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 23, 2015

Where dey at, doe?

(In case you are unaware, this post title comes from the title of a T.I. song, which I love because of this amazing video that went viral several months back...really, it is worth watching over and over again.)
But seriously...where The Well-Read Redhead at, doe?

Apologies for the blog silence.  What a crazy month!  Small Fry started up preschool again, as well as soccer classes, so the transition there has kept us quite busy.  Tater Tot and I have started attending a music class for toddlers during Small Fry's school hours, which is fun.  My husband and I celebrated our 8 year anniversary last week, and actually got to go on a REAL DATE for the first time in a year!
Plus, we recently joined our local YMCA, which means we've been trying to figure out a new workout routine.  My husband is back in the weight room after a lengthy, PhD-writing-induced hiatus, and I'm having a boatload of fun trying out the classes.  Yoga and spin are my current faves.  Yoga makes me feel amazing post-long run!  And spin is a great cross-training workout when I don't want the high impact of running.  (Plus, the hill work is going to come in handy for sure.)

All of this schedule juggling has left little time for reading, and even less time for blogging.  I'm currently reading 2 books, but both are rather slow going.  The first is The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert (reading it as part of Katie's Nonfiction Book Club for this month).  I was DYING to read this beforehand, but it is proving to be a slower journey than I originally hoped.  The material is interesting, but the organization of the chapters makes much of the information feel disjointed.  I'm hoping the last third of the book brings all of her concepts together a bit more clearly.

The other is Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson, my book club's current pick.  Our meeting is Sunday and I'm getting worried that I won't finish in time!  I think the concept of the novel is intriguing, but the pace and writing style are getting to me.  Hoping for an explosive ending to save the day.  Review forthcoming!

Here's hoping for more reading time in the coming weeks, especially because I have a few blog tour books to complete in October!  In the meantime, hopefully things will settle down here, and these two books will get a bit more enjoyable for me.

How is your reading life these days, friends?  Any other parents still adjusting to school schedules?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Well-Read Runner needs your help!

Hello, friends!  Today, I'm not recapping a race or talking about training.  Nope, today I'm asking if you want to help a sista out, and I'm not afraid to beg!  :)

On October 18th, I am running the Monster Scramble 10K in Rochester, NY.  As soon as I heard about it, I was like, YUP, sign me up!  Because the proceeds from this race go to the fight against multiple sclerosis, which is an important cause for me.

My good friend Liz was diagnosed with MS last year, at the age of 31 and just weeks before her wedding.  What a suck-fest, right?  When she shared the diagnosis with me a few months later, I was devastated for her.  I knew very little about the disease before her diagnosis, but what I've since heard from her and read about myself shows that she has a lifelong battle ahead.  There is no cure for MS.  Luckily, Liz caught it early and has a great team of doctors to help her out along the way.  And hopefully, as research into the disease continues, better treatments (and maybe a CURE!) could help her even more in the future.

After I signed up for Monster Scramble, I was surprised when a few of my Facebook friends came forward (privately) and told me that they, too, were diagnosed with MS within the last few years.  This disease is more prevalent than I originally knew, and makes me even more motivated to assist where I can.

So, as you may have guessed, runners of the Monster Scramble race are encouraged to fundraise for the event, and I am indeed doing so!  My original goal was $500, but I've gone above that (yay!) and am now shooting for $1000.  Any little bit helps!  $5, $10, $20, whatever you've got!  That money is going to an important cause and will help the millions of people around the world who are battling multiple sclerosis.

If you'd like to make a donation, you can do so HERE at my fundraising page (just click the gray button on the left that says "Donate to Me").  And please feel free to share this with any family or friends who might want to help out.

Thanks, readers!!  I'll report back next month with my final fundraising totals (and a race recap, of course!).  :)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

#30 Authors: Ruth Galm on Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce

Hello, lovelies!  As mentioned earlier this week, I am honored to be serving as today's blog host for this month's #30Authors book event.  I followed along with it last year, and loved the entire concept, enough to want to participate this time around--I hope you will check out the other blog stops throughout the month as well!

#30Authors is an annual event connecting readers, authors, and bloggers. Throughout the month of September, 30 authors review their favorite books on 30 blogs in 30 days. The event has been met with incredible support from and success within the literary community. In the six months following the event’s inaugural launch, the concept was published as an anthology by Velvet Morning Press ( Legacy: An Anthology ). Started by The Book Wheel , #30Authors remains active throughout the year and you can join in the fun by following along on Twitter at @30Authors , using the hashtag, #30Authors , or purchasing the anthology . To learn more about the event, please click here .

