OFF THE COUCH Let your book be your wilderness guide: Here’s some suggested reading for tips to get you out there to enjoy nature

YIKES, where did August go?

All those books to read. All those places to go. All those extra daylight moments to drain until autumn.

Now, we’ll have to do everything at once. If you want an adventure by the books, we have a few suggestions. Read them and reap.

Enough of concrete and chaos? David Weintraub takes a meticulous look at our surrounding parklands in “East Bay Trails: Outdoor Adventures in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties” (Wilderness Press, $15.95). History, trail maps, black-and-white photographers and rock-by- rock, sand-by-sand instructions on how to revel in the region’s landscape.

Compelled by the urge for outright, unbound, grovel-in-dirt wilderness? The third edition of “Walking Softly in the Wilderness: A Sierra Club Guide to Backpacking” (Sierra Club Books, $16) updates the rules of the open space. Author John Hart meticulously reviews gear, clothing, shelter, medical problems and sanitation. It may take some dedication to read all 478 pages, but, fortunately, Hart has included a section on winter wilderness camping.

Authors Peter Alden and Fred Heath have at last created a respectable yellow pages for all the California residents. “National Audubon Society Field Guide to California” (Alfred A. Knopf, $19.95) distinguishes mollusks from mosses in this comely, formidable overview. Featuring the state in its, well, most natural state, the slick paperback contains more than 1,300 full-color photographs, 15 maps and 16 sky charts. You need never confuse a troglodyte chiton and mossy chiton again.

Finally, whether you plan to check out an inadvertent swampland purchase or those citronella candles are burning out faster than those summer pests reproduce, you can once and for all find out about the insect bane in Scott Anderson and Tony Dierckins’ “The Mosquito Book” (Dennoch Press, $6.95).

Understand the enemy: Those female “bloodsuckers” want protein for their mosquito eggs, which human blood provides (one-millionth of a gallon per bite). Know their predators: bats, birds, lizards, spiders, fish, swatters. Find the cure: Stop breathing and sweating. If that’s a bit severe, wear drab-colored clothing, stay inside during dusk and dawn and apply repellent according to directions.

Vera H-C Chan writes “Off the Couch” once a month. Send suggestions to her via e-mail, vchan@cctimes.com. Write to her c/o the Times, P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-8099, or call her at 925-977-8428.

This article originally appeared in the Contra Costa Times

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