16 hours ago
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
Top Books About Running
1. "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner" - Alan Silitoe
"So as soon as I tell myself that I'm the first man ever to be dropped into the world, and as soon as I take that first flying leap out into the frosty grass of an early morning when even birds haven't the heart to whistle, I get to thinking, and that's what I like. I go my rounds in a dream, turning at lane or footpath corners without knowing I'm shouting good morning to the early cow-milker without seeing him. It's a treat being a long-distance runner, out in the world by yourself with not a soul to make you bad-tempered or tell you what to do or that there's a shop to break and enter a bit back from the next street. Sometimes I think that I've never been so free as during that couple of hours when I'm trotting up the path out of the gates and turning by that bare-faced, big-bellied oak tree at the lane end. Everything's dead, but good, because it's dead before coming alive, not dead after being alive. That's how I look at it."
2. Once a Runner - John L. Parker, Jr.
Perhaps the most famous book about running, Once a Runner documents the story of a young college athlete as he strives to achieve a sub-4 minute mile (it's an impressive mark to reach). One reviewer writes, "Once a Runner captures the essence of what it means to be a competitive runner, to devote your entire existence to a single-minded pursuit of excellence. In doing so it has become one of the most beloved sports novels ever published."
3. The World According to Garp - John Irving
Garp is a voracious runner - equaled only by his passion for writing and cooking: "He spent his day writing (or trying to write), running, and cooking. He got up early and fixed breakfast for himself and the children; nobody was home for lunch and Garp never ate that mean; he fixed dinner for his family every night. It was a ritual he loved, but the ambition of his cooking was controlled by how good a day he'd had writing, and how good a run he'd had. If the writing went poorly, he took it out on himself with a long, hard run; or, sometimes, a bad day with his writing would exhaust him so much that he could barely run a mile; then he tried to save the day with a splendid meal."
4. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running - Haruki Murakami
One of the best memoirs I have read. He talks about his life as a writer, and as a runner. The two passions are intertwined in his life, each requiring the same tireless work ethic, commitment and devotion. Every time I put the book down I was already half out the door in my mind, going for a run.
5. The Time-Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
Henry, the time-traveler, must keep in great shape as he will never know when he must run for his life upon appearing, naked, in a strange location. There are plenty of scenes that feature him running or going for a run. However, the book's random sequencing prohibits me from locating an example, unless I were to re-read the entire book. Which I cannot do right now, as War & Peace waits quietly on the table.