The author I am hosting is Ruth Galm, whose first novel, Into the Valley, came out last month (check out my review and giveaway currently going on HERE!). Ruth is here reviewing Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce. Check it out!:

There is one novel in the last year that I want to require everyone to read, that I recommend to anyone who will listen, a novel that has received much well-deserved praise and that I have circled and pondered to understand my deep admiration for it.   Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce is the story of a Dallas waitress named Marie, a young single mother who works in a high-end steakhouse and spends much of the book in a numb spiral of sex and drugs.  It is not just that I am awed by Tierce’s skill for writing sex, of self-destructive and beautiful flavors, at its most tangible and vivid; she is fearless and genius at this in a way I envy.  It is not just that she has brought me so keenly and viscerally into worlds I do not know, of restaurant workers, of working class Dallas:  “We were standing in the ugly galley kitchen of our apartment.  It was right next to a highway.  It never got dark at night and I pretended the constant sound of traffic was the ocean.” 

What fuels my compulsion to this novel is the unsentimental and un-hand-holding prose and point of view, the unwillingness to offer us a genial, arced structure that in its climax and closure soothes us.  In the book’s opening paragraph Marie describes one of the four doctors—all sleazy, three of whom she sleeps with—who asked her out after a catering event:  “Cornelius wore Tommy Bahama hibiscus-print silk shirts, and was more than twice my age, but who knows.”  There is no question mark at the end of this weary sentence, no willingness to aid us in comprehending what Marie is doing with this man, these men.  Much like:  “There is no point in asking what the attraction was—that’s the wrong question.”  Or:  “It had something to do with love and something to do with grief.”  In so much of the prose of Love Me Back, Tierce does not offer even a slowing, comforting comma to rescue us from dark and thorny questions about life paths, class, and one woman’s psychological duress.  And it is in this extraordinary sentence-level detail—along with the bold eschewing of a comfortable story arc—that the baldest, starkest, and most irrational truths are left to unsettle us, exactly the way great literature should.
More info about Ruth Galm...
Ruth Galm is the author of the debut novel Into the Valley (Soho Press, August 2015).  She was born and raised in San José, California, earned an MFA from Columbia University, and has been in San Francisco ever since. Her short fiction has appeared in Kenyon Review Online, Indiana Review , and Joyland, and she is a past resident of the Ucross Foundation.  Check her out on her website, Goodreads, or Twitter.
Want to pick up a copy of your own? Check out Soho Press or Amazon.

And if you'd like to learn more about Merritt Tierce's Love Me Back :
Author site: http://www.merritttierce.com

BONUS! There is also a HUGE giveaway going on in connection with #30Authors! Just use the entry form below for your chance to win! And don't forget to visit the other blogs on this month's tour. :)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

#30Authors Giveaway with Into The Valley by Ruth Galm!

Hello there, reader friends!  If you've not yet heard, Allison at The Book Wheel has once again organized a fantastic reader/author/blogger event for the month of September called #30Authors .  I will be talking more about it in 2 days (as the official host for Sept 12th's #30Authors post!), but the general gist is this:

30 authors each choose a book to read/review (by a different author), and their reviews are posted, one a day, on a different book blog throughout the month of September.  So during this month, you're getting 30 different authors reviewing 30 different books, one on each day of the month.  And you get to visit some terrifically fun book blogs along the way.  Kudos to Allison for that brain child, right?

I have the privilege of pairing up with Ruth Galm, author of Into the Valley, for this event (she has dubbed us a #30Authors "dynamic duo," and I can't disagree).  Even though it is not required for me to read/review Ruth's book, I thought it would be fun to do so before her post goes live here on the 12th, especially since her debut novel sounds so darn intriguing (summary from Goodreads):

Into the Valley  opens on the day in July 1967 when B. decides to pass her first counterfeit check and flee San Francisco for the Central Valley. Unmarried at 30, B. doesn't understand the youth counterculture but doesn't fit into her mother's world of dresses and kid gloves.

B. is beset by a disintegrative anxiety she calls “the carsickness,” and the only relief comes in handling illicit checks and driving endlessly through the valley. As she travels the bare, anonymous landscape, meeting an array of other characters—an alcoholic professor, a bohemian teenage girl, a criminal admirer—B.’s flight becomes that of a woman unraveling, a person lost between who she is and who she cannot yet be.

