Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Born To Run

Tramps like us, baby we were bo-orn to run. Whoa-o-o-oh. Wah-o-o-o-oh-o.

Sorry. Bruce Springsteen flashback. First thing I think of when I hear the words "born to run." Appropriately, the author paid homage to The Boss with an excerpt from the song in one of the chapter headings. (I don't think that's the right thing to call those quotes at the beginning of each chapter. Epigraph doesn't seem right, either. Anyone know?)

Okay. So the book with the really long subtitle. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall. Usually things with titles this long are published in scholarly journals. Anyway, I never would have picked up this book if it hadn't been the pick for April. (Although I just found out that May is National Runner's Month. Should've waited. Oh well.) I probably would have never even seen it, since I loiter in the fiction section of the library. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to read. Not exciting enough to keep me awake late at night (though in all fairness I don't think I have ever found a nonfiction book with that ability) but interesting enough that it wasn't hard to pick up again. I wanted to know what happened next. I did wonder how it could be so long, though. A hundred pages in I was wondering what was left to tell. The author digresses a lot and throws in some of the backstories for his odd ensemble of characters.

Ultradistance running. Distance running. Running. Not really my thing. My body likes the endorphin rush from running, but I'd rather get it by exercising in some other way. And since I'm not willing to go running with kids in tow, nor am I motivated enough to do it in the early morning or late evening hours in order to go by myself - I'd rather be sleeping or reading - I don't do it at all unless I'm playing chase, tag, soccer, etc., with the aforementioned kids. So I don't know how I came to be surrounded by runners. My chiropractor brother likes running. His wife runs half-marathons and is training for full ones. One brother-in-law does triathlons. Another sister-in-law just ran a 200-mile race with a team of several other people. I have several friends who love to run. I don't know how they do it. Running until I puke does not sound like fun to me. But McDougall makes a good case for giving it a shot. I almost believe that running could be a hidden superpower that I possess. Almost.

This post should probably go on my personal blog. It's not much of a book review. But the book is good. Almost like a collection of articles that were combined to make a book. Interesting tidbits about the science of running, shoe companies being the bad guys, diet, and the people who are passionate about ultradistance running. The thing that would have made the book better for me is a section of photographs of these crazy characters. They are so out there that they seem fictional. But I Googled a couple of the names and they are real people. And here's a photograph of Scott Jurek and one of the Tarahumara runners (maybe Arnulfo? There was mention of a photograph like this one in the book). If you're a runner, you should definitely read Born to Run. If you're thinking about becoming a runner, don't waste your money on an expensive pair of shoes.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Peter and the Starcatchers

Alright, I have a confession to make. I've been hooked on another series of books and have been reading them, instead of our book club books. Naughty, I know :) Cory started reading Peter and the Starcatchers (since I was neglecting it, oops!) and he said it was intriguing. I started reading it and bam, was hooked. It's entertaining and the characters were interesting. I wanted to find out what happened, so I kept reading.

And now, can I just say "amen" to Chad's post and call it good? I agree with him. The characters were all well-developed. It was very entertaining (I love Dave Barry... I've always thought he's hilarious). It did move quickly and made for a short, but good, read. It was adventurous. Witty. And I loved how they threw in some other references -- like how the Loch Ness monster was created, or how all the Greek mythology was actually people just hopped up on 'starstuff'.

The ending did feel a little rushed to me, too. Within the space of only a few pages, Peter defeats Black Stache (love that name, by the way), learns he can fly, learns he won't grow old, decides to stay forever on the island, and gets a fairy. I think a little more details would have been good, since the rest was more well-developed. But it was still a thoroughly enjoyable read. I'm definitely going to look into getting the other books in the series from the library.

Friday, March 18, 2011

On sale now...

Just in case somebody hasn't started Peter and the Starcatchers yet, it's on sale at Audible for $5. I've been buying audio books from them for a couple years and like the company a lot. Unfortunately I bought it a couple weeks ago before the sale. This particular book is narrated very well.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Peter and the Starcatchers

As with most books I "read" these days, I listened to the audio version of Peter and the Starcatchers. I started it with my son Kevin, (6 yrs old) but at the pace we were going, it would have taken us a couple months to finish. I ended up reading most of it Friday while working in my shop. Kevin is really in to it, and this is a great book to enjoy with younger kids! Who doesn't like a good pirate story?

My background of Peter Pan is mostly limited to a few plays and a condensed version on vinyl I listened to as a kid. I don't even recall seeing the Disney movie before, although I've watched Robin Williams in Hook, and perhaps a couple others. In another post Never Fairy mentioned this book doesn't follow the original storyline very well, but due to my ignorance, I was able to thoroughly enjoy it anyway.

Reading Starcatchers reminded me a lot of Treasure Island, but better. I found the pace moved quickly, the characters entertaining, and the production (Audible version) outstanding. Aside from Peter and Molly, I liked other characters such as Tubby Ted, (we share similar priorities) Black Stache and his "ladies", and the token big dumb sidekick, Little Richard.

My only complaint is the ending felt a little rushed while tying this in to the original Peter Pan story. The future Captain Hook and his nemesis Mr Grin were developed well, but other elements like the realization of Peter's flight, his inability to age, and creation of Tinkerbell all seemed to be jammed in at the last minute. All things considered, this was a fun light read, and Dave Barry's humorous undertones kept me smiling. I'm sure I'll check out the next three books in this series!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

March and April Books

March's book: Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry. (Did anyone else know that Barry wrote books, not just columns?! I just found out and am excited to read this book... I've heard good things!) It's the 1st in a series of 3 books. It's supposed to be like a prequel to Peter Pan.

April's book: Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall.


Ok so I know everyone isn't done with February's book (and by that, I mean me :) Should we pick a new one for March? Or just extend The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society into March? Thoughts? I've got an idea of something that would be fun to read... plus, I think all you peeps with kids (who are old enough to read) would enjoy sharing it with your kids...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Greets from the Frozen North!

Hi everybody, figured it's about time I introduce myself.

I know Sarah through her husband Cory, whom I grew up with in Utah. Newly married in 1998, I joined the Air Force and received orders to Anchorage, Alaska where we instantly fell in love with the state. To remain here, I eventually transferred to the Alaska Air National Guard, and also took a job with the FAA as an electronic tech. Much of my time is spent traveling around Alaska maintaining navigational aids, radio and satellite communication sites, and weather stations. About once a year I take a temporary duty assignment or deployment with the Air Force, and have enjoyed the opportunity to travel throughout Asia, Europe, and Africa.

My lovely wife hails from Hong Kong, and we have two children. Kevin is 6, in 1st grade, and developing into quite the reader as we tackle Harry Potter together. Alexa will be 3 soon and still working on her ABC's. Our family loves living in Alaska and take advantage of the many recreational activities here. Reading everyone's introductions, it's interesting to see several others with ties to this beautiful state!

Although I've loved reading all my life, audio books have spurred my interest in the last couple years. A good deal of my day is spent driving, and I've found the time is well spent listening to books I wouldn't otherwise have time to read. I've tried to revisit some classics I missed like The Count of Monte Cristo, (which I now love)but my main focus lies with history, science, and adventure biographies. Look me up on Goodreads if you'd like to see what I've been reading.

I've never belonged to a book club before, but I really enjoy discussing what I've read. I look forward to getting to know everyone and perhaps expanding my horizons a bit. While I don't see myself getting sucked into Twilight anytime soon, I'm sure there are plenty other great books we will share a common interest in!