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Apps for your reading life

Here are some reading-related apps for all of us book nerds:

Litsy

litsyLitsy is basically Instagram for those of us who only care about book photos. In addition to the book cover galore, you can use Litsy as a way to track your reading. Search for a title, add to your reading stack, and when you are done, share your rating, short review, blurb or quote. I am especially fond of the “bail” rating. Thank you for giving me the permission to just close the book and say, “that’s enough of that.”

If you like hanging out with other book lovers, give Litsy a try. There is always good old Goodreads too of course. It’s June already. How are you doing on your annual reading challenge?

 

 

Ambient Mixer

I first heard about Ambient Mixer from this Lifehacker post, and it sounds like a fun way to add to the atmosphere while you are reading, and help you get immersed in the scenes. The website provides a wide variety of themed music loops and mixes so you can create the appropriate background soundtrack to match whatever you are reading. Jon Snow could be walking to the sounds of a “mysterious walk in snow storm”  beyond the wall. Transport yourself to Waystone Inn with the fantasy inn/pub/tavern loop. Or, how about some crowd noise for Ned Stark? (Umm, no thanks!)

 

Forest

forestSure, there are books that completely capture my attention, but alas, my phone has too much power over me, and I find myself reaching for it when I am supposed to be reading. There are lots of apps out there that can help you maintain focus. I chose Forest because of its genius use of guilt. And I love the UI.

When you are ready to start a task, set a timer of how long you want to read, and the app will plant a tree for you. The idea is to not navigate away from the Forest app to go check your email, or watch that owl pooping and fleeing the scene video for the nth time.  If you try, a warning will come up, asking you if you are really prepared to live the life of a tree killer. Not just any trees, as you can see, cute, little trees!

 

Libib

Libib is a super quick way to catalogue your personal book collection. The app is very easy to use. Just scan the barcode on the back of the book, and the book will be added to your collection. Because my husband and I are both SFF readers, we often stand at the bookstore wondering if we own a particular volume in the series or not. Libib solves that problem for us, well, as long as we add our purchases religiously.

What apps have you found useful in your reading life? Share your favourites in the comment section.

Virginia from the Port Moody Public Library

The Taibbi Trilogy

Well not really a trilogy, but Griftopia, The Divide and Insane Clown President all riff on the same general theme of a corrupt American society, run by a cabal of robber barons at the expense of the poor. Once you read the first, it’s pretty easy to move on to the next.

Taibbi is our generation’s Hunter S. Thompson. Yes, lighter on the shock-value prose and drug addled stream of consciousness writing, but heavier on the political analysis. And in our the complex world of incomprehensible economic and legal jargon, he’s the Rolling Stone political writer we need. To his credit, Taibbi approaches the material with same requisite snarl and bite as Thompson once did. He’s angry and incredulous, blending in dark humour to lighten the subject matter.

Griftopia

 

With less of an over-arching theme than The Divide, Taibbi tells some free association stories about various grifts and cons that have gone on the in the American economic system over the past decade. In it, Taibbi also provides probably the greatest all-time explanation-for-novices of the crash of 2007 (even better than Michael Lewis). If you’ve ever wondered what a credit default swap is, Griftopia is the place to start.

Perhaps Taibbi’s best work is a chapter on former Chariman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, entitled The Biggest Asshole in the Universe. It chronicles the endless gaffs of a high-society-loving charlatan who was able to convince generations political elites that he was a financial Nostradamus. Taibbi argues that, as with most Friedmanites and Rand enthusiasts, Greenspan’s skill laid in pushing a tragically flawed philosophy, one that simultaneously exalts the pursuit of personal wealth while providing the ‘intellectual’ and ‘moral’ framework for a generation of thieves to convince themselves that they are doing what’s best for society. Taibbi destroys their methodology, point by point. It’s really something.

The Divide

The Divide juxtaposes the two courts of law in America: One for the rich and white and one for the poor and the minority. Taibbi exposes a society where a black man can be stopped, frisked, thrown in the back of a police car and given a court date, all for the crime of standing on the street, while a major bank can ‘illegally’ add five billion dollars off the top of a merger, while stiffing creditors and receiving no blowback, all through the power of their high-priced legal teams.

The Divide is a punch to the gut. It’s horrific, troubling, and illuminating. Easily my favourite of the three.

