Recommended Fiction

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The Road by Cormac McCarthy

I like a book that makes me think and mull over the pages for days, months and even years to come. The Road is such a book. Although it is true that it’s one of the darkest, most depressing post apocalyptic stories you can find, it is impossible to escape the gifted writing style of McCarthy. Here is an example of the prose that drew me into the story:

“Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.”

Then, a surprise! The Road offers something unexpected in the form of hope. What I really appreciate is that the hope is up to interpretation by the reader. 

The Road is a journey. The reader never fully understands where the journey begins or where it ends but the process along the way is what matters. We witness a father and son in the worst conditions fighting to survive. The bond between them is silent but undeniable. Some of the most touching moments in the story are quiet little exchanges between them. It’s impossible to imagine the horrors the characters experience in The Road but through the reading of the story it’s good to take a deeper look at your life and the lives of those you love.

I recommend The Road because despite its dark content it is a story that gets a different reaction from everyone I know who has read it. I’ve never talked about the book to anyone in just a few quick words. The conversation always delves into personal reactions to the story, the graphically described horrors and the ending that keeps me and everyone else thinking.

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Recommended Non-Fiction

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Born to Run:  A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall

I have this unnatural fascination with stories about extreme athletes and risk-takers. Some of my favorite such reads include Lincoln Hall’s Dead Lucky:  Life After Death on Mount Everest, Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air:  A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster and Cheryl Strayed‘s Wild:  From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. This fascination is unnatural because I’m not exactly a thrill-seeker. I guess I could have been at one point because I always liked the scariest amusement park rides, I went backpacking with my then-boyfriend, now-husband, into the depths of the Sierra-Nevada mountains and climbed dangerously high things without hesitation. What changed? I guess having children put the fear of mortality into me. I think I’m drawn to these “devil-may-care” risk takers because the thought of possibly dying does nothing to slow them down!

Take this story as an example. In McDougall’s Born to Run, there are many stories within stories about men, women and even children who are willing to throw their bodies into the harshest conditions, over the longest periods of time (hours into many days…) over the roughest terrain, into the hottest of hot, all with the intent of…wait for it…finishing a race. I can’t really get my mind around it. I just dragged my family over 1,000 miles in a move north to get away from the Las Vegas heat! Therefore, I really do not understand the willing droves of humans characterized in these pages who are excited about participating in foot races over desert land with a crippling sun overhead and the threat of rattlesnakes and drug cartels at ground level. I guess I can settle on the concept of “to each his own” but my fascination remains. For me, these stories are the traffic accidents that I can’t stop staring at.

Born to Run is more than a story about courageous and determined runners. It is a story about a man, the author, who has the same affliction I have. He is fascinated by the super-athlete. Lucky for us he is gifted with the skill of telling the intriguing stories of these modern-day mega athletes. There are many moments that I have laughed out loud partly because of the described scene but mostly because the author has such a great gift for building up a story and setting the stage for a ridiculous chain of events. I shouldn’t be too surprised because Christopher McDougall is a Harvard University graduate and has written for The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Men’s Journal, Outside and Men’s Health.

In Born to Run, McDougall sets out to learn about the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico who regularly run incredibly long distances, injury free. After battling his own physical challenges, McDougall really wants to understand what the secret to these athletes are including why they never get hurt and why they are able to run so fast. This quest develops into an organized race that attracts ultramarathoners from all over the globe who are also interested in meeting these mysterious people and challenging them to a race.

The material these characters provide for great storytelling is unending, as is the humor and humanity we all witness through the eyes and words of Christopher McDougall. I highly recommend this book for anyone who has even a trace of adventure in his or her heart. Happy reading!

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Why the Blog?

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All the World’s a Page…a blog so named because your life is your story.

Books hold the stories of so many!

I love books and I also love reading what other people say about them! I hope my comments can help readers decide whether or not a book is worth checking out.

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