2013 Book shelf

Better late than never, and sorry I’ve stopped writing about each book I read.  Been a little busy.

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No Better Time is the fantastic story of Daniel Lewin, and brings back memories of the early days of Akamai…

Yes, I admit it — I got sucked into the Warriors series of cat books because my 11 year old daughter was reading it!  I started and couldn’t put them down.  But there are something like 40 more, and I will not be reading those.

Read The Hunger Games again after watching the 1st movie a 2nd time, before the 2nd movie was released, and then watching the 2nd movie.  Really wanted to go back and compare. Started re-reading the 2nd book, but never finished it.

The Hundred Dresses and Mr. Popppers Penguines are 5th grade reading at HRCA, and I’m reading all of those books along with Riley.

Had to read Life of Pi before watching the movie.

Paleo Manifesto is excellent and is not a typical paleo book in anyway.

I still can’t believe the Holy or the Broken — an entire book about Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah.”

I am Malala is great.

Once a Runner was a re-read, but the “pre-quel” (by 20 years!) to Once Again to Carthage, and I wanted to read the 1st as a refresher before starting the 2nd.

There were a bunch of other books I started but did not finish, or that I’m still working through.




Life of Pi. Yann Martel.

It’s not often that I will read a book with just one passing comment from a Facebook friend.  But that is what I did this time, so I had literally no idea what the book was about.  And even after part I I had no idea what part II was going to turn into!  It was a fun read and I’d like to see the movie sometime soon…


2012 Reading List

I definitely “fell off the wagon” a bit in 2012 in terms of reading…  I suppose I needed a bit of a break from some of the “deeper” reading I’ve done in the past, thus the higher count of “easy” fiction like The Foundation Books, the Hunger Games series, and Ender’s game and following.  I started a few other books that I never finished, but I will work on them in 2013!

The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Brian Selznick.



Riley brought this home from the Library as part of the book of the month club.  We had already seen the movie, which I loved.  The book is beautiful — the hand drawn images are used to tell the story, as are the written words, and it flows really well.  I would add this book/movie combo to the list of those in which I like the movie better than the book…  There was just some small nuances of the movie that I liked better than the book, but I won’t reveal them here.  Contact also falls into that category, and perhaps no others do.

It Starts With Food. Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.

I’d have to say this has replaced “The Perfect Health Diet” as the first book I’d recommend to someone interested in the ancestral health movement (aka paleo diet), though PHD would be second.  🙂  I just received “Practical Paleo” in the mail but at 420+ pages of condensed info, that is going to take a while to work through!  It is getting great reviews, though, and I do like the Balanced Bites Podcast a lot…

I won’t review It Starts with Food as others have done a much better job than I could (Wolf, That Paleo Guy, Kresser, etc.)

But I will include their elevator pitch here, as just that is worth reading…

I eat real food – fresh, natural food like meat, vegetables and fruit.  I choose foods that are nutrient-dense, with lots of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, over foods that have more calories but less nutrition.  And food quality is important – I’m careful about where my meat, seafood and eggs come from, and buy organic local produce as often as possible.

This is not a “diet” – I eat as much as I need to maintain strength, energy, activity levels and a healthy body weight.  I aim for well-balanced nutrition, so I eat both animals and a significant amount of plants.  I’m not lacking carbohydrates – I just get them from vegetables and fruits instead of bread, cereal or pasta.  And my meals are probably higher in fat than you’d imagine, but fat is a healthy source of energy when it comes from high-quality foods like avocado, coconut and grass-fed beef.

Eating like this is ideal for maintaining a healthy metabolism and reducing inflammation within the body.  It’s good for body composition, energy levels, sleep quality, mental attitude and quality of life.  It helps eliminate sugar cravings and reestablishes a healthy relationship with food.  It also works to minimize your risk for a whole host of lifestyle diseases and conditions, like diabetes, heart attack, stroke and autoimmune.

The Art of Slowing Down. EdwardYu.

