Tag Archives: Book reviews

Born to Run

Born to Run has been recommended to me a few times in the past few months so I thought I should pick it up. I finally started listening to the audio version of the book yesterday and I could barely stop listening. It’s an excellent book! At least so far. It’s about the author, Christopher McDougall’s search for the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico. A search that began with a visit to his physical therapist when he was having foot pain from running three miles every other day. The doctor’s suggestion was to stop running. McDougall didn’t accept this as an answer. He was drawn to running; the primal aspect of it. The fact that running is what we do when we are both very afraid of something and it is what we do when we are ecstatic (look at kids running around on a playground).

I still have to read most the book but I’m really enjoying it so far. I find myself drawn to running for these exact reasons. I’ve been  runner for most of my life, sidelined by injury much of the time as well.

Reading this first chapter made me think about my own running history and what I personally like about it. What keeps me coming back.

I was introduced to running by my parents. They were both avid runners back in the seventies when running was the big thing. I saw how it made them feel and I wanted some of those good feelings myself. So I was enrolled in a rotary track club when I was in fourth grade.  I loved it. I wasn’t much into the “field” part of track and field. It was more the track that I loved. I tried various things. I started with the hurdles and liked it until I tripped on one and decided I wanted nothing more of that. So I focused on sprinting. I ended up excelling in the 100 yard and the relays. I was forced to pick a field event so I chose the long jump because it gave me another excuse to run fast.

And I was fast. I still remember the feeling I got when I was sprinting. It was amazing. It was like I entered this state where my legs would disconnect with the rest of my body and just took on a life of their own. I would let them fly. And they did. And I would win race after race after race.

It was kind of funny. Before a race would start the other girls would size each other up. I could feel them looking at me and thinking, “I’ve got nothing to worry about with this one” and I would smile to myself. Then the gun would sound and I would beat them. And they would look at me with astonishment and think “what the hell just happened?” I would would kind of wonder the same thing. I normally didn’t have much self confidence so the fact that I was actually good at this was kind of surprise.  It felt good to win.

So I was in track through elementary school and when I got to junior high the track coach stopped me and said, “you’re joining the team, right?” and I told him I would. But you know what? I didn’t. I didn’t because there was this girl who joined track who was  a bully and I felt intimidated by her so I chickened out. I’ve regretted the decision ever since. I joined track in high school my freshman and and junior years but it was never the same. I had lost that wonderful feeling I got when I would sprint and let my legs fly.

So I guess that’s why I run. It’s THAT feeling. that letting go and letting your body do what it was made to do.

The Curve of Time by M. Wylie Blanchet

The Curve of Time by Blanchet

Enjoyment is always greatest when you have enough contrast to measure it by. - M. Wylie Blanchet (The Curve of Time)

I’ve been meaning to blog more about some of the great books I’ve read this year. Some of them are kind of obscure and I feel the need to share them.

One of those fabulous books is The Curve of Time by M. Wylie Blanchet. This was a book club selection for the Women’s book club at the library. I had never heard of it before. I’m so glad I was introduced to it. It’s a beautiful book.

It is considered a memoir but I think travelogue is a more accurate description.  It is written by M. Wylie Blanchet, whose husband died unexpectedly  leaving her with five  young children.   Not a lot of detail is given about the death of her husband. The “About the Author” section states that he was “presumed dead when he never returned from a day trip on the Caprice.” The boat was found and then became the scene for the stories in this book.

The stories take place in the 1920s an 1930s. I find that remarkable. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because she was a single mom during that time period. Maybe it’s because she wasn’t afraid to go out and have adventures on a boat with her kids. Wasn’t afraid to even get into some perilous situations. I like that she didn’t depend on the help of a man to fix the boat if it needed fixing. She was self sufficient and was able to handle the work herself. Was this rare for the 20s and 30s? I have this idea that it was. Regardless, she was a remarkable woman, even by today’s standards. I wouldn’t know the first thing about fixing a boat. And going on adventures where I could potentially be attacked by a bear? Forget about it.

As I was reading this book I searched for a map of the islands around Vancouver Island so I could see where all of the islands and inlets were that she was talking about.  I felt pulled into the stories and I found myself wanting to visit the area to see the places she writes about. But it’s not just the places that make the book so wonderful. It is the characters she meets, as well.  People and animals.

