When I started reading Extreme: Why Some People Thrive at the Limits, I thought I was in for another slog through psychology studies not disimilar to the ones I have heard many a time (an unhappy consequence of modern popular science books). I was also somewhat annoyed that the initial studies presented pertained more to broader categories like sleep, diet, etc. I didn’t want to have to put two and two together, I wanted the author to tell me HOW to thrive at the limits.

At this point it’s worth noting that the title is “WHY some people thrive at the limits,” and not “HOW some people thrive at the limits.” In the case of “How” (what I was hoping for), I’d be given a method–a foolproof method for thriving during an extreme activity (example, scuba diving or horse riding). In the case of “Why,” I need to extrapolate from the studies and examples and apply them to my activities.

As I read on, however, my initial annoyance dissipated. The studies and examples used to illustrate the studies were highly relevant, and many of the studies were ones I had not heard about, that had been performed by NASA, etc. Furthermore, the examples really did lead me to the “how” I was seeking.

Soon, I was surprised to find myself utterly absorbed. And even though I did come to understand more about why people thrive, I am confident that with successive reading, and by putting some of these findings into practice myself, I can figure out the “how.”

Overall a very interesting book that I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys learning.

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Written by Candice Landau
I'm an active Divemaster, a lover of marine life and all efforts related to marine conservation, a newly certified tech diver and a member of various scuba organizations in the Pacific Northwest. I write articles related to diving and spend my non-diving time writing and providing digital marketing services to nonprofits and businesses.