Your Summer of Wellness Reading List

Improve your summer and learn something new.

July 21, 2015
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Your beach bag isn't completely packed unless you have two things: nontoxic sun protection and a book. Check out one of these reads to inspire your best summer yet.

Undeniably Summer

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Tone It Up (Rodale Books 2015) by Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott
Getting yourself bikini ready isn't just about fitting into a skimpy swimsuit. It takes mental fortitude to confidently step into a two-piece and rock it all the way to the beach. This 28-day fitness and nutrition program also comes with daily challenges to boost your body confidence, help you visualize your goals, and live a fun, friendship-filled life.

Catch a Wave (Rodale Books 2007) by Peter Ames Carlin
The Beach Boys' sound is the epitome of summer music, but do you know the story behind the albums and the fame? The real history of this classic '60s beach-side band and the mystery of Brian Wilson are explored in this chronicle of fame, fall, and redemption.

Outdoor Activities

Grandma Gatewood's Walk (Chicago Review Press 2014) by Ben Montgomery
If a 67-year-old great-grandmother can walk the 2,050-mile Appalachian trail three times, then you can certainly get off the couch and enjoy an afternoon hike. She was the first woman to hike it alone, and her criticism of the stretches that weren't well maintained likely saved the trail. It's an inspiring look into the triumph, pain, rebellion, and hope of tackling this journey that is sure to fuel your own hiking dreams.

Natural Born Heroes (Knopf 2015) by Christopher McDougall
Considering doing a Tough Mudder? Natural Born Heros will get you pumped for whatever fitness challenge comes across your path. Retracing the steps of a ragtag group of Nazi resisters along the perilous mountains of Crete, Christopher McDougall discovers the tools of physical heroism: movement, endurance, and nutrition.

The Last Great Walk (Rodale Books 2014) by Wayne Curtis
An excellent cure for heavy summer traffic—walking! Journalist Wayne Curtis investigates what Americans can regain by embracing pedestrian-ism once again. And if you think giving up on your car for a bit means you'll lose out on your summer road trip, he also chronicles the legendary tale of Edward Payson Weston's 1909 walk from New York to San Fransisco at the spry age of 70.

More: It's Official: Reading Makes You Happier

Exploring and Enjoying Nature

The Bluebird Effect (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2012) by Julie Zickefoose
You don't have to be an intense birder to enjoy the local birds in your backyard. Connect with the little singers through the eyes of bird rehabilitator Julie Zickefoose and her stories of how spectacular everyday birds really are. (Our editor loves the author's story of a baby hummingbird that put its tongue up her nose to check her out!)

Mycophilia (Rodale Books 2013) by Eugenia Bone
Get your foraging on! As you're out exploring nature this summer, take a closer peek at the charming mushrooms that sit along the path. Food author Eugenia Bone takes an in-depth look at these easily overlooked fungi and uncovers that their culinary uses are just the tip of the iceberg. This book is perfect for foodies, science enthusiasts, and all nature lovers. (And perfect for places like Pennsylvania that have endured a particularly soggy, mushroom-filled summer.)

Rodale's 21st Century Herbal (Rodale Books 2014) by Michael J. Balick, PhD
Never underestimate the power of your herb garden. This A-to-Z encyclopedia of 180 plants shines light on the potential that grows in your yard, illustrating handy everyday uses for herbs, from natural remedies to beauty and bath concoctions and cleaning recipes.

Sports

The Cyclist's Bucket List (Rodale Books 2015) by Ian Dille
Are you the have wheels, will travel type? If so, consider this your ultimate travel inspiration. Beautiful photos of 75 quintessential cycling experiences across the U.S. and around the world will inspire even those with the rustiest of gears to get back on the road. The only question now is, when do you leave?

Benchwarmer (PublicAffairs 2015) by Josh Wilker
Sports-loving dads, this is the read for you. This book uses sports as "an organizing principle for stumbling through life and fatherhood" (according to a Sports Illustrated review), shedding new light on what it means to be both a fan and a father.

Wanderlust (Rodale Books 2015) by Jeff Krasno
Music festivals are fun, but a yoga festival is a breath of fresh air for your body and soul. From the cofounder of the Wanderlust yoga festvials, Wanderlust the book is a road map to applying yoga as a broader guiding principle for your entire life. Topics range from authentic yoga practices to music, art, good food, and establishing new connections in the world.

More: Outdoor Time Makes You a Better Person

Life Improvement

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Ten Speed Press 2014) by Marie Kondo
Decluttering your home isn't a fun summer project that anyone wants to tackle, so do it once and never have to do it again. That's the philosophy behind this #1 New York Times best-seller. Rather than look at your stuff on a room-by-room basis, you'll tackle it categorically and eliminate anything that doesn't "spark joy" in your life.

The Brain Maker (Little, Brown and Company 2015) by David Perlmutter, MD
Don't wait until the school year begins to start thinking about your brain. You can make lasting changes to improve even the most debilitating brain disorders by taking care of—surprisingly—your gut. This book covers the cutting-edge research that is finding that your brain is controlled by your microbiome. The key to unlocking your brain's true potential is what you eat.

Mindfulness (Rodale Books 2012) by Mark Williams and Danny Penman
Vacation is supposed to be relaxing, but between airport security, lost hotel bookings, and expensive tourist traps, the trick to actually enjoying your trip is in keeping your cool. Your solution is mindfulness. Learning to let go of the frantic pace will help you find joy—and it's a technique you can continue to use long after your suntan has faded.

Sustainability

The Third Plate (Penguin Books 2015) by Dan Barber
If you've been enjoying summer's bounty at your local farmer's market, get ready to have your perspective on "local" food turned on its ear. This New York Times best-seller offers a radical way of thinking about the food we grow and fish, exactly what we eat, and the misguided choices we're making every day. Fortunately, chef Dan Barber offers a bright solution, as long as we can dare to think differently about sustainable eating.

Visit Sunny Chernobyl (Rodale Books 2013) by Andrew Blackwell
It's not your typical summer vacation, but this jaunt through some of the most polluted places on Earth offers a darkly humorous look at the underbelly of our planet. This faux travel guide exposes the ecosystems that are hurting the most—from Canada's oil sand mine strips to the soot-filled skies of Linfen, China—as an entertaining way to understanding what's happening on Earth.