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Beach-bag books: Well+Good’s summer reading list

Beach-reading often gets a bad rap and pink dust jacket to match. Mostly it’s deserved. (Not that we haven’t enjoyed our share of Candace Bushnell and Sophie Kinsella.) But it can leave you feeling, well, like you just OD’ed on the prose equivalent of artificial sweetners (tomorrow’s Good Food story, stay tuned).

So we asked Toby Cox, owner of Three Lives & Co., our favorite literary bookstore on West 10th Street, for non-saccharine titles with a wellness theme to tuck into our beach bag. Here’s what he and his staff suggested, along with Toby’s two-second précis on each.

Summer reading for foodiesTHE URBAN HOMESTEAD: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City
By Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen
“Everything the urban farmer needs to know before they set up the compost bin, the chicken coop, and the vegetable patch. (Solutions for co-op owners with only a fire escape.)”

FOOD RULES: An Eater’s Manual
by Michael Pollan
“Here’s one to tuck in your eco-tote as you do your shopping. It’s filled with thoughts on good food and uncomplicated rules on daily food decisions.”

IN THE GREEN KITCHEN: Techniques to Learn by Heart
by Alice Waters
“From the woman who almost single-handedly changed American cooking is this book on Water’s essential cooking techniques demystified and simplified for delicious, fresh, local, and seasonal meals.”

by Alain de Botton
“Considering the amount of time we all spend at our jobs, perhaps it’s time to reflect on what it is we do, why we do it, and how we made the decision to do what we do.”

BORN TO RUN: A Hidden Tribe, Super-athletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
by Christopher McDougall
“A fascinating portrait of the world of ultra-marathoners, a hidden tribe of Mexican super-athletes, and the physiology of running. Everyone who reads it says it’ll change the way you think about running.”

FARM CITY: The Education of an Urban Farmer
by Novella Carpenter
“A memoir from a very self-sufficient daughter of back-to-the-earth hippies, who transforms an abandoned lot in inner-city Oakland into much more than the heirloom tomatoes, beehives, and a chicken coop she initially envisioned. Within no time she adds two 300-pound pigs, and they are not being raised just as pets. A testament to the possibility of growing the food you want, wherever you live.”

This great advice comes from an old-fashioned bookseller who sells in person, not online. Go buy these titles at Three Lives & Co., 154 West 10th Street, at Waverly, 212-741-2069,

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6 rules you’ve heard about running to break right now…