The Primal Connection – My Review
If you haven’t heard, Mark Sisson just released a new book titled The Primal Connection.
I interviewed Mark about his new book, and you can read that interview in a special issue of Paleo Living.
This is my own review of the book, but first…
Disclaimer: I’ve been looking forward to this book for a long time.
Typically, when I look forward to books or movies, one of two things happens. Either:
1. I get really disappointed because the book or movie failed to meet my high expectations (about 75% of the time); or
2. The book or movie exceeds my already-high expectations, and I love it that much more.
The fact that I’m writing this review of The Primal Connection is proof in this case that I had the latter experience, since I won’t waste my time writing reviews of books that I don’t like.
(And honestly, Mark doesn’t need my help selling his book…)
However, if you do want to buy the book, then here is a link to the book on Amazon (if you click the link then buy, I’ll get a small portion of the price you pay Amazon):
What You WILL and WILL NOT Get By Reading The Primal Connection
Unlike many reviews, this is not a simple list of the things I liked and disliked. You can find plenty of that on Amazon.
This is my list of the things that you can and cannot expect to get out of reading The Primal Connection. It’s unlikely that you’ll like all the same things I like, so I hope that this format is generally more helpful.
1. You WILL Get A Ton of Knowledge
I’m extremely hesitant say that knowledge is the first thing that you’ll get from this book. Very few people are reading just to gain more knowledge.
However, the amount of information in this book is probably the single most remarkable part.
There are just over 100 notes and citations in the back of the book, but it’s clear from chapter-to-chapter and paragraph-to-paragraph that Mark has read everything under the sun on most of these topics, from Paleontology to Psychology to Physiology.
Why is this important?
This book is about improving pretty much every aspect of your life, from social connectedness to posture to play. There are underlying Primal principles, but it’s still a huge body of knowledge that requires the knowledge of specialists, and Mark is a master of integrating them all.
All-too-often, books of this scope are fluffy and badly researched. Not the case here.
2. You WILL NOT Get Many Easy Answers
There were times when I was reading The Primal Connection that I’d wonder where to start implementing everything I just learned.
And that’s despite Mark including both side-notes and lists at the end of each chapter to suggest ways to incorporate what he’s just told you into your life.
Not having easy answers is neither good nor bad. It’s just a matter of fact, and it’s necessitated by the subject matter.
As I noted in point #1 above, this book is literally packed with information about how to live a better life. (In many ways, it’s like some of Tim Ferris’s books, such as The Four-Hour Chef or the The Four-Hour Body.)
For instance, there are plenty of tips you can give for staying more tightly connected with your very close friends and family, for slowing down, for engaging in Play, or for reconnecting with Nature. But no matter how many tips you give, these things require effort and continued vigilance.
Why is this important?
Don’t read this book expecting to find 2 or 3 easy rules that will completely change your life. The Primal Blueprint was much simpler in that respect. Although it focused on more than just diet, if you remove grains, legumes, and processed food from your diet, then you’re probably 80% of the way there in terms of nutrition.
The Primal Connection is about finding ways that your life is disconnected from your Primal roots and trying to re-connect one step at a time. I personally think that’s the healthiest way to approach life and health, but it won’t necessarily give you huge results in a week or even a month.
3. You WILL Get Excited
Ok, I’m only guessing that you’ll get excited, but it’s an educated guess.
I read a lot about health, so I often don’t get very excited about articles or books because they essentially re-hash information that I’ve already read.
The great thing about the Primal Connection is that there are just too many topics in the book for that to happen.
For instance, after reading Mark’s chapter on The Nature Connection (dealing with – you guessed it – our connection to nature), I was ready to immediately run around outside. It was 2:00 am, however, so I saved it for the next day.
Obviously, you may get more or less excited about particular chapters, but the book is great in that it speaks to many different aspects of your life – your social network, your relationship with nature, your connection to your body, the ways you talk to yourself, and even the ways that you play and enjoy yourself.
Why is this important?
If you’re like me, you’ve read more about nutrition and exercise than you’ll ever be able to remember. (Most of it probably wasn’t worth remembering.)
Mark, though, is addressing topics that get a lot less press but that are just as important to your overall health and happiness (particularly the latter). That’s exciting, because I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for ways to be happier.
4. You WILL Definitely Discover Ways to Improve Your Own Life
My favorite chapter of the book: Playing Dirty, where Mark makes a case that both our immune system and our sanity are greatly benefited by coming into more contact with dirt and soil. (I’m seriously thinking of starting a garden on my balcony.)
The chapter of the book that I personally need to work on the most: The Inner Circle, in which Mark cites loads of research that we, as humans, need a lot of good contact with a tight social network. (I’m paraphrasing – his observations and suggestions are slightly more complex.)
You may or may not find those particular chapters helpful. Maybe you work in dirt everyday and have a very tight group of 15 friends and family.
If that’s the case, though, you’ll probably find that the other chapters (maybe on slowing down, going barefoot, or playing more) will speak to you and your life.
Why is this important?
It only takes a few things in our lives to make us not very healthy. No matter how nutritiously you eat, for instance, a bad strain of Salmonella is still going to wreck you. It’s the same for other areas of our life. Not playing enough, never slowing down and de-stressing, not getting enough sun or contact with nature – any of these things can lead to a life that is out of whack.
One of Mark’s main strengths is that he’s not myopic, and he doesn’t believe that one fix is going to solve all of your problems. That’s why The Primal Connection offers a more global view of ways that you can figure out, for yourself, the things that you need to work on the most.
5. You WILL NOT be Disappointed
Yeah – this is just a way for me to round this out to 5 points, since I’ve said most of what I think above.
I’m sure that there are people who won’t enjoy The Primal Connection. It’s impossible to write a book that’s universally appealing.
But from the moment you pick up The Primal Connection, you’ll know that it’s speaking to a part of you. The Primal Connection addresses parts of our human identity that many of us are out of touch with.
Rather than come up with just a few mental exercises or re-hashed tips, The Primal Connection attempts a deeper understanding of the evolutionary and physical roots that underlie the ways that we behave in and react to the world.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free for review purposes. I received no other compensation, and this review is based on my own opinion. Note that some links on this page (and throughout this website) are affiliate links.