Showing posts with label nonfiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nonfiction. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

September Reads: Generation Chef, and new Herman Koch

In between all the craziness going on around my house this month, I've actually still managed to READ!  Here's the latest and greatest from 'round these parts lately:

Generation Chef by Karen Stabiner
Avery Books, 2016
copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Hey, remember how I love foodie nonfiction?  Yeah, you probably forgot, because it's been so long since I reviewed any!  But when Generation Chef was offered up to me for review, I absolutely could not resist.  Journalist Karen Stabiner shadowed up-and-coming New York City chef Jonah Miller as he embarked upon his life's dream: opening a restaurant of his own.  As Miller opened the door to his restaurant (Huertas), Stabiner bore witness to everything: the bureaucratic frustrations of real estate, investors, and liquor licenses; the continual management of both kitchen and service employees; the painstaking balance between making a menu that's true to the chef, and one that gets people in the door.  I was fully impressed by the depth of detail that she was able to include--this is one of those nonfiction books that almost reads like fiction, because so much emotion is embedded in the text.
The book stands out for another reason: Stabiner takes the story beyond Miller's journey with Huertas, and weaves in the journeys of other, more seasoned chefs, and how they did (or did not) find success.  All of these side stories compliment the central narrative perfectly, without taking away from the flow of the book.
Generation Chef will amaze you (with Miller's persistence and drive), amuse you (there's a fair amount of restaurant-style humor included), and make you incredibly hungry.  Seriously, if I didn't live 7 hours from NYC, I'd be at Huertas right now ordering nonstop pintxos.  Foodies and nonfiction fans alike will love this read!

Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch
Hogarth, 2016
copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

I am doing a bang-up terrible job of turning down ARCs lately, especially those from authors that I've enjoyed in the past.  I know Herman Koch's The Dinner was not for everyone, but I was a huge fan, and Summer House With Swimming Pool worked equally well for me.  I couldn't wait to see what Koch had in store with this latest release, Dear Mr. M, which deals with the disappearance of a high school teacher after he has an affair with one of his students.
Since this is a mini review, the short version is that I did not enjoy this one as much as Koch's other two novels.  It started off in typical Koch fashion: narrator is a creepy, possibly psychotic?, stalker-type, and the constant flashbacks make the storyline continuously more mysterious.  However, about halfway through the book, the narration switches to the girl who had the affair with her teacher, and Koch lost me.  Her story was too drawn out and lacked the suspense of the earlier section.  By the time we switched to other, more engaging narrators, it was hard for me to jump back on board and enjoy the (admittedly twisty) conclusion.  This one definitely had a whiff of the Herman Koch I remember from his first two books, but didn't pack the same punch.

What are you reading this month?

Monday, September 12, 2016

It's time to Do Your Om Thing with Rebecca Pacheco


Title: Do Your Om Thing
Author: Rebecca Pacheco
Publisher: Harper Wave
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Source: copy received for honest review through TLC Book Tours

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

In Do Your Om Thing, master yoga teacher and creator of the popular blog OmGal.com Rebecca Pacheco shows us that the true practice of yoga is about much more than achieving the perfect headstand or withstanding an hour-long class in a room heated to 100 degrees. "Yoga is not about performance," she tells us, "it's about practice, on your mat and in your life. If you want to get better at anything what should you do? Practice. Confidence, compassion, awareness, joy—if you want more of these—and who doesn't?—yoga offers the skills to practice them."

In her warm, personal, and often hilarious prose, Rebecca translates yogic philosophy for its twenty-first-century devotees, making ancient principles and philosophy feel accessible, relatable, and genuinely rooted in the world in which we live today. And by illuminating how the guiding principles of yoga apply to our modern lives, Rebecca shows us that the true power of a yoga practice is not physical transformation, but mental and spiritual liberation.


My Review:

Yogis, take note!  I loved this book, and I bet many other amateur yogis out there will too.  I read it at the perfect point in my yoga journey.  I've been practicing the physical aspect of yoga (asana) for almost a year now, and while that started as a way for me to cross-train with running and gain flexibility, I've now gotten to the point where I am interested in yoga in and of itself.  You hear bits and pieces about the background and philosophy of yoga in classes, but I have not yet had an instructor who really goes in-depth with any of it.  Plus, I'll be honest--some of it just sounded way too crunchy-granola for me, so I wasn't sure where to begin.

If you find you're in a similar spot with yoga, Do Your Om Thing is for you.  Pacheco leads you through all the ins and outs of yoga philosophy, with a down-to-earth voice that is totally NOT too crunchy-granola. :) The book is easy to follow, and she writes with such wisdom and clarity that I found myself wanting to head right to the mat and put my new knowledge to work.  I never thought I'd say this, but after reading the book, I'm even dying to try meditation (one part of yoga that I've always felt is beyond the abilities of my million-thoughts-at-once brain).  Honestly, there were parts of this book that felt meditative while reading them--I found Pacheco's writing to be thoughtful and calming, a perfect fit for this subject matter.

Do Your Om Thing is not strictly a yoga manual--Pacheco will make you think deeply about how you approach your self, your work, and your relationships within the framework of yoga tradition.  If you're a beginner yogi, I can't say enough good things about it!  If you're ready to learn more about yoga than how to get into Crow Pose, pick up this book ASAP.

As always, much thanks to Trish at TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour!
Want to find out more?  Check out the other blogs on this book tour HERE.  And connect with Rebecca Pacheco on her websiteFacebook, and Twitter.

Monday, August 22, 2016

More Mini Reviews with Boston Bound and The Fireman

Guess what starts today, my friends?  My first day of my first semester as a college student (well, round 3 after my bachelors and masters degrees).  :)  As such, I expect my pleasure reading time to diminish significantly, but I do have 2 more mini reviews to share with you as I enter this drought period.  Unless you want me to review my Sports Management textbook...?

