My initial reaction to the introduction and the first chapter was curiosity–and a bit of skepticism. The authors made it clear that many of the preconceived notions we as a society hold about what keeps a person healthy are blatantly false. For example, their claim that working long hours and/or having a high pressure job does not necessarily decrease longevity seems counterintuitive. It makes sense that health depends on so much more than merely sleep, diet, and exercise, but I was genuinely surprised by several of the common beliefs that the authors touted as “dead-end myths.” (I suppose that’s what they were trying to do, though, in order to keep readers interested.)
Additionally, I got the impression that it may have been difficult for the authors to draw resounding conclusions about many supposed predictors of longevity. With so many individual differences in the personalities, family backgrounds, social lives, and career paths of the people studied, the authors implied several times that what works to extend lifespan for some individuals may even have the opposite effect for others. I’m intrigued to see what common threads they find to predict longevity, because I have a feeling I’ll be surprised by what they found.