I was first introduced to Nigel Marsh's books by a friend who told me that Fat, Forty and Fired had changed his life. As soon as he told me the premise: a guy who decides, in the wake of a redundancy, to leave the corporate world, giving up his status and paycheck to spend more time with his family, I knew I had to read it. After all it was the very theme of the novel I was working on which later became Black Cow. I enjoyed the book so much, that I went on to read his next book Overworked and Underlaid. So when Marsh’s new book, Fit, Fifty and Fired Up came out, not too far away from my own impending 50th (and very close to my husband’s), it found its way to the top of my reading stack faster than you can say self-actualisation.
Like the two books that preceded it, Fit, Fifty and Fired Up is deceptively easy. The prose is smooth and often very funny, tracking Marsh’s ongoing progress in making his life meaningful as he once again takes a year off work to renew his sense of self and connect with his family. The simplicity of style makes the medicine easy to take. This is no how-to, point-by-point primer for self-help, though there are 12 summary lessons at the back. Instead, without any hint of didacticism, Marsh’s book makes it very clear that modern priorities are often hideously skewed, focusing on the accumulation of things and ever increasing degrees of slavery in order to live someone’s else’s dream.
Of course there is a lot that is different in this book, and for readers of the other two books, it’s interesting to check in on the progress that Marsh has made in his decade-long transition from a fat, fired 40-year-old (not to mention overworked and underlaid) to a fit, fired-up 50-year-old. For one thing, Marsh is a relatively fit teetotaller, doing annual rough water ocean races (and as someone who occasionally swims in the ocean, I know this is no small achievement) with a reasonably steady lecture circuit (including the moniker of Australia's most watched TED talk), and two successful books under his belt. As far as progress goes, Marsh’s earlier changes appear to be pretty close to permanent and that alone is interesting for those who have been following his progress through the nonfiction keyhole.