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The Incomplete Book of Running

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  4,290 ratings  ·  579 reviews
Peter Sagal, the host of NPR’s beloved show Wait Wait..Don’t Tell Me and a popular columnist for Runner’s World, shares his insightful and entertaining look at life and running that explores the transformative power of the sport.
Hardcover, 197 pages
Published October 30th 2018 by Simon Schuster
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▫️Ron S I can't think of any age inappropriate material in this book. Peter Sagal is tasteful and uses his voice to promote progressive and uplifting values. …moreI can't think of any age inappropriate material in this book. Peter Sagal is tasteful and uses his voice to promote progressive and uplifting values. There is some adult language, but it's never used inappropriately or insensitively.

As he covers his running motivations as a young person - I think it could be a source of inspiration! It is written from the perspective of a middle-age man who has experienced some all-too-common hardship, so if a young reader maintains their interest - they could get a leg up on life's challenges.

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Average rating 3.86  · 
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Roy Lotz
UPDATE: I ran the half-marathon today, with a time of 2 hours and five minutes—probably the best run I've ever done. And all thanks to Peter Sagal!

And here is my write-up of the experience:
Of all the people on the face of this green earth, I never thought I would be the one reviewing this book. Indeed, I began this year by writing a blog post about my new year’s resolutions, confidently predicting that, come what may, I would not begin to exerc
Nov 17, 2018 rated it liked it
4 stars for the running parts. 2 stars for the frankly off-putting way Sagal writes about his ex-wife and daughters, as well as pretty much all other women (except for his current wife - she seemed like an actual human being). I get that he was also processing his divorce and the aftermath, I just found it really weird. Averaging out = 3 stars.
Van Reese
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
As a long time runner, I was very pleased to win this book in a give away (thank you Simon & Shuster). The only negative, I felt, was that he talks about his divorce; a lot. It was painful, so O.K. We will let it go. Most of the book was, surprise, actually about running. I felt that I could relate well with his running experiences, and found we had much in common. My dad also ran and kind of influenced me getting started running (though I never made fun of him); I also asked for real running sh ...more
Nov 20, 2018 rated it liked it
I love the saying he recounted: if you can't play sports, run. If you can't run, run long. I can relate.

I'm a fan of Wait Wait and thought this book was entertaining. Peter Sagal talks about his running history, his meshugas about his weight, and his midlife crisis leading to more running and eventual divorce. Spoiler alert, a man got remarried quickly after a divorce. What else is new?

I did feel for him. He talks about his depression, how he felt he failed as a husband and a father.

He also ca
Doug Gordon
Dec 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
I'm a runner and also a fan of "Wait, Wait", so I really expected to enjoy this book a lot, but would find it hard to recommend to either a runner or non-runner. Mainly, I thought it would be mostly about running with a lot of humorous anecdotes, but instead it was more of a personal memoir that delved a bit too far into the author's personal life and problems, which he dwelt on a bit too much in my opinion.

The book also had the feel of being a bit rushed to print and could have used a bit more
I'm doing a couch to 5km program while we're in social isolation 2020 (because I need the out of house time, and why not) so I'm reading running books. The appeal of running is it's simplicity: some shoes, whatever, and you go. Sagal talks about running in his own life and two particular dramatic events that occured in 2013 - I can't remember whether it's in the copy so I won't spoil it. Oh... so I didn't read the copy because I picked up stuff randomly. I enjoyed this running memoir, I like the ...more
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Funny, wry and charming! I love Peter Sagal, not only from Wait, Wait but also his GoT recaps with Nerdette. I’m also glad to know that he is someone who can laugh at himself while singing along to a jingle stating that he’s the worst. 😂

I often have a hard time relating to running books because my experience is not that of a 3:05 marathon. But Sagal recognizes that and after all, this is *his experience. But there is a line (that I’m badly paraphrasing) which says that the only proper response t
Susan Schaefer
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The only problem with this book is that it was over too soon. I really wanted a few hundred more pages. It was wonderful for me to get a glimpse inside the mind of someone who feels about running the same way I do.
Ron S
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: running, memoir
A mid-life memoir you needn't be a runner to enjoy. ...more
Beth Jusino
Dec 10, 2018 rated it liked it
So... I wanted to like this book. I wanted it to make me want to run again. It didn't. (Sorry, Peter Sagal. I really like your radio show and wanted to like this book.)

Sagal bookends his work with great stories about the Boston Marathon, both on the day of the terrorist bombing and the following year. They're about the relationships among runners, and between runners and their bodies, and between human beings and competition. And those are great.

But the about being middle aged. Ther
Jamey Bradbury
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Peter Sagal's slim memoir about running through the turmoil of his own life and the turmoil of the world at large is entertaining and perfectly captures the radio host's voice and sensibility. I was surprised at how candid he was about the bitterness of his divorce, but it was kind of refreshing. As an amateur runner, he still has great advice to offer other amateurs or wannabes. ...more
Peter Derk
Jun 19, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm a secret runner. Maybe not "secret, secret," but it's not something I like to talk about much. Because I think it's boring. Not just for other people, but for me.

I've had my personal successes in running that I'm happy with. And I do think it's been a life-changing thing for me. But I don't know how to talk about it in such a way that I find it interesting.

