December Books

I opted out of the cutesy title for this blog because…well…I simply wasn’t in the mood to come up with anything clever. What was December all about? For the run it was a 5k that I finished in “about 30 minutes” as my running partner put it. I also ran a mile every day (from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day). I think I’m satisfied with that accomplishment the most because I ran even when we were traveling, even when we were completely swamped with other things going on, even when I didn’t feel like lifting a finger. Despite it all, I still ran at least one mile.

Enough of that. In addition to running I read. Here are the books finished in the month of December. For some reason I surrounded myself with some of the most depressing books imaginable:

Fiction:

    • Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild – read in two lazy afternoons
    • Fay by Larry Brown – devoured in a week (super sad).
    • Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (AB/print) – confessional: I started this the last week of November fearing I wouldn’t conquer all 600 pages before 12/31/17 but I did. (again, super sad book).
    • Wanting by Richard Flanagan (really, really sad when you consider Mathinna’s fate).
    • Between the Assassinations by Avarind Adiga (sad).
    • The Beach by Alex Garland (again, sad in a weird way).
    • God Lives in St. Petersburg and Other Stories by Tom Bissell (the last of the sad books).
    • Nero Wolf of West Thirty-fifth Street: the Life and Times of America’s Largest Detective by William Stuart Baring-Gould.

Nonfiction:

  • Iron & Silk by Mark Salzman – read in three days. The only real funny book read this month.

Series continuations:

  • Mrs. Pollifax and the Hong Kong Buddha by Dorothy Gilman – read in the same weekend as Ballet Shoes.

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • Brain Food: the Surprising Science of Eating for Cognitive Power by Lisa Mosconi (started).

For fun:

  • Hit Reset: Revolutionary Yoga for Athletes by Erin Taylor.

December Whatnot

Here’s something of a shocker. I am running a 5k during the first week of December! Actually, it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise because I mentioned signing up for it in the last post…just yesterday. But. But! But, enough about the first week of December. Let’s talk about the last week of December! I am looking forward to a week off from work with nothing to do except read, read, read. Another opportunity to gorge on books is a six hour car ride when I won’t be driving. A perfect opportunity to finished a shorter book! And speaking of books, Here is the list:

Fiction:

  • God Lives in St. Petersburg and Other Stories by Tom Bissell ~ in honor of a day in December as being one of the coldest days in Russian history.
  • Fay by  Larry Brown ~ in honor of December being Southern Literature Month.
  • Fearless Treasure by Noel Streatfeild in honor of Streatfeild’s birth month. Actually, no library would lend Fearless Treasure without charging an ILL fee so I am reading Ballet Shoes instead. Good thing I wasn’t looking forward to reading fantasy!
  • Wanting by Richard Flanagan ~ in honor of Tasmania’s taste fest which happens in December. To be honest, I don’t know how I made this connection.
  • The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis ~ in honor of Willis being born in December. Confessional: this is a huge book so I started it a little early (AB & print).
  • The Beach by Alex Garland in honor of Thailand’s Constitution Day observance in December.

Nonfiction:

  • Iron and Silk by Mark Salzman ~ in honor of Mark Salzman’s birth month being in December.
  • Nero Wolf at West Thirty Fourth Street: the life and times of America’s Largest Private Detective by William S. Baring-Gold ~ in honor of Rex Stout’s birth month.

Series continuations:

  • Mrs. Pollifax and the Golden Buddha by Dorothy Gilman ~ to continue the series started in September in honor of Grandparents’ month.

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • I was supposed to receive Jam Today by Tod Davies last month but hasn’t arrived yet. Maybe I’ll get it this month.
  • I am also suppose to receive Pep Talk for Writers by Grant Faulkner by Dec 29th, 2017. We’ll see about that!

For fun:

  • Hit Reset: Revolutionary Yoga for Athletes by Erin Taylor ~ because I’m still trying keep running.

If there is time:

  • Between the Assassinations by Avavind Adiga ~in honor of Vivah Panchami
  • Black Alibi by Cornell Woolrich ~ in honor of Woolrich’s birth month

What’s More Scary?