Boston Bound by Elizabeth Clor
Createspace, 2016
personal purchase

I encountered Elizabeth Clor's recently-released memoir via her Instagram page, and was immediately intrigued.  Elizabeth started road racing in 2005, and has since run 20 marathons (as well as countless other races at shorter distances).  She began her marathon career at the mid-pack with the rest of us average Joes, but after years of hard work and persistence, she started to realize that a Boston Marathon qualifying time was in her reach.  However, the time between her first inclination towards that dream and its realization was SEVEN years.  Elizabeth knew she was capable physically, but anxiety and a host of other mental barriers stood in her way.  Boston Bound is the story of how she overcame them to earn her BQ (she finally ran it this year!).
I ended up giving this one a 3 on Goodreads.  There's no doubt that Elizabeth's story is inspirational, especially for those of us that are "hobby" runners, training in between jobs and families and everyday life.  Plus, as someone who deals with many of my own anxiety issues, I made note of a lot of the strategies that Clor used to realize her dream.  Running is about 90% mental for me, so I relate to that struggle!  That said, the reason I gave a 3 instead of a higher rating was because of the writing.  Clor's formatting doesn't give her story a solid flow, and her race recaps eventually started to sound repetitive.  Her takeaway advice is excellent, but the journey for readers to get there is a bit clunky.  Plus, she relies heavily on past blog posts from her running blog (Racing Stripes), which ends up making the whole book feel like a long blog entry--not really the tone I was wanting from a memoir/nonfiction book.
Overall, runners will like this one, as it certainly has a lot of inspirational material!  It's just not the most well-written running book that I've encountered lately.

The Fireman by Joe Hill
William Morrow, 2016
borrowed from the library

Oh, I have so many feelings about this book.  Let's start with the good thing: the creative post-apocalyptic world that Joe Hill has created.  Basically, a spore called Dragonscale has infected humans, and the people infected are spontaneously combusting into flames.  So there's fire and mayhem and just overall good, end-of-the-world chaos.  This premise alone was reason enough for me to pick up the book, and Hill certainly delivers as far as interesting sci-fi-ish plots go.  I absolutely expected to love this novel.
BUT (and you knew there was a but).  I had two serious issues with the The Fireman.  First was Harper, the protagonist.  I felt like Hill was trying to make her too many things at once.  She's cutesy and naive and loves Mary Poppins, but then she's swearing like a sailor and unfazed by carnage and violence at the same time.  I wanted to be like, PICK A SIDE, DUDE.  I am all for complicated characters, but in 747 pages I never felt like Harper came together.  Second issue was that this book is trying way, way too hard to draw off Stephen King's The Stand.  Which is awfully interesting, considering that Joe Hill is King's son but has (in the past) gone to great lengths to hide it.  But in The Fireman, we have a deaf character named Nick, a main character who is pregnant and has the middle name Frances (goes by Frannie...), and all sorts of little Easter eggs referencing other aspects of King's work.  I'm surprised SK didn't read this and be all, "Get your own apocalypse epic, sonny-boy."  This, paired with the fact that Hill constantly references Harry Potter (seriously, so many JK Rowling references, let's give it a rest), the Rolling Stones, and other aspects of popular culture, makes this book feel like it is not at all his own creation.
A longer review than I intended, but I 3-starred this one.  It had promise, and despite the length of the book it moves along at a brisk clip.  However, in the end I was disappointed with how Hill put the pieces together.

What are you reading these days, reader friends?  I will add your suggestions to my list for after the semester ends!  :)

Monday, July 18, 2016

It's Time to Pump You Up...with Lift by Daniel Kunitz


Title: Lift: Fitness Culture, from Naked Greek and Acrobats to Jazzercise and Ninja Warriors
Author: Daniel Kunitz
Publisher: Harper Wave
Publication Date: July 5, 2016
Source: copy received for honest review through TLC Book Tours

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

A fascinating cultural history of fitness, from Greek antiquity to the era of the “big-box gym” and beyond, exploring the ways in which human exercise has changed over time—and what we can learn from our ancestors.

We humans have been conditioning our bodies for more than 2,500 years, yet it’s only recently that treadmills and weight machines have become the gold standard of fitness. For all this new technology, are we really healthier, stronger, and more flexible than our ancestors?

Where Born to Run began with an aching foot, Lift begins with a broken gym system—one founded on high-tech machinery and isolation techniques that aren’t necessarily as productive as we think. Looking to the past for context, Daniel Kunitz crafts an insightful cultural history of the human drive for exercise, concluding that we need to get back to basics to be truly healthy.

Lift takes us on an enlightening tour through time, beginning with the ancient Greeks, who made a cult of the human body—the word gymnasium derives from the Greek word for “naked”—and following Roman legions, medieval knights, Persian pahlevans, and eighteenth-century German gymnasts. Kunitz discovers the seeds of the modern gym in nineteenth-century Paris, where weight lifting machines were first employed, and takes us all the way up to the game-changer: the feminist movement of the 1960s, which popularized aerobics and calisthenics classes. This ignited the first true global fitness revolution, and Kunitz explores how it brought us to where we are today.

Once a fast-food inhaler and substance abuser, Kunitz reveals his own decade-long journey to becoming ultra-fit using ancient principals of strengthening and conditioning. With Lift, he argues that, as a culture, we are finally returning to this natural ideal—and that it’s to our great benefit to do so.


My Review:

When I heard about this new release, I was intrigued, especially given my recent interest in going back to school to become a personal trainer.  Learning a bit more about the history of exercise and workout trends seemed like a pretty good place to start as I dive into this new career!

Kunitz does a good job of not only tracing the general history of exercise, but also discussing the societal factors that helped (or hindered) its growth through the centuries.  A significant theme throughout the book is the role that feminism has played in exercise, something that I found quite interesting in an arena that has historically often been male-dominated.  However, Kunitz shows that many fitness trends have been driven by either female preferences, or the roles that society has placed upon them.  While some of the historical detail got a bit dense at times, overall it was interesting to trace this growth over time.

The dryness of the historical detail was broken up by the personal anecdotes of Kunitz himself.  Previously inclined to drink and smoke rather than lift and eat smoothies, his transition into the world of exercise was entertaining to read about, and also provides a bit of motivation for those who are looking to get on the fitness bandwagon.  That said, I was also a bit turned off by his obvious favoritism towards CrossFit (and its close relatives--acroyoga, Parkour, etc) as the be-all and end-all of workout regimes.  While I realize that much of his historical musing leads to the point that this sort of functional, well-rounded fitness program is the "ideal", I have trouble getting behind the idea that one fitness program is inherently "better" than another.  I am not at all denying that CrossFit is an excellent workout (and I've actually been very interested in trying it myself for a while now).  However, to say that a CrossFitter is "more fit" or in better health than a marathoner, cyclist, or dedicated Jazzerciser feels wrong to me, if only because people have different definitions of what "fitness goals" entail and the paths they would prefer to take to get there.

