💪Books & Biceps - Issue 179

Your 5-Minute Brain and Body Flex

Every Friday I write an email recommending books & workouts including regular exclusive interviews with your favorite authors. Get smarter & stronger for free.


The Spenser Detective Series by Robert. B Parker

Last week we extolled the virtues of a true master, Elmore Leonard. This week, as our brief summer hiatus from non-fiction books continues, we are revisiting and rereading the series that got me hooked on books: Robert B. Parker’s detective novels starring David Spenser, a wise-cracking, weight lifting, tough guy private eye from Boston, who often solved crimes with his bad ass partner/best friend, Hawk. The books have been turned into a TV series and even a loosely-based movie starring Mark Wahlberg.

These books are personal to me because my grandfather, who really nurtured my love of reading when I was a kid, suggested them to me as a young teenager and then gave me about a dozen books to sift through. I shared a brief story about this here on twitter.

These books are written about as casually and coolly as you could imagine. Even though I read about 90% of the series (there are 40 books) I hadn’t picked one of the classics up in about two decades. I gotta say, it was like returning to my childhood. They’re quick-witted and fast and have some great fight scenes and suspense and there’s a real buddy/action comedy feel to the writing.

I found this site, fictiondb.com, that displays all the books in chronological order.

My personal favorites are: Mortal Stakes, The Promised Land, Looking for Rachel Wallace, Pale Kings and Princes, Crimson Joy and Double Deuce. I didn’t read the books in order, but Pale Kings and Princes was the first book of Parker’s that I read and loved.


We’re about a month or so out from both my kids playing fall soccer again and that means I’m about a month out from pulling my quad or tweaking a hamstring. I say I’m going to go light when we practice and play and then, at some point on the field, I decide I have the right leg of a young Tony Meola (90s reference, you’re welcome) and I try to blast a goal from 70-yards out. I miss. I pull something. Repeat every year.

What I’ve come to realize is that deadlifts and squats and sprints and swimming just don’t cut it when prepping for soccer. I THINK I’ve got to start getting the soccer motions down with the ball to loosen up the joints and strengthen the kicking/dribbling muscles as a sort of pre-season for me and warm-up for the kids.

My kids love YouTube. So do yours. I found this 15 minute soccer workout we could do to get comfortable with a ball again and get some footwork in. It’s not something we’ll do daily, but if you’re stuck inside because of rain or the heat, you can do this in a really small space. Nice little cardio workout for you and the kids. Run it back for a half-hour if you’d like.


“College had little effect on me. I'd have been the same writer if I'd gone to MIT, except I'd have flunked out sooner.” - Robert B. Parker


Longtime readers know that I pretend to be an amateur photographer from time to time and I like to think that I take phenomenal photos. In fact, with these two samples, I promise you’ll agree that I have an eye for a good pic. This one of the sunrise over a lake after my morning lift on Wednesday was amazing.

And this one…man. The background is that we have a family of cranes who regularly visit the lake behind our house. Sometimes they come up to the fence to say “hi”. Last weekend, this one bird I call Hercules strolled over for a flexing contest and I caught this incredible shot! Tell me that’s not awesome, I dare you!

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