Top 5 Books About Running

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This past December, I ran my very first marathon. It was so fun and yet so painful at the same time! What I most liked about the race was the support and energy I felt from the other runners and spectators. It really felt like I was doing something meaningful, even though I’m sure a lot of people thought I was crazy for running 26.2 miles in the cold.

There’s definitely a sense of community among runners, and there are several books about running that accurately capture this feeling. Read the list below and click the links to find these books in the library!

 

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

My favorite book about running, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, is short and to the point. Murakami, a marathon runner and a famous novelist, writes with wisdom about his experiences. He compares running to writing and examines the discipline behind long distance running.

 

Running: A Global History by Thor Gotaas

How did we as humans become so fascinated with running? This book explains it all, tracing runners throughout world history.

 

Run: The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel by Matt Fitzgerald

The best elite runners have learned that the key to faster running is to hear what your body is telling you. But are you listening?

 

A Heart In A Body In The World by Deb Caletti

This young adult fiction novel is about a girl on a cross-country run, trying to deal with a traumatic event from her past. Along the way, she becomes a reluctant activist and symbol.

 

The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb

Read all about the true story of how three elite athletes trained to run a mile in under four minutes.

 

All of these books are available at the library- just click the links to find their locations!

Book Review: “A Heart In A Body In The World” by Deb Caletti

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After completing my first marathon, I wanted to read a young adult (YA) book about running. I picked up A Heart In A Body In The World by Deb Caletti from the library’s Family Room. This novel is about much more than running (it has the major theme of dealing with a traumatic event) but running sets the framework for the main character, Annabelle, to begin the healing process.

Annabelle is a high school cross country runner who is in therapy and trying to deal with PTSD after a terrible event. On a whim, she decides to embark on a giant run from Seattle to Washington, D.C. Her grandfather helps her out, providing her with food and support from his RV. Soon her run turns into a cause, with hundreds around the country tuning in and showing support.

Mild spoilers ahead.

What A Heart In A Body In The World gets right: This has nothing do with the actual story, but wow, what a great cover!

As for the actual story: the hazards of running are really well described! When Annabelle freaked out in the shower because she hadn’t realized that she was chafed from her run, and the hot water was stinging her? That’s real, y’all . . . just take my word for it. And while she wishes for some Body Glide for chafing, let me tell you, that stuff only works some of the time.

It’s sad that recent, real-life events have made a novel like this so timely and necessary, but I’m glad that author Deb Caletti wasn’t afraid to tackle this kind of subject.

This book will show you the worst of humanity, but it also shows you the best of humanity: the surprising kindness of strangers, the willingness to support a good cause, and the love that a family has for each other. Annabelle’s story is both sobering and inspiring. It’s a story worth reading, even if you end up crying a little along the way.

What A Heart In A Body In The World does wrong: I personally am not the biggest fan of books that are written in present tense, so that took a little getting used to with this novel. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the “heart facts” that prefaced many of the chapters- they were interesting, but they took me out of the story.

Who should read A Heart In A Body In The World: Readers who enjoy running and young adult novels.

Who shouldn’t read A Heart In A Body In The World: While this book is certainly inspiring, it’s also very sad at times. If you’re looking for something more lighthearted to read, then pick up something different.

 

A Heart In A Body In The World is available in the library’s Family Room.

Content note: PTSD, gun violence, language.

Book Review: “North of Beautiful” by Justina Chen

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North of Beautiful is a well-written young adult book about a girl who learns to be brave. Terra Cooper was born with a port-wine stain on her face and has learned to hide it from others, in particular her verbally abusive dad. Together with her timid mom, Terra learns to stand up for herself and accept herself as she is. In the midst of Terra’s transformation, she meets a Goth romantic interest, goes to China, and creates map-based art.

 

What North of Beautiful gets right: The main characters experience a lot of growth throughout the book. None of them become perfect, but they each begin to make positive changes in their lives. North of Beautiful has a happier ending but not so optimistic that it’s unbelievable.

The traveling part of the book is fun but never overshadows the characters themselves. North of Beautiful is all about relationships and inner motivations. It’s encouraging to watch Terra repair her relationship with her mother and begin building a new one with Jacob.