This ended up as a 3-star Goodreads review for me: enlightening on the historical side, fun to read for the personal stories from the author, but occasionally tedious in detail and has a bit of a bias that turned me off.

As always, much thanks to Trish and TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour!
Want to find out more?  Check out the other blogs on this book tour HERE.

Friday, July 15, 2016

July Mini-Reviews: Natural Parenting, An Amazing Mystery, and NEGAN!

Reading has been a bit slow lately, but I've had SO many good books on the docket!  Here's a quick rundown of 3 of my most recent reads:

Push Back: Guilt in the Age of Natural Parenting
Dr. Amy Tuteur
Dey Street Books, 2016
borrowed from the library

(Sorry, this review became a little longer than mini!)  As soon as I grabbed this one on impulse at the library, I was afraid that I might get my Good Mommy card taken away...haha.  But seriously, I saw that subtitle and HAD to read it.  Personally, I find modern-day mothering to be positively FRAUGHT with guilt that others try to impose upon your parenting style--no matter what style that may be.  But the natural parenting industry gets top marks in the guilt-mongering category.  And I say that having taken a fair number of "natural" parenting methods myself--breastfeeding, cloth diapering, blah blah blah.  However, I also picked a lot of "not natural" parenting options: epidurals, formula, the list goes on.  So, I've seen both sides.  And I never can understand why people find the need to judge so much on these topics.  Dr. Amy Tuteur delved into that issue, and what we can do to push back.

Overall, I found Tuteur's discussion to be a refreshing rebuttal to the constant sanctimommy, holier-than-thou banter that you see on social media these days.  She specifically takes on 3 aspects of natural parenting: "natural" childbirth (meaning no drugs, no c-sections, etc), breastfeeding, and attachment parenting (co-sleeping, babywearing, etc).  She discusses the actual scientific evidence that supports (or fails to support) each of these concepts, and shows how the natural parenting industry skews and misquotes these findings in order to further their agendas.  And anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE a good discussion of the actual, published SCIENCE behind a concept.  That said, women who are currently pregnant (or plan to become pregnant soon) may want to pause before picking this book up--part of me thinks I would have loved reading it before having kids, but the other part of me isn't sure, as Tuteur is very straightforward about the data behind the risks of pregnancy (mortality rates for mother and child, for example)...things that I know would have made me rather anxious while pregnant.  Something for mommas to consider.

My only hesitation in recommending this book is that Tuteur's vitriol against the natural parenting industry is a little much at times.  I would have preferred if she could have kept a more level head in her discussion of the issues, as the scientific evidence speaks for itself in many cases.  And anyone who is a hardcore La Leche League/Dr. Sears/etc. follower will likely not enjoy this.  However, if you're as sick of parent-shaming as I am, give this book a try!

Before The Fall
Noah Hawley
Grand Central Publishing, 2016
borrowed from the library

Current contender for my favorite book of the year!  Before the Fall is a positively fabulous mystery/thriller that had me reading well past my bedtime, captivated by every page.  A small private plane crashes off of Martha's Vineyard, and only two passengers live to tell about it.  What ensues is an investigation into what caused the mysterious crash, as the two survivors struggle to navigate the next steps in their lives.

Hawley's storytelling style played a major role in my involvement with the novel, as he flashes back to each passenger on the plane to show you what they were doing in the years, months, and days leading up to the crash.  You get new pieces of the puzzle added with every chapter.  The book also goes beyond being a simple mystery by making interesting commentary about the power of the media in the wake of national tragedies (sadly very relevant right now).  I won't say more for fear of spoiling this one for you, but I can't recommend it highly enough!!

The Walking Dead, Compendium 3
Robert Kirkman et al
Image Comics, 2015
borrowed from the library

Only recommended if you read the first two compendiums, but this one is SO good!!  Compendium 3 brings you up past where the TV show is now, with the introduction of Negan.  All I can say is, season 7 is gonna be a doozy FOR SURE (even if Negan's first TV victim is not the same as it is in the comics).  This collection ended on a pretty shocking note, and I know it's going to be a while before there's enough editions for a Compendium 4...so it may be time for me to start figuring out how to get my hands on individual issues!  :)  The Walking Dead is the first comic series I've ever read (my only other graphic novel/comic experience was The Watchman--also very good, though quite different), but it's got me thinking I should look into this medium a bit more.

What are you reading these days, reader pals?

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A Runner's Read! Run the World by Becky Wade


Title: Run the World: My 3,500 Mile Journey Through Running Cultures Around the Globe
Author: Becky Wade
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: July 5, 2016
Source: copy received for honest review through TLC Book Tours

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

Fresh off a successful collegiate running career—with multiple NCAA All-American honors and two Olympic Trials qualifying marks to her name—Becky Wade was no stranger to international competition. But after years spent safely sticking to the training methods she knew, Becky was curious about how her counterparts in other countries approached the sport to which she’d dedicated over half of her life. So in 2012, as a recipient of the Watson Fellowship, she packed four pairs of running shoes, cleared her schedule for the year, and took off on a journey to infiltrate diverse running communities around the world. What she encountered far exceeded her expectations and changed her outlook into the sport she loved.

Over the next 12 months—visiting 9 countries with unique and storied running histories, logging over 3,500 miles running over trails, tracks, sidewalks, and dirt roads—Becky explored the varied approaches of runners across the globe. Whether riding shotgun around the streets of London with Olympic champion sprinter Usain Bolt, climbing for an hour at daybreak to the top of Ethiopia’s Mount Entoto just to start her daily run, or getting lost jogging through the bustling streets of Tokyo, Becky’s unexpected adventures, keen insights, and landscape descriptions take the reader into the heartbeat of distance running around the world.

Upon her return to the United States, she incorporated elements of the training styles she’d sampled into her own program, and her competitive career skyrocketed. When she made her marathon debut in 2013, winning the race in a blazing 2:30, she became the third-fastest woman marathoner under the age of 25 in U.S. history, qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Trials and landing a professional sponsorship from Asics. 

