Everything harder than everyone else

Why some of us push our bodies to extremes

By Jenny Valentish

Everything harder than everyone else


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-6016-4
  • Pages: 288
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £16.99
  • Published Date: July 2021
  • BIC Category: SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General, Popular Psychology, SPORTS & RECREATION / Extreme Sports, BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs, Biography & True Stories / General, Reportage & Collected Journalism, Extreme Sports, Society & social sciences / Sociology, Sociology, BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / General, PSYCHOLOGY / Personality


There is a part of human nature compelled to test our own limits. But what happens when this part comes to define us?

When journalist Jenny Valentish wrote Woman of Substances, a book about addiction, she noticed that people who treated drug-taking like an Olympic sport would often hurl themselves into a pursuit like marathon running upon giving up. What stayed constant was the need to push their boundaries.

Everything Harder Than Everyone Else follows people doing the things that most couldn't, wouldn't or shouldn't. By delving into their extreme behaviour, there's a lot that us mere mortals can learn about the human condition.

There's the neuroscientist violating his brain to override his disgust response. The athlete using childhood adversity as grist for the mill. The wrestler turning restlessness into curated ultraviolence. The architect hanging from hooks in her flesh, to better get out of her head. The performance artist seeking erasure by torturing his body. The BDSM dom helping people flirt with death to feel more alive. The bare-knuckle boxer whose gnarliest opponent is her ego. The dancer who could not separate her identity from her practice until at death's door. The bodybuilder exacting order on a life that was once chaotic. And the porn star-turned-fighter for whom sex and violence are two sides of the same coin.

Their insights lead Jenny on a compulsive, sometimes reckless journey of immersion journalism.


'If you've ever wondered why people like absolutely battering the **** out of themselves in every conceivable way, just for a laugh, then look no further than this book.'
Tom Usher, freelance writer and presenter of Challenge Man

'A spiritual sequel to Valentish's 2017 memoir Woman of Substances [and] a wild and page-turning ride. [...] The author's enthusiasm for and deep research into the topic shine through, and she tempers the more confronting moments with candour, humour and self-deprecation. Like a Louis Theroux documentary, Everything harder than everyone else is an eye-opening exploration of unconventional lifestyles and the people who live them. It is a rollicking and insightful read for both enthusiasts and the simply curious.'
Books + Publishing

'Valentish takes us into hidden worlds that fascinate, horrify, inspire and entertain. Valentish is your intrepid guide to fringe communities, where the members are hardcore and their wisdom is hard-won. The characters and stories will stay with you long after the last page.'
Brigid Delaney, author of Wellmania

'As a fan of wrestling and general out-there foolishness, I've often wondered - but couldn't put into words - what drives people to such limits. An outstanding read.'
Broden Kelly, Aunty Donna


1 Running from the Void
2 Testing the Limits of Lust
3 Human Guinea Pigs
4 Larger than Life
5 Altered States
6 The Art of Suffering
7 Anger is An Energy
8 Throwing in the Towel
9 To the Death


Jenny Valentish is the author of the acclaimed addiction memoir Woman of Substances, a regular contributor to The Guardian, Vice and the Sydney Morning Herald, and a former NME columnist and editor of Time Out Melbourne. She grew up in Slough and lives in Australia.

Newsletter Sign Up

Manchester University Press

Your cart is empty.

Select your shipping destination to estimate postage costs

(Based on standard shipping costs)

Final cost calculated on checkout
Promotional codes can be added on Checkout