This book was an incredibly interesting read. Ever since I was in elementary school and I ran in a "Tarahumara Race" set up each year by my philanthroThis book was an incredibly interesting read. Ever since I was in elementary school and I ran in a "Tarahumara Race" set up each year by my philanthropist principal, I've been interested in the culture of these people. When I was looking through goodreads "best non-fiction books of all times" list and saw this, it quickly piqued my interest.
McDougall has a very approachable writing style. While he touches on a lot of "scientific" things in the book and makes a lot of "arguments" you don't really realize that he's doing it. Basically, he tells a story, and it's a really good story. Its the kind of story where there is a main, underlying, biographical sketch told in memoir style, and the underlying sketch is interlaced with a bunch of interest piquing vinettes that make you want to keep reading because you're slowly seeing how he's tying everything together to paint a bigger biographical picture. In the process you learn about marathons, ultrarunners, insane people, barefoot runners, and eventually the Tarahumara.
I only had 2 main complaints about the book: 1) at times it does feel a little jumpy (but I feel like that was intended), and 2) the use of expletives and unnecessary language is a little over-the-top for me. I felt like the author could have censored a bit and it wouldn't have detracted from the story at all. ...more
In the wake of yet another tragic school shooting, whose death count included an entire classroom of kindergartners, I found it interesting - and a biIn the wake of yet another tragic school shooting, whose death count included an entire classroom of kindergartners, I found it interesting - and a bit ironic, really - that my library reservation list at the time included Dave Cullen's "Columbine". After having now read the book, and spent a few sleepless nights trying to overcome it's contents, I feel very comfortable proclaiming that this book (sadly) could easily stand as one that could easily serve to define our generation.
Absolutely, I would recommend this book as a "must-read" for anyone who even remotely thinks they can stomach it. I especially recommend it to my friends in public education - even if you don't think you can. Those of you studying gun control, politics, or psychology, I put you in the same category as the educators. It's a must read if you are to have any credibility in these areas.
That being said, there are a few things you should be aware of before picking up this book.
1) This book is incredibly graphic in it's description of the scene at Columbine High School in 1999 and some of the events that took place surrounding the real-life tragedy. You will be exposed to details such as what blood and brain matter will do after sitting exposed for long periods of time, the specific, graphic language of the tragedy's perpetrators and others involved, as well as some of the explicit graphic psychological thoughts that lead up to the event.
2) While the story is told through the lens of Mr. Cullen, a world renown expert on the events of Columbine, and he does his best to be delicate and objective in his presentation of the events, it's important to realize that because of the nature of the content he is discussing it would be almost impossible to remain completely objective and not assign blame in certain circumstances. While Cullen does his best to clear up misconceptions (and in some cases right-out lies) related to the events of the tragedy, and he does so with an explicit energy to respect and be sensitive to the emotion, character, and pain of those directly involved (including the perpetrators themselves), there are limitations to what he can do. Readers may be troubled at times with where the author 'draws the line' in certain parts of the book.
3) It's just simply a hard book to read. Think Cormac McCarthy's "the road" meets Tim Obrien's "The Things They Carried" meets Jonathan Safron Foer's "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close". Then realize that this is not historical fiction, it's non-fiction. It's just simply going to be a hard read - but it's worth it. ...more
Anecdotally written in a similar fashion to the freakonomics books, this nonfiction book about the outliers (or "special" people in our society) was oAnecdotally written in a similar fashion to the freakonomics books, this nonfiction book about the outliers (or "special" people in our society) was one of the best books I've read in a while....more
In terms of difficulty of content, I put Hosseini on a shelf with Authors Toni Morrison, Richard Wright, Tim O'brien, and Julia Alvarez. Where beautyIn terms of difficulty of content, I put Hosseini on a shelf with Authors Toni Morrison, Richard Wright, Tim O'brien, and Julia Alvarez. Where beauty and pain come together for African-American culture in a Toni Morrison or Richard Wright novel, Afghan pain and beauty is found in The Kite Runner. If Caribean diaspora is painted as a butterfly for Julia Alvarez, Afghanis can claim the blood of glass-laiden kite strings to represent theirs. Even Tim O'brien's skewed perception of personal worth and PTSD-style loss of reality is rivaled by the pains and guilt felt by Amir in this novel.
I found myself crying on multiple occasions while reading this book. Not because I felt bad for the individuals in the story, but because I felt, in reading the story, that I was accepting a part of the real pain of a people who were exposed to the types of things portrayed in this novel.
While I recommend this book to all people, I note that a specific maturity is needed to be able to read this book. I would not allow anyone in a "juvenile" or even "young adult" category read this book. I would reserve it strictly for people considered to be "adult" and even that I would be careful with. Frankly, it is not for the fain of heart. ...more