Insane Clown President

In his newest and most Thompson-esque work, Taibbi dispatches from the Trump campaign trail. It’s a collection of pieces cobbled together from his year writing for the Rolling Stone – much like HST’s famous books of the 1970s and 1980s. It’s hard not to compare Taibbi-Trump to HST-Nixon.

In the book, Taibbi details the fascist-like fervour of Trump’s rally’s, ultimately deciding that Trump is a fitting modern American President, A “human consumption machine with no attention span, no self-control, no beliefs and no hobbies outside of sex, spending, eating and talking about himself. Nixon at least played the piano and read the classics. He was an intellectual with a pig’s heart. Trump is just the pig part.”

Read it now, while it’s still topical, because hopefully time is running out on America’s most famous unhinged carnival-barker.

 

Nolan Kelly is a Library Tech student at Langara.

Gritting it out to reach your Peak

I read Anders Ericsson’s Peak a few months ago, so I’m cheating a bit here, but I loved it and thought I’d share. While, Angela Duckworth’s Grit feels like a sequel to Peak, insofar as it dovetails with the overarching theme of Peak’s thesis: how to become more successful at the things you love. Peak is the methodology for how to practice and achieve success; Grit is the explanation for why some of us achieve more than others, and the prescription for how to become an achiever.

Peak is a game changer if there ever was one.

You’ve likely heard of the 10,000 hour rule that postulates you need that many hours to become an expert in a given field. It was popularized by Malcolm Gladwell a few years back, you know, Gladwell does his is thing where he takes a complex idea, chops out the complicated parts and serves the juicy bits to the masses, as only he can.

Ericsson is the man behind the 10,000 hour rule’s science. His theory: that talent doesn’t exist. That it’s the word we give to hard work and practice.

Which, if you pause to reflect, is the most inspiring notion.

If Mozart had no natural born proclivity towards music and his ‘genius’ was simply the result of endless hours of practice at an early age; if Mario Lemieux’s skill on the ice was the result of countless hours of practice as a child in his basement; if John Irving’s penchant for story telling was built upon a lifetime sitting at a typewriter, it opens up a world of achievement that we assumed closed to us. Ericsson is not saying everyone can or will become Mozart, Lemieux, or Irving, but he is saying that if you work hard, through deliberate practice and expert coaching, you can get close, or perhaps closer than you dreamed possible.

Ericsson underpins his thesis by citing countless examples from his own research, including random test subjects who, with training, become memory experts, and a Hungarian family of chess masters whose intense workload dispels the notion that hi IQ plays any role in chess mastery.

Recently, I put Ericsson’s ideas to work in my own life. For the past six months I’ve been training for a triathlon, making constant improvements in running and biking, failing miserably at swimming. So miserably in fact that I hadn’t improved one bit since I’d started. Four laps and I was exhausted. I treated swimming like biking and running – a test of will and a slow build up of cardio – failing to realize that success in the water is all about technique, and acquiring perfect technique requires deliberate practice. I began by Identifying each key element of a stroke, analysing them and focusing on making them perfect. Within a week of studying strokes and focusing at the pool, I had gone from four laps in a row to 20. A 500% improvement, simply by following the steps laid out in Ericsson’s book. It was an epiphany for me, with far reaching implications for the rest of my life.

Now, you could make the case that I’m an idiot for not realizing this sooner and that practicing something properly isn’t exactly a ground-breaking idea. But when you further dive into the nuances of deliberate practice, it becomes clear that there’s a specific methodology behind it. Ericsson includes a detailed how-to guide that involves explanations on mental focus, mental maps and self-analysis. He’d argue that when most of us practice something, we are often just going through the motions and he offers ways to correct that.

So, if you finally want to master that Rachmaninov concerto, hit that driver farther or, finish that thesis faster, Peak is a great place to start.

Up next, Angela Duckworth’s Grit.

Nolan Kelly is a library tech student at Langara.

In Search of Lost Time

 

As part of a half-baked New Year’s resolution, I decided to read 5-10 pages of a classic novel every night before bed. The thinking, that drier works whose epic length might once have caused consternation, ultimately resulting in disinclination and lack of completion, could be boiled down to smaller, less intimidating bits.

I viewed the process as a lagniappe in the field of book-reading accomplishment, as though I could complete a behemoth on top of my regular reading list without even noticing (“Has it been 78 months already? That Gravity’s Rainbow just flew by!”).

It began in January, with the granddaddy of them all, Marcel Proust’s, In Search of Lost Time.

