10 Mar The 3 Best Books I Read Last Year

I’ve done this every year for the last 7 years (this year’s post is going out a bit later than usual).

I reflect on the best books I that read at the end of the year and then come up with my “best of” list.

In keeping tradition, I wanted to share my list of “best books” from last year (2018).

There’s something different about this year’s list compared to the past, so let me tell you about that first.

In the past, I’ve always listed my top 5 books.

This year I have just 3 books to share with you.

Why just 3 books this year?

The reason is simple.

As I kept thinking about the best books I read in 2018 (in the areas of strength, health, or performance) it was always these 3 that kept coming to mind.

In a sense, this year’s list came relatively easy.

By the way, if you’d like to see last year’s list which contained 5 books plus a few extras, click the link below, you’ll find that here:


As I write this, I’ve got all 3 print edition books right here on my desk (and I recommend print books for you, in case you’re wondering).

To learn about my strategies for reading and learning, please refer to this comprehensive post that can help you out, How To Become An Unstoppable Learning Machine.

If you don’t have any of these books yet, then you can decide by the end of this article which one will be the most relevant and helpful for you at this time.

Here’s my list:

The first book is Bridging The Gap From Rehab To Performance by Sue Falsone. As a former clinician, I totally appreciate this book.

(Bridging The Gap, May 2018)


While this one is geared mostly for strength coaches, trainers, and/or rehab professionals, my opinion is that any serious fitness enthusiast could also benefit from this book.

Why? Perspective and understanding from both sides of the coin, rehabilitation through athletic performance.

As the book states, “every person is an athlete in sport or life.

And, understanding pain is potentially as important as understanding performance.

The book is a systematic overview about how to eliminate pain and return to high performance with an organizational framework. It is an approach. If you’ve ever had an injury, then you know that it can be a tough road to get back to 100%. Sue Falzone is a physical therapist and performance coach who has helped countless high level athletes return to high performance by formulating the map she created to truly bridge the gap from pain to performance.

What’s really fascinating about this book and Sue’s system contains such a broad exposure to so many other highly regarded methods and approaches to pain and performance (ex. FMS, DNS, Janda, PRI, and many more). If you’re a coach, it’s important to understand the rehab specialist’s perspective and vice versa. Going from pain to performance is a collective effort to ensure the highest rate of success.

To learn more about this book directly from the author, you can listen to the podcast interview I did with her by clicking the link below:


To learn more about Sue Falsone, visit SueFalsone.com

Next, is The System, Soviet Periodization For The American Strength Coach by Johnny Parker, Al Miller, Rob Panariello with Jeremy Hall. I love The System

(The System, November 2018)


This book is incredible and over time, I think this will be one of the most significant contributions to the strength and performance literature.

How could you possibly argue that a book that contains the wisdom and experiences of decades of practical training applications by such world-class coaches would be anything short of transformational?

While this is written as reproducible training system for strength coaches, I believe the principles and insights in the book can be applied to any athlete, lifter, or fitness enthusiast for successful long-term training. After all, the coaches who wrote the book have collectively used the system for 28 years and it has been noted to produce high-performing athletes from many levels and backgrounds.

The system is, well, a system. 

It’s a system that is built on fundamentals. It may take some time experimenting with specific training applications and I believe the authors have done an excellent job in simplifying what could be originally be perceived as complicated – it’s not.

As a matter of fact, one of the authors and a truly great person, Coach Johnny Parker was a featured guest on the podcast. He perfectly explained how to use The System with a very simple explanation during the interview. You can listen to that great session below.


To learn more about The System, visit OTPBooks.com

Finally, Atomic Habits by James Clear could possibly be one of the most important and transformational books you ever read.

(Atomic Habits, October 2018)


Yes, this book is different from the previous two on this list.

But, I can’t think of any athlete, coach, fitness enthusiast, or successful person that wouldn’t benefit from leveling up in the habit department, you know what I mean?

Habits are the key to success in any area of life. This is fact, not theory. Habits make us or break us. That’s why I think this book is so important for every reader.

In Atomic Habits, James Clear breaks down the latest science and practice of successful habit development. Here’s an interesting fact about James Clear. He is a former competitive Olympic weightlifter, so he gets strength, power, and performance. 

Anyway, there are so many insights and applications that you will have to be selective in teasing out the information that applies to you so that you can put things into action immediately. I took away things that I was able to put into practice while reading, so the concepts are very actionable.

Again, there are very few people I can think of who could not benefit from improving their daily habits – or what I like to call “Daily Success Rituals.” This is something I always seem to be working on myself. While I’m making strides with success habits, I’ve still got a long way to go – and bet you do, too. It doesn’t mater if you’re an everyday fitness enthusiast or elite coach reading this, the book can help you improve, develop, and grow in some way (a perfect example is the 1% rule that’s covered in the book).

I felt that this book was so important that I did a podcast episode about it.


To learn more about James Clear, visit JamesClear.com

Keep in mind, when you decide to upgrade your habits, you massively upgrade your life in just about every way.

There you have it.

These are my top books of 2018 and from my perspective these are 3 very important books.

I hope I’m not forgetting about any major book that I read, but it was these 3 that kept popping in my head when I looked back at last year.

In closing, I want to say one critical thing about the value of reading.

If you read a book and apply just one thing, it can make all the difference in your life.

That was a big lesson a mentor and good friend taught me many, many years ago and I never forgot that.

If you learn and apply just one thing, then that book is worth your time.

One actionable insight can change your life.

Something to remember.

Spread the word! Please share this on Facebook, Twitter or anywhere you’d like.


Scott’s background as a strength coach, athlete, and former clinician are the basis for his one-of-a-kind approach to teaching strength, human movement, and peak performance. Scott is dedicated to helping serious fitness enthusiasts, athletes, and lifters all over the world, regardless of age, background, or training experience, become the best version of themselves through improved strength and skill development for a lifetime of health, happiness, and high-performance.

Scott is the passionate host of The Rdella Training Podcast, a leading weekly fitness podcast in Apple Podcasts where he interviews the most brilliant minds in the industry. Finally, he is the author of The Edge of Strength, available in Amazon and currently working on his follow-up book. To learn more about Scott, please visit our About Page.

Get stronger, perform better, and evolve into the athlete you were meant to be.

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