From the feel-based approach to running that she learned from the Kenyans, to the grueling uphill workouts she adopted from the Swiss, to the injury-recovery methods she learned from the Japanese, Becky shares the secrets to success from runners and coaches around the world. The story of one athlete’s fascinating journey, Run the World is also a call to change the way we approach the world’s most natural and inclusive sport.


My Review:

If Becky Wade is not the luckiest runner-traveler out there, I don't know who is!  With the help of the Watson Fellowship, she got to travel around the world for a YEAR and run.  And run.  And run some more.  And learn about how other cultures approach running.  If that doesn't sound like an insanely cool trip-of-a-lifetime, we have very different bucket lists. :)

Run the World is Wade's memoir of her year of running travels.  If you're a runner, this book will open your mind to all manner of different running techniques and traditions.  As Wade mentions often, American runners tend to focus on gadgetry, speedwork speedwork speedwork, and structured training plans.  However, she found that success as a runner doesn't always translate to keeping track of your pace on your Garmin with every run.  And every great runner does not always "carb-load" with pasta the night before a big race.  The things we take for granted as "must-haves" or "must-dos" as runners are not always available or desirable in other running cultures.  Wade's book highlights those differences and the ways she was able to combine some of them with her old running routines to make her training even more effective.

There are so many facets of this book for readers to enjoy.  Yes, there is the exploration of running culture, but the book is also peppered with international recipes for yummy runner foods that Wade discovered throughout her trip; descriptions of beautiful running locales the world round; and the wide variety of people she was able to form connections with in the running community.  My initial awe at the details of Wade's journey quickly combined with admiration for her ability to comfortably jump right in to cultures that were entirely new to her.  Wade rarely stayed in hotels or hostels, instead managing to find lodging with local runners or coaches during her stay in each country.  Not only did this steep her in the daily life of the host country even more, but it required her to have a certain amount of bravery as she experienced a trial-by-fire introduction to each new culture.  I'm not sure I could have done that with such a low level of anxiety!

Run the World is an excellent read, especially for the runners and the world travelers among you.  Bonus: just before I opened my computer to write this post last night, I pulled my new issue of Runner's World out of the mailbox and found a feature about Becky Wade (and Run the World) inside!  So check her out there as well.  She is also racing in the US Olympic Track and Field Trials THIS WEEK in Portland, Oregon, vying for a spot to compete in the 3000m steeplechase.

Go, Becky, go!  This is one runner/reader who will certainly be rooting for you from afar after following your running journey in this book.

As always, much thanks to Trish and TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour.
Want to find out more?  Check out the other blogs on this book tour HERE. And connect with Becky Wade via Twitter and Instagram.


Monday, June 6, 2016

Nonfiction Mini-Reviews x3!

I didn't mean to do it, but my last 3 reads have all been nonfiction...and now that I've realized it, I'm pining for more!  Send me all your latest nonfiction recommendations, if you please.  In the meantime, here's some snapshots of what I've been reading lately:

Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach
W.W. Norton, 2016
received from the publisher for an honest review


If you didn't see my review of Mary Roach's Packing for Mars a few months back, let me tell you that she specializes in hilarious, science-based nonfiction.  She generally chooses unconventional topics (the particulars of space travel, the science of human cadavers, etc), researches the minutiae behind them, and peppers her findings with off-color humor.  Now that is MY brand of nonfiction.

In Roach's latest release, the topic is war, but not in the way it's covered via politics or military strategy.  Instead, she's delved into the oft-not-discussed ways that our military uses science to provide for our soldiers at home and overseas.  For example: what happens when a Navy SEAL really, really has to poop during a mission?  (I'm dead serious.  She actually ASKED A NAVY SEAL THAT.)  How are military hospitals providing for soldiers that lose not just limbs, but also their genitals, during combat?  How do submariners in the Navy prepare for undersea conditions?  (Nice shout outs to my hometown of Groton, CT (Submarine Capital of the World, say heyyy) in that section!)  These are the questions that you didn't even know you had, but now you want them answered.

Overall I enjoyed this one, because Roach's humor was on point (as expected), and the research was interesting.  However, as a whole the book did not click with me quite as well as Packing for Mars did.  I felt like the chapters were a bit disjointed from each other, which disrupted the flow between topics.  Plus, I found it harder to laugh at her humor on this particular subject.  Giggling over space toilets is one thing, but finding the humor in genital reconstruction for wounded soldiers was a bit tougher.  Perhaps my humor has it's limits?  I never thought I'd see the day...

Anyway, this is worth the read for followers of Mary Roach, and I think anyone connected to the military would find it intriguing.  It's not my favorite of hers, but I'm still interested in reading her other work.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
Knopf, 2012
borrowed from the good ol' public library

The latest read for my MOMS Club Book Club!  This is Cheryl Strayed's memoir of when, after dealing with her mother's sudden death, her own divorce, as well as a descent into drug addiction, she decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail.  The trail runs from Mexico to Canada via California, Oregon, and Washington.  Strayed tackled the trail with no previous backpacking experience, in the hopes that she would find something to allow her to get her life back on track.

There is a ton of hype about this book (especially since the release of the Reese Witherspoon movie), but I understand why.  This is a very moving memoir, and Strayed is startlingly honest about her childhood, her failed marriage, and her ups and downs on the trail.  I found many of her experiences to be inspiring, even in her weakest moments.  The interesting cast of characters that she encounters during her trek will (mostly) raise your faith in humanity.  Plus, it's excellent hiking inspiration for the outdoorsy readers--I already told my husband that we must put the PCT on our bucket list!

Two Hours: The Quest to Run the Impossible Marathon by Ed Caesar
Simon & Schuster, 2015
borrowed from the good ol' public library

Love me a good running read these days!  In Two Hours, Ed Caesar discusses exactly what it would take for a professional marathoner to eventually break the coveted 2:00 mark.  The current world record is 2:02:57, and while 2 minutes and 57 seconds doesn't sound like a long time to most, to elite marathoners it is an enormous divide.  Caesar looks into the science behind it--there are researchers who have done a variety of tests in order to estimate what they believe to be the absolute limit for how quickly a human can run 26.2 miles.  But alongside that, he follows the marathon pursuits of Geoffrey Mutai, an elite Kenyan runner who has his sights set on both a world record and the 2:00 wall.  This combination of scientific and personal perspectives on the upper limits of marathoning made for a fascinating book.

