Book Reviews

I love reading almost as much as I love running. (Ok. Maybe some days I love reading more than I love running.) I write about books for and I regularly post book reviews here as well.

Candid captions of recent reviews:

The Blind Masseuse: A Traveler's Memoir from Costa Rica to Cambodia
by Alden Jones
Rating: BQ
The Blind Masseuse is a well-crafted travel memoir, but the book is also a deeper reflection on culture, travel, and tourism, and how those concepts intersect and conflict. (But that somewhat scientific explanation of the book's themes hardly do it justice.) The most compelling part of the story was that it made me reflect on my own travels (and tourism) as I read along with the author's adventures... continue reading.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
by Cheryl Strayed
Rating: PR
I finished the book in less time than it took the author to get through her first 20 miles on the trail. Wild was one of those tales that kept me up well past my bedtime, so I could read "just one more chapter."

I should warn readers that Wild is nothing like sappy-happy Eat, Pray, Love. There is no upper-middle-class ennui... continue reading.

Long Run
by Matt Long and Charles Butler
Rating: BQ
Matt Long's account of his young years as a New York City firefighter, brother, son, and endurance athlete sets the stage for this tale. Long has a smartass northeastern sense of humor that comes through clearly in the text. His apparent zest for life makes it all the more tragic that in 2005 he was hit by a bus and left with 5 percent chance of survival. His list of internal injuries would make even the most stoic reader wince in empathy... continue reading.

AWOL on the Appalachian Trail
by David Miller
Rating: PR
Much like a thru-hike itself, the book has brilliant high points, and slow and plodding lows.

Miller, feeling stuck in a rut at his job, talks with his wife, forms a plan, then quits his stable, work-a-day, engineering job to spend a summer hiking north from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Katahdin, Maine.... continue reading.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
by Laura Hillenbrand
Rating: PR
I just finished reading Unbroken... I am aware that I am in the minority in not loving the book, but I cannot lie. I did not love the book. I appreciated the book. I am glad I read it. I did not love it.

But that is my beef with the storyteller. I was completely enthralled with the story itself...continue reading.

The Jade Rabbit
by Mark Matthews
Rating: DNF
I did not gush over The Jade Rabbit. The main character is a female marathon runner struggling to overcome some serious life challenges. By all accounts, Jade Rabbit should have been a book I loved. But the text was littered with grammar errors. Moreover, a key theme was the main character's struggle to get pregnant, and the writing on that topic felt stilted at best.

While I did finish reading this book, I would recommend you DNS.

I Run, Therefore I Am--Nuts!
by Bob Schwartz
Rating: PR
Schwartz's self-deprecating sense of humor is amusing. I found myself nodding along knowingly with passages such as "The Runner's Better Half" about the trials and tribulations runners' spouses endure. Likewise I laughed at "Send in the Clowns" about the increasingly ridiculous antics and entertainment at every mile marker of major distance races... continue reading

Rating system:
BQ = best quality (or Boston Qualifier)
PR = pleasant read (or Personal Record)
DNF = did not finish (or Did Not Finish)

Other running, hiking, travel, and fitness books worth reading:

What I'm reading right now: