Friday, September 7, 2012

More Book Reviews

I've continued to get most of my books from one of the two public libraries in my area (Jeff City and Columbia).  I've read most of the books that are running/triathlon related from the Jeff City library so I ventured out a bit earlier in the summer.  That is how I ended up starting the Twilight series in June.  I couldn't wait to go back to the library so I ended up borrowing the 2nd-4th books from my sis-in-law.  I also read portions of some Dave Ramsey books.  I think we already subscribe to a lot of his philosophies that I didn't find them that interesting.  Seems like it is written to be read by those desparately to dig out from a financial mess.  My husband is a big fan though and hijacked two of the books and seemed to enjoy them more. 

So instead I dug into an enjoyable book by Tim Russert called "Wisdom of our Fathers".  After the release of his book "Big Russ and Me", he apparently received a lot of letters from people about their dads and things they they learned from them.  He whittled them down into this compilation.  They were divided into broad categories based on the type of lesson (and even type of dad) with a short commentary by Russert in each section.  Some of the stories were funny - most were touching.  I read this shortly after the 2 year anniversary of my father's passing so it probably touched me more than if I had read it when it had come out in 2005.  I recommend this if you need a good gift for your dad.

Like my training, my reading was a bit hit or miss, but I also read (warning - I may have a bit of a Lance Armstrong fetish going on):

"How Lance Does It: Put the Success Formula of a Champion into Everything You Do" by Brad Kearns - I only read about half of this pretty short book.  It read more like a "self help/business" book.  In other words, it was kind of dry.  Though some of the stories from people who've had brief encounters with Lance Armstrong were cute - I didn't think the book offered that much about being successful and thought the lines drawn between obvious things (like "hard work") and Lance Armstrong specifically were a bit weak.  I finally gave up when it came due at the library after yet another renewal went by without me finishing it.

"Lance Armstrong's War" by Daniel Coyle - I took this book on face value without real consideration to the latest in the Lance saga.  Mostly I thought this book painted Lance Armstrong as a fierce competitor who worked with experts to maximize his power to weight ratio, put in insane training hours on tough terrain and then assembled the best team around himself to ensure the TdF wins even while being dogged by "the trolls" trying to find any shred of evidence that he cheated his way to his wins.  I thought it also added some interesting background on some of his competitors, teammates and former girlfriend Sheryl Crow.  Like Armstrong's book "It's Not About the Bike", I liked the in depth look at what goes into preparing for and racing the TdF.

"Every Second Counts" by Lance Armstrong - I had admitted that after I read "It's Not About the Bike", I was anxious to read the "rest of the story".  I enjoyed the sequal almost as much as the first book.  I didn't feel that it was quite as in depth on the personal side, but I'm sure some of that comes with the celebrity.  While he hints about the reasons for the demise of his marriage, he definitely skipped some gory details and painted his ex as a good mom who was in a pretty impossible situation and tried to make the best of it.  He hits some of the same highlights as the first book talking about the journey of life that is the same for all of us - to make every second count because you never know when you won't have another.  I did find it annoying when he quoted himself though (quotes from first book).  The latter part of the book had some in depth coverage of training and racing the TdF again that was enjoyable and interesting to contrast with Coyle's book.

"No Mountain High Enough: Raising Lance. Raising Me." by Linda Armstrong Kelly - There were parts of this book that were redundant to the other books, but this really was more of Linda's personal story.  Obviously as a young, single mother, her life was inextricably intertwined with her son's and thus the overlap, but there was a lot more about what led her to make various choices (good and bad).  She talks a lot about her career decisions and how she moved up through the same work ethic she modeled for her son - if you want something, go out and get it.  Find a solution to whatever is in your way.  I think this would be inspiring to any young woman.  She tells her story with a lot of insight on the lessons she learned along the way. 

"Grace to Race" by Sr. Madonna Buder (aka "Iron Nun") - this book had an interesting story both about how this woman answered the Lord's call to service as well as how she became a runner and triathlete in the last 30 or so years - in what many would have treated as their "twilight" years. The first half of the book focuses more on her personal journey to becoming and serving as a nun. This part was well written and interesting. The more that the story got into her various athletic achievements (and array of injuries - geez!), the more scattered I felt like the writing became. It was still an interesting story, just harder to get into a "flow" of the reading. I checked up on her and at age 82, she recently became the oldest female (person?) to complete an Ironman (Canada 2012). Pretty freakin' cool!  Such an inspiration!

"Courage to Start" by John "the Penguin" Bingham - I only finished about half of this book and there was a hold on it so I could renew it.  I thought it terribly belabored this "courage" thing.  While I liked that it encourages all of us (even the slow as shit ones) to get out there and do it - I think I subscribe a bit more to the "SUAR" approach.  Maybe the book would have been more appealing to me before I just made the decision to "do it", but only a few times have I worried about being the "penguin".  Most of the time I am able to focus on just being happy to be out there doing what I used to not be able to do. 

I've started reading a book on Total Immersion swimming (though I suspect I'll need to check out the DVD to really "get" it).  Of course it would also help to actually GO to the pool to work on my swimming - ugh.  Meant to go today, but worked until too late.  I've also started Jeff Horowitz's book about his first 100 marathons.  So far, so good.

Still trying to get my hands on Chrissie Wellington's book - Columbia library has it, but so far I haven't bothered to put in a request for it.  My son just finished with his copy of the Hunger Games (and already blew threw his school's copy of the 2nd HG book and is on to the 3rd).  Any others that I shouldn't miss?


  1. I read It's not about the bike and liked it. I have the Total Immersion book w/o DVD...def wish I'd gotten the DVD. The iron nun book sounds interesting, though it's too bad the latter portion isn't as good. Still, she sounds amazing!

  2. Wow, you read a lot! I don't read much but I did read Chrissie's book and enjoyed it. I really enjoyed The Hunger Games too.

    I could easily be talked into hosted an Oly from my house with a cookout afterward. Let me know what dates work for your family and see what works for Kate.