Book It!

by Rachel on August 28, 2009

It’s that time of year…back to school! But for those of us who have said good-bye to teachers, syllabus week, and new school supplies (yum), it’s just another September. And (for the studious among us) that’s a bummer! But this weekend, why not make like a new student and hit the books?

With so much information on health, food, exercise, fitness, and nutrition out there, there’s a lot of reading to be done! Every time I hit Barnes & Noble, there is a new diet or exercise book beckoning me. I can browse for hours. “The Rules of Lifting.” “The Pilates Body.” “Chi Running.” There’s the “No S” diet and the “F Factor” diet. There’s “Ultrametabolism,” “Master Your Metabolism,” and “The Metabolism Miracle.” “What to Eat.” “Eat This Not That.” “The End of Overeating.” “The End of Food.” (Oh my God, the end of food??! Well, I guess that would effectively end overeating.) I want to read it all. By the time I get to the cookbooks, I’m looking at more hardcovers than I had in a semester at MSU.

Eventually it became apparent that I could no longer live my wannabe librarian/amateur book reviewer lifestyle, and buying new books had to go. And that was a bummer. I love books. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been that girl who was always has her nose in a book. But not to worry–I rediscovered the public library!

These days, I make the most of it and get 90 percent of my reading material for free. If I really like something, I can always buy it after I’ve read it, but there’s no point in wasting money on something that could be a total disappointment. Also, cookbooks are pretty much always expensive, and, unless it’s a really amazing one or a good reference tool like “How to Boil Water,” the reality is you may only make a few recipes.

So make the most of the library! Thanks to the Dewey Decimal System, it’s not as fun to browse in a library as it is in a bookstore. So I started planning ahead: I hit Amazon.com and find all the books I am interested in reading and make a list (I always seem to crack under the pressure when I get there and forget everything I wanted to check out). If your library has an online catalog you can access from home, open it in another window, and search for the books at your local library as you come across them on Amazon. The libraries in NYC then allow you to request them, and when they arrive you get an e-mail, so all you have to do is show up and all your books are waiting for you!

While it doesn’t get much lazier/cheaper than that, spending a Saturday afternoon at the library is definitely not a bad thing. You can look for one book you’ve been dying to read, and, while scanning the shelves for it, will probably come across several more you’ve been thinking about checking out. You can hit the periodicals section to read all the latest fitness mags. (And “People.” I’m not judging.) And depending on your library, you can also look for fitness DVDs. YAY! Shed on a budget!

You can check out one book or several, and you never have to feel guilty if you hate something after reading the intro.

If you aren’t sure where to start when it comes to health/nutrition/fitness/kitchen-minded books, here are some of my current faves and old standards:

Fast Food Nation (Eric Schlosser)

The Omnivore’s Dilemma or In Defense of Food (Michael Pollan)

The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life (Ellie Krieger)

The New Rules of Lifting for Women (Lou Schuler)

Rethinking Thin or Ultimate Fitness (Gina Kolata)

Student’s Go Vegan Cookbook (Carole Raymond)

Our Daily Meds (Melody Petersen) **My review

The Black Book of Hollywood Diet Secrets (Kym Douglas)

Master Your Metabolism (Jillian Michaels) **My review

Self Magazine’s 15 Minutes to your Best Self (Lucy Danzinger)

Women’s Health Daily Fix (Alexa Fishback)

Such a Pretty Fat (Jen Lancaster)

Julie and Julia (Julie Powell)

The Thrive Diet (Brendan Brazier)

The Secret (Rhonda Byrne)

What’s on your healthy reading list right now? Do share with the class!

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