One of my favorite tidbits from this book is the discussion of how modern day road races do not provide favorable conditions for runners to get the fastest marathon time possible.  Many are hilly, provide very little shade, and don't allow the runners to employ pacers (non-racing runners who are hired to pace them at exactly what they need to hit a certain finish time--one racer will sometimes use a few different pacers throughout a race, if it is allowed).  Plus, they are weather dependent--you could be in the best shape of your life, but if you wake up and have to run your marathon on a sunny 80 degree day, the chances of a good time are nil.  This is just one of many fun discussions that got my brain turning in this book.  Two Hours is a quick read, and excellent brain food for anyone with running interests!

What are your current reads?  Any new nonfiction on the docket for you lately?  What's the best memoir you've read lately?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

2 Mini-Reviews and They Are Both AWESOME.

So busy around here these days, reader friends!  In the last couple of weeks, I've run 3 races (if you include my virtual 10K--recap coming soon!), we road tripped to Connecticut to watch my stepbrother graduate from the Coast Guard's Officer Candidate School (woot!), I had a busy/excellent Mother's Day with my crew, and (most importantly) my husband successfully defended his doctoral dissertation after 7 LONG years of hard work!!!  I am beyond excited for him, and we are gearing up for the graduation this weekend.
Me, my brother, and my stepbrother at OCS graduation.  I am a proud seester!  Go Coast Guard!
Then we have all the things on the horizon: Small Fry's last couple weeks of preschool, planning for my mom's 60th birthday celebrations in June, gearing up for a beach vacation in July...

These are all great reasons to be busy, but my head is spinning and it leaves little time for bloggy activities.  Luckily, I am still reading, because I have so many good books on the docket right now that I'm having a tough time choosing between them!  And for my running friends--my marathon training starts on Tuesday (the 17th), so I'm getting ready to fit that into my life as well.

If you want to stay up-to-date on my reading/running activities, your best bet is Instagram (@thewellreadredhead), because a quick snap from my phone takes way less time these days than a blog post.  ;)  But lucky you, I did manage two mini reviews for today...and both of these books rocked my socks!

Marathon Woman by Kathrine Switzer
Da Capo Press, 2007
personal purchase



I hope that Switzer's name is, at the very least, ringing a small bell for you, but if not: she was the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon in 1967.  (Roberta Gibb ran it before her, but "bandited" the race--ran it without registering--whereas Switzer actually registered (as K.V. Switzer) and ran it with a bib.)  Because she registered with her initials, race officials did not realize she was a woman until the race was underway and the press trucks started following her.  One of the officials was so furious that he actually tried to attack her/rip her bib off during the race--a now-famous confrontation that she was able to escape, as she went on to finish the race.

Switzer's story was incredibly inspiring to me well before I read her memoir, but after I finished Marathon Woman, I had a whole new respect for her journey.  After that first marathon (Boston was her first!), she went on to cut over an HOUR from her marathon PR, win the NYC Marathon, and organize an international series of women's races that showed the world that women are just as capable of running (and competing) in distance races as men.  All of these things had an integral role in making women's running a respected sport (leading to the eventual addition of the women's marathon to the Olympic games) and helped make it the mainstream activity that it is today.  If you are a woman who runs, for fun or for competition, Kathrine Switzer is someone you should thank!

To top it off, Switzer's voice in the memoir is wonderfully candid and funny, while still emphasizing the lasting importance of her work in women's sports.  (I also had the AMAZING opportunity to meet Switzer at the Right to Run 19K in Seneca Falls, NY last weekend, and can tell you that her demeanor is every bit as inspiring and lighthearted in person!)  This book is NOT just for runners!  If you want a memoir that inspires, I can't recommend this one enough.
My copy of Marathon Woman. Now featuring extra awesomeness!
Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave
Simon & Schuster, 2016
copy received from the publisher for an honest review

The #1 reason I picked up this book was because of its author.  I've not found a Chris Cleave book yet that did not agree with me (and/or was downright amazing--Gold is one of my favorites).  That said, I was a little unsure about the subject matter in this one, as WWII era historical fiction novels have been hit-or-miss for me in the past.  I know that's a real broad genre to comment upon, but still.  I had my reservations.  To give a very general synopsis, Everyone Brave is Forgiven is set in WWII London during the Blitz, and focuses on three (okay, the description says three, but I think it's more accurate to say five) extremely different characters that are thrown together in the desperate circumstances created by the war.

WHY DID I HAVE RESERVATIONS?  This is likely on my favorites list for 2016. You know how sometimes you're reading a book, and things are happening that are making you get very emotional, or at the very least are causing your blood pressure to rise, and it all just gets to be TOO MUCH and you have to set the book down for a while so you can catch your breath and recoup?  This is that book.  And I just love a book that can leave me breathless for a bit, don't you?

In addition to being in awe of the events of the story as they unfolded, I was also impressed by the writing.  Cleave's prose is insightful and incredibly quotable (thank goodness I read this on my Kindle, as the highlighting was fast and furious), and the dialogue (especially Mary's and Alistair's) is amusing and snappy.  Even if you're unsure if this story is right for you, genre-wise, the novel is worth reading just so you can steep yourself in such excellent wordsmithing.

Read. Enjoy. Thank me later!

What are your current reads?  Have you met any authors/gone to any book signings lately?  What recent read of yours has had the best/most enjoyable dialogue?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Fast Into the Night by Debbie Clarke Moderow


Title: Fast Into the Night: A Woman, Her Dogs, and Their Journey North on the Iditarod Trail
Author: Debbie Clarke Moderow
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Source: copy provided for an honest review by the publisher via NetGalley

Summary from Goodreads

At age forty-seven, a mother of two, Debbie Moderow was not your average musher in the Iditarod, but that’s where she found herself when, less than 200 miles from the finish line, her dogs decided they didn’t want to run anymore. After all her preparation, after all the careful management of her team, and after their running so well for over a week, the huskies balked. But the sting of not completing the race after coming so far was nothing compared to the disappointment Moderow felt in having lost touch with her dogs.   