A breezy 4215 pages, but who’s counting?

Unfortunately, it’s been a harder than I thought to keep up with this resolution. For starters, Proust’s style –  heavy on minutia, light on plot – can be trying.

Sometimes, after a long day, I just can’t do eight pages of Proust waxing poetic about an ephemeral memory of a glimmering doorknob in his childhood bed chamber.

Sometimes, I can’t struggle through yet another endless digression, following young Marcel as he plots to have his mother come in and kiss him good night for a second time. Come on child Proust, get it together. Somebody buy that kid a football.

And, a more general and obvious difficultly I found when attempting and failing at this process before with War and Peace: over a long period of time it can be hard to keep track of everything at play. I’d forgotten about Mr. *****vich, whose last acquaintance I’d met some three months ago at a ballroom in *****berg, with six more *****stov’s and an *****ovna. Remembering becomes a war of attrition and the book always wins.

But overall, it’s been a rewarding gambit. Despite my previous criticisms, I couldn’t have chosen a better book to begin with.

For starters, Proust’s writing is masterful. The pacing, the rhythm. It’s languid and smooth and comforting. It’s literary hot chocolate, made with thick cream, drunk by candle light on a cold winter’s night.

And In Search of Lost Time’s profoundly peaceful nature has a calming effect before bed. Nothing much is happening, but that’s okay, because Proust somehow manages to turn simplicity into profundity. Take his famous Madeleine Passage. For Proust, dipping a madeleine in tea takes on religious significance.

As well it should.

The passage and the general theme of Proust’s writing has made me appreciate the Little Things more. Or at the very least, I’ve become more aware of trying to appreciate them. That mocha on a cold day, those chicken wings and beer. Far too often we gluttonously move from pleasure to pleasure without pausing to reflect on the simple joy found in a singular moment. The law of diminishing returns in a post-scarcity world can make appreciation a difficult endeavor and inflecting Proust is a way of challenging that.

These small moments make up the bulk of our lives, and we miss them because they’re old hat, or as Proust poetically summarized: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands, but seeing with new eyes.”

It’s rare and wonderful when a book improves your life in some small way, even if it is trying at times and it takes nine years to read.

Nolan Kelly is a library tech student at Langara College.

 

 

 

Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects: A Mesmerizing Gothic Thriller

While taking a mini-break from the heavy, slow-paced books that I was supposed to read for my book club, I discovered a gritty, gothic thriller which I greedily consumed within a few days. This darkly magnificent book was Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects—her first ever published work. Flynn is mainly famous for her third novel Gone Girl, a book that had hypnotized and shocked readers around the world. I will not argue that Sharp Objects was better than Gone Girl. No—but I will say that it is brilliant in its own way.

sharpBefore I begin to excitedly ramble on about how much I enjoyed this book and how other thriller enthusiasts should read it (ASAP!), let me provide you with a synopsis of the novel:

When the murdered body of a preteen girl is found and a second girl goes missing in a small town, reporter Camille Preaker is given the task of returning to her eerie hometown and covering the troubling story. While trying to fulfill her assignment, she is forced to stay at her family’s Victorian mansion and spend time with her hypochondriac mother and strange half-sister. As Camille attempts to unravel the mystery behind the murder case, she struggles to deal with her own disturbing past and soon discovers family secrets which have been hidden for a long time.

Now that you have the summary, I am going to list my three reasons for recommending this book:

  • Sharp Objects is a good gothic thriller!

Being a huge fan of the gothic genre, I absolutely loved how Flynn incorporated elements of Southern Gothic throughout her novel—the Victorian mansion, the grotesque scenes, the eccentric and deeply flawed characters, the terrifying matriarch, the underlying madness, violence and decay. For me, these components helped to build the suspense and dark atmosphere of the narrative, which completely drew me in and left me unsettled.

  • The narrative is complex and intriguing!

Unlike other simple mystery novels, which focus on one particular puzzle throughout the narrative, this book contains multiple layers of mystery that get unraveled: first is the murder case and the disappearance of a young girl; second is questions about Camille’s past and mental state; and third is the enigma behind Camille’s cold and reserved mother. As the story progresses, Flynn gives us a few clues at a time, either through flashbacks, new discoveries or subtle dialogues. These multiple layers make the story complex and interesting, which compelled me to piece the different puzzles together. It took a lot of effort to not jump to the last page in order to figure out all the answers!

