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New Year’s Reading List

This holiday season I was ”gifted” with a box of my mail from the IRON MAN offices in Oxnard, California. I don’t get much snail mail there, and what I do get is from people who don’t know that I’m seldom (if ever) seen there anymore, technology making it possible for people in multiple locations to publish a magazine together without ever actually seeing each other. As usual, the bulk of it was P.R. releases and packets for products, people and places that would be more appropriate if I were the senior editor of Self rather than a hardcore bodybuilding and training mag. I also got a few letters—there’s always at least one enterprising young man who wants contact numbers for a list of fitness and bodybuilding stars (not a chance), one who wants to know how to meet sexy muscular women (try a gym), one from our incarcerated population of readers and a couple that are really, truly for me, like the puppy-covered thank-you note in the accompanying photo.

I look at everything, eventually (you never know where an idea will come from); however, when I went to put the most recent box on the to-do pile, I found the previous box, which had arrived during a deadline and was by then partially hidden by a stack of magazines and full of very old mail.

Guilt and a desire to see the tabletop led finally to exploration and a resulting treasure trove.  In addition to free issues of Consumer Reports and Copyediting (an excellent newsletter for language wonks like myself), there were quite a few books—you remember books?—so  I thought I’d share a few of the highlights, Some of them are available on multiple platforms. If anything strikes your fancy, just go to and type the title in the search line.

The Body Shop: Parties, Pills, and Pumping Iron—or My Life in the Age of Muscle, by Paul Solotaroff. This looks like a good read—and a role for whoever’s going to be the next Johnny Depp. The author, a contributing editor to Men’s Journal and Rolling Stone, chronicles his experiences getting big and buff in New York the mid-1970s and all that went with it. Says publisher Little, Brown and Company: it’s “the funny and poignant story of this young man’s transformation from beanpole to bodybuilder in the days of disco and decadence.… a thoroughly rowdy memoir that is as sharp as it is wickedly funny.” It’s definitely on the to-read pile.

The Road Warriors: Danger, Death, and the Rush of Wrestling, by Joe “Animal” Laurinaitis with Andrew William Wright. This one is due out in March, and it’s also a memoir—of how Laurinaitis, half of the famed tag-team the Road Warriors (with Mike “Hawk” Hegstrand) “rose to the pinnacle of the wrestling world.” It’s “an action-packed, adrenaline ride through the roller-coaster career of the legendary tag-teamers,” says publisher Medallion Press. This one is definitely going on my to-read pile as well, if only so the next time my old neighbor Katie asks me smugly, “How are the wrestlers?” (her idea of a joke about my job), I’ll have something to tell her.

Mr. America: How Muscular Millionaire Bernarr McFadden Transformed the Nation Through Sex, Salad, and the Ultimate Starvation Diet, by Mark Adams. The production editors who work with me at IRON MAN, not being bodybuilders themselves, always love our features about the history of the iron game, which goes hand in hand with the history of the muscle-magazine game. This biography, published by HarperCollins, of the early 20th-century character who created Physical Culture magazine and a $30 million media empire and left his mark on American society would be right up their alley.

The No Om Zone: A No-Chanting, No-Granola, No-Sanskrit Guide to the Healing Practice of Yoga by Kimberly Fowler and published by Rodale. I love to stretch and do a lot of it, especially at the ends of long deadline days spent in a desk chair gripping a mouse, but I’ve never been drawn to the idea of “yoga class.” The author has a DVD out, but the book looks like a good resource for do-it-yourselfing. In other words, she had me at “no chanting.”

Of course my favorite thing that came in the mail over the holidays was the February ’11 IRON MAN, starring Ava Cowan on the cover and featuring our first swimsuit spectacular in years. I’ve been kvelling since I first saw the layout a month ago—Mike Neveux was beyond inspired when he took Ava, Alicia Marie, Tiffany Toth, Nadine Dumas, Natasha Yi, Chady Dunmore and some hunky guys to the beach. Very different and exciting stuff.

Of course, the rest of the issue is terrific as well. It’s no secret that I think IRON MAN is the best training magazine around—and not just because I’m proud to help produce it. To find out about the February ’11 issue and get your copy, click here.

Speaking of beyond inspired, the new IRON MAN app, available for iPhone and many other mobile platforms, is now available—and it’s free. To get yours, click here, or text Ironmanmag to 46275.

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