Send me suggestions

I’ve just lost half an hour puttering around online trying to find a good book to bring on course with me.  Do you have any recommendations?  It needs to be paperback because I’ll be carrying it on my back for two weeks and I need to keep my pack weight down.   Eliot sliced the binding of one of my books once so he could take just a third of the book on a climbing trip.  I’ve mostly forgiven him, but I still eye him suspiciously when he packs for trips.  There’s lightweight, and then there’s desecration.  I’d prefer non-fiction.  I get to read so little these days that reading fiction feels too wildly indulgent to be enjoyable.  Really.  Biography.  History.  Humor.  Inspirational.  I’m not all that particular.  A book you would read twice if you had the time…  I won’t be running for about two weeks while I’m out there, so I’ll have some reading time and energy.  Reading by headlamp in a sleeping bag with a warm water bottle by my toes.  Very nice.

We’re out of coffee and I’m guzzling black tea this morning.  (Send help!) I can barely manage to get any thoughts together for you.  I think I’ll just leave off now and get to my core workout before Asa and Eliot get up.  Today’s going to disappear like yesterday did and I’ve got a “To Do” list the length of my leg to get done before I fly out tomorrow afternoon.

I’ll have to speed order any book you recommend that the San Antonio library doesn’t have, so send suggestions in the next 15 hours please.

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38 Responses to Send me suggestions

  1. Ted says:


    “The Perfect Mile”–a recent book about the breaking of the 4 minute mile barrier; it follows three athletes who were attempting it at the same time. (or “Four Minute Mile”–the original by Bannister”
    “Team of Rivals”–a history book that looks at the election of Lincoln and then how he shaped his administration (that sounds dull, but it’s really a great history book about Lincoln and his time)
    “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”–fiction (sort of)–the epic journey of a father and son on motorcycles while they explore the meaning of life.
    “Essays of Emerson”–just because the insights are amazing and the pace of the essays forces you to read slowly and reflect.
    “The Town at the End of the World”–fiction, but based on a true story: the setting is just toward the end of WWI and the influenza outbreak has hit the US (so there’s a little historical fudging here); a town decides to close itself off to all visitors to prevent the epidemic, and then…
    “Never Let Me Go”–fiction; it explores a somewhat dystopic near future (It’s hard to say more without revealing the first secret of the book.)
    “Year of the Flood” and “Oryx and Crake”–fiction; dystopic near future after a virus has killed most humans.
    “The Left Hand of Darkness”–fiction; an anthropologist has been sent to study people on a different planet–what’s different is that these people are always in the process of shifting from male to neutral to female.
    “Guns, Germs, and Steel”–non fiction; a look at how humans developed and why some civilizations grew more quickly than others (or, why it was that Spain invaded Central and South America, rather than vice versa).
    “Letters to a Young Poet”–Rilke’s reflections on creativity.
    “Pepys Diary”–this one is quirky–Pepys is one of the earlist diarists (he’d have been a great blogger): he’s living at the time of the English Civil War and the Great Fire of London.

    • Ted says:

      One more author: Connie Willis. “The Doomsday Book” and “Blackout” (which has the sequal of “All Clear”). In the near future, historians travel back in time to really study history. In “DB”, a young historian is accidently sent back to the time when the plague arrives in England. In “B” and “AC”, several historians are trapped in WWII England (during the Blitz, Dunkirk, the V1 and V2 attacks, and VE day). The mastery here is in the historical details and in “B” and “AC” the homage to Agatha Christie.

      • Ted says:

        Last one: “Named in Stone and Sky: An Arizona Anthology”–I know that’s not where you will be, but the selections are varied (history, poetry, traditional tales, and so on) and reflective.

      • lizahoward says:

        Oooh . If Eliot & Asa let me lounge around in bed on Mother’s Day, this is what I’m reading.

    • lizahoward says:

      Wow! Thanks for those recommendations. I’ve only read a few — and years ago. I wish I had a porter for this course — and time to just lay around and read.

  2. clea says:

    “A Walk in the Woods” You may have already read this if you are an outdoor-sy type, but it is hilarious, and perfect for someone with a pack on their back…and it is non-fiction. I also see your other commenter recommended Oryx and Crake. I LOVE that book. I love it so much I actually downloaded the audio of it and listened to it during my one and only 100 miler.

