11 Must-Read Books for Runners, Yogis and Food Lovers

11 Must-Read Books for Runners, Yogis and Food Lovers

Nothing says warm weather like launching yourself into a swimsuit-inspired whole body makeover. Luckily, there’s a new crop of fitness, diet and wellness books to guide you along the way (and save you from the downward spiral of a juice cleanse). Blogilates star Cassey Ho will teach you how to practice Pilates in a whole new way, while happiness guru Gretchen Rubin will help you learn how to make new habits stick. Celebrity trainer Bob Harper will hook you up with advice on how to keep off any pounds you lose — and J.K. Rowling (yes, the Harry Potter author) will teach you that it’s OK to fail sometimes, too.

Whether you read these at the gym, on the beach or at home in your bed, these reads will inspire you to reconnect with your inner health and fitness fiend, fast.

11 Must-Read Books for Health Fiends

Must-Reads Books: Meb for Mortals

Photo: Rodale

1. Meb for Mortals
In the first sentence of this book, Meb Keflezighi, Olympic silver medalist and winner of the Boston and NYC Marathons declares, “I’m not the most talented guy.” Before you roll your eyes, give Keflezighi a chance to explain. The champion runner argues that most of his success comes from hard training, combined with nutritional and mental strategies. And now, he’s letting you steal his secrets. You’ll get tips on how to set goals (don’t make them vague or easy), drills to improve your running form and learn Meb’s energy drink of choice (coffee). You’ll also score more than 25 pages of Meb demoing strength training moves — because real runners need muscle, right? ($19.99)

Must-Read Books: Hot Body Year Round

Photo: Penguin Random House

2. Hot Body Year Round
Author Cassey Ho, founder of Blogilates, is on a mission to bring Pilates to the masses. (Her YouTube channel has more than two million subscribers!) Now debuting her first book, the 28-year-old is offering an all-out manual for living a fitter life. You’ll get recipes, meal plans, 20 full-length workouts and 120 different bodyweight moves to try. True to its mission to provide you with year-round results, the workouts are seasonally themed. In spring, you’ll strive to start fresh and reinvigorate your body with exercises like the ‘Saddlebag Shaver’ and meals featuring ripe ingredients. We’ll try the Lemon-Cherry Quinoatmeal this month, please! ($18)

RELATED: 7 Easy Pilates Moves for a Beginner Core Workout

Must-Read Books: Skinny Habits

Photo: Ballantine Books

3. Skinny Habits: The 6 Secrets of Thin People
If you’ve ever struggled with your weight, you’ve probably wondered how-in-the-heck some people seem to always stay thin. Celebrity trainer Bob Harper, creator of DailyBurn’s Black Fire program, outlines the six habits that are key to long-term weight loss success. Some of these secrets might surprise you — like making sure to rest and recover, even when you’re following a killer workout plan. Also essential: Avoiding “toxic boredom” in your life. Whether you have 10 pounds to lose, or 50, at least one of Harper’s tricks is sure to hit home. ($22)

Must-Read Books: Tone It Up

Photo: Rodale

4. Tone It Up: 28 Days to Fit, Fierce, and Fabulous
Looking at trainers Katrina Scott and Karena Dawn, you’d never guess how much they’ve both struggled to stay healthy. Within the first few pages, Karena details how fitness saved her from a life of drugs. Meanwhile, losing 20 pounds in middle school and another 26 pounds she gained as an adult is what motivates Katrina. Get a peek at their personal tips and struggles (Karena cops to having cellulite), and try their daily fitness challenges and healthy recipes. You’ll feel like you’re working out with your BFFs. ($24.99)

RELATED: 15 Fun, Fast and Beginner-Friendly Marathons

Must-Read Books: The Wild Diet

Photo: Penguin Random House

5. The Wild Diet
When Abel James graduated college, he found himself packing on pounds despite his diet of seemingly “healthy” snacks, like fat-free crackers and zero-calorie Jell-O. It wasn’t until he switched to a diet of real foods — meat, fresh veggies, eggs, real butter and cheese that he started to see results. Now known as “The Fat Burning Man,” the name of his podcast, James has built a following amongst people who want to slim down like he did. James has a paleo-esque approach of eating like our ancestors did and employs high-intensity interval training to shed pounds. You’ll find 40 tasty recipes, ranging from Mustard-Roasted Chicken Legs with Peach Salad to Spicy Beef Chili with Mashed Sweet Potato. This diet’s definitely not about starvation. ($27.95) 

