Fitzgerald, Matt. Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance. Boulder, Colorado: Velo, 2009.
So. I may get a ration of crap from some people for reading this book. I will lay it all out there: I am 5’2″ (barely), weigh anywhere from 117 – 121lbs and have had a steady BMI of 22.1 since December 30th, 2013. I am average in every sense of the word. I am not a competitive runner so why the hell do I want to research racing weight? I can hear my loved ones right now, “you are fine the way you are!” I picked up this book because I was curious. Bottom line: curious. Then I was hooked on an idea. Hooked, as in Hook. Line. Sinker. What would happen if I tried to lose a few pounds of fat? What would happen if I became a little leaner? I am, after all, training for a 10k next month…
But. But! But, my little 10k is not what Fitzgerald had in mind, I’m sure. He was writing to endurance athletes with something a little bigger than a measly 10k on their minds. I get that. I was only curious about the types of foods these super people ate. People like Ryan Hall… Bottom line, this is a great book for those a little more serious minded than myself. I picked up a couple of great tips, but it didn’t become my bible.
Reason read: training.
Author fact: Matt has his own (very interesting) website here.
Book trivia: Fitzgerald covers more sports than just running.
I am looking forward to March for many reasons. March is the St. Patrick’s Day road race. I don’t talk about it as much here as I do over there, but I am excited all the same. March is my mental month of turning a corner. Winter is making a subtle exit out the back door and spring is just about to come knocking. This is the time of year when I look to flowers and gardens and growth. And speaking of growth, here are the books:
- Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin* (April)
- Andorra by Peter Cameron (November)
- Any Four Women Can Rob the Bank of Italy by Ann Cornelisen (November)
- Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler (July)
- Art Student’s War by Brad Leithauser (May)
- Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman (September)
- Beaufort by Ron Leshem* (November)
- Beirut Blues by Hanan al-Shaykh (August)
- Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks* (June)
- Black Lamb and Gray Falcon by Rebecca West (July)
- Bluebird Canyon by Dan McCall (September)
- Call It Sleep by Henry Roth (May)
- Captain Sir Richard Burton by Edward Rice (October)
- Caroline’s Daughters by Alice Adams (August)
- Cradle of Gold by Christopher Heaney (November)
- Culture of Disbelief by Stephen Carter (October)
- Dancer with Bruised Knees by Lynne McFall (June)
- Dark Sun by Richard Rhodes (July)
- Earthly Possessions by Anne Tyler (June)
- Eye of the World by Robert Jordan* (October)
- Faith Fox by Jane Gardam* (July)
- First Man by Albert Camus (June)
- Fordlandia by Greg Gandin (August)
- Georges’ Wife by Elizabeth Jolley (April)
- Gesture Life by Chang-rae Lee (August)
- Grass Dancer by Susan Power (November)
- Hall of a Thousand Columns by Tim Mackintosh-Smith (July)
- History Man by Malcolm Bradbury (September)
- House of Morgan by Ron Chernow (April)
- In a Strange City by Laura Lippman (October)
- Inside Passage by Michael Modselewski (June)
- Inspector Ghote Breaks an Egg by H.R.F. Keating (May)
- Jewel in the Crown by Paul Scott* (May)
- Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges (August)
- Long Way From Home by Frederick Busch (August)
- Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan (May)
- Raw Silk by Janet Burroway (September)
- Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro* (August)
- Rose Cafe by John Hanson Mitchell (April)
- Rose of Martinique by Andrea Stuart (June)
- Thousand Ways to Please a Husband by Weaver/LeCron (September)
- Winners and Losers by Martin Quigley (April)
- You Get What You Pay For by Larry Beinhart (November)
*Planned as audio books
Here are the many, many books that are on the list for this March:
- Angels Weep by Wilbur Smith
- Careless Love by Peter Gurlink
- Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan*
- Flower and the Nettle by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
- Illumination Night by Alice Hoffman (March)
- ADDED: Life in the Air Ocean by Sylvia Foley
- ADDED: Running for Mortals by John Bingham
- ADDED: Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald
- ADDED: Run or Die by Kilian Jornet
- After the Dance by Edwidge Danticat
- Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow*
- Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro
- Benjamin Franklin: an American Life by Walter Isaacson
- Bring Me a Unicorn by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
- Cabin Fever by Elizabeth Jolley
- Civil Action by Jonathan Harr
- Eighth Day by Thornton Wilder
- Falcon Flies by Wilbur Smith*
- Feast of Love by Charles Baxter
- Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
- It Looked Like Forever by Mark Harris
- Last Train to Memphis by Peter Guralink
- Men of Men by Wilbur Smith
- Now Read This II by Nancy Pearl
- Ocean of Words by Ha Jin
- Palladian Days by Sally Gable*
- Professor and the Housekeeper by Yoko Ogawa
- Sword at Sunset by Rosemary Sutcliff
I found my second “impossible to find” book. Power Without Glory by Frank Hardy. Several libraries across the country own it but are unwilling to share it. It was wildly popular in Australia in the 1950s, but not so anymore…to the point that no one will lend it without changing a fee. Bummer.
