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The Books to Read to Improve Your Fitness

These eight books are worth adding to your bookshelf.


One of the best ways our team has found to stay goal-focused is to read as many books as can get our hands on — especially ones about fitness, wellness and health, as penned by experts. As summer approaches, we’re thinking about our reading lists. These nine books will be on them. Some are new this year while others are stalwarts year after year.

But, no matter their year of nascent, what we love is that, no matter which sport to which the book speaks — surfing, running, hiking, mountain biking, weight lifting and more — the feeling we get is the same: inspired. If you’re re-drafting your summer reading list, consider these.

The Incomplete Book of Running, Peter Sagal

Peter Sagal is the host of the popular NPR podcast, Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me! and his latest book weaves a narrative about how running can help with survival — not just from a run-faster perspective, but rather from a personal and mental health perspective. Sagal was sedentary for most of his life and didn’t pick up running until just before he turned 40. The Incomplete Book of Running is a humorous read for self-proclaimed runners, those who want to get into the sport and even those who want nothing to do with it.

Buy Now: $18

Good to Go, Christie Aschwanden

Recovery has been the buzzword in the health and fitness world for the past couple of years due to an uptick in awareness around foam rolling, stretching, napping and more. In this book, Aschwanden takes a closer look at what works and what doesn’t — and topics range from drinks, shakes, compression sleeves, sleep trackers and more. From real world testing to digestible scientific studies, Aschwanden makes it easy to know what you should add to your fitness routine.

Buy Now: $14

Running Home, Katie Arnold

Writer and reporter Katie Arnold’s first book, about how running helped her heal from her father’s death, will inspire you to hit the trails and churn your legs no matter your burdens. An adventurer at heart, Arnold shares how over the course of three years, she pushed herself to run longer and longer distances, past the point of pain and into acceptance.

Buy Now: $14

26 Marathons: What I Learned About Faith, Identity, Running, and Life from My Marathon Career, Meb Keflezighi

After 26 marathons, four trips to the Olympics, two and thousands of miles, Meb Keflezighi retired with the 2017 New York City marathon. He’s won the Boston and New York marathons in addition to having a reputation in the running world as one of the kindest and hardest working souls. This powerful book tells Keflezighi’s story but makes it a quick read. Keflezighi shared what he learned from each of those 26 marathons (one for each mile in a marathon — 26.2), including life lessons apply to everyone.

Buy Now: $17

Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, Alex Hutchinson

If you geek out when reading about fitness science and Nike’s sub-2 hour marathon conquest, this book is for you. Hutchinson, a contributor to Outside Magazine, explores the limits of the human body through pain, muscle, oxygen, heat, thirst and fuel all interwoven with bits of personal and sports history.

Buy Now: $16

The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance, David Epstein

If you’ve ever wondered what Serena Williams, Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps have in common, Epstein explores the limits of biology and what training can do for your body. The Sports Gene looks at the nature vs. nurture debate in addition to interviews with Olympians about the quality of their training. Is there a gene that determines how good you’ll be at athletics? Epstein strives to find out.

Buy Now: $9

Liferider: Heart, Body, Soul, and Life Beyond the Ocean, Laird Hamilton

Laird Hamilton’s name now extends past the surfing world into the world of fitness thanks to his ability to seemingly never age, a modeling career and his first book. This book goes beyond just pure fitness and surfing and looks at how everything is connected — from death and fear to your heart, body and soul. Hamilton shares his viewpoint on life and everything that comes with it, from relationships to business to risk-taking.

Buy Now: $18

The Mamba Mentality: How I Play, Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant is another pillar of excellence in his field — he’s built a reputation for himself by merely playing and excelling at what he does. His first book gives fans an insight into how he gets himself amped before every game and how he continues to push the boundaries of sport. For those who remember every play he’s made over the past twenty years, you’re in luck, Bryant dissects those as well. You can expect to display this book on your coffee table after you’re done — the images are stunning and on practically every page.

Buy Now: $23

The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train and Thrive, Jim Afremow

If you’re looking for an edge to help you hit that new deadlift weight or mile time or lead the softball team to victory in the upcoming tournament, this book is for you. The Champion’s Mind explores how elite, Division 1 and recreational athletes get in the zone before a big game or competition, in addition to individualized paths to progress. No matter what your goals are, this book will help you get to the next level.

Buy Now: $11

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