Jim Ryun is coming to speak at the library on May 20th! Sign up to come see him, then lace up your running shoes and hit the trails. Afterward, you can recover and relax with a good running book.
Long before “Couch to 5K” and other training programs became popular, there was Jeff Galloway. He ran in the 1984 Olympics, but has spent his post-competitive career promoting running and training for the rest of us mere mortals. Books like Galloway’s 5K and 10K Running and his website both provide quality training programs and advice.
Lopez Lomong was a “lost boy of Sudan” before emigrating to the United States, running at an up-state NY high school, and eventually representing the US in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. In Running for my Life Lopez tells his own inspiring story with both insight and humor.
Currently, the most successful distance coach in the world is Alberto Salazar. His incredible life story is chronicled in 14 Minutes, another terrific running read.
Mile Markers: The 26.2 Most Important Reasons Why Women Run by Kristin Armstrong and Kara Goucher’s Running for Women both offer training strategies, stories, and motivational ideas.
And finally, we move to fiction. John Parker’s cult classic Once a Runner is the greatest running novel ever written. Period.
Sometimes we forget that American literary classics are popular for a reason: they’re usually really good. Maybe we don’t like them because we HAD to read them in school and never recovered. Below are a few of my favorites, mostly from the 20th Century. Yes, I did make students read these when I was teaching high school English, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t great reads.
A new movie version of The Great Gatsby [trailer] comes out in theatres this Friday, May 10th. Fitzgerald wrote several good novels, but he also wrote many excellent short stories. Two of his earliest and best were “Berniece Bobs Her Hair” and “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz.”
Hemingway, also famous for his novels, wrote tremendous short stories too. I like “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” which you can find in The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway.
A number of southern women carved out a niche in the canon during the early part of the 20th Century, including Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Conner, Katherine Anne Porter, and Zora Neale Hurston. You can find story collections or novels by all of them in our library’s collection.
Finally, don’t forget possibly the two greatest American novels ever written: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. I know you read them in school, but the themes of both books still resonate today, and the writing is still fantastic. Hemingway once wrote, “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.” And To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the few novels where the movie is as good as the book – both classics. Check them out at the library today!
Have you heard about the new Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction? These Carnegie awards were established in 2012 to recognize the best fiction and nonfiction books for adult readers published in the U.S. the previous year. They are the first single-book awards for adult books given by the American Library Association, and serve as a guide to quality reading material. The 2013 winners will be announced this summer. But you can get a head start now on the six shortlisted titles! Please comment on which book you vote for in either category! (For the longlist of 50 titles, click here.)
The Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction finalists:
- Canada, by Richard Ford. “First, I’ll tell you about the robbery our parents committed.” So begins Ford’s riveting novel, an atmospheric and haunting tale of family, folly, exile, and endurance told in the precise and searching voice of Dell Parsons, a young man forced to navigate a harsh world.
- The Round House, by Louise Erdrich. In her fourteenth novel, Erdrich writes in the voice of a man reliving the fateful summer of his thirteenth year. Erdrich’s intimacy with her characters energizes this tale of hate crimes and vengeance, her latest immersion in the Ojibwe and white community she has been writing about for more than two decades.
- This Is How You Lose Her, by Junot Díaz. Fast paced and street-talking tough, Díaz’s stories unveil lives shadowed by prejudice and poverty and bereft of reliable love and trust. These are precarious, unappreciated lives in which intimacy is a lost art, masculinity a parody, and kindness, reason, and hope struggle to survive like seedlings in a war zone.
The Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction finalists:
- The Mansion of Happiness: A History of Life and Death, by Jill Lepore. From board games, including one called The Mansion of Happiness, to public-library children’s rooms to cryogenics, historian Lepore’s episodic inquiry into our evolving perceptions of life and death is full of surprises, irreverent wit, and arresting perceptions.
- Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis, by Timothy Egan. Popular historian Egan turns the life and work of master photographer Edward Curtis into a gripping and heroic story of one man’s commitment to the three-decade project that ultimately resulted in The North American Indian, a 20-volume collection of words and pictures documenting the Native American peoples of the American West.
- Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic, by David Quammen. Science writer Quammen schools readers in the fascinating if alarming facts about zoonotic diseases—animal infections that sicken humans, such as rabies and Ebola. Drawing on the dramatic history of virology, he profiles brave viral sleuths and recounts his own hair-raising field adventures. A vital, in-depth account offered in the hope that knowledge will engender preparedness.
I don’t know about you, but I am one of those people who, when I travel, always wonders if the hotel blankets are REALLY clean. I picked up Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky to get a behind-the-scenes look at what really goes on in in hotels. I found out everything I wanted to know, and more, but even better than that, I discovered a really well-written, smart, funny, and even sad book.
The full subtitle is A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality. Tomsky spent many years working as a front desk clerk in New York City and knows some truly hair-raising stories. I knew it would be full of interesting facts, but I was pleasantly surprised by how good the writing was. The stories of many of the people who work there were very touching and the personalities really came to life.
If you liked Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, you will love this book, too!