The Best Longevity Books (Until the Next One)
Just a few years ago, you could count the published books on longevity and aging on the fingers of one hand.
These days, you can enjoy titles on specific longevity sub-topics, general ‘pop science’ titles, and deep dives into aging by the smartest researchers. I love to read and enjoy nothing more than seeking for take-aways from the latest aging books. Getting the best overall value from your reading time requires being selective.
Firstly, this page highlights the best longevity books – based on those I have read so far – with my summary of exactly what to expect. After that, some honourable mentions – then a quick rant at the end about comments at Amazon.
Quick Note: There are no commercial links here… I don’t want money to influence my opinion. You can find these books with a simple search at Amazon, or via the author’s websites.
Longevity Books: Five Favourites
Lifespan: Why We Age and Why We Don’t Have To. By Dr David Sinclair and Matthew D LaPlante
Lifespan was my introduction to longevity and aging science. I have zero hesitation in recommending it to anyone new to healthy aging. This book has three parts. The first introduces the information theory of aging. Covering how Dr Sinclair believes that epigenic changes are key to understanding how we age – and that interventions (and a healthy lifestyle) can slow this form of cellular damage.
This book is more than just a single theory. It covers drugs and interventions to slow the aging process. It then goes on to imagine a future with personalised medicine, longevity drugs and a fitter, healthier aged population.
While many longevity books focus on the science alone, Lifespan covers the socioeconomic effects at length. Key questions covered include how longer lifespans affect the environment, and how approaches to retirement, education and careers will change.
The approachable clear science is coupled with Matthew D LaPlante’s sharp writing skills.
Find out more (and my nomination for longevity book sub-title of the decade) in my detailed review of David Sinclair’s Lifespan.
Age Later: Health Span, Life Span, and the New Science of Longevity. By Nir Barzilai
When someone with the resume of Nir Barzilai publishes a book on healthy aging, it should jump to the top of your must-read list.
This introduction is written with intelligent non-specialists in mind, it covers key topics covering aging as a disease, blue zones, and the complex link between cholesterol, IGF-1 and mitochondria and your genes. .
The concept of Blue Zones is popular in the mainstream press. People in specific geographical locations live longer lives. By studying their health habits, diet and interactions, optimal aging strategy is determined. It turns out that leafy greens, active lives, reduced meat consumption and social support make for a magical combination.
Barzilai’s research covers centenarians outside of the Blue Zones. Some tales of super-aging New Yorkers are entertaining as well as enlightening.
A rapidly aging population will put strains on healthcare and services that society is unprepared for. This section of the book is a warning that obesity levels, smoking and bad lifestyle choices need to be addressed now to avoid major problems later.
I strongly recommend this book, both as an introduction to longevity science and to how people enjoying long lives right now are optimising.
My detailed review of Age Later by Nir Barzilai has five big take-aways from this wonderful longevity book.
Jellyfish Age Backwards: Natures Secrets to Longevity. By Nicklas Brendborg
Jellyfish age backwards starts with a remarkable description of how some jellyfish rejuvenate – with parts breaking off, becoming stem cells – and regrowing from scratch into adults.
This book will not appeal to readers already steeped in the science of healthy aging.
Instead, it is a beautifully written introduction to the main topics of longevity. If you know someone that is turned off by science, and want to introduce them to the field, then Jellyfish Age Backwards is the right book.
A big take away for me is the discussion on inferring benefits to aging from skewed population samples. Brendborg uses the example of declaring that red wine has longevity benefits. Data shows that wine drinkers are more likely to be educated, middle class and non-smokers compared to the general population. Naturally, they live longer, and enjoy better health. Saying that the wine is responsible would be a mistake.
This book is full of stories from nature and history. Where else can you learn that bloodletting used to go with a haircut, or that smaller people live longer? As a ‘gentle’ introduction to the field of longevity goes, it is hard to beat.
My usual five take-away points on my detailed review of Jellyfish Age Backwards here.
Super Human: The Bulletproof Plan to Age Backwards and Maybe Even Live Forever. By Dave Asprey
Let’s face it, Dave Asprey is a longevity rockstar.
Not only does he campaign for longer, healthier lives, he lives on the edge of research as a self-proclaimed human guinea pig.
