I'm having a really hard time finding the words for this review.
I think I should start by saying I don't do "inspiring" books, or sports movies of anyI'm having a really hard time finding the words for this review.
I think I should start by saying I don't do "inspiring" books, or sports movies of any kind. I think it's because of the same reason I never give pep talks to patients. I find it sounds corny and fake, and it reeks of self-importance. Which is probably the reason I connected with this book on such a deep level.
After injuring himself repeatedly while running, Christopher McDougall did some research and heard about the Tarahumara, a lost tribe in the Mexican Barrancas del Cobre, who happen to be the world's greatest athletes - they run up to 200 miles in the blistering heat, in handmade sandals, just for fun. He decided to track them down, and eventually was able to contact Caballo Blanco, a mysterious American who has lived among the Tarahumara for years. This ends up leading to a 50-mile race along the Copper Canyons, populated by a band of distance runners so wacky and diverse it seems too good to be true.
Now, this is how the book has been marketed, and that's what happens in it, mostly. But the whole "gonzo reporter finds lost tribe of superrunners and learns their secrets" scenario leaves out the fact that ultrarunning is, actually, a legitimate sport. Well, it's not exactly popular or respected, but it's definitely a thing, even beyond Tarahumara borders. This means that, almost from the beginning, McDougall sets out on a series of apparent detours. The Tarahumara storyline is abandoned for a good part of the book, and instead what ensues is a multilayered, panoramic view on everything surrounding running - the stories of the people who would go on to participate in the Copper Canyon Ultramarathon are intertwined with chapters on vegan diet, evil shoe companies and evolutionary biology.
But the most important thing about it (or, at least, what really makes this book different and real) is that it all happens on the outskirts of the official sports scene. These supermen are the underdogs. There's a feeling of purity and amateurishness to it all, like these people have no expectations put on them, no sponsors, no inherited knowledge to accept or question. They've invented a sport from scratch, and only now are they realizing they're in fact rediscovering a long lost art.
What I mean is, Born to Run reads more like a runner's personal journey of discovery than it does like, say, a special issue of Runner's World. It isn't a testosterone packed instructional book, but a heartfelt ode to endurance and zen running - that beautiful feeling of recovering the awareness of your own body and the boundaries of your own skin.
It's epic joy. EPIC JOY. Can joy even be epic? Anyway, it's pure joy, and it's epic, so it's epic joy.
I have never been so inspired by a book in my whole life. I've rarely been more exhilarated, either. It may actually have changed my life, though it's too soon to tell. For now, this morning I ran barefoot for the first time (4 km, no pain, absolutely LOVED it) and I'm already training for the marathon next April. Half-marathon really, potentially marathon. We'll see....more
So this is a book about a guy who wants to become a proto-hippie. In order to do so, he devises a way of life that's only feasible for single white maSo this is a book about a guy who wants to become a proto-hippie. In order to do so, he devises a way of life that's only feasible for single white males with no older dependent relatives or strings attached, and he goes around whacking everyone else in the head with it.
Thanks, but no thanks. I already have too many individuals like this in my daily life trying to tell me how I should live it. I'm not taking any more of this crap from yet another one who doesn't have any relation to me and is, incidentally, already dead.
Don't get me wrong - I do believe in bettering through simplifying, and I wholeheartedly agree that most of us have too many artificial needs. But many people that came after Thoreau took this same concept and did a much better job with it. Freedom of spirit should never come at the price of generosity, prudence or even just perspective.
If you're considering reading this book, I suggest you reconsider and do either of these instead:
a) Read Alex's most excellent review , which is not only better and more structured than mine, but also has had the invaluable effect of making me feel validated enough that I finally decided to leave the book unfinished. Classic American literature and all.
b) Go watch Son of the Bride. It's a 2001 Argentinian film about how taking responsibility for things and nurturing our social bonds are the very things what keep us alive - even if this sometimes makes us feel stressed out or overwhelmed. I was angrily brushing my teeth when it randomly occurred to me that this movie is the precise opposite of Walden. You should watch this film, right now - I'm on my way to watching it 2 or 3 times in a row, in order to exorcise myself of the intolerable smugness impregnating this book....more
I picked this up expecting it would help me gather, organize and extend what little I knew about Buddhism. This book turned out to be rather helpful fI picked this up expecting it would help me gather, organize and extend what little I knew about Buddhism. This book turned out to be rather helpful for that purpose, and as objective as can be expected (considering it's the biography of a man on whom we have very little "biographical" material). I'm not feeling particularly enthralled or "enlightened", but I'm glad I read it....more
Slightly dysrythmic, as usual; absolutely delightful in every other respect, as always. This was also the most explicitly meta installment (either thaSlightly dysrythmic, as usual; absolutely delightful in every other respect, as always. This was also the most explicitly meta installment (either that, or the references have become more obvious - actually, I'm pretty sure it's both). Great fun....more
I saw this performed by my university's amateur theatre company. Apparently it had only been performed once before, after which it was censored due toI saw this performed by my university's amateur theatre company. Apparently it had only been performed once before, after which it was censored due to its political symbolism. It's a allegory about dictatorship, with a guest appearance by Gulliver (yeah, the one from Gulliver's Travels). Very sarcastic, which is always a plus....more
3.5 really. I don't know what to make of this one. I know it's usually regarded as Austen's most mature novel. Sure, the main character is 28 and ther3.5 really. I don't know what to make of this one. I know it's usually regarded as Austen's most mature novel. Sure, the main character is 28 and there's lots of autumnal references, as well as political symbolism - but I didn't find it all that deep and full-fleshed.
It's the story of Anne Elliot, a gentleman's daughter who had become engaged to a captain Wentworth 8 years before the novel begins, but broke the engagement due to family pressures. She has never stopped loving him, and now she encounters him again and hopes that he will still have feelings for her.
Now, as I see it, there's two ways one can take this premise. One, you can explore how these two people have changed. Are they still the people they fell in love with in the first place? Will they still love each other, and if so, will it be for the same reasons? Two, you can use the tension created by this background to write an otherwise standard romance, which is what happens here. The result is a succesion of scenes along the lines of "OMG, he found me a place in the carriage so I won't have to walk home - he LUUUUUUVS me!".
Of course, this is all superbly written, and the book is by no means an average romance, but it's still a pretty conventional one. Which would be fine, if it wasn't full of hints dropped to remind the reader that this oh-so-mature and more adult and complex than, say, Pride and Prejudice. It probably is, but Pride and Prejudice works much better as a comedy of manners than Persuasion does as a character study....more
Well, I think that everyone who recommended this book without warning me beforehand now has the moral duty to come give me a big, comforting hug. ThenWell, I think that everyone who recommended this book without warning me beforehand now has the moral duty to come give me a big, comforting hug. Then apologize, or send flowers or something. Sheesh....more
I can't decide if this is mock-goth or just really over-the-top-goth. I know Gothic is extreme by definition, but this one includes every cliché of thI can't decide if this is mock-goth or just really over-the-top-goth. I know Gothic is extreme by definition, but this one includes every cliché of the genre you can think of, plus a few elements that read really modern and self-aware. Kind of like late noir films, except with nuns, ghosts and dungeons (so, way better than late noir films).
The thesis, inasmuch as there is one, is rather revolutionary for its time: ignorance isn't virtue, it's just ignorance. So basically, integrists who go around judging others are just scared, repressed people who should get over themselves and join the rest of us in, you know, life. And I thought I had patented that idea....more