The most important running book you’ve (probably) never heard of.

Granted, I’ve not done all the exercises yet, but I’m working my way through the book a second time and will start some of them.  I do think I have a bit of a head start from the years of yoga I used to do (and miss now), that gave me a pretty good body awareness… But these exercises look like a different methodology and I would like to read more about Fendelkrais…

Eat & Run. Scott Jurek.

This was a book I had planned on NOT reading.  I had seen it mentioned in a few places, and saw Jurek promoting it on Twitter and on various blogs, but I just didn’t have much interest.  While I consider myself an ultrarunner, I’m in a much different place with diet than Scott.  Or so I thought…  (More on that below…)  But then I saw a couple of good comments on it here and there, grabbed the kindle sample, and was immediately hooked.  There’s something about reading race reports that I’ve always been drawn to, and while this was much more than just race reports, there was enough excitement in his recaps of Badwater, Western States, etc., that I was sold.

Regarding diet, I am certainly in a much different place…  Jurek has been a vegan for a long time, while I’m much more in the Paleo/Primal world these days, though I wouldn’t quite put myself fully in that camp.  I suppose if I had to identify myself, it would be similar to the diet outlined in Mark Sisson’s The Primal Blueprint (paleo +  some dairy w/ the 80% rule (eat this way 80% of the time)) and I also really like the Paul Jaminet’s The Perfect Health Diet.  But then again I mix in some SCD/GAPS/Weston A Price concepts as well, which Chris Kresser is high on.   But certainly not vegan!   However, as far as vegan diets go, I think Jurek has it right…  While he eats many things I probably would not be interested in, some of the foods I see as problematic he treats the way our ancestors did — soaking and sprouting grains and beans is just one example.

I seek out traditional whole foods rather than highly refined meat substitutes. I look for products that have been sprouted, soaked, or fermented to help break down the indigestible cellulose in plant cell walls. Among soy sources, I favor tempeh, miso, and sprouted tofu, which are all more digestible and have less phytoestrogen (a naturally occurring substance that some—in spite of medical evidence to the contrary—suspect might mimic estrogen’s effects in humans) than isolated soy protein. I eat sprouted-grain breads and tortillas, and at home I often soak my whole grains and beans before cooking.

My biggest challenge in plant-based eating isn’t taking in enough protein but taking in enough calories to replace those I burn on my training runs. I make a big effort to include enough calorie-dense foods in my diet—nuts and nut butters, seeds, avocados, starchy root vegetables, coconut milk, and oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, and sesame oil.

If he just added a little meat, I’d be on board.  🙂    A meat eating vegetarian is probably the best way to eat, and by that I mean just eliminate all the processed carbs and refined foods… Fruit, veggies, and well sourced meat seems to be what works best.  Jurek even mentions this in a few places, though he doesn’t quite go that far.  He talks about the problems with industrial farming of animals and how it was different for his grandparents…  But he never explicitly says he would eat that way now.  Overall he’s the least “in-your-face” vegan I’ve ever read…

But it was really the racing part of the book that I loved.   Jurek is an incredible runner, and had some amazing runs and amazing comebacks, when he seemed at the brink of disaster… Only to get up, get moving, and eventually win.  And sometimes win really big!  Amazing….

One thing that scares me is that UTMB defeated him twice, though he eventually finished — in 18th place.  I’d have to put UTMB at the top of the races I dream about running some day…  Maybe even above Leadville.

Some quotes… including some that I will use as mantra’s on some future run:

We might not have been as experienced as the other teams, and we definitely weren’t as well equipped, but we were focused. Coach had only three commandments: Be in shape. Work hard. Have fun. They were the perfect fundamentals for a bunch of poor redneck Minnesotans. His motto was, “Pain only hurts.”