I have been in physical therapy for my hip for more than a month now and here’s the sad, sad thing. I don’t feel much different. I still have trouble sleeping a night (last night I woke up every two hours) and runs haven’t been that much easier. I managed over sixty miles for the month and finally finished the dreaded half (the one I have been babbling about for months now. Yeah, that one). I definitely made more time for the books. Here is the ginormous list:

Fiction:

  • Aristotle Detective by Margaret Anne Doody (finished in a week).
  • All Hallows’ Eve by Charles Williams.
  • Discarded Duke by Nancy Butler (finished in a week).
  • Beautiful Children by Charles Bock (AB / print). Word to the wise, don’t do it!
  • Breakfast on Pluto by Patrick McCabe

Nonfiction:

  • Whatever You Do, Don’t Run by Peter Allison (AB / print; finished in less than a week).
  • Sense of the World by Jason Roberts (AB / print).
  • I Will Bear Witness: a Diary of the Nazi Years (1933-1941) by Victor Klemperer ~ in honor of Mr. Klemperer’s birth month.
  • In the Valley of Mist by Justine Hardy

Series Continuations:

  • We are Betrayed by Vardis Fisher.
  • Amazing Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman ( finished in four days).
  • Henry James: the Treacherous Years by Leon Edel (Can you believe I actually finished this within the same month?).

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • Riot Days by Maria Alyokhina (read in four days).

We Interrupt Myself & Moi

Can I talk about books and running at the same time? I just have to. In the August batch of the Early Review program for LibraryThing I “won” a book called The Boy Who Runs by John Brant. I was pretty excited to read it because as you may have guessed from my other ramblings besides books I’m pretty excited about running. [Reading about running is probably the next best thing to running.] Notice I said I was pretty excited to read it. Past tense. Was. It would have been all well and good if I had actually received the book. Because I haven’t. Not yet. Bummer.

Fast forward to this week. Another message on LibraryThing. “Congratulations, you have won Yoga for Athletes by Ryanne Cunningham.” Another Early Review book! Under normal circumstances I would be beside myself with joy. Besides being excited about books and and being excited about running I am pretty excited about yoga for athletes. [I’ll give you an example: I won Yoga for Runners by Christine Felstead in 2014 and I STILL use it as a bible for routines both before and after runs. I not only read and reread her book, I went on to buy not one but two of her yoga videos. I became a huge fan all because of LibraryThing and the Early Review program.] But, getting back to my original rant. Notice I said would be beside myself with joy. Would be. I’m not beside myself with joy because in the past 12 months I haven’t received three books (four if you count Dorothea’s book that I can’t seem to get ER to acknowledge). Given that track record there is a chance Cunningham’s book won’t make it to me. Bummer. It’s not LT’s fault. I know once I’ve “won” a book it’s up to the publisher to get it to me.
The good news is Cunningham’s book is slated to be published this coming Tuesday. I’ll wait a month and borrow it from my local library.

 


Where the Road Ends

Hicks, Meghan M. and Bryon Powell. Where the Road Ends: a Guide to Trail Running. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2016.

Reason read: for the Early Review program for LibraryThing. Perfect, isn’t it?

The first time I laid eyes on the cover of Where the Road Ends I instantly thought “cheesy” and when I glanced through the pages I was reminded a little of a middle/grade school textbook, all glossy and full of pictures. But, that is where the fluff ends. As far as content goes, Where the Road Ends is chock full of great information. Most of it might be second nature to the more experience ultra runner but for beginners this book is a perfect must-have. The layout of information chapter by chapter is intuitive, starting with just learning and ending with full-out racing. In between is a plethora of everything you need to know: how trail running differs from the road, how to navigate the terrain, what equipment to use, how to stay fueled and hydrated (especially on the long desert runs), and so on and so on. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover (or lack thereof). This is a well organized informative book.