What North of Beautiful does wrong: Terra’s insecurity can be hard to read about in the first part of the book. She seems to look down on others who don’t put as much effort into their appearance as she does. However, as the book goes on, we begin to understand why Terra feels that way, and we get to see her grow and change.

Who should read North of Beautiful: Anyone who has struggled with how they look, likes cartography, or enjoys a (mostly) innocent romance. Teenagers who need someone to relate to. Adults who will understand the relationships between Terra and her parents.

Who shouldn’t read North of Beautiful: People who aren’t interested in reading about teenagers or families. People who get bored by character development and need more action in their stories.

 

Check out North of Beautiful from the library’s Family Room.

Featured Book: “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running”

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Haruki Murakami is a world-renowned Japanese author. He just recently debuted a new book, Killing Commentadore, and is well-known for his previous books such as 1Q84, Sputnik Sweetheart, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, etc. Typically, you’d expect a Murakami book to be strange yet familiar, and to feature characters who experience loneliness, isolation, intrigue, and great epiphanies about love and human understanding. However, if you pick up What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, you’ll get a glimpse at the man behind the famous fiction- a man who is not just a writer, but an avid runner.

Murakami explains that everything he knows about writing, he learned from running. He goes on to encourage writers to nourish two disciplines: focus and endurance. Both of these apply to running as well.

Murakami also reflects on aging and the life lessons he’s picked up along the way. On the art of self-acceptance, he writes:

This is my body, with all its limits and quirks. Just as with my face, even if I don’t like it it’s the only one I get, so I’ve got to make do. As I’ve grown older, I’ve naturally come to terms with this. You open the fridge and can make a nice- actually even a pretty smart- meal with the leftovers. All that’s left is an apple, an onion, cheese, and eggs, but you don’t complain. You make do with what you have. As you age you learn even to be happy with what you have. That’s one of the few good points of growing older.

Even while realizing that his aging body may not be as fast or as sturdy as he may wish, Murakami keeps running throughout, averaging a marathon a year (!). He keeps his eyes on his goals and steadily moves forward. This book documents in particular his goal of running in the New York Marathon, a prestigious race. The reader can keep pace with Murakami as he describes each rung of his journey, along with anecdotes and scattered reflections along the way.

If you’re interested in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, check it out from the library! It’s only 179 pages long, counting the Afterword- it’s a quick read that still accurately describes a long process.

Top 5 Fitness Books & Journals

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Looking for some new workouts to try? The library has several helpful resources for keeping track of your physical fitness. Listed below are 5 of the best fitness books and journals we have to offer.

1. Journal: American Fitness

Author: Aerobics and Fitness Association of America

The library provides access to this journal from 1993 to the present- which means you can see what kind of workouts were popular in the 90’s and how fitness has evolved over the years. American Fitness has articles on everything from lunge advice to tips on avoiding sexual harassment at the gym. This journal is a great “catch-all” resource for fitness.

 

2. Book: Learning to Breathe Fire: The Rise of Crossfit and the Primal Future of Fitness

Author: J.C. Hertz

If you’ve been curious about CrossFit, this book can be your start guide. Learning to Breathe Fire details the history of the popular fitness movement as well as the science behind the exercises.

 

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3. Journal: Runner’s World

Author: Runner’s World

For those who love running or who are just getting started on their journey, Runner’s World is a must. You’ll find articles on the best shoes, fact vs. fiction with running myths, and stories of competitive runners.


4. eBook: The Official Gold’s Gym Guide to Getting Started in Body Building

Author: Ed Housewright, Gold’s Gym

Whether or not Gold’s Gym is your favorite, this eBook provides helpful information on nutrition and beginner’s exercises. It also includes inspiring quotes from leaders in sports and fitness.

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5. eBook: Yoga For Pain Relief: Simple Practices to Calm Your Mind & Heal Your Chronic Pain

Author: Kelly McGonigal

Maybe you’re wanting to exercise but are suffering from chronic pain. Yoga For Pain Relief walks you through exercises that can help, allowing you to take things at your own pace and encouraging you to keep moving forward.

 

All of these resources are available through our library’s online subscriptions or are on our shelves. Check them out today!