Peter Attia is the founder of Attia Medical, PC, a medical practice that operates out of San Diego and New York City. There is a focus on the applied science of longevity and optimal performance, applying nutrition science, lipidology, four-system endocrinology, sleep physiology, stress management, and exercise physiology to minimize the risk of chronic disease onset, while simultaneously improving health span. Peter Attia trained for five years at the John Hopkins Hospital in general surgery; during that time – Peter was recognised by the awarding of several prestigious awards, including resident of the year. He also spent two years at NIH as a surgical oncology fellow, researching immune-based therapies for melanoma. Peter Attia has been fortunate to be mentored by some of the world’s most experienced and innovative lipidologists, endocrinologists, gynecologists, sleep physiologists, and longevity scientists. Peter’s work is becoming more and more recognised worldwide, so it was an honour to talk books with him. Please enjoy my interview with Peter Attia…
When someone asks you ‘what do you do for a living?’ – How do you respond?
Race car driver. Formula Renault 2000.
Just finished Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign by Jonathan Allen yesterday; started Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street by Shellac Kolhatkar today.
What’s your earliest memory of reading?
Sitting in the back of the beat up old station wagon reading a paperback of Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White while my mom was driving us to the mall.
If you could encourage young people to read one book in particular, what would it be?
I’d encourage them to read Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
Delivering newspapers in the winter in Canada.
Do you read as much as you’d like to?
Nope, but probably as much as I can.
What books do you feel are important reading for people on your career path?
Biographies of people who have ‘built skyscrapers’ (my term); for example:
The Puzzle People: Memoirs of a Transplant Surgeon by Thomas Starzl,
The Transformed Cell: Unlocking the Mysteries of Cancer by Steven A. Rosenberg,
King of Hearts: The True Story of the Maverick who Pioneered Open Heart Surgery by G. Wayne Miller,
Becoming Steve Jobs by Brent Schlender,
Dancing Naked In the Mind Field by Kary Mullis,
The Double Helix by James D. Watson,
Being Wrong by Kathryn Schulz and
Mistakes Were Made (but not by me) by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson.
Is there a book that you’ve read more than once? What is it and why did you revisit it?
Many, but the books I’ve read the most are: Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman by Richard P. Feynman, The Transformed Cell: Unlocking the Mysteries of Cancer by Steven A. Rosenberg, The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born, It’s Grown, Here’s How by Daniel Coyle, One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer by Nathaniel C. Fick, and Mistakes Were Made (but not by me) by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson.
What book have you recommended the most to friends and family?
The book I’ve recommended most is Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman by Richard P. Feynman.
What’s your favourite genre of book?
What do you think a world without books would be like?
If you’re asking about books only (vs reading in general), I don’t think it differs that much from today. We’re already on a glide path to it. The bigger issue is what is this a symptom of? I think it’s a symptom of less curiosity, and that is actually the jugular problem, if it continues/expands.
Is there an author whose writing you’re such a fan of, that you’ll read everything they release?
Sid Mukherjee; Dubner & Levitt.
Do you think digital books will ever completely replace real books?
Probably not and I don’t think the paper version of the Sunday NY Times is going away any time soon… but who knows.
What is the book that you feel has had the single biggest impact on your life?
It would be a combo of Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman by Richard P. Feynman, The Transformed Cell: Unlocking the Mysteries of Cancer by Steven A. Rosenberg, and Forgive and Remember by Charles Bosk.
Are there any books you haven’t mentioned that you feel would make your reading list?
I would also include the following books:
The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee,
Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer,
The President’s Club by Nancy Gibbs,
The Most Important Thing by Howard Marks,
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari,
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz,
10 Percent Happier by Dan Harris,
The Rommel Papers by B.H. Liddell-Hart,
King of the World by David Remnick,
The Corner by David Simon and Edward Burns,
and Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes.
What books or subject matter do you plan on reading in the next year?
Very little, as I’m wring my first book and it’s too easy to procrastinate on writing by reading more. I have always wanted to read Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace… maybe this is the year.
If you were to write an autobiography – what would it be called?
Hard to know until it was written, but ‘working title’ would be, In Search of Still Water which probably summarizes my tormented existence.