Books I'm Reading

Healthy Healing: A Guide to Working Out Grief Using the Power of Exercise and Endorphins by MIchelle Steinke-Baumgard.

I'm in the middle of this new book, Steinke-Baumgard's part-memoir, part-self-help guide to using exercise to work through grief based on her blog, One Fit Widow. After losing her husband Mitch, a pilot, in an airplane crash in 2009, Steinke-Baumgard turned to exercise as an outlet for grief and a way to handle stress. It was a coincidence that only a few months before her husband's death the author had begun an exercise regimen to get control of her weight and to feel better in general. She credits that exercise routine with saving her and her family after her husband's death. Now re-married, Steinke-Baumgard left her corporate job to become a personal trainer and she formed the nonprofit Live the List, which focuses on helping widows and widowers embrace their bucket lists even as they work through their grief. Why does this book appeal to me? Grief is grief and whether it's over the loss of a loved one or the many losses we experience as we age, we can use exercise and endorphins to help us cherish our time on this earth. It's a great read.

Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection by Sharon Salzberg.

Salzberg's books Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation, published in 2014, and Real Happiness at Work: Meditations for Accomplishment, Achievement, and Peace, her follow-up book, published later in 2014, are widely believed to be what brought the idea and practice of mindfulness meditation to kitchen tables, workplace conferences, and even Capitol Hill. There are many great meditation teachers out there, but I consider Salzberg to be incredibly accessible and engaging. After reading Real Happiness and taking her 28-day meditation challenge, I find myself incorporating her mindfulness techniques regularly throughout my day, sometimes when I consciously set aside time to practice mindfulness and sometimes without thinking. One benefit of becoming more mindful is creating space between your emotions and your actions, and as a type-A New Yorker, I see the results and benefits of this  at home, at work, and in my community where everyone seems to be on edge because of our tense and uncertain political situation.

Her new book, Real Love, addresses this idea of using a mindfulness practice to develop compassion for yourself and for others around you, including casual acquaintances, such as the checkout person at the grocery store, and especially for those individuals, or leaders, you despise. In these uncertain and stressful political times, Salzberg is an antidote.

You Don't Look Your Age and Other Fairy Tales by Sheila Nevins.

This collection of personal essays by the 78-year-old CEO of HBO Documentary is so fantastic for a number of reasons. Aside from the fact that the essays are both touching and funny many of them are written in the 3rd person so you don't know whether Nevins is writing about herself or her friends or acquaintances. I listened to the audio version, which is also available on, where essays are read by celebrities, and then bought the hard cover book. For this one, especially after listening to Katie Couric's essay, you'll feel obliged to by the actual book, which is also available as an e-book. This is a must-read this summer.

Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.

Like many fans of this extraordinary author, I was devastated to learn about her death at the age of 51 a few weeks ago. I picked up this little book, Rosenthal's "not exactly a memoir," last summer when I was at the beach. Rosenthal's humor is sometimes subtle but it's ever present. She's charming and inspirational and her writing is fun. She makes reading fun. If you haven't seen her Modern Love piece in the NYT, "You May Want to Marry My Husband," just days before her death, go read it right now.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.

I agree with the Washington Post reviewer that his heartbreaking memoir is also uplifting and overwhelmingly inspiring in every way. And it's so well written and well crafted.

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth.

There's some controversy over the veracity of Duckworth's research but nevertheless this is an extremely thought-provoking and well-written book, which I listened to as an audiobook. Her point is that grit is a better predictor of success than intelligence or environment.

Running: A Love Story by Jen Miller.

If you click on the hyperlink to Jen Miller's book you'll see a picture of her Jack Russell. If you know me you'll let out a big Huhh! Her dog looks very much like our Monsieur Louie.  I'm a big fan of this journalist and although I came into running so much later I think we are very similar in how it factors into our everyday lives.  This is well written and inspirational - a quick read.

Anatomy for Runners by Jay Dicharry, MPT, SCS.

As I'm studying for my CPT exam through the National Strength and Conditioning Association I have to say this little book is my bible.  It's well organized and easy to read and kind of what I plan to publish in the future for exercise in general as we age.

Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind over Body by Jo Marchant.

Marchant is a PhD scientist but she's also a journalist so this book is a great read. Marchant cites medical research showing how our thoughts can help our bodies heal but at the same time she shares studies of how people suffering from chronic stress are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill and early aging. There are no answers here but lots to think about.

The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown.

I heard about this book when I was listening to an Octane Athletic Performance podcast interview with Irish physical therapist Darragh Sheehy. Really helpful exercises to get you to breathe more efficiently. Probably more info than you need, but if you find that you're getting winded early on in your workouts, you might find this book helpful.

Can You Go by Dan John.

I can't say enough great things about this little book.  "Can you go" is a phrase coaches use in football when a player shows up with stuff occupying his mind or physical issues.  The bottom line is, Can you go? If not, go home and come back when you can put in 100 percent effort.  For someone like me, this is a tough thing to learn. Listen to your body (including your heart and mind) - if it's not happening today, give it up and start fresh tomorrow.