By July

June was an interesting month. Ran 43.5 miles. But, for the reading it was full of short stories and quick reads. Finished:

  • The Millstone by Margaret Drabble
  • Thirty-Three Teeth by Colin Cotterill
  • Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
  • Yocandra in the Paradise of Nada by Zoe Valdes
  • A Bridge Too Far by Cornelius Ryan (AB)
  • A Death in the Family by James Agee
  • Edge of Time by Loula Grace Erdman – probably my favorite

Short stories:

  • “A perfect Day for a Bananafish” by JD Salinger
  • “For Esme – with Love and Squalor” by JD Salinger
  • “The Orphan” by Nell Freudenberger
  • “Outside the Eastern Gates” by Nell Freudenberger
  • “Four Calling Brids, Three French Hens” by Lorrie Moore
  • “People Like That Are the Only People Here” by Lorrie Moore
  • “Mr Squishy” by David Foster Wallace
  • “The Suffering Channel” by David Foster Wallace
  • “Blight” by David Bezmozgis
  • “Hot Ice” by David Bezmozgis

For fun I read two books related to running:

  • Anatomy, Stretching and Training for Marathoners by Dr. Philip Striano
  • Rocket Fuel by Matthew Kadrey, MD

And for the Early Review program with LibraryThing, another book about running:

  • Off the Beaten Trail by Meghan Hicks and Bryon Powell

Anatomy, Stretching & Training for Marathoners

Striano, Dr. Philip and Lisa Purcell. Anatomy, Stretching & Training for Marathoners: a step by step guide to getting the most from your running workout. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2013.

This was a weird book for me. The goal of the book seems to be of two minds: either getting you fit enough to run a marathon (minus the cardiovascular endurance piece) or supplementing the idea that running is a good exercise for losing weight. The focal point of the book is strengthening and stretching key muscles that are used while running. Beyond that, there is very little about running aside from what to wear and where to run. The mechanics of running are largely ignored. But, to be fair, thrown in is a strange sample marathon training schedule. I’ll get to my comment on the training schedule later. But for now let’s focus on the good news.
There were a bunch of things to like about Anatomy, Stretching and Training. For starters, the overall layout of information is comprehensive and intuitive. I appreciated that the illustrations highlight the key muscles affected by the stretch or training move while the photograph of the individual doing the same thing highlights proper form. The anatomy information was, by far, the most informative aspect of the book. A neat little feature, one I’m sure everyone makes a beeline to find, is the stretching and strength training routines at the end.

Now for the bad news:

  • Page 9 – The last time I checked, a marathon is 26.2 MILES. In the introduction the last sentence is, “Take the time to learn how to run right, using the guidelines found in the following pages, and you’ll soon be entering that 26K.” Assuming that the “K” in that sentence is kilometers a 26K is the equivalent of 16.16 miles.
  • Yes, 16 miles is an impressive distance to run but it’s not a marathon.

  • Page 10 – I don’t know how they measure calories but I’ve never heard of a running program that burns 100 calories in an hour. As a 114 lb woman I burn approximately 100 calories for every mile I run. Maybe they meant mile instead of hour? That would make more sense.
  • Page 17 – I have looked at many different training plans for running marathons and they all agree on one thing – tapering mileage before a race. The sample marathon training plan supplied for Anatomy calls for a 20 mile run the day before running the marathon. Is that normal? To be fair, it might be a typo. It’s the only day that doesn’t actually have the word “run” after the mile distance. It just says “20-miles.” The question is 20-miles what?
  • I think the authors resorted to referring to yoga when they didn’t know what to call a certain stretch (like the back stretch = cobra). This causes confusion in regards to the high lunge/low forward lunge. For practitioners of yoga, a high lunge is done without either knee touching the ground, whereas a low lunge has the placement of the back knee of the ground.(p 86-87).
  • Some detail information is not consistent. Some exercises have times regarding how long to hold a move and/or how reps. For example, the standing quad stretch is to be held for 15 seconds at a time and repeated three times. The very next exercise, the sprinter’s stretch, doesn’t have that information. It would have been nice to see some consistency.