The Ultimate Paleo Book Guide for the Discerning Reader

paleo books, the primal blueprint, the paleo solution, everyday paleo, the paleo diet

You’re racing to your local bookshop, all fired up and ready to buy. You know what you’re gonna get – the latest paleo book. Visions of new recipes and smaller pants flash past your eyes.

Then you arrive. You stride to the diet and lifestyle section…to find they don’t have the book you want.

Oh, they have plenty of other paleo books, just not the one you’d set your heart on. And now you don’t know what to do. You were committed to leaving with a new book. You’d cleared your afternoon to sit down and read it. You don’t want to be distracted from your goal – today is the first day of the rest of your healthy life, right?

Or you’re on Amazon, initially driven there by a new paleo book link but then you notice all these “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” suggestions and you hesitate. You wonder if there’s a book better than your original plan and you feel uncertain because you hate to make a mistake, waste your money or, even worse, feel disappointed with your purchase.

The more you click, the more Amazon you read, the more time passes and the more confused you get. Such a plethora of great books! But which to buy…?

There are so many great paleo books out there now and more coming out all the time. Deciding which one is right for you wherever you are in your journey can be a little daunting. You suffer from too much choice and find it difficult to make a decision. Or, unable to make a good decision, you end up buying multiple books most of which end up unopened and unread on your nightstand.

But reading paleo books, having them around our home, serves several purposes:

  • They educate us as what, why and how we are doing this paleo thing
  • They act as cues to remind us to keep on track
  • They help create normality for paleo in a world that does not typically think this way

I’ve read most of the paleo books out there so I’ve put together a handy-dandy guide to buying them because there’s so many to choose from. It even has a key and everything.

Genre: Science, Recipe, Nutrition, Behavior/Psychology/Inspiration, Kids

Level and Geek Speak: I’ve characterized the books by the amount of science and scientific language in them on the basis that you, the reader, come with varying degrees of interest in the science behind the paleo diet. I have rated a couple of the recipe books as intermediate on the basis that some of the recipes are more complex.

  • Level: Beginner – little or no science, or in the case of recipe books – straightforward, no special culinary skills required; Intermediate – some science, or in the case of recipe books – more complicated recipes; Advanced – a science-based book.
  • Geek Speak: Rated 1 (little to no scientific language or data) to 5 (text book amount of scientific language or data.)

Some of the science books contradict each other and some of the recipe books do too – some would not use ingredients found in others – but like all media it is necessary to read a variety of material and come to your own conclusions. Here they are, in no particular order:

Genre: Behavior/Psychology/Inspiration

paleo, paleo diet, primal blueprint, primal connection, mark sissonPaleo Book #1. The Primal Connection – Mark Sisson

  • Genre: Behavior
  • Level: Beginner
  • Geek Speak: 2/5
  • Notes: This book takes the whole paleo/Primal discussion beyond purely diet and exercise. Based on the premise that we thrive under certain conditions determined by our genetics which influence our behavior, this is a fascinating look into our 21st century habits and a guidebook for aligning ourselves more closely with our ancestral heritage, and ergo, greater life fulfillment. I highly rate this book.

Paleo Book #2. Make Shift Happen – Dean Dwyer

  • Genre: Behavior/Psychology/Inspiration
  • Level: Beginner
  • Geek Speak: 0/5
  • Notes: Quick, straightforward read about lifestyle change. Apart from beginning and end, paleo is rarely mentioned.

paleo, paleo recipes, paleo diet, jason seib, the paleo coach, health, fitness, exercisePaleo Book #3. The Paleo Coach – Jason Seib

  • Genre: Behavior/Psychology/Inspiration
  • Level: Beginner – Intermediate
  • Geek Speak: 1/5
  • Notes: I’m quite surprised to give this 1/5 on the science talk because Jason is quite a science-y guy. But here he’s using his “tough love”, humorous style to deliver a few of his main messages – women don’t get big lifting weights, get rid of the scale, and, basically, get over yourself – make exercise as habitual as cleaning your teeth. He uses case studies of clients to make his points.

Paleo Book #4. The Paleo Miracle – Joseph Salama and Christina Lianos

  • Genre: Behavior/Psychology/Inspiration
  • Level: Beginner
  • Geek Speak: 0/5
  • Notes: A book entirely devoted to personal paleo success stories designed to inspire, encourage and demonstrate the effectiveness of the paleo diet to transform health.

paleo, paleo diet, diet success, diet tips, modern no nonsense guide to paleo, alison goldenPaleo Book #5. The Modern No-Nonsense Guide to Paleo – Alison Golden

  • Genre: Behavior/Psychology/Inspiration
  • Level: Beginner – Intermediate
  • Geek Speak: 1/5
  • Notes: A book that addresses aspects of paleo no other book examines – the behavior around making this lifestyle sustainable over the long-term. Discusses how being paleo successfully is a skill and includes over two hundred strategies for developing the behaviors necessary to make paleo an integral part of your day-to-day life.