Fast into the Night is the gripping story of Moderow’s journeys along the Iditarod trail with her team of spunky huskies: Taiga and Su, Piney and Creek, Nacho and Zeppy, Juliet and the headstrong leader, Kanga. The first failed attempt crushed Moderow’s confidence, but after reconnecting with her dogs she returned and ventured again to Nome, pushing through injuries,  hallucinations, epic storms, flipped sleds, and clashing personalities, both human and canine. And she prevailed.   Part adventure, part love story, part inquiry into the mystery of the connection between humans and dogs, Fast into the Night is an exquisitely written memoir of a woman, her dogs, and what can happen when someone puts herself in that place between daring and doubt—and soldiers on.


My Review:

This is a different sort of nonfiction for me, considering that I had exactly zero familiarity with the Iditarod before picking it up.  (Well, I knew it was a dog sledding race.  In Alaska.  Probably pretty cold.  That's about it.)  However, I couldn't help giving it a go after reading the description.  Due to my obvious current interest in distance running, I was fascinated by the idea of all the training, preparation, and tenacity required to complete the Iditarod.  Running does not equal dog sledding, but both sports require a high level of athleticism and commitment, so I wanted to know more.

My curiosity was rewarded with an amazing story.  Moderow's two Iditarod journeys make for excellent reading on their own, but she also breaks up the telling of those races with the background on what led her into dog sledding.  From her childhood in Connecticut to her adulthood as a married mom of 2 in Alaska, she has a unique path to Iditarod racing that is full of both hard lessons and inspirational anecdotes.

In addition, my piqued interest in the sport of dog sledding was rewarded with Moderow's detailed accounts of her two Iditarods.  I had no concept of the months (sometimes years) of meticulous planning, the grueling training, and the thousands of dollars required to meet such a challenge head-on.  Not to mention the solid, caring bond that needs to be forged between a musher and his/her dog team--it was amazing to see how Moderow was constantly aware of the needs and quirks of each individual dog.  And Debbie Moderow did this TWICE!  After not finishing the first time!  That blows me away.  You'll certainly leave this book with an appreciation for the sport (and the 2016 Iditarod is in March, so read now and get excited for this year's race--I'm already following updates on Facebook!  Haha).

Fast Into the Night is both a moving memoir and an inspiring tale of strength and endurance, enhanced for me as it also became a learning experience about the world of dog sledding.  This may have been a subject outside of my usual nonfiction fare, but I'm so glad that I took a chance on it!

What's the last nonfiction book you read that taught you about a completely new-to-you subject?

Friday, November 20, 2015

November Minis: Lisbeth Salander & Nonfiction!

Hi, friends!  I know that November is not over, but I don't really want to include more than 3 mini-reviews in one post, so here's a little recap of what I've read so far this month.

The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz
Knopf, 2015
borrowed from the library

You've heard of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series by Stieg Larsson, yes?  One of my FAVORITE series in the history of all series.  When I got to the end of the 3rd book and realized that Larsson had died before he could continue Salander and Blomkvists's stories, I was devastated.  However, David Lagercrantz got permission from Larsson's family to continue the series on his own, and now we have this 4th installment of Larsson's brainchild.

Here's the deal: if you're a devout Salander/Blomkvist fan, you have to go into this book knowing that Lagercrantz can't resurrect the dead.  He can't write in EXACTLY the same tone and style that Larsson did.  But you know what?  He does a damn good job trying.  I found myself being very critical and picky at the beginning (how could I not?).  Some of the new characters introduced were basically walking stereotypes, the overall tone didn't feel dark enough, etc.  But suddenly I was 300 pages in and realized I was completely sucked into the story, differences be damned.  Lagercrantz has still managed to create an excellent mystery full of espionage and seedy doings, and the spirit of the originals is certainly there.  I will say that the ending was a bit kitschy (full of too many sudden romantic successes, presumably for a "happy" ending?).  But otherwise, I was happy to have Lisbeth Salander back in my life, and would welcome more of her besides.

Run Like A Mother by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea
Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2010
borrowed from the library

I run!  And I'm a mother!  So I felt like I definitely had to check this book out.  This is a nonfiction guide to running specifically for busy moms who are juggling husbands, kids, jobs, etc. with their love of getting on the road (or the trail).  The introduction and first chapter had me completely HOOKED.  I felt like McDowell and Shea were totally speaking my mother-runner language.  It was great to read stories about how other moms manage to balance running with all of the other priorities in their lives.  However, after that first chapter, I did realize that this book is primarily geared towards beginner runners--a lot of the next sections covered things like choosing the proper running attire, how to do speed/track workouts, etc...things that more seasoned runners are already quite familiar with, though I did appreciate the reminders here and there.  Towards the end, they get more into the balance of family and running life, which was more of what I was looking for.

I didn't love the repetitively cheesy humor used by the authors, but it was manageable.  I DO like that Shea and McDowell are two very different runners, and as such, provided two very different perspectives on the sport.  McDowell, like me, is more of a laid-back runner who does not always push herself to the max, whereas Shea is more driven, always going for the PR and leaving everything out on the road.  So there's something for every momma here.  Overall, this was a fun read with a great angle, but may be better for beginning mother runners, rather than veterans of the road.

On Immunity by Eula Biss
Graywolf Press, 2014
borrowed from the library

Yes, I managed to read 2 nonfictions for Nonfiction November!  Amazing!  On Immunity has been on my radar since it first came out, because if you know me, you know that I don't stand on many soapboxes, but VACCINATING YOUR DAMN KIDS is one of them.  I was mighty interested in what Biss had to say here, and I am 100% open about the fact that I went into this with a biased POV--so you've been warned.  :)

This book was actually quite a bit different than what I anticipated.  I think I was expecting a straightforward, research-driven discussion of the immunization debate.  That is certainly the basis of her essays--Biss has done her research, and (unsurprisingly!) it throws in favor of vaccinations--but as the tone of the title suggests, this book is also a good bit of musing on her part, regarding the fears she faced as a parent when her son was born, and how that translated into the immunization issue as a whole.  I'm torn on how I feel about this approach.  I am partially thankful for the humanizing touch that this gave the topic, but at the same time, I was kind of hoping for a stronger, more hard-hitting book that could really be used to shut down the anti-vaccine stance.  This book wanders too much down the road of an academic waxing philosophical for it to be seen as that.

Overall, this one will certainly get the immunization discussion going, and it is a unique angle in the debate.  And while she never comes out and definitively says it, all of Biss's research points towards the need to vaccinate, which I appreciate.  However, this is not a focused discussion of the issues, so if you're looking for that, go elsewhere.