According to bushido, the best mind for the battlefield—or the race—is that of emptiness, or an empty mind. This doesn’t mean sleepiness or inattention; the bushido concept of emptiness is more like that rush of surprise and expansiveness you get under an ice-cold waterfall. The empty mind is a dominant mind. It can draw other minds into its rhythm, the way a vacuum sucks up dirt or the way the person on the bottom of a seesaw controls the person on the top. When I hear a runner say he “runs his own race,” what I hear is bushido. Bushido is letting go of the past and the future and focusing on the moment. As Thoreau, an American practitioner (though he probably didn’t realize it) of bushido and a pretty good distance walker himself, wrote, “Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers . . . simplicity, simplicity, simplicity.” I created my own bushido exercises. I stood in icy rivers to strengthen my mind’s control over my body. I sat cross-legged and meditated, visualizing my breath, focusing.

And yet ultrarunners—even the fiercest competitors—grow to love each other because we all love the same exercise in self-sacrifice and pursuit of transcendence. Because that’s what we’re all chasing—that “zone” where we are performing at the peak of our abilities. That instant when we think we can’t go on but do go on. We all know the way that moment feels, how rarely it occurs, and the pain we have to endure to grab it back again. The longer an ultrarunner competes, I believe, the more he grows to love not only the sport, not only his fellow ultrarunners, but people in general. We all struggle to find meaning in a sometimes painful world. Ultrarunners do it in a very distilled version.

I’ve got a bunch of other quotes in my Evernote notebook, but that is good for now.  Enjoy!

Welcome to the Book of Common Prayer. Vicki K. Black.

As some of you may know, we recently started attending an Anglican church (the reasons for which I won’t get into on this blog).  As part of that switch, I want to learn more about the Book of Common Prayer, which is used constantly in the Anglican Church.   This little book by Vicki Black is a great starting point for the history of the BCP, though it does not get into actual methods for using the BCP.

I’ll just include the following Instagram Photo I took of one passage for this “review:”

(Note the BCP is also used by the Episcopalian Church…)

Born to Run. Christopher McDougall. (2nd read)

After reading the excellent NY Times article on Micah True, aka Caballo Blanco, I had to go back and read the book that all started with the crazy race he put on in Mexico, Born To Run.  The 1st time I  read this book, I  thought it was about Ultra-running, and it is, but it also is considered the kick starter for the barefoot/minimalist running revolution.  I was already running barefoot and in VFF’s at the time and had no idea they’d be featured in the book…  On this reading, I admit I skimmed the long(ish) chapters on barefoot running vs. shoes and the evolutionary theory of humans as runners… I was more interested in the story of Caballo, as well as the Leadville races and the Copper Canyons run…

Just like the first reading when I was about to head out on a 24 hour adventure race, tomorrow I head to the mountains fo a 24 hour run.  Should be interesting.  🙂

One thing that really struck me was the quote from Caballo that ends the book in light of how he died — alone and on a run in the wilderness:

“When I get too old to work, I’ll do what Geronimo would’ve if they’d left him alone…. I’ll walk off into the deep canyons and find a quiet place to lie down.”

A nit pick:  McDougall, on p. 173, talks about impact with running at 12x body weight…. Most of what I’ve seen puts it at 2-3x, and when I ran on a force-plate treadmill I was just over 2x at 2.08x.  I think anyone who’s read McDougall knows he embellishes a lot – that’s one of the things that makes this book so good!  But 12x vs. 3x is a huge difference!

I guess I still need to read Dharma Bums by Kerouac… “Try the meditation of the trail, just walk along looking at the trail at your feet and don’t look about and just fall into a trance as the ground zips by…  Trails are like that:  you’re floating along in a Shakespearian Arden paradise and expect to see nymphs and fluteboys, then suddenly your’re struggling in a hot broiling sun of hell in dust and nettles and poison oak… just like life.”

Quote:  “You can’t hate the Beast and expect to beat it; the only way to truly conquer something, as every great philosopher and geneticist will tell you, is to love it.”  (The beast is the fatigue and suffering that comes with ultra running…)

Born to Run is a great read….  For me, mostly for the story of the races, and not so much the barefoot running or evolutionary theories of running…