Paleo Book #6. The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation – Mark Sisson

  • Genre: Behavior/Psychology/Inspiration
  • Level: Beginner
  • Geek Speak: 2/5
  • Notes: Great first book, some science but easily accessible, plenty of success stories for inspiration, clear step-by-step plan for easing into primal/paleo lifestyle.

Genre: Recipe

Paleo Book #7: Against The Grain – Orleatha Smith

  • Genre: Recipe
  • Level: Beginner
  • Geek Speak: 0/5
  • Notes: This short book is especially for people who batch cook and want to have a freezer-full of food already prepared. Most of the recipes are suitable for that. She also includes tips for planning, shopping and food prepping this way.

paleo, paleo recipes, paleo diet, the garden if eating, rachel albertPaleo Book #8. The Garden of Eating – Rachel Albert

  • Genre: Recipe, Nutrition
  • Level: Intermediate/Advanced
  • Geek Speak: 2/5
  • Notes: Deeply researched book presenting all you need to know about healthy eating the paleo way. Includes nearly two hundred pages on nutrition, meal planning, kitchen organization, and a further three hundred pages on recipes. You can by this book from the publisher, but Amazon contains reviews if you want to check them out.

Paleo Book #9. Paleo Comfort Foods – Julie and Charles Mayfield

  • Genre: Recipe
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Geek Speak: 0/5
  • Notes: Another huge, heavy recipe book jammed full of recipes. I like how they have just a few dessert recipes at the back indicating the amount of presence sweets should have in our diet.

Paleo Book #10. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Paleo – Neely Quinn and Jason Glaspey

  • Genre: Recipe, Behavior
  • Level: Beginner/Intermediate
  • Geek Speak: 2/5
  • Notes: I’ve labeled this intermediate because it has a little bit of everything for everyone – beginners, athletes, families. There are recipes, meal plans, shopping lists and on.

Paleo Book #11. Practical Paleo – Diane Sanfilippo

  • Genre: Nutrition, Recipe
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Geek Speak: 1/5
  • Notes: Huge book, full of information all relating to paleo but with particular food and menu suggestions for specific conditions and diseases that may be helped with versions of the paleo diet.

Paleo Book #12. Primal Cuisine: Cooking for the Paleo Diet – Pauli Halstead

  • Genre: Recipe, Nutrition
  • Level: Beginner – Intermediate
  • Geek Speak: 1/5
  • Notes: This is a gem of a book. It is understated, but don’t let that fool you. The recipes are “fine dining”, Pauli’s experience coming to the fore to produce exquisite recipes for the beginner, and more experienced “paleo foodies” alike. Great section on food sources and an extensive narrative on the diet, sustainable food sources, the effect of diet on health and organizing your kitchen.

Paleo Book #13. Make It Paleo – Bill Staley & Haley Mason

  • Genre: Recipe
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Geek Speak: 0/5
  • Notes: I rated this at an intermediate level because it is a hefty book with a huge number of recipes. Beautifully photographed, the food looks wonderful and the recipes are not complicated.

Paleo Book #14. Everyday Paleo – Sarah Fragoso

  • Genre: Recipe
  • Level: Beginner
  • Geek Speak: 0/5
  • Notes: One of my recommended books for beginners, you can read about Sarah’s inspirational story, get organized with her shopping list and even school lunch ideas and of course, paleo recipes.

Paleo Book #15. Paleo Slow Cooking – Chrissy Gower

  • Genre: Recipe
  • Level: Beginner
  • Geek Speak: 0/5
  • Notes: This book is devoted to advice on cooking with a slow cooker and recipes. As someone who doesn’t love the idea of being in the kitchen, I adore my slow cooker and this is a must-have if you do, too. I was delighted to see Chrissy recommend the slow cooker I own.

Paleo Book #16. Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook – Sarah Fragoso

  • Genre: Recipe
  • Level: Beginner
  • Geek Speak: 1/5
  • Notes: More recipes from the kitchen of paleo mom, Sarah Fragoso, along with practical advice on budgeting, meal plans, family lifestyle recommendations, kids’ transitions. And cute photos!

Paleo Book #17. The Paleo Primer – Keris Marsden & Matt Whitmore

  • Genre: Recipe
  • Level: Beginner
  • Geek Speak: 1/5
  • Notes: Quick, tasty, easy paleo recipes along with a guide to get you started. Cartoons and some fun. International flavor to recipes along with some paleo versions of British food. Yay!

paleo, paleo recipes, paleo dietPaleo Book #18. Beyond Bacon – Matthew McCarry & Stacy Toth

Genre: Recipe
Level: Beginner/Intermediate
Geek Speak: 1/5
Notes: Beautiful hardcover book full of pork-based recipes (every recipe has some part of the pig in it, even the desserts). Plus an information section on the love of pork.

paleo, paleo recipes, paleo diet, bill staley, hayley masonPaleo Book #19. The 30 Day Guide to Paleo Cooking – Hayley Mason & Bill Staley

  • Genre: Recipe
  • Level: Beginner
  • Geek Speak: 1/5
  • Notes: Designed for those going through a whole 30-type squeaky-clean paleo diet. No desserts or sweets. Includes meal plans and paleo basics.

