust Was a Neuroscientist is on my to-buy list.

  • Chris

    that part about writing a manifesto about manifestos was hilarious. right now i'm reading the Redwall series

  • John

    Hi Roman,

    Wow, you've started something off with this post! The video is a great idea – pity about the cap!

    Am on the last chapter or so of Harry Thompson's This Thing of Darkness – novel about Robert Fitzroy, the young captain of HMS Beagle, his trials, successes and tribulations which are juuxtaposed [ great word!!] with those of Charles Darwin during their time in the South Atlantic and then the Pacific. Great Read.

    Agree with Jessica about Markus Zusack's The Book Thief – oddly fascinating.

    Also just enjoyed Sam Sheridan's The Fighter's Mind. A really captivating read this one with many, many memorable stories of, and from, his contacts in the fighting worlds. A good follow on from The Fighter's Heart.

    Keep up the good work. All the best.

    John

  • Sheryl

    Started a new one today –

    The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory

    by Brian Greene

    It's very good for non-science folks, but also for science people. It's sort of the updated version of The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukov, which my 9th grade science teacher introduced me to – sort of a non-math explanation of quantum physics.

  • Ryan Klip

    James Patterson – Is the best author I have come across – He has an 8 part series about 4 women(yes, i said women) who go about solving crimes..Chapters are no more than 4 pages which means there are alot, but I think it's better that way, cause it keeps you wanting more(ya know, like your in the gym feeling the burn, screamin, gimme more gimme more..well, you get my point..Get the series

  • Day by Day Armageddon (and the sequel) by J.L. Bourne are great zombie apocalypse books, if anybody is into that…so is World War Z.

  • Matty

    Whoops, a case of brain diarrhea.

    Book is by Wayne Dyer

  • Matty

    Change you thoughts, Change your life. The wisdom of the Dao/Tao.

    Endulging in the paradox's that life has to offer.

    Having desires while remaining desireless. The difference between wanting, the desires and allowing your desires to unfold, to be desireless.

    Boooom… incredible book.

  • Meshel

    I have not had much time to read lately but I am in the middle of Bullies, Tyrants and Impossible People: How to Beat Them Without Joining Them by Ronald Shapiro and Mark Jankowski. Found it in my collection and since we all have people in our lives that fit one or all of those categories…

    Up next is another I've had for a while but haven't gotten to yet: Conversations with the Fat Girl by Liza Palmer. It's a novel that follows two fat girls into adulthood where one is now thin and the other, not. Sounds fun and interesting.

    In the recommendations you gave me in the past you've been spot on…will definitely check out some of these.

  • Excellent recommendations, guys. As an aspiring journalist/writer, I love reading. It gives flavor to my writing. However, I can't read multiple books at once.

    I'd recommend Horns by Joe Hill at this time. I haven't gotten to reading Steig Larsson's books yet, though I probably will after my graduation exams.

    Please do more videos on exercises and on the 1000kcal challenge. Regarding exercises, I've been meaning to ask you which style of squatting you prefer – Louis Simmons's parallel, powerlifting, sitting-back squat or the Ass To Grass Olympic style. As for the 1000lkcal challenge, it's something I'm interested in buying, though I can't imagine why, as I already have a fantastic programme in FPFL and have all of Arnel's videos. I am a big fan of his as well.

  • Excellent recommendations, guys. As an aspiring journalist/writer, I love reading. It gives flavor to my writing. However, I can't read multiple books at once.

    I'd recommend Horns by Joe Hill at this time. I haven't gotten to reading Steig Larsson's books yet, though I probably will after my graduation exams.

    Please do more videos on exercises and on the 1000kcal challenge. Regarding exercises, I've been meaning to ask you which style of squatting you prefer – Louis Simmons's parallel, powerlifting, sitting-back squat or the Ass To Grass Olympic style. It's something I'm interested in buying, though I can't imagine why, as I already have a fantastic programme in FPFL and have all of Arnel's videos. I am a big fan of his as well.

  • Doug Wilson

    Roman. How does anyone find anytime to read books when it takes up all of our spare time reading what our awesome mentors are blogging? :)

  • Miguel

    I'm currently reading “The 7 habits of Highly Effective People” and “A Pivotal Moment: Population, Justice and The Environmental Challenge”. But, to be honest, all the blogs of the fitness people I signed up to keep me pretty busy already!

  • rocky

    The book Bleechers by John Grisham is an awesome sports novel. I'm one of those guys that loves to read about football and this has got to be the best football book I've ever read. Just check it out man. And I'm going to try to get that book of awesome you were talking about. Sounds pretty boss.

