Better health, by the book

The bookstore is the new gym. The breadth and depth of diet, fitness and wellness titles on shelves is startling. There's a book for everyone out there, regardless of shape, size, sex or spiritual affinity. We peaked into a few new titles.

"The Little Black Apron" (Adams Media Corporation, $14.95) is billed as "a single girl's guide to cooking with style & grace." The cheeky paperback is chock full of healthy recipes pegged to single women in their 20s and 30s. It can be a bit much (meals are suggested only Sunday through Thursday because the `sexy single girl' shouldn't cook on date nights), but recipes like mushroom ragout and spinach frittata highlight important info (key nutrients, ingredients and cooking accessories) and definitely whet the appetite.

"Cusco: The Gateway to Inner Wisdom" (Planeta, $19.95) traces author Diane Dunn's journey from Manhattan theatrical producer to Andean healer and master. Dunn, who currently operates a healing center in Cusco, Peru, uses questions, answers and exercises to guide reader on a "practical path" toward "self-discovery and expanded consciousness." It may be a bit much for the average city dweller, but if you're looking for a bit of ancient inspiration, this is the read for you.

"Cholesterol Down: Ten Simple Steps to Lower Your Cholesterol in Four Weeks_Without Prescription Drugs'' (Three Rivers Press, $13.95) tackles a traditional medical problem without medicine. Motivated by personal experience, nutritionist, exercise physiologist and wellness coach Janet Bond Brill designed a diet and exercise plan said to quickly slash "bad" LDL cholesterol. The plan sounds dubiously easy (10 simple steps!), but Brill claims it lowered her LDL by 33 percent.