The Psychology Of Fitness

Mindsets, Body Types and Everything In Between

Top 5 (plus 4) Books of 2010

I read close to 40 books (not including e-books) in 2010 and I generally only read those which already interest me.  In other words, trying to narrow this down to 5 is going to be difficult.

2 of 5 bookshelves in my room

Most of the books, not articles, of what I read in 2010 was based on ONE single premise – How to make people want to exercise more.  That premise was based on the simple question of:  Why do some people exercise and others don’t?   Therefore, almost all of the books I read were based on how people make decisions and how they change their own minds. Therefore, almost all of the books that I am going to list are based around that premise.  With that said, here were my favorite books for 2010.

1 – Influencer by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Al Switzler, Ron McMillan and David Maxfield- Many books talk about one aspect of change.  This book tackled them all.  My favorite part of this book comes in the first three chapters and it’s discussion about Vital Behaviors and Positive Deviance.  Vital Behaviors are those small behaviors that immensely change the habits and lifestyle of the individuals that make those changes.  I have a similar concept that I’ve never really talked about, called Small Variable Theory of Change.  I’ve always felt that the best way to change any habit was to change the small “tipping point” of an action that leads to a further cascade of bad decisions and hence habits.  By doing so, you loosen the effects of that habit and that allows you to take a different action.

Positive Deviance talks about noticing those behaviors that some people are doing and getting dramatically better results than everyone else in the surrounding areas.  This could be the teacher that gets dramatically better grades from her students, or business teams that deliver results while everyone else around them gets sub-par results.

2 – The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge – I read this book early in the year and although it doesn’t talk so much about “how to change” it talks brilliantly about how your brain actually changes.  I found it a superbly interesting read.

3 – Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Al Switzler and Ron McMillan- I think everyone should learn this skill.  In Talent is Overrated, Geoff Colvin talks about how every skill is learnable through deliberate practice.  I think if people were to actually get better at this skill, many changes that people are seeking would be much easier and would actually occur.

4 – Switch by Chip and Dan Heath- The Heath Brothers’ books became some of my favorite, almost instantly.  Switch talks about The Elephant, The Rider and The Path.  The Elephant is the emotional aspects we have to consider when making a change.  The Rider talks about the logical aspects we have to consider when making a change.  The Path talks about how the environmental aspects can cause or hinder us from the changes we seek.  Combine all three, along with interesting stories, and you have an great book.

5 – Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath – This book drove home the point of how stories help a person to take action, and how to construct those stories so they are remembered.  It’s a very interesting book that gives you a game-plan to inspire others to take on changes.

Honorable Mention:
A – How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer – Another book on how the brain works.  This was probably one of the best books on showing the reader, how the brain actually works through decisions.  How the emotional and logical areas of the brain fight through to make a decision and how each part is used during different parts of the decision making process.  This is also one of the reasons why economists that think we are completely rational are REALLY off.

B – Mindset by Carol Dweck – I did a lot of thinking on how to change beliefs.  This book poignantly pointed out what beliefs should be changed first, as they effect how we see the world in so many different ways.  A book that I think is an essential read for anyone that has given up hope on changing any aspect of their lives.

C – Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle by Tom Venuto – The only e-book to get the nod.  It’s smartly put together and although there is one point that isn’t sound scientifically, it is still an easy to read/comprehend book that offers nothing but solid advice on how to lose weight, while becoming more toned.

D – The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet – I got sick for the first time in 7 years in 2010.  So for two days I was bed-ridden with a fever and body aches.  This book was by my side the whole time I was awake.  This is the only fiction book on the list, although with the historical details it feels like a non-fiction.  Combine those details, along with strong character development and this mammoth of a book was a breeze to read.  Watching the mini-series on Starz, not so much.

Those are some of my favorite books of 2010.

What are some books that expanded your mind in 2010?

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