Bingham, John and Jenny Hadfield. Running for Mortals: a Commonsense Plan for Changing Your Life Through Running. New York: MJF Books, 2007.
If I could, I would read everything John Bingham has ever written on the subject of running. He is, without a doubt, my kind of runner. He writes with authority and humor, something that’s hard to do in this puffed up, I-Run-12-Marathons-A-Year world. He comes across as knowing his stuff but, but. But! decidedly humble about it all the while. We can connect and commiserate with his experiences. It is important to note that both John and Jenny assure the
reader runner that it doesn’t matter how tall you are, how thin you are, or your previous experiences with exercise. Anyone can do it. That bears repeating: Anyone. Can Do. It. I am proof of that. To be called a runner, there is no membership. No secret password or secret handshake to get in. If you run then you are a runner. Plain and Simple. John and Jenny just help you become a better version of the runner you already are.
Reason read: the St. Patrick’s Day road race is looming and while I “trained” last year for it, I wanted to do more this year.
Author fact: John Bingham is lovingly referred to as “the penguin” because of his shape and the way he runs. He has embraced this nickname and makes the best of it.
Book trivia: there are no pictures of either John or Jenny in Running for Mortals (that I know of), but there are pictures of exercises (probably more important to the serious-minded reader).
Jolley, Elizabeth. Cabin Fever. New York: Harper Perennial, 1990.
We don’t really move forward chronologically in this “sequel” to My Father’s Moon. When we last left Vera, she was a single mother dealing with her own overbearing mother. The story bounced between Vera’s present and her past. Cabin Fever is more of the same, only with more detail about the time period. In this installment Vera is in New York for a conference but for almost all of the plot we are in the past, when Vera is a new mother trying to make ends meet. She is still as sad and lonely as she ever was. It is at this point that we learn Vera’s mother made Vera change her baby’s name from Beatrice to Helena. We also learn more about the affair between Vera and Dr. Metcalf, a doctor she worked with at the hospital. Vera bounces from one live-in nanny/housekeeper situation to another until she lands at the Georges residence (enter sequel number three). Brother and sister live together and already have a live-in, Nora. Vera finds a way to stay in the house by filling another need of the household. I’ll leave that bit unspoken. You just have to read it to find out…
Quotes that moved me, “Playful spinsters and exuberant lesbians give birth and special seminars are held to discuss the phenomenon of these people wanting to keep their babies” (p 6), “In my secret game of comparisons Bulge us far worse than I am in every respect, her hair, her stockings, her spectacles, and her shape” (p 12),
Confessional: because I didn’t really like Vera in My Father’s Moon I wasn’t looking forward to her story in Cabin Fever. By the end of Cabin Fever I didn’t learn to like her any better. There is a scene towards the end (p 164) when Vera’s daughter is crying. Vera doesn’t go to comfort her. All she can do is watch her four-year-old from across the room. It’s really sad.
Reason read: Cabin Fever continues the series I started earlier in February to honor of Jolley’s passing.
Author fact: According the the back flap of Cabin Fever Jolley conducted writing workshops in prisons. I find that so fascinating.
Book trivia: Cabin Fever is the second book in the Vera Wright Trilogy.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Australia, the Land of Oz: fiction” (p 30). As with My Father’s Moon, Cabin Fever has nothing to do with Australia. Jolley started writing after she moved there. So, I guess it’s like the Olympics. You can represent a country even though you weren’t born there. You just have to have some connection to it.
