When it comes to summer essentials, a good book is up there with an arm-baring tank top and some seriously protective all-natural sunscreen. Whether you’re at the beach, the park, the pool—or just stuck at the gate waiting for your plane to Iceland to arrive—it’s the perfect way to pass the time.
Ready to beef up your reading list with some healthier options? Team Well+Good dutifully pruned new wellness-related releases to determine the best additions to throw into your beach bag. From investigative journalism to lighthearted memoirs, we’ve got you (and that bus ride out to the Hamptons) covered.
In no particular order, here are the 11 best new health and wellness books you should read this summer.
Bonjour Kale by Kristen Beddard
Read this if: you’re a memoir fiend—and you dream of eating greens with a view of the Eiffel Tower.
This fun-to-read memoir is about one woman’s mission to bring kale to France (which up until recently didn’t stock the superfood), and the triumph of her “Kale Project.” Bonus: it includes recipes!
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
Read this if: you’re an avid Ted Talks listener.
This insightful book tells the real-life story of Duckworth’s personal insecurities about her intelligence growing up with a brilliant scientist mother. After jumping from one job to another in various fields, she realized that genius isn’t what makes someone successful—it’s having serious grit and determination. Experts weigh in to further Duckworth’s point that passion means everything.
Sweat Equity: Inside the New Economy of Mind and Body by Jason Kelly
Read it if: you’re always the first one out of your friends to sign up for that local 5K.
Craving a deep dive into the world’s obsession with having a sound body and mind? Sweat Equity will give you just that. Kelly takes an investigative look at the multi-billion dollar trend of endurance fitness, the people (and money) behind it, and how society became so enthralled by races.
The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time by Arianna Huffington
Read it if: you’re a workaholic who hits the gym almost daily and guzzles healthy smoothies, and yet still feel that afternoon slump.
Is society on the verge of a sleep crisis? Arianna Huffington thinks so—and explains why that’s a problem in her new book, chock-full of scientific studies, anecdotes, and easy-to-apply tips for getting way more ZZZs. Needless to say, you won’t fall asleep while reading it.
Read it if: you can’t stop talking about that life-changing trip to South America (or you’ve made your boyfriend watch Eat Pray Love—maybe more than once).
Nearly 50 different writers tell their personal stories on how Elizabeth Gilbert‘s Eat, Pray, Love inspired their lives—everything from dealing with loss to moving to a completely different country. Each narrative is incredibly diverse, making for touching page-turners.
The Longevity Book: The Science of Aging, the Biology of Strength, and the Privilege of Time by Cameron Diaz and Sandra Bark
Read it if: you’re more likely to be browsing the documentary genre on Netflix than rom-coms.
Cameron Diaz doesn’t think all women should lather on countless age-defying creams and avidly get Botox injections in an effort to stay young forever; rather, she’s on a mission to change the way people age. This book is her scientific look at the act of getting older—and her advice on how to live fully.
Perfectly Imperfect: The Art and Soul of Yoga Practice by Baron Baptiste
Read this if: you’re never without your yoga mat.
Baptiste’s second book is all about the after-effects of yoga—specifically how it changes your mind for the better. Without being too spiritual or self-help-y, this book from the influential yogi is a fun read that teaches you how to operate by your true north and take the foundations of yoga way beyond the mat.
Eat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut May Be the Root Cause of Your Health Problems and 5 Surprising Steps to Cure it by Dr. Josh Axe
Read it if: you’re the first person in your friend group to know about the latest superfoods.
Just about anyone can have “leaky gut syndrome,” which is a problem behind numerous health afflictions and even emotional issues like anxiousness or depression. Dr. Josh Axe takes a look at the little-understood health condition, tackling the importance of treating our gut right and offering seriously practical advice. Although warning: It might make you think twice about the food at your average summer BBQ.
Joy on Demand: The Art of Discovering Happiness Within by Chade-Meng Tan
Read it if: you love meditating—and try to get all your friends to do it, too.
Back in 2000, when Google was just a startup (yes, hard to believe), Tan was an engineer known around the office as the “jolly good fellow” because of his perky persona. Eventually, that nickname became his actual job title (yes, really), and he went on to create a mindfulness-based emotional intelligence course called Search Inside Yourself at Google—which became a top-selling book endorsed by the Dalai Lama himself. In Joy on Demand, the happiness master shares his insight into tapping into the joy that’s deep down inside you. Reading this book could totally change your outlook at work—and beyond.
Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman by Lindy West
Read this if: you never miss an episode of Broad City.
When Lena Dunham raves about someone’s talents, you’d better take notice. If you haven’t already been following West through her column for The Guardian, this series of Joan Didion-style essays are a perfect place to start. She focuses on her struggles as a vocal feminist and ardent fat acceptance advocate who is never afraid to raise her voice. Poignant and hilarious, Shrill is a must-read for women who are plugged into pop culture (or passionate about speaking their minds).
Shoe Dog: A Memoir By the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight
Read it if: you love biographies—or your Roshes.
You rock your Nike Flyknits and leggings, but how much do you really know about the story behind the swish? The iconic brand’s founder, Phil Knight, opens up about the company—which all started when he started selling shoes out of his car’s trunk. See if you can sit still long enough to read this, before you lace-up your own pair and go for a run.
In addition to a really good book, here’s what else you should pack for your summer adventures. And we know we don’t have to tell you twice, but just in case: Don’t forget the (all-natural) sunscreen!