What did you read so far this month?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Nonfiction November: Fiction/Nonfiction Duos!

It's week 2 of Nonfiction November!

This week's host is Leslie over at Regular Rumination, so please stop by!  Here's the prompt for the week:

For the second week of Nonfiction November, we are discussing Book Pairings. The original intention of this week’s theme was put together a fiction book and a nonfiction book that go well together. If you decide to pair two nonfiction books together, that works too! It could be two (or more!) books you’ve read, one book you’ve read and one you have not, or two books that you’ve added to your TBR and want to read that you think will complement and inform each other.

What a fun topic!  I thought it would be hard to come up with many appropriate pairings, but instead I ended up with quite the list!:

Packing for Mars by Mary Roach, and The Martian by Andy Weir

I read the Roach book after The Martian, and I found myself constantly thinking about the fiction novel while I was reading about how the real-life astronauts prepare for space.  They compliment each other perfectly!

The Residence by Kate Andersen Brower, and American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

Real-life descriptions of life in the White House, vs. a fictional story about a modern day First Lady (though it is very obviously based upon Laura Bush).

Expecting Better by Emily Oster, and A Bump in the Road by Maureen Lipinski

A nonfiction book with a unique twist on pregnancy do's and don'ts, and a funny fiction novel about a woman's unexpected first pregnancy (and all the hazards that go along with it).  Pregnancy requires a sense of humor, that's for sure!

My Life by Bill Clinton, and Primary Colors by Anonymous/Joe Klein

I patted myself on the back for this one.  That's just funny, y'all.

Marley & Me by John Grogan, and The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Both of these are stories about dogs that made me cry big baby tears.  One is true and one is not.  Both are amazing!

Night by Elie Wiesel, and The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

Or, substitute the Picoult novel for any heart-wrenching fictional depiction of life in the concentration camps.  Some heavy reading material here.

What are some fiction and nonfiction marriages that you'd like to put together?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Hey, It's Nonfiction November!

Happy November, reader friends!  I hope you didn't forget that this month means NONFICTION NOVEMBER!  :)

Last year, I had a ton of fun participating in this event.  While I don't think I am going to get much nonfiction reading done this month (based on how my library hold list currently looks...my own fault!), I still want to jump in and post during NFN where I can, because it really reignited my love for nonfiction books when I took part last year.

This week's host is Kim over at Sophisticated Dorkiness, so please stop by!  Here's the prompt for the week:

Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

Let's start with my favorite nonfiction book of 2015 (so far).  That's a tough call!  I'd have to say it's a tie between Missoula by Jon Krakauer, and Dead Wake by Erik Larson.  Both are truly exceptional in their own way.

As for the nonfiction book I've recommended the most (at least from my 2015 reads), other than the 2 faves above, I think it's been Grain of Truth by Stephen Yafa.  I have several friends with gluten allergies and/or sensitivities, and that book was a very enlightening read for me on the subject.  I've recommended it to both gluten-free and non-gluten-free eaters, because I think it sheds a lot of light on a topic that is often regarded as "just a trend" by the non-GF eaters.

A nonfiction topic I haven't read enough of yet...hmmm.  I've covered a lot of nonfiction areas, but one that I have a lot of interest in (even though I've yet to read much of it) is medical nonfiction.  Examples would be the Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee, Stiff by Mary Roach, or On Immunity by Eula Bass.  (All three have been on my TBR list for ages!)

What do I hope to get out of Nonfiction November this year?  Well, as I mentioned above, I probably won't be able to read a lot of ACTUAL nonfiction this month (and I'm quite sad about it!).  However, when I participated last year, just talking about nonfiction with other NF lovers made me so very excited to dive into some new titles, and my nonfiction TBR list went through the roof as I read through the other blogs that were involved.  So I suppose I hope to spread the nonfiction love, and get plenty of new nonfiction inspiration for myself.  :)

What's your favorite nonfiction read of 2015 been thus far?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Spoiler: We're All Gonna Die. The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert


Title: The Sixth Extinction
Author: Elizabeth Kolbert
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication Date: February 11, 2014
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library

Summary from Goodreads

Over the last half-billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us.

In prose that is at once frank, entertaining, and deeply informed, The New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert tells us why and how human beings have altered life on the planet in a way no species has before. Interweaving research in half a dozen disciplines, descriptions of the fascinating species that have already been lost, and the history of extinction as a concept, Kolbert provides a moving and comprehensive account of the disappearances occurring before our very eyes. She shows that the sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.


My Review:

As I mentioned last week, I jumped into this book so that I could participate in Katie's Nonfiction Book Club September readalong, over at Doing Dewey.  I'd heard about this book around its release last year, and was itching to read it--the subject sounded fascinating, and I loved Kolbert's previous book, Field Notes from a Catastrophe.

When I first dove in, I was not at all disappointed.  In each chapter, Kolbert highlights a different species that has either gone extinct, or is currently being driven in that direction.  In doing so, she brings us through the history of extinction (not just extinctions themselves, but how modern humans figured out that species do go extinct...I had never considered that that was something that needed discovering!), and also introduces the myriad ways that humans, as a species, are likely pushing the world towards yet another mass extinction.  (Not, like, tomorrow.  No need to hunker down in the fallout shelters just yet.  But yes...extinction!)

While the overall intention and message of this book certainly held my attention, the organization and writing style did leave a bit to be desired.  The different-species-for-each-chapter format could have been a home run, but the order in which Kolbert put them did not always seem to make sense, especially in the middle part of the book.  This disrupted the flow of information significantly, and sometimes took away from her core points.  It also didn't help that those middle chapters tended to be rather dry--so on top of disorganized information, it wasn't always the most stimulating.

HOWEVER.  I am glad that I didn't give this one up, because the last few chapters were excellent, and by the end I felt that Kolbert had brought everything together for me.  I learned so much cool stuff (did you know BATS are going extinct?  And frogs?  TONS OF THEM!  More every day!  I had no idea.  Also, sadly, the science behind Jurassic Park is totally not feasible...WHOMP WHOMP).  One question that I kept asking myself throughout the book was, are human-caused species extinctions inherently bad?  For example, let's say that humans killed off a species of bird back in the 1800's primarily because it was a source of food for them--is that something we should be vilified for?  Especially if it was at a time when we did not have the scientific means that we do now to track and monitor a species?  I'm not saying it's okay to kill off animals--poaching/trophy hunting, no good.  And with the information we have now, there is no excuse for it when we have the means to assist endangered animals.  But I just thought it raised an interesting question...because humans are animals too.  We gotta eat, right?