Guralnick, Peter. Careless Love: the Unmaking of Elvis Presley. New York: Back Bay Books, 1999.
If in Last Train to Memphis Elvis Aron Presley was a shy, quiet kid with diamond-in-the-rough talent, for all appearances he is now a cocky, self-assured music and movie star in Careless Love. All of the makings of a good rock and roll star are there: sex, drugs and money. At this stage of the game Elvis is dating more women than he can keep track of, taking upppers and diet pills to keep up with the party-til-3am lifestyle, and spending boatloads of money all the while. By the time he is in his early 30s he has bought his entourage push carts, motorcycles and horses. “In all he managed to pay out well over $1000,000 in approximately two weeks, an orgy of spending that seemed to momentarily pacify Elvis…” (p 252). His sincerity gets lost in the mayhem and only resurfaces when he remembers his deceased mother. His mother brings out the best in him. Without her, his struggle to know himself is heartbreaking. Yet, what he really does knows is how to work the public, especially the ladies. Guralnick doesn’t shy from this fact. He is unflinching in his quest for the truth of the legacy. He captures Presley’s demise as the epic tragedy that it was.
Quote that shocked me, “Elvis had told her before they were married that he had never been able to make love to any woman he knew to have had a child…” (p 291).
Reason read: January was Elvis Presley’s birth month. Careless Love is the second volume of Last Train to Memphis.
Author fact: Guralnick has his own website here.
Book trivia: Careless Love was a New York Times Best Seller.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called, “Elvis On My Mind” (p 78). Simple enough.
Chernow, Ron. Alexander Hamilton. Read by Grover Gardiner. New York: Penguin Audio, 2004.
Ron Chernow is the master architect when building biographies. His reconstruction of Alexander Hamilton’s life is as detailed as it is complete. Chernow had plenty to work with as Hamilton’s early years were as rich with intrigue as his later political years. But, Chernow doesn’t stop there. Besides given a thorough snapshot of the political and historical times, he dips into the biographies of the influential people around Hamilton as well: John Adams, George Clinton, Elizabeth Schuyler, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and of course, Aaron Burr, to name a few. As an aside, I was surprised to learn that Hamilton enjoyed settling disputes with duels. He was quick to suggest them, enough so that his encounter with Burr was not the first, but definitely his last.
Reason read: Typically, we celebrate Presidents’ Day in February and even though Hamilton was not a president (his candidacy was denied), he was a founding father and an instrumental adviser to George Washington.
Author fact: Chernow also wrote Titan and The House of Morgan bot of which are on my list.
Book trivia: Alexander Hamilton is dedicated to, “Valerie, best of wives and best of women.” So sweet.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Founding Fathers” (p 92).
Smith, Wilbur. Men of Men. New York: Doubleday & co., 1983.
Because Men of Men picks up where Flight of the Falcon left off we rejoin Zouga Ballantyne. Now he is ten years older and married to a society girl named Aletta. Despite many miscarriages she has given him two boys, Ralph and Jordan. Somehow Zouga has convinced his family to join him in Africa where he is still searching for riches, only this time instead of elephants and gold it is diamonds. His eldest son, Ralph, is exposed to gambling, violence and prostitution at sixteen, literally coming of age in the bush. It’s Ralph we continue to follow for the most of Men of Men although most characters from Flight return. Robyn, Mungo, Clinton and Charoot, to name a few. In reality, it is everyone’s greed we bear witness to. As with all of Smith’s other books, Men of Men is rich with African history and adventure as well as strong characters, only there are more of them to play with.
Typical quotes, “It was a beautiful stabbing, a glory which men would sing about” (p 291),
Reason read: Men of Men continues the series started with Flight of the Falcon in December. Read in honor of Rhodesia’s Shangani Day.
Author fact: Wilbur Smith’s middle name is Addison. What a cool name!
Book trivia: Wilbur uses the same picture for his photo on the dust jacket. Except this photo has been darkened a little so there is a strange shadow across half his face.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Zipping Through Zimbabwe/Roaming Rhodesia” (p 268).