The KineSophy Library: Featured Books About Physical Fitness, Sports and Philosophy

In the many years I’ve worked on KineSophy, I have had the privilege to correspond with several luminaries in related fields and read their books about physical fitness, sports, philosophy and society. The following list covers all the books and authors who have appeared on KineSophy, with links to their books and featured pieces on the site. Books are organized alphabetically by the author’s last name.

Toughness by Jay Bilas, one of KineSophy's featured books about physical fitness, sports and philosophy

Toughness: Developing True Strength On and Off the Court by Jay Bilas

ESPN basketball analyst and former Duke University player Jay Bilas explores the many facets of toughness in this New York Times bestselling book that combines Bilas’ personal experiences with his stories about several basketball legends. Read my review of Toughness here.

Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement by Katy Bowman

Biomechanist Katy Bowman pushes back against modern sedantarism by examining physical movement at the cellular level and throughout history. In addition, she offers a three-level movement program for people of all fitness levels. Read my review of Move Your DNA here.

Meathead: Unraveling the Athletic Brain by Allison Brager

Army neuroscientist and competitive CrossFit athlete Allison Brager mixes scientific research with anecdotes from her varied athletic experiences to unravel the neuroscience of exercise for professional athletes and weekend warriors. Read my interview with Allison here.

Fit at Mid-Life: A Feminist Fitness Journey by Samantha Brennan and Tracy Isaacs

Philosophy professors and fitness enthusiasts Samantha Brennan and Tracy Isaacs explain how they got the fittest they’d ever been by age fifty while also feeling more comfortable and confident in their bodies. Read my interview with Samantha and Tracy here.

The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity by Nadine Burke Harris

Physician Nadine Burke Harris demonstrates how childhood adversity changes our biological systems. She also discusses the physical and emotional wellness measures that can help people break free of toxic stress. Read my interview with Nadine here.

Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient by Norman Cousins

Author and editor Norman Cousins details his fight against a mysterious debilitating disease in this best-selling book about the importance of taking charge of your own health. Read my review of Anatomy of an Illness here.

Meditative Fitness: The Art and Practice of the Workout by Clark Hamilton Depue

CrossFit athlete and coach Clark Hamilton Depue shows how to integrate meditation into your fitness routine. His approach is ideal for those looking to achieve self-realization and growth in mind, heart, body, and soul. Read my interview with Clark here.

First Steps: How Upright Walking Made Us Human by Jeremy DeSilva

Paleoanthropologist Jeremy DeSilva explains how humans evolving to walk on two legs was a gateway to our technological abilities, our thirst for exploration and our use of language, and may have laid the foundation for our species’ traits of compassion, empathy and altruism. Read my interview with Jeremy here and my review of First Steps here.

The Way of the Runner by Adharanand Finn

Guardian editor, runner and author Adharanand Finn immerses himself in Japan’s one-of-a-kind running culture to discover what it might teach us about the sport and about the country. Read my interview with Adharanand here.

Let’s Get Physical: How Women Discovered Exercise and Reshaped the World by Danielle Friedman

Editor, journalist and author Danielle Friedman blends reporting and personal narrative to explore the untold history of women’s exercise culture and how women have translated physical strength into other forms of power. Read my interview with Danielle here.

True to Form: How to Use Foundation Training for Sustained Pain Relief and Everyday Fitness by Dr. Eric Goodman

Chiropractor Eric Goodman demonstrates how to improve your posture and incorporate some simple poses into your daily routine in order to eliminate back pain. This simple guide is one of my go-to books about physical fitness. Read my complete review of True to Form here.

Sweat: A History of Exercise by Bill Hayes

A cultural, scientific, literary and personal history of exercise that chronicles how different forms of physical fitness have evolved over time and dissects the dynamics of human movement. Read my interview with Bill here.

The Art of Cycling: Philosophy, Meaning, and a Life on Two Wheels by James Hibbard

Former professional cyclist and philosophy student James Hibbard offers a meditative love letter to the sport of cycling that explores how the cultivation of physical skills can shed new light on age-old philosophical questions of selfhood, meaning and purpose. Read my interview with James here.

Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance by Alex Hutchinson

Former Canadian national team long-distance runner and current award-winning science journalist Alex Hutchinson follows the Nike training project to run a two-hour marathon. In doing so, he discovers how we all can go farther, push harder and achieve more than we think we’re capable of. Read my interview with Alex here and my review of Endure here.

Lifting Heavy Things: Healing Trauma One Rep at a Time by Laura Khoudari

Strength trainer and trauma practitioner Laura Khoudari offers an innovative approach to healing after trauma, using strength training as an therapeutic embodied movement practice. Read my interview with Laura here.

Fail Better: Why Baseball Matters by Mark Kingwell

Philosopher and lifetime baseball fan Mark Kingwell offers a love letter to baseball combined with philosophical reflections on how this game provides some profound lessons on the significance of human failure. Read my interview with Mark here.

Lift: Fitness Culture from Naked Greeks and Acrobats to Jazzercise and Ninja Warriors by Daniel Kunitz

Editor and author Daniel Kunitz delivers a cultural history of physical fitness that examines the ways human exercise has changed over time and what we can learn from our ancestors. Read my interview with Daniel here.

Perfect Motion: How Walking Makes Us Wiser by Jono Lineen

World traveler and author Jono Lineen shows how walking has created fundamental changes in human bodies and minds. In particular, walking has made us more creative, helped us learn, constructed our perception of time, strengthened our resilience, and more. Read my interview with Jono here.