Paleo Book #20. Primal Cravings – Megan McCullough Keatley & Brandon Keatley

  • Genre: Recipe
  • Level: Beginner
  • Geek Speak: 1/5
  • Notes: Paleo versions of your favorites – pizza, burger buns, pad thai, waffles, thin mints(!) Some recipes contain potato starch so not suitable for those avoiding.

paleo, paleo recipes, paleo diet, elana's pantry, elana amsterdamPaleo Book #21. Paleo Cooking From Elana’s Pantry – Elana Amsterdam

  • Genre: Recipe
  • Level: Beginner
  • Geek Speak: 1/5
  • Notes: A delightful small book with Elana’s signature style recipes – simple, few ingredients, large type, gorgeous photos.

Genre: Science

Paleo Book #22. The Paleo Diet – Loren Cordain, Ph.D.

  • Genre: Science
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Geek Speak: 3/5
  • Notes: I know, I know, this is a controversial book but it’s still worth reading. A ‘what’ book rather than a ‘why.’ Some recipes and meal planning guidance.

Paleo Book #23. Deep Nutrition – Dr. Cate Shanahan

  • Genre: Science
  • Level: Advanced
  • Geek Speak: 4/5
  • Notes: Deeply researched book presenting some fascinating ideas about genetic wealth (or otherwise,) traditional foods, and nutritional science. A must-read for anyone planning on having children or with sugar issues.

Paleo Book #24. The Primal Blueprint – Mark Sisson

  • Genre: Science
  • Level: 4/5
  • Geek Speak: Advanced
  • Notes: A gateway book into the paleo/primal world for many, this is a dense book full of well-researched ideas and provides a complete framework for paleo/primal life.

Paleo Book #25. The Paleo Solution – Robb Wolf

  • Genre: Science
  • Level: Advanced
  • Geek Speak: 4/5
  • Notes: Definitely for the science-lovers among us, this book along with The Primal Blueprint was a paleo break-out. Plenty of arguments for eating paleo supported by science along with Robb’s personal story and paleo recipes at the end.

Paleo Book #26. Primal Body, Primal Mind – Nora Gedgaudas

  • Genre: Nutrition, Science
  • Level: Advanced
  • Geek Speak: 4/5
  • Notes: Dense, full of information reflecting Nora’s background as a nutritional specialist. A good amount of the book is devoted to feeding the brain with a good chapter on ADD/ADHD.

Paleo Book #27. Wheat Belly – Dr. William Davis

  • Genre: Science
  • Level: Advanced
  • Geek Speak: 4/5
  • Notes: Not a paleo book per se but fits right in. Some recipes and eating plans at the back but mostly a science-based thesis with supporting arguments in favor of the avoidance of wheat.

paleo, paleo diet, pregnancy, pregnancy nutritionPaleo Book #28. Primal Moms Look Good Naked – Peggy Emch

  • Genre: Science
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Geek Speak: 3/5
  • Notes: This is a book about pregnancy – before, during and after – from a ancestral health, but practical perspective. For any woman who is paleo and interested in all aspects of a pregnancy.

Genre: Kids

Paleo Book #29. Eat Like a Dinosaur – The Paleo Parents

  • Genre: Kids, Recipe
  • Level: Beginner
  • Geek Speak: 0/5
  • Notes: Contains a short picture book story (the authors own story) for kids to engage them with paleo eating, the authors family experience with their conversion to paleo and then many, many kid-friendly paleo recipes.

Paleo Book #30. Paleo Pals: Jimmy and the Carrot Rocket Ship – Sarah Fragoso

  • Genre: Kids, Recipe
  • Level: Beginner
  • Geek Speak: 0/5
  • Notes: Lovely little book with a great picture story and recipes the kids will enjoy preparing and eating. Wish this had been around when my kids were little. :-)

Genre: Nutrition

Paleo Book #31. It Starts With Food – Dallas & Melissa Hartwig

  • Genre: Nutrition, Behavior
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Geek Speak: 3/5
  • Notes: Ton’s of nutritional and health information in this book. And waits until Part 6 (of 7) before mentioning the Whole30 program which is what they’re famous for.

Paleo Book #32. Rich Food, Poor Food – Jayson Calton, Ph.D., Mira Calton, C.N.

  • Genre: Nutrition
  • Level: Beginner – Advanced
  • Geek Speak: 1/5
  • Notes: This book is a compendium of information about the food on our shelves. I particularly like the fact that it debunks the marketing-speak for sugar such as “evaporated cane juice” although they don’t mention my favorite – “organic sugar”, (don’t be fooled, it is still sugar!) Great resource.

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Written by 

Alison Golden writes on the topic of paleo over at Paleo/NonPaleo. She aims to share ideas, inspire and motivate readers by teaching them how to live paleo in a non-paleo world. She is also the author of the bestselling book, The Modern, No-Nonsense Guide to Paleo, a unique tool that gives the reader hundreds of strategies to navigate the learning process to successful paleo living.