  • The main character is flawed yet realistic!

While Camille was not my favorite character (because of her frustrating choices and her passive nature), she does behave in a realistic and human manner. Suffering from the loss of her sister and lack of love from her mother, she chooses self-destructive methods to deal with her emotions—alcohol, men and self-harm (scarring her body with words). Even though she has gone to rehab and seems to have recovered from these self-destructive behaviors, it is interesting to watch Camille’s mental state unfold when she is faced with her mother and her past once more. However, despite her emotional frailty, I admired the fact that she uses her strength and love for her sister to push forward and find out the truth about her family. Unlike the majority of the characters in the small town of Wind Gap, who willfully ignore the ugliness festering beneath the society, Camille chooses to look beneath the surface even if the truth may be horrifying. This strength and resilience makes her quite the intriguing protagonist.

Before I leave you to run towards the library and grab a copy of Flynn’s Sharp Objects (don’t push anyone out of the way!), I would like to leave you with a few warnings about the book:

  • If you are looking for a simple psychological thriller with light descriptions, then this is not the book for you. Sharp Objects is a very dark novel with heavy and disturbing details that may keep you up at night.
  • If you are looking for a happy ending with everything resolved so you can sleep all satisfied at night, then, once again, this book is not for you. Flynn is well-known for her twisted endings and frustrating conclusions, so don’t read this novel if you expect the story to end on a happy note.

Lastly, if I have managed to pique your interest in this story, I do encourage you to read this book sooner rather than later because HBO is going to release a mini-series based on the book this year. The mini-series will have Amy Adams as the star of the show and Jean-Marc Vallee as the director (he is absolutely fantastic!). From my experience, it becomes impossible to get a copy of the book once the movie or mini-series gets released. So, go get your copy now!

~ Ehlam Zaminpaima, Librarian, West Vancouver Memorial Library

Biography & Memoir

Ever been asked for an award-winning biography or autobiography?  Here are some suggestions – award-winners and finalists – that will knock your readers’ socks off!

The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between, by Hisham Matar (2016)

Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography.

After an absence of thirty years, acclaimed Libyan novelist Hisham Matar returns home to his native country to look into the disappearance of his father.  Leaving Libya when he was twelve, Matar’s family lived in political exile.  Matar’s father, a former diplomat turned political dissident, was kidnapped off the streets of Cairo by the Libyan government and his whereabouts remain to this day uncertain.  Most likely held in Libya’s most notorious prison, it is improbable that Matar’s father is still alive.  Nevertheless, the author makes the journey to post-Qaddafi Libya to seek answers.  A moving family memoir and a portrait of a country in the midst of change.

Mordecai: The Life and Times by Charles Foran (2010)

Winner of the 2011 Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction.

A thoroughly engaging, detailed and intimate portrait of one of Canada’s most celebrated and influential writers.  Devoted husband and father of five, Mordecai Richler won numerous awards for his adult and children’s fiction.  His was a persona that was larger than life and his influence spread beyond the borders of Canada. Growing up in turbulent times, Richler participated actively and was a bohemian, a rebel, a passionate and romantic lover, an outspoken Canadian, a family man.  Foran’s is the first biography to pull from family letters and archives, making this the most complete and richest picture of Richler’s life to date.

 

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan (2014)

Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography.

Now a distinguished writer and war reporter, William Finnegan began life as a surfer.  This autobiography documents his beginnings in California and Hawaii, where surfing quickly became an obsession, and follows him around the world to the South Pacific, Australia, Asia, and Africa, where he chased the big waves.  Finnegan expounds on the inner workings of the surfing culture, which is less a sport and more a way of life to the truly dedicated.  Finnegan remains enamoured of surfing and continues to chase waves wherever he can find them.  His autobiography tells the story of an adventurous, and sometimes crazy, life.  A highly skillful and entertaining read.

 

Margaret Fuller: A New American Life, by Megan Marshall (2013)

Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography.

A richly researched book that tells the fascinating story of a 19th century author, journalist, critic and pioneering advocate of women’s rights who died in a shipwreck.  Because of her untimely end, and the tragedy and scandal that surrounded it, Margaret Fuller’s unique life is often glossed over.  This biography seeks to redress that injustice and tells her story in glorious detail.  A passionate thinker ahead of her time, Fuller was the first ever female war correspondent, covering the 1849 Siege of Rome.  While in Italy, she took a secret lover and bore a son.  As a news correspondent, she became passionately concerned about the urban poor and the plight of prostitutes and she was an outspoken advocate for personal and political freedom.  Just before her 40th birthday, she, her lover and her son were drowned in a shipwreck.  Marshall’s biography brings Fuller back to life.

