Saturday, January 26, 2013


I have gotten fatally behind on logging light reading, mostly because quite a bit of it was undistinguished!

I finished the rest of the Inger Ash Wolfe books (psychologically implausible and with serial killers like nothing that has ever walked the earth, but the writing is otherwise appealing); read several crime novels by Julia Spencer-Fleming; Jennifer McMahon's The One I Left Behind, which I liked a good deal in spite of it again having an implausible serial killer at its heart; Alan Russell's Shame, ditto; Michael Prescott's The Shadow Hunter (dreadful); Grant Jerkins's The Ninth Step (not bad); Alex Berenson's The Faithful Spy (not my preferred kind of thriller, as it follows too many different characters, but good of its kind); and Robert Crais's Suspect (thin in terms of the mystery plot, but gripping as it concerns the relationship between man and dog in K-9 patrol - really very appealing indeed, and especially recommended to those who like reading books with an animal as one of the main characters).

Also, a book that was pretty much as preposterous as I thought it would be - I do not at all buy the basic account of human motivation, either general or specific to the two main characters, and I dislike the melodramatic tinge - and yet it is nonetheless a gripping read, Matt Fitzgerald's Iron War: Dave Scott, Mark Allen, and the Greatest Race Ever Run. (Here's how the book's subjects responded to the portrait; thoughtful further comments by Dan Empfield here.)

I still think that if you're only going to read one book about endurance sport and you have at all of an interest in the underlying questions of physiology, the best single book has to be Jack Daniels' Running Formula. I am also very partial to 'Doc' Counsilman's The Science of Swimming - really I am enough of an academic and intellectual in my heart of hearts that though I rot my brain with hundreds of trashy novels every year, I really would always rather read a book of substance than a book of fluff - I particularly dislike popularizations and watered-down versions when there is a high-quality and reasonably accessible straight-from-the-source version.

Spa month is coming to an end. I had two pieces of work I had to finish yesterday and it was actually very satisfying to be sinking my teeth back into a real job; I'm going to have a massive training week this coming week, then fly back to New York the following Monday and ramp things back down a bit while I reacclimate to normal life (there will be some school obligations this semester in spite of the fact that I'm not teaching). Am resolved to have at least a "spa week" a couple times a year even if I cannot always spare a whole month! The crucial thing will be to reconceptualize the first half of January and the first half of June not as times to crank out some massive piece of writing that I don't have vim to complete during a teaching semester but rather as times for rest and recovery; this will entail a fairly dramatic change of attitude, I am sure it is easier said than done, but I really am going to try and make it happen....

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