After spending much of the book mulling this over, Kolbert does finally address it a bit in the last chapter, noting that humans are likely causing the "sixth extinction" simply by existing as we do.  By reading and writing and having complex thoughts, we are outgrowing the natural limits of this world, often in damaging ways.  We don't always mean to.  But we're doing it anyway.  The question is, can we reverse any of the damage we've done?  And if not...will we be able to survive it?

While this book definitely requires an interest in the sciences (biology/ecology/geology especially), and some patience with the chapter formatting, I think it is an excellent read to get your wheels turning and take a closer look at the everyday impact that we, as humans, have on the world around us.

Join Katie & crew for the next Nonfiction Book Club readalong in October: Devil in the White City by Erik Larson!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

For my runner-readers! Running Like A Girl by Alexandra Heminsley


Title: Running Like A Girl
Author: Alexandra Heminsley
Publisher: Hutchinson
Publication Date: April 4, 2013
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library

Summary from Goodreads

In her twenties, Alexandra Heminsley spent more time at the bar than she did in pursuit of athletic excellence. When she decided to take up running in her thirties, she had grand hopes for a blissful runner’s high and immediate physical transformation. After eating three slices of toast with honey and spending ninety minutes on iTunes creating the perfect playlist, she hit the streets—and failed miserably. The stories of her first runs turn the common notion that we are all “born to run” on its head—and expose the truth about starting to run: it can be brutal.

Running Like a Girl tells the story of how Alexandra gets beyond the brutal part, makes running a part of her life, and reaps the rewards: not just the obvious things, like weight loss, health, and glowing skin, but self-confidence and immeasurable daily pleasure, along with a new closeness to her father—a marathon runner—and her brother, with whom she ultimately runs her first marathon.

But before that, she has to figure out the logistics of running: the intimidating questions from a young and arrogant sales assistant when she goes to buy her first running shoes, where to get decent bras for the larger bust, how not to freeze or get sunstroke, and what (and when) to eat before a run. She’s figured out what’s important (pockets) and what isn’t (appearance), and more.

For any woman who has ever run, wanted to run, tried to run, or failed to run (even if just around the block), Heminsley’s funny, warm, and motivational personal journey from nonathlete extraordinaire to someone who has completed five marathons is inspiring, entertaining, prac­tical, and fun.


My Review:

I have been on the hunt for some great running books for a while now, for obvious reasons.  (If you're new here, check out my running alter ego.)  Luckily, Wendy at Taking The Long Way Home does a monthly running book club!  Though I have yet to get my act together and read the chosen book during it's chosen month, I have at least started to peruse the past selections and fit them in to my reading calendar where I can.  A couple months back, Running Like A Girl was the book, and I knew it was one I had to try.

What appeals to me most about Heminsley's account of her running experiences is that she is an honest-to-God, late-to-the-party, amateur runner...like ME!  I read a ton of running blogs, and I love them, I really do, but it drives me BATTY when you read the "About Me" and the author is like, "Oh I started running late in life, really wasn't into it at all until my 30's...well except for that 4 years I ran cross country in high school...and just a short bit in college...but look, I've worked so hard and now my 5K PR is sub-20!"  No!  You stop it right there!  You've been a runner your whole life, just because you weren't in the Olympic Trials by age 18 doesn't mean you can downplay that.  Do you know that the very IDEA of cross country made me want to vomit in high school?  Running for FUN?  Are you kidding me?  I'd have rather died.  I was not born with any sort of natural physical or mental ability for running.  I didn't start until I was 22, and even then, I didn't really love it or get serious about it until age 30.  As such, I adore reading about the running experiences of other athletes like me...late bloomers, people who stumbled upon a love of running during their journey for weight loss, or stress relief, or whatever, and then suddenly found themselves enamored by it, unable to do without it.  That's Heminsley's journey, in a nutshell.

I found myself laughing at many of Heminsley's anecdotes about her early days as a runner.  One of my favorites is when she talks about how intimidating it was to get fitted for shoes at a running store for the first time.  (I've done this for a while now, and my local Fleet Feet employees still scare the pants off me. THEY KNOW TOO MUCH.)  Her humor falls flat at times (feels like she tries a bit too hard for the one-liners), but I was more impressed by her ability to hit on some of the most common, yet not talked about, difficulties of getting into running as an adult.  Her narrative is easy to relate to, both for current runners and for those thinking about getting into it.  (And that is an important point here: Running Like a Girl is not JUST for the runner-reader!  If you're thinking about getting into running, or have a runner in your life, so much of this book will connect with you.)

I also enjoyed her recaps of some of the marathons that she has completed.  Having never done a marathon (but wanting to in the future), I appreciated that in-her-head look at the mental toughness required to complete such a thing.  She is open about her highest highs and her lowest lows, and that honesty makes for excellent reading.

That said, I don't know how I felt about all of the specific running advice that she gives in Part Two of the book.  Part One is an autobiographical account of her running journey, but Part Two consists primarily of some running myths/facts (I liked this section), and running advice from Heminsley herself.  Since she is, indeed, an amateur runner, it felt odd that she was giving running advice with such authority.  I suppose that sharing running anecdotes vs sharing specific do's and don't's of the sport carry different weight for me.  For example, her section on how to look good on marathon day includes advice on the proper nail polish, eyeliner, eyelashes, and moisturizer.  (Cue **blank stare** from moi, who doesn't wear eyeliner for date night, let alone when I'm going to be running for hours at a time.)  I know this is a book primarily for female runners, but...really?  I felt like this took away from her "authority" as a runner, and instead she should have perhaps done some research on tried-and-true marathon advice and compiled it here for beginners.

All in all, Running Like A Girl was a quick, lighthearted, and refreshingly honest account of the life of an amateur runner.  While I may not have always appreciated Heminsley's humor, or agreed with her running advice, I do think this is a fun book for runners (and the ones they love) to delve into.

Do you have a favorite nonfiction book about a hobby that you love?
 
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