This book had some definite highs. Mostly when Peter Sagal wasn't talking a ton about times, splits, training, etc. A lifetime of running
Jan Van Bruaene
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: health
I didn't know what to expect about this book. I only know about Peter Sagal from NPR Wait Wait Don't Tell me Show. And I heard he co-wrote the less than stellar movie Dirty Dancing Havana Nights.

He wrote a book about running? What does Peter Sagal know about running?
It turns out he knows quite a bit about it, and has a great number high paced races to show for it.

I expected a funny and witty book. It is not. It is an honest and often raw story about the running part of his life.

I could not p
Grant Den Herder
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! I went into this one thinking it would be a humorous take on running; instead, Peter Sagal takes us through all of the highs and lows of life and how running has made an impact through it all.

Emotional and hilarious. This book makes me want to be a more mindful person, not just a more mindful runner. I would highly recommend!
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There are many books on running-as-a-metaphor-for-life. This isn't one of them (though it wants to be)

I like Peter Sagal on "Wait, Wait ... Don't tell me" and I really wanted to like this book. But there's a reason it took me from April 2019 to Feb 2020 to finish a measly 208 pages: it's a slog.

Perhaps it's on purpose. Perhaps it's meant to mimic the patience you need to exhibit and the pain you need to endure to finish a marathon. But I doubt it's deliberate or that deep. Nothing about this bo
3.5 stars. I enjoy both Peter Sagal's NPR show, Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, and running, so I feel like I'm within the target demographic for this book. It is more about Peter Sagal than it is about running; though it's almost entirely about Peter Sagal running, it's really about him getting through mental health issues and middle age... while running. As he mentions early on, talking about running is incomprehensibly boring to non-runners but endlessly diverting to runners, and any topic, no m ...more
Sam Kuntz
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Regina Bradley
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
“But the lesson and practice of running is again, a faith in the possibility of positive change. That, if you run enough miles, with enough dedication and the right kind of mindset, if you accept the limitations of what’s possible but refuse to accept the rutted path of what’s painless, if you keep at it, if you keep going, you can become what it was you were meant to be.”

Peter tells a great story and tells many in this short memoir. Having recently ran the California International Marathon and
May 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
5/5 Stars

To say I loved this book would be an understatement. This book is not a running book albeit the title. This book more focuses on the mid-life crisis of an adult man who used running as a way to cope with the hardships that were thrown to him. As a person who is not a man, in mid-life, or that great of a runner, this book shows that at the core we can all relate to one another's humanity. Peter Sagal is a likable writer who is honest about his character faults and discusses them in a com
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I listened to the audio because of course you listen when Peter Sagal is narrating. I loved it. It's got me running again which is huge. But also thinking a lot about mortality and life and how we adapt to face challenges and second chances and serving others. It was great. ...more
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Vulnerable and made me want to run marathons. Should prob have a trigger warning about dieting.
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Runner or not, this book will probably make you laugh and cry simultaneously.
When I was in college and grad school, I played soccer. I ran, training for marathons and triathlons. I swam. I did Tang Soo Do. I hurt my ankle on July 3, 2001 playing soccer (went up for a head ball and came down on the outside of my foot). The last run I ever went on was in May or June 2003. I had ankle surgery in 2002 to fix torn ligaments and it was one of my first real runs trying to get back to "normal". I had pain in the back of my ankle, behind my ankle bone, so I called my doctor, who ...more
Nov 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’m a big fan of “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” and of running memoirs so I enjoyed this. I’m glad that I read this post-marathon because he makes them sound painful (which is accurate). Enjoyed how he framed his running as way of coping with his divorce and depression, and liked his part at end about running being a “habit of hope”. One weird bit - he volunteers to escort visually impaired runners in races, which is admirable, but he makes so many not funny and dumb jokes about them - it’s very off ...more
If you are reading this as a training manual for running, take a second look at the title. Sagal's wry sense of humor comes through, but I wouldn't take this as the almanac for running a marathon.

I found the narrative a bit disjointed at times. Sagal would be running one marathon and then jump back to a previous marathon and then jump forward again. This time jump confused me more than once. But, I got it: he ran marathons and it was a bitch to accomplish.

All in all, I enjoyed the book. Would
Holdon Son
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I thought it was sweet. Certainly inspired me to start exponentially more than Murakami did.

'Reading' this, the memoir of a radio guy, via audiobook was definitely the right choice.
I love Peter Sagel and I love running so this was a no brainer. He was witty as ever, but was surprisingly sweet and vulnerable in parts, too.
Liesl Gibson
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. Had no idea about the topic (aside from running, obviously), but found it very timely to my present life. And maybe, after finishing it, I'll be a little more diligent in my own running. But I'm still a jogger. No marathons, no races for me, doesn't matter what you say. ...more
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jacques Bezuidenhout
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Picked up this book based on it being a running book. Not knowing the author or his shows.

Yes most of the book is centred around running, but it ended up being more of a personal / mid-life memoir of Peter. It is plainly put about Life. And Life happens. Each of us have our own things that happen during life, and we cope in certain ways.

This book is not about someone constantly succeeding, actually it is with about someone mostly struggling in situations, and dealing with it.

I did like the runni
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