Born To Run by Christopher McDougall

A new book has being doing the rounds at my work, everyone is talking about it, it’s hot on all my colleagues lips and everyone seems desperate to read it. What am I talking about? The much coveted Fifty Shades Of Grey? Thankfully not!

The book I am in fact talking about is Born To Run and it’s actually rather good. A factual story told by and based upon the experiences of journalist Christopher McDougall as he goes in search of both ancient and new secrets into the art of running. In this honest, personal and often entertaining story Chris takes us with him on his journey. After many running related injuries and a string of recommendations to hang up his shoes, McDougall decides to look outside modern science for the answers into becoming a successful runner.

His mission takes him many, many miles from home and deep into the Mexican Copper Canyons in search of the elusive and mysterious Tarahumara, a tribe of people as famous for their incredible running capabilities as for being one of the most isolated and unattainable tribes of people in history. Along the way he meets the equally mysterious and notorious Caballo Blanco and a whole string of elite ultra runners each as eccentric as the other.

What unfolds is a whirlwind story, from the fascinating and unforgettable Caballo Blanco to the detailed portrayal of the Tarahumara. McDougall produces a rich, lively and tangible image of his extraordinary journey. You can be forgiven for thinking like I did that this is surely just a story about running? How interesting could that be? But you really don’t need to be sprinting miles and miles each day just to empathise with this story.

Despite my initial hesitations I soon became absorbed in Born To Run and from the first page the Tarahumara had me intrigued. There’s something compelling and attractive about a novel which offers us such a rare glimpse into a culture that otherwise very little is known about. The Tarahumara aren’t just runners, running is their life and McDougall’s understanding of that teamed with his discoveries and the story he has to tell make for a brilliant read.

My only issue with this book was the occasional and often tiring dips into technical and overly emphasised detail. Page by page accounts of the dynamics of a pair of Nike running shoes tended to leave me feeling slightly lacklustre. Off course I can appreciate that many other readers probably not only enjoyed these sections but lapped them up. And so I patiently persevered. My patience always paid off though and it wouldn’t be long before the story dragged me back into the complicated and often emotional world of running.

I particularly enjoyed the ending of this story and the poignant message it left me with. interestingly I finished this book a good few weeks ago and yet it’s still lingering in my head. Perhaps because I know the people of the story really exist? Or maybe because I know the events of the novel actually took place? Either way this is a spectacular novel and not one I’m likely forget.

I was also pleased to note that everyone who read this novel in my office loved it. From the geeky readers like me, to the sports lovers and most satisfying those who don’t usually like reading; they’ve all fallen for this story. Surely that’s the sign of a truly great book?

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July Reflections

They say better late than never and hopefully that’s true. I’ve being meaning to sit down and share my thoughts with you on the wonderful books that I read in July and yet I keep getting side-tracked by a book that I’m currently reading and can’t put down. But enough of that for now, firstly it’s time to re-cap on July’s reading.

I began the month by reading Every Last One by Anna Quindlen, a book that on it’s on I did love, however pitted against the other brilliant books that I read in July somehow became overshadowed and paled in comparison. Every Last One, the story of a mother whose world becomes shattered and turned upside down when her family is hit by tragedy, is a compelling and intriguing story. Whilst it may not have been the best book that I read in July it is certainly worth a read.

Next up I chose a darker and more gothic novel in the form of The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. I first discovered Waters at the end of the year but I quickly fell in love with her writing style and talent for story telling. The Little Stranger was no disappointment, gripping from the first page, I couldn’t put this novel down. From the haunted feel of Hundred’s Hall to the complex decline of its residents. This is an intelligent and entertaining novel that you wont easily forget.

From ghosts to fantasy the next book I chose to read was Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. I chose this book for my book group in July and didn’t regret my choice. Whilst not everyone loved the book most did and I was happy to find a group of people with whom I could pick apart this rich and complex work. Northern Lights still ranks as one of my all time favourite books and for anyone put off by the fact that the book was originally a children’s story, fear not this book has just as much to offer an adult audience.

After immersing myself in so much fiction I decided to choose a more factual novel for my next book. This came in the form of Born To Run by Christopher Mcdougall and although I’m yet to share my thoughts on this book it’s enough to say that I was blown away by this story and was shocked to find myself so drawn into a story that essentially centres around running.

Lastly I began How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran. I’m currently only half way through this book but Moran gives you so much to think about and muse over that I don’t want to rush a moment of it. Needless to say this is the book that has recently stole so much of my attention and had me up late into the night pouring over Moran’s witty and perceptive take on life and women. I can’t wait to share my thoughts with you when I’ve finished this book.

So that was July for me, ghosts, running, feminism, family tragedy and children’s fiction. It was certainly an eclectic month to say the least. As usual I don’t have any solid plans for August, other than reading Warm Bodies, a zombie novel, for my book group.

So what about everyone else? What have you all being reading this month? Anything amazing? And what do you have planned for August?