Into the Valley came at a perfect time for me, because I've read a lot of fast-paced thrillers/psychological dramas this year, and while I do love those genres, I've been yearning for something a little less...overt.  A novel that relies more on atmosphere and subtlety rather than shocking twists and suspense (though this book does have suspense, in its own way).  Plus, it's got a pretty cover.  I'm a serious sucker for a pretty cover.

The novel's Central Valley setting infuses itself into Galm's writing style.  The searing heat, the unforgiving landscape, the unsettling isolation: these background elements are felt so intensely as you read that they eventually take on their own life within the story.  After a while, B. is the valley and the valley is B.  I've never even been to this part of California, but every time I picked up this book, it felt familiar.

B.'s journey is not a typical soul-searching mission.  I loved trying to figure out what makes her tick: what is it that is missing in her life, that could make her "carsickness" disappear?  (Does she want the carsickness to disappear?)  After a while, her exploration turns into more of an unraveling, leaving you with an increasingly uneasy feeling as you read on.  The conclusion was both not at all what I expected, while also being exactly what I wanted.

Sound like a good read?  I thought so, too!  If you want your very own copy to enjoy, Ruth and her team at Soho Press are kindly offering a copy to one of my lucky readers.  Enter the giveaway in the Rafflecopter below (US/Canada only, ends Sept 16th).  There is also a separate MEGA book giveaway going on with #30Authors, which you can enter here on the 12th, so stay tuned!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 7, 2015

Again and Again by Ellen Bravo

Title:   Again and Again
Author: Ellen Bravo
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publication Date: August 11, 2015
Source: copy received for honest review through TLC Book Tours

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

If sexual shenanigans disqualified candidates for Congress, the U.S. would have no government. But what if the candidate was a pro-choice Republican supported by feminist groups—and a college rapist whose secret could be exposed by a leading women’s rights advocate? 

Again and Again  tells the story of Deborah Borenstein—as an established women’s rights leader in 2010 Washington, DC, and as a college student, thirty years earlier, whose roommate is raped by a fellow student. The perpetrator is now a Senate candidate who has the backing of major feminist groups . . . which puts Deborah in a difficult position. Torn between her past and present, as the race goes on, Deborah finds herself tested as a wife, a mother, a feminist, and a friend

My Review:

After reading several books lately, both fiction and nonfiction, that address the crime of sexual assault, I was intrigued by the release of Ellen Bravo's first novel, Again and Again.  Bravo has other nonfiction works in her repertoire, but this is her first foray into fiction, and with her background in feminism, work/family balance, and other women's issues, I figured this would make for a unique take on the topic.

As expected, Bravo really nailed the handling of date rape as a societal problem.  While her description of the actual rape is harrowing to say the least, I was left especially frustrated while I read about the disciplinary case that the victim brought forth afterwards.  Bravo expertly expresses the despair, grief, and fear of rape victims in the aftermath of an attack, and the many roadblocks they often encounter from the judicial system.  A lot of important points are made about the right and wrong ways to help a victim.  Overall, I think there are few fiction novels that handle this issue in such a realistic and detailed way.

That said, where I feel the novel was lacking is in the relationships between the characters.  While a lot of care was taken in the handling of the rape issue, less meticulous crafting is seen in the development of the bonds between the central characters.  For example, many of them jump wildly between emotions of love/happiness and anger/sadness within a single scene.  This happens a lot between Deborah and her daughter Becca, as well as Deborah and her husband Aaron.  A conversation that begins with hugs and kisses and laughter devolves quickly into screams and slammed doors, often without a provocation that is jarring enough to warrant it.  While the issues these people are grappling with are indeed sensitive, I just didn't always find their reactions to be wholly believable, or to have the level of subtlety that I'd expect in a real-life interaction.

Where this became a real sticking point for me was in Deborah's martial issues with Aaron.  I won't give any spoilers here, but I was left very frustrated by Deborah's inability to accept any blame for their problems.  All of their issues were placed squarely on Aaron's shoulders, and as a result, it seems as if Deborah does not grow at all as a character throughout the book.  She is in the right, always.  Without getting into the details, I thought Aaron's character was certainly wrong on many points, but Deborah was not always completely blameless--and those flaws are never addressed.  This feels like a significant oversight in character development.

