In our weekly Q&A installment, we asked The Greatist Team about their favorite books covering fitness, health, and happiness. Here’s what they had to say:

"Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat. Pray. Love. If you haven't heard of it, it's about one woman's year-long spiritual journey to find happiness within herself. She spends three months in Italy, India, and Indonesia. She spends time at an ashram in India, so that chapter is especially great for any yogis." — Erica Sanderson

"Matthew Polly's American Shaolin. It's a real account of a college student who heard about Shaolin kung fu in the 1980s and decided to drop everything to go there to study the martial art. The guy starts out cocky and pathetic, but he eventually moves forth and discovers a lot about the ancient martial art. It chronicles the years he spends training with the monks and how he becomes humbled by his experience. More than that, he grows physically and spiritually in his time there. It's full of laughter and growth and falls into my happiness/inspirational category." — Calvin Men

"Stumbling On Happiness by Dan Gilbert. I typically dislike books that fall even remotely under the 'self-help' category. But I read the Harvard psychologist's book a few years ago and found it pretty intriguing. I like the idea that happiness isn't necessarily in the places or experiences we imagine. The book is funny— in fact Gilbert thinks he's quite the comedian— but his claims are still thought-provoking. If, after a big meal, we can't imagine ever being hungry again, how can we possibly conceive of wanting a different kind of lifestyle in the future? A good read for anyone ready to abandon their hopes and dreams as products of flawed cognition." — Shana Lebowitz

"The book This I Believe, edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman, is an incredible read— I'm in the middle of it right now. In the 1950's, NPR did a segment where important people recorded segments about their belief systems in life. Now, in 2011, they have created a new edition in book form. It has excerpts from everyone— Bill Gates to a woman who is a house cleaner. They are inspiring stories and the only requirement is that they contain the phrase 'This I Believe!'" — Jenni Whalen

"Unbearable Lightness by Portia De Rossi. The author holds nothing back as she tells the story of her struggle with eating disorders and body image issues. From starvation to excessive exercise, this memoir focuses on the darkness of eating disorders while offering a bright spot of hope at the end." — Leah Rocketto

"Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. Skinny Bitch is a no-nonsense guide for "savvy girls" trying to eat better and look, well, skinnier. It explores the brutal realities of the crap we eat and helps you make more educated food decisions. But buyer beware: Skinny Bitch is not for everyone and can be seen as a bit extreme and superficial. Although Greatist is all about helping people make healthier decisions, a little tough-love can sometimes be just the push we need to take action." — Cathy Zhu

"Slow Food Nation by Carlo Petrini. So basically, this is why we should eat sustainably and locally grown produce. It goes through how growing practices have changed from small producers creating delicious and flavorful produce to large corporate farms producing tasteless crap. Basically, the three principles to the Slow Food movement are as follows: 1. sustainably produced in ways sensitive to the environment, 2. the people who grow the food must be treated fairly, and 3. the food must be healthy and delicious. The whole book is a very interesting, clearly passionate look at what is wrong with the way the American food system works, and how we can change it (or should at least try to)." — Kate Morin

"Into the Wild by John Krakauer. Not a health and fitness book per se, but a book that nonetheless addresses happiness at its root and permanently changed my outlook on what is necessary to be content. If you're unfamiliar (the book was also made into a popular movie directed by Sean Penn), the story is a non-fictional tale of a top student and athlete Christopher McCandless, who abandons his possessions, gives his money away, leaves his family, and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Four months later, he turns up dead in an abandoned bus in which he had been living. The book is a collection of McCandless' diary, letters, and notes, and depict his desperate effort to survive with almost nothing. It also highlights his renunciation of wealth and return to nature, and is an incredibly well-written description of the courage and determination some have to do it their own way." — Alex Robbins

"I recently read Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston (aka the book that became 127 Hours with James Franco).  Ralston was— and still is— one of the most adventurous spirits I've ever read about, but he was smart to tell the reader about every time he just barely escaped a serious (or even deadly) accident.  When he got caught by the boulder that caused him to cut his own arm off, that was the culmination of a lifetime's worth of risk-taking.  I was blown away his honesty in addition to his insane courage." — Lisa LaValle

"The Women's Health Big Book of Exercises by Adam Campbell. There's nothing worse than getting to the gym and going on auto-pilot— doing the same exercises over and over again. But with a comprehensive resource like this one, it's nearly impossible to get stuck. The exercises are easy to follow and offer a wide range of variations that can challenge every fitness level. The only downside: the book is way to big to tow around, so take a few mental notes before running off to the gym." — Jordan Shakeshaft

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