Unplugged: Evolve From Technology to Upgrade Your Fitness, Performance and Consciousness by Brian Mackenzie, Dr. Andy Galpin and Phil White

Strength and conditioning coach Brian Mackenzie, kinesiology professor Andy Galpin and Emmy-nominated writer Phil White combine to break down the value and limitations of technology in athletic performance and fitness. Together, they show readers how to improve self-awareness and self-reliance by eventually moving away from technology during training sessions. Read my review of Unplugged here.

Unbreakable Runner: Unleash the Power of Strength and Conditioning for a Lifetime of Running Strong by Brian Mackenzie and T.J. Murphy

Mackenzie and athlete and journalist T.J. Murphy tear down long-held beliefs about how to train for long-distance running races. In their place, they offer a new approach for a lifetime of healthy, powerful running. Read my review of Unbreakable Runner here.

A Walking Life: Reclaiming Our Health and Our Freedom One Step at a Time by Antonia Malchik

Journalist Antonia Malchik explores how walking is fundamental to our being human, how we’ve designed it out of our lives, and how it is essential that we reembrace it. Read my interview with Antonia here.

Getting Physical: The Rise of Fitness Culture in America by Shelly McKenzie

In the first book on the modern history of exercise in America, Shelly McKenzie chronicles the governmental, scientific, commercial, and cultural forces that united to make exercise an all-American habit. Read my interview with Shelly here.

Splash!: 10,000 Years of Swimming by Howard Means

Splash! tracks the history of swimming from ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome to the modern Olympics and explores the sport’s connections to religion, fashion, architecture, public health, colonialism, and segregation and integration. Read my interview with author Howard Means here.

The Roll Model: A Step-by-Step Guide to Erase Pain, Improve Mobility, and Live Better in Your Body by Jill Miller

Physical self-care guru Jill Miller explains the science behind self-massage and shows how to use her specially designed therapy balls to erase pain and improve physical performance. Read my interview with Jill here and my review of The Roll Model here.

Why Running Matters: Lessons in Life, Pain and Exhilaration From 5K to the Marathon by Ian Mortimer

Historian Ian Mortimer considers the meaning of running as he approaches his fiftieth birthday in this memoir on companionship, endurance, ambition, hope, conviction, determination, self-respect and inspiration. Read my interview with Ian here.

Good Sport: Why Our Games Matter—and How Doping Undermines Them by Thomas Murray

Bioethicist Thomas Murray examines what we really care about in sports and explores how new technologies from fiberglass vaulting poles to performance-enhancing drugs challenge those values. Read my interview with Thomas here.

Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do by Wallace J. Nichols

Marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols dives into the reasons we feel drawn to water and explores the many physical, mental and emotional benefits of being in, on or near the water. Read my interview with J here.

Free+Style: Maximize Sport and Life Performance with Four Basic Movements by Carl Paoli and Anthony Sherbondy

Former gymnast and current coach Carl Paoli and human brain researcher Anthony Sherbondy pair up to deconstruct human movement and show readers how to optimize their own movements and unlock real strength. Read my review of Free+Style here.

Knowing the Score: What Sports Can Teach Us About Philosophy (And What Philosophy Can Teach Us About Sports) by David Papineau

Philosophy professor David Papineau uses examples from sports to explain some of philosophy’s most profound questions and applies philosophical lessons to debates in sports. It is one of the most profound books about physical fitness, sports and philosophy I have ever read. Read my interview with David here and my review of Knowing the Score here.

Fit Nation: The Gains and Pains of America’s Exercise Obsession by Natalia Mehlman Petrzela 

Historian and professor Natalia Petrzela examines why Americans are more obsessed with exercise than ever—and yet also unhealthier—in this exploration of American fitness culture told through the lenses of history and social justice movements. Read my interview with Natalia here.

Fit Citizens: A History of Black Women’s Exercise from Post-Reconstruction to Postwar America by Ava Purkiss

Historian and professor Ava Purkiss explores how Black women used various exercises to demonstrate their physical and moral fitness for citizenship against white-led efforts to restrict Black freedom of movement. Read my interview with Ava here.

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John Ratey

Neuropsychiatrist Dr. John Ratey demonstrates the many ways that physical exercise impacts the brain to reduce stress, improve mood, prevent memory loss, increase intellect and boost cognitive function. Read my interview with John here.

Ready to Run: Unlocking Your Potential to Run Naturally by Kelly Starrett and T.J. Murphy

Strength and conditioning coach and physical therapist Kelly Starrett teams up with Murphy to apply his movement and mobility philosophy to running and running-related injuries. This book provides performance standards and pain prevention and reduction techniques to help all runners achieve peak performance. Read my review of Ready to Run here.

Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running With My Dog Brought Me Back From the Brink by Nita Sweeney

Ultramarathoner, mindfulness coach and author Nita Sweeney shares her unforgettable story of overcoming emotional and physical challenges to complete her first marathon and beat depression. Read my interview with Nita here.

How to Think About Exercise by Damon Young

Award-winning philosopher and author Damon Young uses philosophy to explore big questions in physical fitness and offers advice for more focused and mindful exercise. Read my interview with Damon here.

Stay tuned. Future books about physical fitness, sports, philosophy and society featured on KineSophy will be added to this page.