I'd say my overall reaction is rather middle-of-the-road.  While I love how Bravo has addressed the personal. societal, and political implications of sexual assault in this novel, I am less impressed by how the characters interacted and changed.  I still think this is an important read if you're interested in the subject matter--you may just need to adjust your expectations of the protagonists.

As always, much thanks to Lisa 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 Ellen Bravo on Twitter and her website.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Well-Read Runner: Summerfest 5K recap (unexpected PR!)

Well, I'm still recovering from the (good) shock of yesterday's 5K race.  I did the Summerfest 5K at Mendon Ponds Park in Rochester.  There was also a 12K race at the same time, and I really wanted to do that one instead, but the kid's race (that Small Fry was doing) was set to start only 75 minutes after the 12K start, and I was afraid I wouldn't make it back in time!  So I planned for a leisurely 5K instead.

Mendon is well-known for hills, hills, and more hills.  Plus, the course is partially on trail, which I'd never raced on before.  That, paired with the hot and humid weather that was on the docket, made me adjust race expectations beforehand (lesson learned after that muggy 5K in July!).  No PR goal, or any time goal, really--I wanted to just enjoy the view (Mendon is also very beautiful) and see how I'd hold up on those hills.

We got to the park about 45 minutes before the start, which gave the kids time to play on the playground while I fueled/used the porta-potties.  :)  The 12K started at 9am, and at 9:05 we were off!  And right up a hill!

I got to the top and already felt some fatigue in my legs--oh boy.  But, as I promised myself I would, I didn't look at my Garmin and just forged ahead at a comfy-but-brisk pace.
Where's Waldo?  I'm wearing white and kind of in the middle/right. And yes, I got smoked by those little kids. SO FAST.
As hoped, the view was nice--we passed a horse farm along the way, and lots of rolling hills.  Every time I hit a hill I'd say "you got this!" out loud to myself, and that extra mojo gave me a good push.  As I passed the first water stop, a little boy (maybe 4 years old) was volunteering there with his parents, and when a bunch of us ran by without taking water, he exclaimed sadly, "Why don't they want any of my water?!?!?"  Poor kid!

We ran past this water stop again in the second mile, and by then I was thirsty (it was seriously hot), so I decided to not only get water, but also stop to walk and drink it.  I'm going easy on myself today, right?  I made sure to take my water from that same little boy, and got a chuckle when he yelled, "YESSSSSS!" as I walked off with the cup.  :)

The trail portion started right after this, and began with a bang as we went down a small hill...and the guy in front of me lost control and ran into a big plastic signboard in front of us!  I stopped to ask if he was okay, he assured me he was, and I was off again.  Ouch, dude.  Lesson learned, no barreling down the trail!  The rest of the trail portion was fun though: good shade, nice scenery.  Only bummer was it's hard to pass people on a single-track trail.  But again, I wasn't going all-out so I didn't mind much.

Out of the trail, we had a few more hills and then downhill to the finish.  So excited to see my husband and my boys cheering me on!  Then I got near the finish and saw the clock.  They had 2 clocks out: one for the 12Kers (who had started 5 minutes earlier) and one for the 5K.  They read 31 minutes and 26 minutes respectively.  What?  I thought FOR SURE the 31 minute clock must be mine.  There was no way I was heading for a PR?!
My finish line photos: always horrific form but with a really intense, photo-worthy look on my face.
WRONG.  PR achieved!  My final time was 26:24, a full 38 seconds faster than my PR from last year on a flatter, smoother, and MUCH cooler course.  (Plus...I walked through a water stop!  I stopped to check on a fallen runner!)  Insanity.  I later found out I was 2nd in my age group and 33rd overall (out of 217).

Holy impressed with myself, Batman.  There is surely something to be said for low-pressure racing.  Without that usual burst of adrenaline and nervousness that I get at the start of a highly-anticipated race, I feel like I paced myself much more smoothly and just trusted my body.  Plus, I'd just had a really rough week (for not-running-related reasons), and this race was such a mental boost.  Gave me a lot of confidence in myself, and showed that I've been better with my hill and speed training than I thought!

Afterward, I got to run with Small Fry in his second 1/4 mile kids race, which he loved!  That kid gets such a game face on when he's running.  Some serious speed is in his future.  ;)

As I write this, I have my feet up and am still basking in the good vibes of this race!  Now here's hoping I can channel that pre-race zen every time I get on a course.

When was the last time you (pleasantly) surprised yourself during a race?  Do you do every race all-out, or do you purposely race some easier than others?

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?
Imagination Designs