In Super Human, Asprey sets out his seven pillars of aging. There are practical and simple tips to optimise your own health. Sure, his brand Bulletproof coffee gets mentioned (as it does in his later books). Don’t let that put you off. Step back from the advice and you quickly see how those small lifestyle changes add up. Asprey’s goal is to get to 70 or 80 in great health, and hope that the scientists have created safe life-extending drugs by then. Will this plan get him (and you) to 180 years old? Well, who knows – though what a fantastic goal to aspire to.
There are chapters covering the main ways we die, the pillars of aging (including actionable takes on using your circadian rhythm positively), avoiding environmental toxins and even stem cells.
This book is not ‘hard science.’ It is a bright, easy to digest overview of the key components of aging and longevity research. What shines through is Dave’s enthusiasm for the field.
I recommend reading Super Human after ‘Lifespan’ and ‘Age Later.’ That way you’ll have a solid understanding of the science – and can apply Asprey’s tips using it.
Detailed review to follow – just as soon as I get my notes turned into a post!
Glucose Revolution: The life-changing power of balancing your blood sugar. By Jessie Inchauspe
I chose an outlier for number #5 – Glucose Revolution mixes science with lifestyle.
This book is important because it hammers home the destructive role that sugar and simple carbohydrates plan in healthy aging. It does it in a way which will help millions of people that would never consider reading a longevity science book like Lifespan or Super Human.
Jessie Inchauspe became famous on Instagram under her ‘Glucose Goddess’ channel.
In Glucose Revolution she explains how sugars damage our health in detail. This includes weight gain, and the knock-on effects of visceral fat on immune health and chronic inflammation. The breakdown of simple carbs into glucose, and the specific dangers of refined carbohydrates are explained.
Unique to this book are graphics showing sugar spikes. There are before and after versions, based on Jessies own tests and experiments. You can see the difference something as simple as eating green vegetables before carbs has on blood sugar. Those experiments are interwoven with stories of real people facing genuine issues.
Glucose Revolution is a perfect ‘trojan horse.’ It is the book to give to someone that thinks their weight gain is ‘just their genes.’ This accessible book will (hopefully!) spike interest in exploring healthy aging further.
You’ll find details of why I love Glucose Revolution, despite it not being a longevity science specialist book in my detailed review here.
Wrapping Up: More Longevity Books Worth Reading
I’m sure this top 5 longevity books will become a top 10 before long.
In the meantime, here are some other books which I rate as well worth a read:
- True Age by Morgan Levine: Navigates the intersection between science and practical advice beautifully. Couple this with discussions on the reliability of epigenic clocks, and True Age is 100% worth a read.
- Drop Acid by David Perlmutter: Discusses the role of Uric Acid in multiple chronic health conditions, along with how to reduce this. In summary, reducing acid follows a familiar path for anyone that follows longevity science.
- The Telomere Effect by Elissa Epel and Elizabeth Blackburn: Telomeres are the end caps of chromosomes and shortening them causes major problems with cell replication and senescence. This easy-to-follow book covers the science in depth.
- Fast This Way: Dave Asprey delves into the details of fasting. The key take-away from this book is that you can fast with ‘cheats’ and still get almost all the benefits despite not feeling too hungry.
- The New Rules of Aging Well by Dr Frank Lipman: A holistic and functional view of longevity through diet, sleep, and physical activity. Mixes functional medicine with practical advice gained over decades in practice. Aging Well includes case studies to highlight each chapter.
More Books are Already on my Kindle
The list keeps on growing.
If you have a recommendation or want to chime in on my views of one or more of the books listed here – please do get in touch (contact info in the footer).
Wrapping Up: A Quick Rant About Longevity Book Reviews
I’ll end this page with a quick rant about reviews left on stores like Amazon.
Many longevity books are introductory. In fact, if you are familiar with the science, principles, and habits of health span extension – reading them is unnecessary.
But before you give a 2-star review, and write ‘nothing new here,’ (or similar) – think about this.
That book would be brilliant for someone brand-new to the field. It could be just what someone fairly new to healthy eating needs to get them committed.
For this reason, why not say that in the comments?
Instead of dismissively giving a great book a lower overall rating, note who it would benefit the best – and then give a fair review based on that.
Ok, rant over!