28 December 2009

That's what I'm talking about

Christmas, and a slew of new books. Even discounting duplicate gift books (thanks, boys!), nearly all the titles are about cycling adventures. Some good winter reading ahead ... a season when (a) I'm only riding indoors to begin with, and (b) I'm preparing for a different kind of adventure altogether.

Ha, just thinking of Violet, in "It's a Wonderful Life," asking George Bailey if he doesn't want to do more than just read about adventure. Well, yes, there is that danger, of settling for the adventures of others. So, I hope that reading tales of international, not to say extreme, cycling travel - new and old - will inspire rather than simply substitute.

But today's book is an adventure of another sort. Or of another sport, anyway.

For my birthday I received Haruki Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. The gift was inspired, no doubt, by my registering for my first marathon [about this, much more in the coming weeks] and my delight in being introduced to Murakami this past summer. I'd heard the name for a long time, with a son and some friends already huge fans. Preparing for a trip to Portland in July, I could not get from the library the typical "hot" titles. (Turns out, this is a problem at libraries all over the place. Apparently to read Murakami, one must buy the books or be a very patient library patron.) So, what I chose in the end was his first international best-seller, A Wild Sheep Chase. I'll leave the waxing eloquent about Murakami to others. Sufficient here to say - I was hooked on this fascinating author.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running came to me after I registered for the Big Sur International Marathon, but before I began actual training for it. It is inspiring, but not only for running. I would actually say, not primarily for running or maybe even not inspiring to me as a new runner. It's a good, gentle, humble memoir of a fascinating life ... written by a man who is downplaying his fascinating life. As a runner, he has completed many marathons and a few triathalons as well. (It's a demonstration of my commitment to cycling, I suppose, that when he writes about the cycling part of triathalons, my interest is tweaked even higher, and that I find myself taking issue with his personal preference for running over the bike!)

I'll certainly re-read this, and probably before April 25, when I run my first marathon. The combination of beautiful writing (the novelist), the simple lessons of sport (the athlete), and the perspective of a cosmopolitan from Asia (the world traveler/teacher) made this the best read of the fall for me ... and the quickest, too!

No comments: