Tom’s Book Recommendations;
Here’s to another beautiful day in Wellyhood!
As I write this, my suburb is enveloped in a delightful low cloud that’s hydrating the world around me with trillions of tiny droplets of water. I wouldn’t call it rain, it’s too light for that. From my point of view, the droplets are moving northward as they ride the negative and positive chaos of air pressure change… Great day to be indoors you might say 😉
With that in mind, I thought I’d share some ideas on books that may be of interest to you. Asking me to write a “Top 5 book list” is akin to asking me for my “Top 5 Movies” – There are just too many good ones to put down.
Instead, I thought I’d share my “Big 5”. That is, books that have had a big influence on me and ones that will always be in the rotation.
If you’ve read them, awesome! If you’ve heard of them but not read them, they get a thumbs up from me (if that means anything to you?). If you’ve not heard of them, that’s also great! Either way, it’s just something to consider when looking for something to educate, inspire or entertain you.
I want you to know that these are not referenced by category or in any particular order – they’re just books that I like for the reasons I’ve listed. Also, my opinions are my own.
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
Oh man! This one is SO GOOD!
Growing up, I was fascinated by my dad’s sitar. It was this beautifully designed instrument that made the most mesmerising sounds. He made it himself when he was living in India, back when love was free. While most of the details from the stories he shared with me about that time faded as I grew up, the sense of extreme positive emotions from his story telling remained, leaving me with a fascination & desire to experience India for myself.
Just before we went full tick with Tom & Luke, I said to the boys “I’ve got to take a trip to India before we do this.” I knew there wouldn’t be an opportunity for another holiday for a long time, and India was the first country on my bucket list. While I don’t want to bore you with the details of my Indian adventures (which were AWESOME!), I do want to let you know that the touch down experience I had when setting foot into Delhi, was very similar to the culture shock my father experienced 40 years before. Which, evidently, is captured perfectly within the first few chapters of this enthralling book.
Shantaram follows the adventures of “Lindsay” as he flees to India after escaping from Pentridge Prison in Melbourne. In reality, in 1978 Gregory Roberts was sentenced to 19 years in prison after being arrested for a string of armed bank robberies. Seems he didn’t like that idea much and hatched a plan to get out and make his way to Germany. Instead, he decided to hang around in the spiritual capital of the world, India.
As the saying goes, never let the truth get in the way of a good story. Roberts has created a story so captivating that is unbelievable how believable this story is! With intense descriptions, wonderful characters & more plot twists than Mission: Impossible, Shantaram will excite you, delight you and in some places, bring you to tears. If you’re looking for a great adventure to get stuck into, this is for you!
How to Eat, Move & Be Healthy by Paul Chek
JWhen I was a blossoming personal trainer, I had all the answers! I knew everything! I had completed my training course at the local tertiary institute. I had spent 6 months in the industry being exposed to experienced trainers, as well as doing some amazing in-house workshops to get me up to speed. I was rocking and rolling, helping clients achieve their fitness goals.
That was the first 4-6 months. After a while I became conscious that my approach was working for some clients and not others. I was fortunate enough to have an amazing physiotherapy team based in the gym I worked at, so any injuries that befell my clients would be treated immediately. The trouble was, more and more of my clients were getting little niggling issues as we worked together.
I asked one of the Physical Therapists about why this was happening, and he suggested I look at Paul Chek’s work. Hand on heart, this was the best advice I ever received as a fitness professional.
The CHEK Institute’s website says that “Paul Chek is a world-renowned expert in the fields of corrective and high-performance exercise kinesiology, stress management and holistic wellness.”
Paul has been a driving force in the fitness industry for over 30 years. Notably, at this year’s Canfit Pro, Paul was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award.
This book is a game changer. The human body is a system of systems and this book shows how you as an individual, can take control of your overall health and wellbeing
The industry standard approach says “Eat less, move more” – please believe me when I say that whilst this approach may help change body composition in the short term, it is not synonymous with “health”.
You are an individual. Your nutrition, sleep and exercise requirements are unique to you. What works for your buddy or your sister probably won’t work for you. This book will help you understand that, and help you start a trajectory to a healthier you!
(Disclaimer; I am a CHEK trained corrective exercise & health coach, so this book is pretty much my “Bible”.)
Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
OH MY GOD YES! HOW MUCH YES!? LIKE, THIS. MUCH. YES!
Now, before we go anywhere, let me remind you that I’m talking about the books. As we know, books are always better than their screen adaptations.
I was a late comer to Game Of Thrones. I recall one of my clients mentioning it to me before it was cool. He had read the books and was excited by the show. He had said that while the show was very much in line with the books, the books were a world of their own. At the time, I was just so focused on my own personal growth that I wasn’t interested in a fantasy story about kings, magic and dwarfs.
Then, I broke my nose.
Admittedly, I had already broken my nose during an incident in my old role as a doorman in the hospo scene. It was just that this time, I had broken it badly enough that I needed surgery to breathe properly!
Funnily enough, the timing of the surgery was when I returned from India. It was also Easter weekend and I was house sitting for a colleague’s friend. So, what better time to get heavily into a fantasy series!?
I borrowed 4 seasons of Game of Thrones (the TV show) from a friend and got stuck in. I spent 4 days on a couch with persistent, post-surgical nose bleeds being transported into another realm. I got so hooked that weekend that when it was over, I needed to know more! (Yeah, yeah, I know. I said at the start, “I’m talking about the books”)
I then borrowed the first book from my client and quickly understood the beauty in the storytelling. The characters, the fight scenes, the treachery, the salaciousness, the good guys! The bad guys! OH MAN! It was intoxicating! This is, of course, the reason it was picked up by HBO in the first place!
I quickly rushed out to buy the other books. Season 1 of the TV show was almost verbatim to book 1. Book 2 though, that’s where they part ways. More characters are introduced, deeper history of Westeros is revealed… More alliances are formed & destroyed. By the time you get to book 5, you’ll understand why the TV show couldn’t keep up.
It’s also at this point where old mate, George, was devoting more time to finishing the HBO scripts that he couldn’t put enough time into completing the books. So, we’ve been waiting for book 6 for EIGHT LONG YEARS!
I’ve read the books twice through and have watched most seasons 3 times. So yeah, I’m a fan. If you, like me and everyone around me were outraged at the final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, (which, by the way, was NOT even written by old mate, GRRM) with its lack of character arcs, terrible rehashed script, plot holes & pointless battles, then please, do yourself a favour and GO READ THE BOOKS! (So you can wait like the rest of us for the REAL conclusion…)
Feel the Fear & Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers
I vividly recall this book being on my mum’s bookcase during my childhood however, I didn’t actually read more than the title until I was about 25.
I had recently ended a significant relationship and my heart was heavy. Those who have experienced the deep, fluctuating trauma of a broken heart (which I assume is, in fact everyone), will understand the inability to do anything. The paralysis that occurs when you are constantly evaluating every choice you make because of the little voice in your head that says “you f**ked up there, you’re never going to do better”, juuuuust…stop. Everything. For some people, this paralysis by analysis happens all day every day, regardless of a broken heart or not.
I consider myself one of the lucky ones to have another inner voice that counteracts the negative thinking. The inner voice that says “No. It’s going to be ok. There’s a solution to the problem, we’ve just got to find it”.
For me, that solution was found in this book.
At the time, I felt an overwhelming pressure from within, a sense of fear that I was screwing up my life, compounded by the residual lapping waves of heartbreak. Then, there was a flickering memory of this title from my childhood, so I sought it out.
I will say that upon first read I understood the information presented, but didn’t execute the practical tasks suggested. Then, I re-read it and followed the instructions; I wrote mantras. I listed my fears in detail and took steps to over come them. I would repeat the phrasings over and over again in the car on my way to work, then again on the way home. I pumped myself up so much that the fears eventually became afterthoughts.
I can say that this book helped me out a great deal. It helped because it gave me tools to help take control of my mental and emotional state. But having the tools and using the tools are different things. So, if you feel like this book could help you, take my word for it when I say that it’s not going to put the work in for you, you have to do that yourself.
You can do it!
The Calorie Fallacy by Dr Libby Weaver
A “calorie” is a unit of measure that denotes the amount of energy needed to heat one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius. What does this have to do with your food intake, you ask??? – ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!
Allow me to quote the great Morpheus when I say; “You’ve been living in a dreamworld, Neo”.
Ok, granted. There is some truth in the “energy in/energy out” equation. That is, if you overeat you will gain weight, and if you under-eat you will lose weight. BUT (it’s a big “but”) for about 95% of you, that’s NOT the reason you’re struggling with body composition.
For those of you who don’t know, Dr Libby is one of Australasia’s leading nutritional biochemists (a fancy AF title!). She’s written a bunch of work which essentially focusses around hormone control, which for about 95% of you, IS the reason you’re struggling with body composition.
I first read Accidentally Overweight by Dr Libby back in 2012 and thought “she gets it!”. Since then I’ve read a bunch of her other work including Rushing Woman’s Syndrome and Beauty From The Inside Out (we’re pretty much best buds now too).
Whilst her books are targeted to a female audience, fundamentally, we are ALL sacks of meat that are slaves to our hormones, so men (YES, I’M TALKING TO YOU, MEN!), it’s important that you understand this stuff too.
The reason The Calorie Fallacy is on this list over the rest, is because it cuts holes in the heart of a major issue within the fitness industry – that the calorie equation is the be all & end all. Let me ask you this (if you’re still there, that is), how many calories have you burned in the time that you’ve been reading this article? If you know, please post your results to Instagram & tag me. Because the fact is that it varies. It varies from person to person, from day to day and there is absolutely NO REASON that an equation that is OVER 100 YEARS OLD should still hold so much weight over how we fuel ourselves. Consider just for a moment, the sheer difference in the foodstuffs between our grandparent’s childhoods and ours.
In this book, you’ll learn the history of the caloric equation and RDIs (reference daily intake), as well as a deeper understanding of HOW YOUR BODY WORKS.