In addition to Nancy Clark's excellent resource of food, nutrition and weight management books for active people --
http://www.active.com/nutrition/Articles/Winning_Nutrition_Books__Good_Gifts_for_Good_Health.htm -- I'd like to share a few titles I've come across -- either by referral, online or by accident -- that have been more than influential in my journey of becoming more active, healthy and globally conscious. These are titles that are prominent on my bookshelf; books I often reference or re-read for inspiration and motivation:
"The Complete Book of Long-Distance Cycling" by Edmund R. Burke and Ed Pavelka: "Not only do they cover the basics, such as best bike gear, proper nutrition, and what type of bike to buy, but they give the lowdown on the latest equipment and explain bike technology without oversimplifying. Serious bikers will surely mark part two, 'The Rides,' which includes training schedules, charts, and race tactics to prepare beginners and experienced cyclists for Centuries (100 mile rides) to Ultras (any distance over 100 miles)."
"Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan: "It's a fascinating journey up and down the food chain, one that might change the way you read the label on a frozen dinner, dig into a steak or decide whether to buy organic eggs. You'll certainly never look at a Chicken McNugget the same way again."
"Diet for a Small Planet" by Frances Moore Lappe. "The book that started the nutrition revolution and taught America the social and personal significance of a new way of eating is still a complete guide for eating well in the 21st Century. Lappe offers a philosophy for changing the world by changing the way you eat."
"Complete Book of Chinese Health & Healing" by Daniel Reid: "Reid's third book on Chinese medicine, martial arts, meditation, and related subjects is thorough, clear, and informative. It opens with an account of the three treasures of Taoism: essence, energy, and spirit. Then, Reid weaves ancient and modern Chinese healing and Taoism together in order to paint a good picture of the background and current practice of his subjects. While the book contains much practical material on Chinese remedies and techniques, it also underlines the Chinese emphasis upon prevention."
Last year I read "You: The Owners Manual" by Oz and Rosien. Great book! Really helped me get inside what makes my body work and not work. I developed my own understanding of what would help me live a longer, healthier life. I then applied that knowledge to create a sound, doable plan for my diet, exercise and other life related choices. Since then, I have lost 25 pounds (down to 167) and sleep better than ever.
The information is easy to understand. At times, the jokes and cartoons can be a little corny, but it grows on you (and is certainly better than reading textbook like material on the subject).
There are a few follow up books, like "You: On A Diet" that I have not yet read, but assume are good.
Kind of a different path here, but I would suggest The Heart of the Antarctic: The Story of the British Antarctic Expedition 1907 -1909
It's the story of Captain Ernest Shackleton, who led the first expedition to Antarctica. The best story of endurance I have ever read.
The one book that combines all of these with some practical tools and recipes is Adam Kelinson's The Athlete's Plate. This book recreates the understanding of what nutrition really is and how to seamlessly blend it into anyone's life. If you don't have it, you should.