Reading Blog Update #1

In an attempt to get more stuff posted on this blog(since I don’t update that often) I’m going to try to start posting updates on what I’ve been doing lately, things I’ve been reading blah, blah, blah.  Doing this serves two purposes:

1. To attempt to make a platform for myself and get into the habit of updating, which I stink at.

2. And two, give my mom something to read when she checks this, which is a lot.  I know.  Don’t try to deny it, mom.

So the books I’ve most recently read are:

Born to Run:   By Christopher McDougall

and

The Merlin Conspiracy: By Dianna Wynne Jones

Born to Run:

First off, I don’t read a lot of non-fiction and when I do it’s usually about things I’m really interested at the time.  A blooming interest, a continuing hobby and the like.  This book was a mix.  I’ve been a runner since after high school when I went off to college and stopped playing soccer.  Running was, surprisingly, very enjoyable for me so that became my main exercise escape.

Enter problems:  My knee started hurting a few months ago and no matter how much I thought I trained I couldn’t go over ten miles without having to stop once and being super sore the next day.
I’d heard about this barefoot/minimalist running for a little while but hadn’t paid it much thought until this book kept getting mentioned.  I picked it up and tore through it.

The book revolves around the Tarahumara, a secluded tribe of super runners in northwest Mexico.  Apparently, unhindered by cushy running shoes, the Tarahumara manage to single handedly run the length of five marathons without getting injured.  And they do this for fun.

McDougall goes to Mexico to find these runners and dig up the lost secrets to running longer, faster and pain free.  I took his advice in his book and wow!  The difference has been great.  A slight disclaimer: since the book encourages barefoot or very minimal shoes for running, and since I’ve worn cushy ones for most of my life, the transition period is long and can by uncomfortable if not done right.  But it’s worth it.

At the end of it all, the Tarahumara, a wonderfully detailed history of running and descriptions of what modern runners are doing wrong, McDougall witnesses one of the greatest races ever known to man.  Except hardly anybody knew about it.

A wonderful read for runners and wonderful for those just curious for a good story and some history of running (And some evolutionary theories; those are there too).  I don’t usually read non-fiction but I highly recommend this.

And next, The Merlin Conspiracy, a somewhat more modern story by Dianna Wynne Jones.

I have to say that I love classics.  Narnia, Roald Dahl, Lord of the Rings, though sometimes the old writing style gets to me. Now this is not as ‘classic’ as Tale of Two Cities or Jane Eyre, but it’s not the most modern book.  The style of writing  is not the most contemporary but it’s a fun read.

The book is longer than the previous ones I’ve read like Howl’s Moving Castle and House of Many Ways, and as such has a much more developed story.  Her imagination is endless and, though there are a few things that require me to really think hard to get what she’s describing, her descriptions are vivid and colorful.

Nick and Roddy are the two characters in this tale and the two switch off points of view very much like the Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordian if any body has ever read those.  The characters give us a good look inside their head as the two separate characters work on opposite sides of many different world’s to try to stop an evil resurrection.  Magic and Portals, Dragons and Elephants are very much alive in this book.

As always the characters are genius and loveable and leave you wanting more (which is good since Jones has a ton of books out).  The only gripe I have about books of this kind, meaning slightly older style books, is that I don’t really bond with the characters quite as much as I’d like.  Maybe it’s because it’s not a series and you don’t get to see the characters again and again and learn more about their past, but I feel back story and showing a different, more sensitive and raw side of characters is important to really connect with them on a deeper level. The characters in this book were fantastic but I couldn’t help thinking they were a little one dimensional.  Maybe that’s just me.  Your thoughts?

Both books are wonderful reads and will provide plenty of entertainment for the young and old.

Sean

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