Must-Read Books: Running Strong

Photo: Rodale

6. Running Strong
Dr. Jordan Metzl has completed 32 marathons and 12 Ironmans competitions. And if that doesn’t make him knowledgeable about staying injury-free, the fact that he’s a sports medicine doctor sure does. With tips for everyone from running virgins to seasoned marathoners, Metzl teaches you how to avoid injuries — and what to do when you feel a twinge of pain affecting your stride. (People who love Googling symptoms will appreciate this book’s diagnostic tools — but don’t forget to see a doctor, too!) You’ll get stretches and strength moves for practically every part of your body — and some great 5K to marathon-level training plans as well. ($21.99)

RELATED: 3 Quick and Easy Ways to Prevent Running Injuries

Must-Read Books: Better Than Before

Photo: Penguin Random House

7. Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives
Feel-good guru Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and several other books has set out on a new quest — figuring out how to make habits stick. In this well-researched narrative, Rubin uses herself and her friends as guinea pigs along the way. You’ll learn to identify your personality type, and how it affects your habits, plus techniques that might help you stick to your goal (like actually scheduling time for new activities). Self-improvement books can be a snooze, but this one weaves in real-life anecdotes to draw you in. It might even get you to finally stick to that new workout routine. ($26)

RELATED: The 30-Second Trick That Might Stop Your Food Cravings

Must-Read Books: The Blue Zones Solution

Photo: National Geographic

8. The Blue Zones Solution
Journalist Dan Buettner has spent years studying the secrets of the Earth’s “Blue Zones” — regions where people enjoy remarkable longevity, mostly free of disease. Now, he’s going to teach you how to harness the habits of people living in areas like Ikaria, Greece, and Okinawa, Japan. You’ll get a look into the lifestyles of people in each area, including what they eat, and how they exercise. Buettner breaks these secrets down into 44 “Blue Zone Foods” to start incorporating into your diet, and 77 easy longevity-enhancing recipes to try. These healthy living techniques might just convince you to start planning ahead for your 100th birthday party. ($26)

Must-Read Books: Yoga Girl

Photo: Simon and Schuster

9. Yoga Girl
With over a million Instagram followers, Rachel Brathen’s yogi ways are familiar to many. What her followers may not know is that she travelled a hard path to get to where she is today. Brathen’s stepfather died tragically when she was young, and she smoked, drank and did drugs as a teen (even landing in jail for a night). When Brathen’s mother shipped her off on a meditation retreat when she was 18, her life began to change. She moved to Costa Rica and then Aruba, and became a yoga instructor. Her story is interwoven with delicious, healthy recipes (hello, raw banana ice cream!), yoga sequences and tips. If the pictures of poses done in tropical locales don’t draw you in, Brathen’s compelling story surely will. ($19.99)

RELATED: The 11 Best Yoga Apps to Get Fit on the Cheap

Must-Read Books: Natural Born Heroes

Photo: Penguin Random House

10. Natural Born Heroes
After following ultrarunners through Mexico’s Copper Canyon’s in Born to Run, author Christopher McDougall takes his investigative skills to Greece. His mission: To discover how heroes are made. In Crete, otherwise known as the “Island of Heroes,” he strives to learn how savvy natives fought a Nazi invasion during World War II. He also delves into the stories behind modern-day heroes, like a teacher who saved her students from a knife-wielding attacker. One key: Learning to rely on your body (not weapons) for strength. Do you have what it takes? ($13.99) 

Must-Read Books: Very Good Lives

Photo: Hachette Book Group

11. Very Good Lives
Even if you’ve never picked up Harry Potter, these wise words from author J.K. Rowling are worth reading anytime you need a pick-me-up. The book is a transcribed version of Rowling’s famous 2008 Harvard University commencement speech. Rowling admits that seven years after she graduated college, “By every usual standard I was the biggest failure I knew.” Yet, she argues these failures benefited her in the long run — and helped her turn to imagination to push herself outside her comfort zone. You might find the magic words you need to motivate you to hop off the couch and pursue your goals — whether running a marathon or applying for that dream job. ($15)

Originally posted April 7, 2015. Updated June 2015.