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

December Did Not

December did not suck entirely. I was able to run 97 miles out of the 97 promised. The in-law holiday party was a lot of fun and I got to most of the books on my list:
Nonfiction:

  • Conquest of the Incas by John Hemming (DNF)
  • Rainbow’s End by Lauren St. John
  • Paul Revere and the World He Lived in by Esther Forbes
  • On the Ocean by Pytheas (translated by Christina Horst Roseman)
  • Geometry of Love by Margaret Visser
  • Freedom at Midnight by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre .
  • River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey by Candice Millard (AB)

Fiction:

  • Tu by Patricia Grace – I read this in four days because it was due back at a library that didn’t allow renewals.

Series:

  • Spiderweb for Two by Elizabeth Enright. I listened to this on audio on my lunch breaks. It was a good way to escape for a little while each day. Confessional: I didn’t finish the whole thing but since it is a continuation of the series it doesn’t matter.

Early Review:

  • Yoga for Athletes by Ryanne Cunningham – this was an October book that took me a little time to review because I was too busy using it to run!
  • Disaster Falls: a family story by Stephane Gerson

Yoga for Athletes

Cunningham, Ryanne. Yoga for Athletes. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2017.

Reason read: Early review program for LibraryThing.

Disclaimer: I had to use this book for a few weeks before I could review it. I am a firm believer in yoga to supplement all sports activity.

  • Likes: Pose finder index was very helpful.
  • Photographs of people with different body types was great (instead of photographs all of the same model).
  • Testimonies from professional and nonprofessional athletes add character to the book.
  • Sections on specific sports to target key areas for those who want “quick” routines. I’m a runner so I jumped right to “my” section a few times.
  • Directional language is very straightforward.

Dislikes:

  • some poses have modifications while others do not. All poses can be modified.
  • Some redundancy – some poses are shown more than once (cat cow, spine rolling, boat pose to name a few). The duplication implies filler, like there was no enough content for a complete book.
  • Some sections out of sequence; warming up poses before the “warming up” chapter, for example.
  • No warning on the more dangerous poses (like wheel); I would have liked to see the modification illustrated.
  • Awful outfits for most of the models (especially the men). What’s with the Wednesday tights?

Jingle the Books

December is going to be a crazy month. I need to run 93  miles. I will be hosting my in-law’s Holiday party for the first time. I’m going to the Christmas Eve Patriots Game. What else? Oh. The books!

Nonfiction:

  • Conquest of the Incas by John Hemming ~ in honor of December being the best time to visit Peru
  • Rainbow’s End by Lauren St. John ~ in honor of Shangani Day in Rhodesia.
  • Paul Revere and the World He Lived in by Esther Forbes ~ in honor of Revere’s birth month (I’m guessing since he was baptized on January first.)
  • On the Ocean by Pytheas (translated by Christina Horst Roseman) ~ in honor of finally finding a copy of this book!
  • Geometry of Love by Margaret Visser ~ in honor of Rome’s Saturnalia Solstice.
  • Freedom at Midnight by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre ~ in honor of December being the best time to visit India.

Fiction:

  • Tu by Patricia Grace ~ in honor of New Zealand being discovered in December.

Series:

  • Spiderweb for Two by Elizabeth Enright ~ in honor of finishing the series started in September in honor of Enright’s birth month.

Early Review:

  • Yoga for Athletes by Ryanne Cunningham ~ for LibraryThing

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.

 


Do Your Om Thing

Pacheco, Rebecca. Do Your Om Thing: Bending Yoga Tradition to Fit Your Modern Life. New York: Harper Wave, 2015.

Reason read: I first discovered Pacheco when my beloved gave me a Runners World yoga video and voila! I had found a yoga instructor I liked almost as much as my dear Roo.

Pacheco is feisty and funny, as well as knowledgeable in her practice. I was curious to see if she could write as well. And indeed, she can. For just a small taste of what you are in for when you read Do Your Om…, this is from the introduction: “This book (or, its author) understand that you will occasionally get stressed out, overscheduled, come down with the flu, or possibly dumped on your ass by someone you love with ever piece of your heart chakra” (p x). See what I mean? Feisty and a sense of humor. What follows is how to bring a sense of yogi practice to your life, in your own way. For example, everyone has heard of chakras, but Pacheco takes care to really explain them and their significance. What she doesn’t do is tell you what to do with that knowledge.