  • Dietrich Marquardt

    Hey man.

    I'm busy reading several books at the moment.

    First of – 'The Redemption of Althulus' by David Eddings. This is great if you're into fantasy, and it's got some nice quirky humour too! While it's fantasy, it's quite indirect when it comes to magic and stuff along those lines – so people who aren't fans will enjoy it too. You'll have to have read it to know what I mean.

    The other book I'm reading is 'Cold steel: Britain’s richest man and the multi-billion-dollar battle for a global empire.' by Bouquet & Oussey. This is a factual retelling of how massive Steel corporations were competing a few years back. Quite insightful when it comes to strategic management and business 'ethics' (apparently there is such a thing lol).

    And I also just finished reading 'The 5 Love Languages' by Gary Chapman. This is one that everyone should read. While its focused at couples, I think it can be used to strengthen any relationship. Bromance anyone?

  • @Matt – if you like RPGs, a really good place to start reading fantasy is the “Icewind Dale” and “Dark Elf” trilogies. They take place in the Forgotten Realms setting, so they are essentially very similar to D&D in their story…play out very much like an RPG.

    They're quick reads and not at all weighty, but very enjoyable. Kind of like an action-movie version of fantasy. Fast paced and not super-deep. The action scenes are fun.

    R.A. Salvatore is the author.

  • Ooooh look who decides to show up for his once-per-year visit.

    Hope Europe is treating you brilliantly, mate!

    How's Flavalicious liking the Essentials? It's dense stuff, but very, very good.

    I've been doing what I used to do in college: I read the summary first, mark down which points are likely to be the most difficult for me, then read those first. Sort of a top-down approach.

    I picked up the Belfort books on your recommendation, I'll be diving into those in the next few weeks. Bedros also sent me two books so I'll review those as well.

  • Vince DelMonte

    Craig Ballantyne sent me The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau too and I read it on the train to York today from London… awesome done.

    Flavia is reading John Berardi's Essentials book too – she's taking the course.

    I just finished reading Wolf of Wall Street 1 and 2 by Jordan Belfort… both fast-paced, movie style script reading… high recommended.

    Just picked up Predictibly Irrational… heard it's a good biz book.

    Readers are leaders, way to show us how to be leaders Sir Roman.

    your pal

    vinny d

  • Sheryl

    Personal favorites:

    David Eddings' “Belgariad” series

    Elizabeth Moon “The Deed of Paksenarrion”

    Raymond Feist “RiftWar” series and the accompanying “Empire” series

    Currently reading some coding books. ;) “Studying” might be a better word.

  • I've been an RPG video game fan all of my life. Grew up playing Final Fantasy games, Played FFXI online and WoW for awhile, and right now I'm playing the English translation of Mother 3 (sequel to Earthbound, which is my all-time favorite game.).

    I've always loved fantasy stuff when it comes to games/movies/tv shows, but I never really got into the literature. What would you (and everybody else) suggest to a sci/fi fantasy novel noob?

  • Jessica (Aust)

    Hey Roman,

    Got some great reading recommendations in there from you and others. I’m about to undergo major abdominal surgery next week (don’t ask!) and have some considerable recuperative time ahead of me so this couldn’t be more timely. Actually as an aside a blog about smart strategies for recovering from injury/surgery and regaining/maintaining fitness would be interesting (gee personal agenda much?)

    Anyway here are some of my favourite books and/or current reads.

    The Millenium Trilogy (Dragon Tatoo books) by Stieg Larsson (as also mentioned by Cheryl) is definitely a great read. Also for those fans of the books I can highly recommend the Swedish version of the films (first two have been released here in Oz) – I shudder to think what Hollywood will do to them.

    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (young Australian author). I loved the novel premise of this book (Death is the book’s narrator). If a book is well written I get completely emotionally involved with the characters. This book sucked me in so much that I deliberately left it at home towards the end so that I wouldn’t make a complete idiot of myself sobbing on public transport (oops spoiler alert). For me, one of the best books I’ve read in recent years.

    Fantasy – haven’t read much recently and so this is pretty “old school” but I had great fun reading (and often re-reading) David Edding’s “The Elenium” and ‘The Tamuli” trilogies (they follow each other so could be called sextilogies??) – there’s some great dry humour in there and I also enjoy Raymond E. Feist’s books (Faerie Tale, Magician etc)

    Non fiction. Currently reading “Requiem for a species: why we resist the truth about climate change” by Clive Hamilton. He’s one of Australia’s leading climate change advocates and public intellectuals. He was the founder of The Australia Institute – a progressive think-tank and is currently a Professor of Public Ethics. I’m a professional scientist (geneticist/biologist) by trade so it’s a little “preaching to the converted” in my case but Hamilton’s analysis of why humankind so assiduously avoids taking action really fascinating. It’s not exactly light, spiritually uplifting reading though.

