Sunday, May 31, 2009

Closing tabs

The fact that I have read three of these five books about running (FT site registration required) makes me wonder whether that is because I am obsessively bookish or just obsessed with running. Simon Kuper is too hard on Murakami here, I think (I loved that book, though admittedly I am the perfect target audience for it), not at all too hard on Liz Robbins and quite right, too, about Christopher McDougall's Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. At first I was a little wary of McDougall's facetiousness and certain journalistic habits of chapter-structuring, but it is really a wonderful book, in the writing as well as in the subject matter - this one is strongly recommended if you have a serious interest in the physiology (especially the biomechanics) of distance running and/or the history of endurance sport. I read it in one sitting the other night, and wished it were longer.

Another book I read with absolute delight and in one sitting was Lee Child's latest Jack Reacher novel, Gone Tomorrow. I went so far as to have it Amazon Primed (along with Charlaine Harris's Dead and Gone) to my hotel in Florida so that I could read it on the plane home - I was cracking it open in the Orlando airport, and pretty much the next thing I knew, I was turning the last page as the plane began its descent into LaGuardia. Lee Child is a genius of light reading - in fact, I am hoping to channel a little of that genius as I inject some superior thriller-type pacing into my sequel rewrite...

Also: Rebecca Goldstein's The Mind-Body Problem, which I bought some time ago without quite realizing the extent to which it would fall under my self-imposed ban on reading academic novels. One year post-tenure, my disgust for such books has worn off - I needed a small light entertaining paperback to take with me on the subway the other day, and in fact I polished the rest of it off later that night with considerable enjoyment. It is an appealing and engaging novel, with some funny similarities to Fear of Flying; though I will say again that the academic novel I am most wanting to read is Terry Pratchett's Unseen Academicals, forthcoming in October (hmmm, maybe someone has an ARC for me?).

Other things that have struck me over the last couple days:

Nancy Drew as childhood role model for female Supreme Court Justices.

"Prediction is very difficult, especially of the future" (a review of Giles Foden's Turbulence, which it looks to me I should pick up a copy of in England in July - ditto Jake Arnott on the fictional lives of Aleister Crowley).

"Five crosses and the Rasmussen factor": belief in the overriding power of the female line in horsebreeding continues to characterize twenty-first-century American breeding practice...

Finally, Christopher Ricks very much likes Stanley Plumly's Posthumous Keats, and Oliver Sacks is speaking about hallucinations and the life of the visual brain on Wednesday at 5pm as part of the "Narrative Medicine Rounds" - might be that I should temporarily slip out of the coils of sequel-revising and triathlon training and go to that one...

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