Author fact: Pacheco is the face of the Runner’s World Yoga for Runners DVD. Her teaching style is great!

Book trivia: This is not a yoga instruction book! You will not find photographs outlining a flow sequence of poses.


December Missed

Woops! December left us without me writing about the reading. Not sure how that happened (other than to say “life”), but anyway – here’s what was accomplished for December:

  • Beth Shaw’s Yoga Fit by Beth Shaw (an Early Review book for LibraryThing)
  • Cod by Mark Kurlansky
  • Flashman and the Angel of the Lord by George MacDonald Fraser
  • How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
  • The Man Who Was Taller Than God by Harold Adams
  • Ringed Castle by Dorothy Dunnett

Here’s a belated look at January 2016 (already started, as you will see):

  1. Flashman and the Tiger by George MacDonald Fraser (the LAST book in the series on my list)
  2. Always a Body to Trade by K.C. Constantine (already read in honor of January being National Mystery month. Read this in a day)
  3. Blue Light by Walter Mosley (already read in honor of Mosley’s birth month. Another quick read)
  4. Checkmate by Dorothy Dunnett (the LAST book in the Lymond Series). It bears noting I am also consulting The Prophecies by Nostradamus (translated by Richard Sieburth) while reading Checkmate.
  5. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya (an audio book in honor of New Mexico becoming a state in January)
  6. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov (in honor of Nabokov’s wife, Vera. Pale Fire is dedicated to her and her birthday is in January)
  7. Up, into the Singing Mountain by Richard Llewellyn (to continue the series started last month).

I have been chosen to review a book about the photography of Dickey Chapelle but since it hasn’t arrived yet I can’t put it on the list. I was also chosen to review Liar by Rob Roberge, but I don’t expect that one until February.

On a personal note: December ended with writing to 12 complete strangers. I am really hoping one or two of them become pen pals.


Yoga for Runners

Felstead, Christine. Yoga for Runners. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2014.

I loved this book so much I’m calling it my yoga bible. As a runner frequently plagued by injury, I was hopeful Felstead’s book would help me run with less pain. Notice I didn’t say “without pain.” This is not a miracle cure for those of us with hips and knees constantly out of alignment. But, having said all that, I took a long time to write the review for Yoga for Runners because I wanted to spend some time actually trying out the sequences more than once, especially the hour-long ones. Eager to get right to it, I had to rein myself in and actually read the chapters leading up to the sequences. Go figure. But, I’m glad I did. Each chapter builds upon the next, complete with photographs and testimonials. Each pose is broken down and thoroughly explained so that when you do (finally!) get to the sequences you have a better idea of what you are supposed to be doing (which is a good thing because holding the book open while trying to practice the entire sequence is nearly impossible. In fact, trying to read and move at the same time is the only drawback to Yoga for Runners. I ended up putting an 8-pound weight on the spine to keep the book open. I know, I know. Not good. I would have preferred a spiral bound book that lays flat when opened or, as someone else mentioned, a DVD to accompany the text.
But, back to the good stuff. The post-run sequence is easily my favorite go-to. It’s only 5-10 minutes long so there’s no excuse to skip it. My second favorite sequence is the maintenance routine. It’s over an hour long, but each pose is essential so your time is not wasted. The flow from pose to pose works well for all sequences. I know a runner who is a better yogi than runner. I would be curious to get her take on Yoga for Runners since she has been combining the two activities for years.

Reason read: this was sent to me as an Early Review selection, courtesy of LibraryThing.


Christmas List

It’s weird to start all over again. This list of finished books is tiny. It looks pathetic compared to the lists I have been working with in the last seven to eight months. But, but. But! It’s only one month’s worth of reading. Oh well. Here is the list of books read so far (December):
FINISHED:

  1. Civil Action by Jonathan Harr
  2. Eighth Day by Thornton Wilder
  3. Falcon Flies by Wilbur Smith (audio book)
  4. Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
  5. In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin
  6. It Looked Like Forever by Mark Harris
  7. Sword at Sunset by Rosemary Sutcliff

UPCOMING FOR JANUARY:

  1. Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson –  in honor of Franklin’s birthday
  2. Feast of Love by Charles Baxter (audio) – in honor of when Michigan became a state
  3. Last Train to Memphis by Peter Guralink – in honor of Elvis’s birth month
  4. Men of Men by Wilbur Smith – to continue the series started in December

Power of Privacy

For the longest time I wanted to share my yoga practice with the blogging world. It was nice to mention moves that confounded me, brag about the small successes improvement brought me. But, somehow I have discovered I have more potential when I keep these things private. I think that is, in part, why I stopped going to group classes. The instructor’s voice calmed me, instilled confidence & control, and yet…I felt constricted, caught up. How to explain this? Certain poses create a cocoon of peace for me. Sometimes, I am so grateful for the respite that tears flow and sighs emerge. I find dare more, try more when alone. And I breathe. Often times I found myself not ready to move on from a particularly comforting pose when everyone else in the class was. Unlike other embarrassing moments in a group setting (falling over with a resounding solid thud, belching air out my azz or falling asleep during shivasana), this show of emotion, this lingering was not something I want to share. I didn’t want to hold up the class by holding a difficult pose for just that much longer (think Warrior III or half moon pose, two I have trouble with). I have more strength when I’m alone. There is power in privacy.
Oddly enough, this privacy issue has been carrying over to other parts of my life. I say I want to run with others but I won’t. I can’t. It’s too personal. It’s my time that I can’t  won’t share. I’ve run with only one other person – my sister – and she’s it. I won’t cook for anyone but family and the closer of friends. I won’t let anyone except my husband handle my Lamson & Goodnow.

So be it.


Lining It Up

Now&ZenYoga

(Now & Zen Yoga: photo by Chris Szarek)

Back when I was training for the LLS Alton Bay half I was striving for The Trinity: a good running plan, a good eating plan and a good yoga plan. I’m one of those nutty people that earnestly believes that all these things go together. Especially yoga and running – I’m convinced they go hand in hand. Think about it. Let’s take the run first. Some people say a good run is mind-clearing. Others say it’s a good chance to relax. Okay – so the “relax” factor might be stretching it in terms of physical, but think about it from the mental for just a sec. I don’t know about you, but when I run, there is a cadence to my breathing – one deep count in, two long counts out. Slow & steady with the mantra “must beat cancer” right behind it. There is a rhythm to my running that parallels my practice in yoga.

Now let’s move onto a good yoga session and how it relates to a good run. Tight hamstrings, tight hips, tight anything is bad, bad, bad for running so… what better way to stretch it all out than with a session of yoga? Go on any running site (take Runner’s World, for example). I bet there is an article or two (at the very least) about good stretching. The Y word might even be thrown around a little. I know for a fact Runner’s World has a video of three yoga moves designed to free the hips, loosen the quads and stretch the calves.

My point of all this preaching is not to get runners to become yogis or vise versa. My point is all about me, myself and moi, actually. I wanted to outwardly vent about lining it up – the yoga, the running & the eating well. Only now I’ve added a fourth component so I’ll have to rename the Trinity as the Fantastic Four: running, yoga, eating well and…Hello Mr. Bowflex – strength training!


Tuesday is for Standing

Today’s daily yoga was all about standing poses. Strong standing. I’m liking the sequence because it really helped shake the cobwebs and rattle the internal alarm clock. I haven’t seen 7am since oh I don’t know when. Possibly before Christmas – at my sister’s when her son had us opening gifts at the crack of dawn. Actually, come to think of it, the sun wasn’t really up yet.
But, back to the practice. I think this sequence agrees with me because it is so graceful and moving from pose to pose really works. I’m not thinking Twister. Mountain -> standing forward -> lunge -> warrior 1 -> warrior 2 -> side angle -> straight leg warrior 2 -> triangle -> straddle -> warrior 2 into lunge -> down dog -> plank -> knees, chest, chin -> cobra -> childs -> down dog -> lunge -> standing forward -> chair/power -> mountain.
But, here’s the thing that’s always in the back of my mind – how’s my posture? Am I doing this right? I don’t have eyes in the back of my head, nor a teacher standing over me. No one to ease my feet into a more solid stance. I’ll be back to in-person personal on Thursday. Yay!

warrior

ps ~ today is “Run It Up The Flagpole Day”   Make of it what you will.