 

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo, by Tom Reiss (2012)

Winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography.

The remarkable tale of real-life swashbuckler Alex Dumas, the father of Alexandre Dumas, author of the Three Musketeers and the Count of Monte Cristo.  The little known truth about Alexandre Dumas’ father is that he was born in Haiti, the son of a black slave.  He was sold into bondage briefly but ended up in Paris, where he was trained in sword-fighting with the French aristocracy.  He enlisted in the army and commanded troops during the French Revolution, leading campaigns across Europe and the Middle East.  A fascinating true story about an ex-slave rising to the top in a time when such things were rare.

 

Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva

by Rosemary Sullivan (2015)

Winner of the 2016 RBC Charles Taylor Prize for Non-Fiction.  Winner, BC National Non-Fiction Prize, 2016. Winner of the American Plutarch Award for Biography (First Canadian Winner).

Winner, 2015 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction

Meticulously researched, this is the tale of Svetlana Alliluyeva, Josef Stalin’s daughter.  Despite being protected from the physical hardships suffered by the rest of Russia during Stalin’s regime, Svetlana nevertheless knew suffering.  She lost her mother, two brothers, aunts, uncles, and a lover who was exiled by her father to Siberia.  After Stalin’s death, she learned ever more about his brutality and she could no longer stay quiet. She defected to the US in 1967, leaving her two children behind.  Her life in the US was not happy and she died poor, in 2011. Sullivan used the KGB, CIA and Soviet archives to do her research, and had the cooperation of Svetlana’s daughter. As a result, this masterful biography delves into Svetlana’s life with incredible intimacy.

 

Stephen Harper by John Ibbitson (2015)

Winner of the 2016 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing.

Stephen Harper is an important figure in our country’s history and has, for better or worse, helped to shape the nation Canada is today.  Stephen Harper as a person, however, has remained enigmatic despite his public life.  Bringing together years of research and in-depth interview material, Ibbitson demonstrates why he is one of this country’s most respected journalists with this intimate and detailed portrait of Harper the politician and man.

 

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (2007)

Finalist, 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography.

An intensely personal and honest work, this book catalogues a year in Didion’s life when her world fell apart.  Her daughter became ill with a mysterious malady, and was eventually put into an induced coma and put on life support.  Days later, her husband of 40 years died of a heart attack.  Her daughter recovered, only to collapse again two months later at LA airport.  After 6 hours of surgery to release a massive hematoma, she pulled through.  This book comprises Didion’s attempt to make sense of these events and explores questions of life, death, illness, and family.  Powerfully written.

 

Just Kids: From Brooklyn to the Chelsea Hotel: A Life of Art and Friendship by Patti Smith (2010)

National Book Award Winner.

In her first book of prose, Patti Smith chronicles her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the late sixties and seventies.  Honest and moving, this is a beautifully written autobiography from a great artist of our time.

 

H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald (2015)

Winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction.

At heart a tale of loss and bereavement, H is for Hawk tells the story of the author’s decision to train the deadly predator, the Goshawk, in the wake of her father’s death. Already an experienced falconer, Macdonald had never trained a Goshawk before.  Relying on T.H. White’s The Goshawk to guide her in this endeavour, Macdonald chronicles her work with the Goshawk “Mabel” and her journey through the grieving process. An unusual combination of nature writing and memoir from a master writer.

 

American Chica: Two Worlds, One Childhood by Marie Arana (2005)

National Book Award Finalist.

With a brilliant Peruvian engineer for a father and a gifted American musician for a mother, Marie Arana’s childhood was bound to be interesting. Her father’s family taught her about being a “lady” while her mother’s taught her more practical skills like shooting a gun and snapping a chicken’s neck. Upon immigrating to America, Arana soon realized that she was caught between two worlds. This is her story, filled with the colourful characters of her childhood and her journey towards the reconciliation of two disparate cultures within herself.

 

The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe by David I. Kertzer (2014)

Winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography.

