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January Book Club: Soaking Pools, Mountain Trails and Roasted Cauliflower

Circle up the feel-good focused bookworms; this month’s trio of tomes is right in line with January’s Wellness Realness focus.

Oasis: Wellness, Spas and Relaxation by Sven Ehmann, Sofia Borges and Robert Klanten

What’s better than an all-day, all-in trip to an all-inclusive spa or health club? An all-day, all-in trip to an immaculately appointed and intelligently designed all-inclusive spa or health club, of course. Oasis is all about the look and the feel; the exotic and exciting locales featured here are cool white-on-white wellness utopias, slick urban escapes, and masseur-staffed, mid-century ideals with views on forever. But writ large on full-bleed images of luxury yurts and mountain stairways that lead to heavenly infinity pools is the ultra-now desire to escape. To relax, yes, but to relax far, far, far away from it all in an immersive and exclusive environment. Top-shelf resort design is compelling, and new world updates on traditional wellness practices are captivating, but a subtle anthropological dig into the human need to disappear and renew? That’s sort of gripping, really.

Elizabeth David on Vegetables

On Vegetables is more than a book, it’s a way of life. Which isn’t to say it’s only for vegetarians. Combining luscious photos, short essays and recipes for soups, salads, mains and more, this is a book for people who value honest flavors, classic kitchen methodology and the earnest appreciation of the sum of those parts. We wouldn’t be the first to call Elizabeth David the Julia Child of the UK, but doing so feels a little reductive. Think of her, instead, as a progenitor of the modern foodie scene. Think of her, instead, as an aesthete. Think of her as the spirit of a woman (she died in 1992; this book was published on what would have been her 100th year) who’s going to motivate you to eat wisely and more deliciously. And think of On Vegetables as a coffee table book for the kitchen.

Classic Hikes of North America by Peter Potterfield

Maybe it’s just us, but the idea of a bucket list is … a little off-putting. Instead of thinking about the places we’re going to go before we die, we prefer thinking about all the places we’re going to go while we’re still living and kicking, you know? No matter what you call them, lists of this type will grow after you get your hands on Peter Potterfield’s directory of sublime excursions. The shaggy-haired outdoor journalist and photographer outlines 25 real-deal adventures with nuts-and-bolts data (ratings for distance and difficulty, maps, more) and heartfelt analysis, but the images—from the Rockies to the Cascades, the White Mountains and the Black Hills—are the stuff dreams are made of. Maybe the most this volume will do is inspire you to think about travel in new ways—or maybe it’ll just get you out on your local trails more often, or to the gym with increased regularity. We’d call all of those wins, and worth the price and the paper of Potterfield’s text. And if you actually use it? You can graduate to his Classic Hikes of the World next.

—Laura Cassidy