    Think you're going to need a bigger apartment with it's own library….

  • Oooh, an SLP. I've actually dated two SLPs…it's a great profession and seems to attract really caring, awesome people.

    I had a lisp and a stutter when I was an itty bitty Roman and speech therapy when I was about 8 helped a lot.

    I'll definitely pick up the book, Patrick. I appreciate it.

  • Roman,

    The book on stuttering is great. I read it a few years ago and I'm re-reading it now. I'm a speech-language pathologist as well as a person who stutters, and I met Marty a couple of times at support groups before he died. It's a fantastic book and a great look into the mind and experiences of people like us. It's a great read for anybody, though.

  • @Cheryl – glad you got a chuckle; I haven't gotten into that series yet…people seem to dig it, so I'll probably pick it up. E-Myth Revisited and the Alchemist are both great, thank you for bringing those to the table.

    @Ryan – a semen scoop? Wow. Thanks for that.

    @Joshua – I haven't checked out the Book of the Fallen series yet, I'll give them a look. Thanks for the rec, bro!

    @Patrick – I don't do any speed reading. I'm just a naturally fast reader and have always enjoyed reading multiple books at once. How are you enjoying the stuttering book? I just glanced at it online and it seems interesting.

    @Ylwa – I've read Pullman. I enjoyed, but I don't put him in the same league as some others.

    I've read Branson's book as well, I enjoyed it. I believe I read it while I was down in Tampa at Joel's place. Pretty quick read.

    I haven't checked out the Siski Green book; but I'm always down to read about sex. I'll check it out.

    Thanks!

  • Ylwa

    Do you speed-read? Or are you just a naturally fast reader? Otherwise I just don't get where you find the time? Apart from the fact that you don't sleep. If you do want to look into it PEter Kump has written “Breakthrough Rapid Reading”. A self-study book on speed reading.

    I'm a big fan of Coelho just as Cheryl, I've read pretty much all of his books that are translated either to swedish or english that I've been able to get my hands on. A very spiritual man.

    If you're a fantasy geek, I assume you've already plowed through Philip Pullmans triology of the dark materia. If not – DO IT! Best fantasy books I've ever read.

    Another cool book I read this summer is Richard Branson's “Business Stripped Bare – Adventures of a Global Entreprenuer”. A fun read, if for nothing else the man has expereinced more in his 50 years than most people do in two lives.

    On the relationship side – any man should read “How to blow her mind in Bed” by Siski Green. Educative not only in terms of actual “maneuvering” and postitioning. Thank me later.

  • Roman, do you do any of Ferriss' speed reading he talks about? That's a lot of books to read at once.

    Right now I'm sticking to textbooks and journal articles related to my job, and I'm currently reading “Stuttering: A Life Bound Up in Words” by Marty Jezer, and I'm also periodically going back through 4 Hour Work Week on audiobook.

  • Joshua

    You've got a lot of balls in the air it looks like. I try to limit myself to reading 1 book at a time.

    I plan on trying out some of Brent Weeks material, I've heard some decent things about him.

    I also need to start reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen series again, I was on book 4 or 5 when I got caught up with other things and have never picked it back up again. If you have never read them, they read like a truly epic and extraordinarily detailed P&P RPG campaign, that is actually how it all started. It's a great series in it's own right, but the story of how it got started is also pretty cool. Steven Erikson, check it out if you haven't already.

  • Sweet post, yo!

    “Sex at Dawn” is straight gangster. I love anything that has to do with relationships & sex evolution.

    Btw, I read this little piece is another book… just some crazy theory but still, it's gross, so I'll share.

    The penis evolved to the shape its in as a “semen scoop.” (their words.) So it could scoop out the juice from the previous mate before it got to the egg. Nasty.

    Also about to start reading Sapolsky's “Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers”

  • Roman, seriously COL on that “crazy talk” comment…

    Ok, right now reading “The Girl Who Played with Fire” by S. Larsson and about to read the 3rd in the series. They take a bit to start but I've enjoyed the first 2.

    One of my all-time favorite books is “The Alchemist” by P. Coelheo – amazing book.

    For business, “The E-Myth Revisited” by M. Gerber is fabulous for anyone running a business. No matter how successful you are, there is amazing insight in that book.