Based on seven years of in-depth research in the Vatican and Fascist archives, Kertzer’s book tells the story of the Vatican’s role in the rise of Fascism in Europe.  Coming into power in the same year, 1922, Pope Pius XI and Benito Mussolini shared a hatred of Communism and a distrust of democracy.  While it is generally believed that the Vatican did all it could to fight against Fascism, Ketzer shows that “Il Duce” and the Pope worked together to support each other’s goals.  Il Duce restored many of the privileges that the Church had lost and the Pope in turn ensured that Mussolini stayed in power. Only later did the Pope regret his actions, as Mussolini got closer to Hitler, and he tried to withdraw his support.  But as always, there is a bigger cast of players in such politically charged scenarios and the Pope was not the only one to exert his influence as others in the Vatican strove to retain the solid working relationship with Fascist Italy that had benefitted them for so long.  An intriguing and dramatic tale which draws its sources from the newly opened archives covering Pius XI’s papacy.

 

Buffy Sainte-Marie: It’s My Way by Blair Stonechild (2011)

Winner of the 2013 Saskatoon Book Awards: Aboriginal Peoples’ Writing Award winner

Written in the context of the politics and world events of the time, Stonechild’s book examines the life of musician and activist Buffy Sainte-Marie. Born on an impoverished Cree reservation in Saskatchewan, Sainte-Marie nevertheless went on to take part in the international folk music/protest revolution of the 1960s with the likes of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Gordon Lightfoot. Stonechild’s biography does not follow a strictly chronological timeline, but instead jumps around into different periods of Sainte-Marie’s life, as he puts together a full picture of her ambitions and achievements, and captures the essence of this international musical icon.

 

Red Star Tattoo: My Life as a Girl Revolutionary by Sonja Larsen (2016)

Finalist, 2016 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction

Larsen tells the story of her youth, spent on the move between communes around North America. Her mother, kicked out of her home as a pregnant teenager by her evangelistic father, joins in the communist movement, attracted by its idealism and radical ideas, and she drags her daughter Sonja along with her.  Larsen moves to Brooklyn at the age of 16 and joins the Communist Party of America, known publicly as the National Labor Federation, where she works hard to impress the party leaders.  She attracts the attention of the “Old Man,” the party’s charismatic leader, who takes her under his wing and makes her one of his “special” girls.  Can one survive a childhood such as this?  Rootless, without reliable adult guidance or protection, full of abuse and loss?  Larsen’s story is a remarkable one.

~ Fiona Hunt, Casual Librarian, West Vancouver Memorial Library

Reading for Running Inspiration

Will you be joining me and over 40,000 other runners at Vancouver’s 2017 Sun Run on April 23rd?

If you’re training for the Sun Run or another run this Spring, you may need a bit of inspiration to stick with your program every now and again. Find motivation in a great runner’s memoir or enjoy a novel with a running theme for a creative look at the runner’s psyche. Many of the titles I recommend are available on audio – listen while you run!

Alternatively, if you join Richmond Public Library with the Running/Walking Book Club idea floated by Meghan Savage on this blog last month, these titles could be useful fodder for accompanying booklists.

  1. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
  2. Girl Runner by Carrie Snyder
  3. The Illegal by Lawrence Hill
  4. The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner by Alan Sillitoe
  5. Mile Markers: The 26.2 Most Important Reasons Why Women Run by Kristin Armstrong
  6. Marathon Woman: Running the Race to Revolutionize Women’s Sports by Kathrine Switzer
  7. The Oatmeal’s The Great and Terrible Reasons Why I Run Long Distances by Matthew Inman
  8. Once a Runner by John L. Parker Jr.
  9. Paula My Story So Far by Paula Radcliffe
  10. Run or Die by Kilian Jornet
  11. Runner: A Short Story About a Long Run by Lizzy Hawker
  12. Running Like a Girl: Notes on Learning to Run by Alexandra Heminsley
  13. Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron
  14. Running Uphill by Fil Fraser
  15. Run to Overcome: The Inspiring Story of an American Champion’s Long-Distance Quest to Achieve a Big Dream by Meb Keflezighi
  16. Tales from Another Mother Runner by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea
  17. Terry by Douglas Coupland
  18. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
  19. What I Talk About When I talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
  20. Why We Run A Natural History by Bernd Heinrich

 

PS The Barkley Marathons finished yesterday with a heartbreaker of an outcome  for North Vancouver’s Gary Robbins. If you haven’t already watched the documentary, The Barkley Marathons, it is a highly bizarre yet incredibly compelling slice of the running life in which books are involved in the race.