As I was reading this I couldn’t help but think of my great-grandmother, Laura Boucher. It was probably around the same time period, maybe a decade earlier that she went through something sort of similar. My great grandfather, Will Boucher moved her and their five (or six?) children up to Vancouver, B.C. so he could find work (doing what I can’t remember).  My great -grandfather died on one of those small islands up there while hunting. He was shot accidentally by his hunting partner. He was only in his thirties when he died and he left my great-grandmother with their five young children, a widowed and a  single parent.  I always imagined mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of my great-grandfather. Was it really an accident? Maybe it was a murder? But that is all speculation. The result of reading too many murder mysteries.  My great-great grandfather, Laura Boucher’s dad (Ben Boucher) went up to Vancouver to help her move back down to Couer d’Alene, Idaho, where the family was originally from. And that is where she lived until she died. She never remarried.

Anyway, back to the book. It was one of my favorites so far this year. I highly recommend it. I wish I could be a bit more descriptive but I’m afraid I would spoil the wonderful stories if I did. However, if you are in the mood for a well-written memoir from a phenomenal woman, as well as a travelogue that will allow your mind to drift away to an amazingly beautiful place,  you should get your hands on it.

Book Talk Saturday: Curse of the Bane

Curse of the Bane (The Last Apprentice / Wardstone Chronicles, Book 2) Curse of the Bane by Joseph Delaney

Curse of the Bane is book two of the Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney. Raf downloaded the series on audiobook and really enjoyed it so I thought I would give it a try. So far I’m loving it! Really great storytelling in these books so far.

Thomas Ward is the 7th son of a 7th son and, because of this, he is offered to The Spook as an apprentice. The County spook’s job is to rid the land of evil creatures like witches, ghosts and things of that nature. The problem is that Tom befriends a witch name Alice who constantly gets him into trouble.

In this particular book the Spook and Tom go up against The Bane. The whole county is in peril because of this creature. In the end, it is up to Tom to save his master and Alice from the Bane, as he goes head to head with this creature of pure evil.

As I said, great storytelling and quite scary. This is not for the youngsters who are faint of heart. However, there are some kids out there who like getting the bejesus scared out of them (I was one of them) and they will eat this series up.

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, #1) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Hunger Games takes place in Panem, a futuristic, dystopian version of the United States. Panem is ruled by The Capital and is surrounded by districts that are poor and, basically, survive to supply The Capital with all of their needs for their lavish lifestyle. In the recent past the districts rose up against in revolution against the Capital but did not succeed. To remind the districts of their failure they created “The Hunger Games.” Each person between the ages of (I think) 15 and 18 must put their names into a lottery. Then, each year a boy and a girl from each district is chosen to participate in these games. The games are very popular in the Capital and great care is taken  to create a lavish setting. The basic idea is that the last remaining survivor is the winner of the games. And, yes, part of that survival means killing your opponents.The districts are forced to watch the games.

So Katniss, the character of this story ends up participating in the Hunger Games when she decides to take the place of her sister who was chosen in the lottery. Peeta, the The baker’s son, is the boy chosen for district 12. Things get complicated when Peeta reveals that he has feelings for Katniss. Katniss decides to play this card because the audience loves good drama (they like to send gifts to their favorite players)  but then realizes that she might have feelings for him, as well. So what does she do? Does she kill him so that she can win? Or does she let herself die so Peeta can have a chance of being the winner?

I absolutely loved this book. Collins can write a fantastic, compelling story. And the characters were well drawn, to boot. I loved Katniss. She is strong and can take care of herself. I like that. I couldn’t recommend this book enough. It’s a fun read and you won’t want to put the book down until it is finished.

I will post my thoughts on the follow-up Catching Fire later, since this post is kind of long as it is.

Book talk: Catching Fire

Catching FireI mentioned yesterday that I got my hands on Catching Fire. I actually won a copy from Abby The Librarian,who writes  a fantastic blog about children’s librarianship and all things related. I seriously couldn’t believe that I had won. It was on a Monday and it was a wonderful way to start the week. I have been dying to read this book ever since I finished the Hunger Games. I am so grateful to have my hands on an advanced copy.

If you haven’t read The Hunger Games you absolutely must. It was my favorite book from last year. It was full of action and suspense and drama. There’s a nice little love triangle going on that’s fun. Katniss, the main character, is an awesome, female character (which I like). She kind of kicks ass over Bella from Twilight, if you ask me. But that’s just my opinion.

I didn’t give a proper review of the Hunger Games when I read it so I will work on that this week and post it here later on in the week. Then, when I finish Catching Fire, I’ll post my thoughts. So far, though, I am absolutely loving it. It’s just as good, if not better than, the Hunger Games.