I have always been a bookworm, whenever I have had any sort of question, problem or need, I have turned to books. Over the last few years, I have stumbled upon a few books that have had a great impact on me. There are a lot of good books out there and many of them more specific than the ones you will find in this list but each of the books below has imparted a new outlook, a piece of knowledge or lesson on me that I have applied to my kayaking.
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
If you have ever heard of the 10,000 hours of practice maxim, this is the book it comes from. Gladwell tackles the tricky subject of what makes people successful at what they do and what factors influence that success. Whilst I think that maxim is unfortunately often taken too literally, I do think it gives a great perspective on just how much dedication and training it takes to excel in any field (or river).
The Sports Gene by David Epstein
Whilst Gladwell’s book focuses more on the mental and environmental aspects of success, David Epstein looks much more deeply into the physiological and genetic advantages and disadvantages that make each of us more suited to different tasks. Whilst it is often regarded as a detractor to Outliers, I think it’s a brilliant look at the other side of the coin. Some people view it as an ominous read but I feel that gaining a better understanding of our genetic roots and limitations it can help us to understand the areas we need to improve upon.
For anyone left feeling uninspired after reading this book, remember that at the moment there seems to be no such thing as an ideal body type for a kayaker. Our sport is thankfully much more about how you use the body that you have and how you interact with the water.
Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
Some people are gifted with exceptional river memories, the person with the most exceptional river memory I have ever come across also happens to be one of the best kayakers on the planet, Evan Garcia. Evan can provide detailed beta on almost any river he has ever kayaked down, regardless how many laps he has done down it. I am unfortunately not gifted with this ability, however, I am getting better at it, largely thanks to this book. Moonwalking with Einstein is a brilliant guide on how we should learn, how memory works and the techniques that can help us to recall memories better.
Deep by James Nestor
The ability to hold your breath for longer periods of time is the most overlooked safety technique in kayaking. This book provides a fun and fascinating insight into the world of free diving and gives you some brief instruction on how to hold your breath longer. The most worthwhile things that this book gave were; a greater understanding of just how far we can push the human body, a renewed motivation to work on my breath holding techniques, and a desire to learn more about the ocean.
Sensitive Chaos by Theodor Schwenk
For anyone that wants a better understanding of how water moves and works. This book made me not only look at water in a new light but far more importantly, it also made me pay more attention to it.