    • lizahoward says:

      That’s some high praise for Oryx and Crake. It’s on the list. I loved and hated A Walk in the Woods. I almost stoked out when his friend started littering cans of tuna etc. all over the trail because his pack was too heavy. But the nail clippers as a weapon against a bear attack was one of the funniest things Bryson’s ever written.

  3. footfeathers says:

    I recommend two:

    “The Last Season”
    Randy Morgenson is an experienced backcountry ranger in Kings Canyon National Park of the California Sierras. He leaves on a routine patrol to an area, which after 28 seasons, he knows as well as anyone alive, but Morgenson never returns. An extensive air and ground search ensues. No sign of the ranger is found. Was it an accident? Was it foul play? Or was it all just a ruse? Could Morgenson still be alive? In this outstanding work of investigative journalism, author Eric Blehm pieces together a fascinating story of an individual comforted by his solitary time in the wilderness but who is increasingly troubled by life in civilization. Blehm spent eight years researching this book and it clearly shows. He sets the stage, draws you in, and slowly unravels the truth of this absorbing mystery of the Sierra mountains.


    “C.C. Pyle’s Amazing Foot Race”
    In 1928, 199 men took part in a foot race from Los Angeles to New York. Running the equivalent of two marathons every day for 84 days, 55 eventually made it to the finish line inside a near-empty Madison Square Garden on 8th Avenue and 50th Street. In the end, that anybody actually completed the race is almost beside the point. As it’s often said, the devil is in the details.

  4. I’m currently reading “Poser: My Life in 23 Yoga Poses.” It’s a memoir written by a very funny woman from Seattle who tries to balance being a mother with being an independent human being, and it’s also about yoga. The author’s writing is funny and honest and reminds me of your blog – I think you two would be good friends!

  5. Shannon says:

    The last season is pretty good. I just finnished confessions of an economic hit man, and think everyone should read it. It is a bit of a downer though. I know you said non fiction but I thought I would put posion wood bible or the red tent in for consideration, both I could read 1 billion times.

    • lizahoward says:

      You know I’ve checked Poisonwood Bible and Red Tent out of the library about 20 times, but I’ve never managed to actually read them. Going to see if the 21st times the charm. Which one would be most appropriate for Asa at bedtime?

  6. Yukun says:

    I am reading “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen” by Christopher McDougall.

  7. Tami says:

    Two suggestions:

    The Big Burn by Timothy Egan about Teddy Roosevelt, Gifford Pinchot, Ed Pulaski, and how the largest forest fire in America cemented Teddy Roosevelt’s legacy as the President who saved America’s wild places. This was gripping, I even had to go to Wallace, Idaho and hike the Pulaski Memorial Trail after I read it!

    Devil in the White City by Erik Larson about the incredible events getting ready for the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair and the drama, madness and murder that went along with it.

    • lizahoward says:

      I could only find The Big Burn in hardback, so it’s on my list when I get home. I listened to Devil in the White City on tape on a car trip long ago. I remember lots of miles passing quickly by while I listened.

  8. Shane Thread says:

    “The Invention of Air” by Stephen Johnson. It is the story of Joseph Priestley and it is a great combination of science, biography, and history. Because it is one of my favorites, I have a classroom set and I have asked my chemistry students to read it each year.

    • Ted says:

      This is a great read; one of my favorite signs, just outside of Northumberland, PA reads: “Home of Joseph Priestly, discoverer of oxygen”. Now what we breathed before… You might also like “Descartes’ Bones”, which tells the story of Descartes’ thought against the backdrop of the search for his missing skull (which turns up with a poem engraved on it, along with the names of the owners).

      • lizahoward says:

        Thanks for the Descartes suggestion. Sounds great. I’m Definitely feeling like I need to work reading back into my life. Maybe after Western States… and Leadville… and Asa starts kindergarten.

    • lizahoward says:

      This is coming on the trip if I can get hold of it.

  9. Sarah says:

    Edward Abbey is always good. He’s the original environmentalist curmudgeon. My favorite book of all times is Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey. The key phrase in the book is ‘Never give an inch’ which I have used several times for motivation during races. It’s about a rebel logging family in Oregon in the 1950’s-60’s.

    • lizahoward says:

      I’ve never read any Ken Kesey somehow. Rebel logging family sounds good. E. Abbey had some good space on the bookshelf — though I haven’t looked inside any of those books in years.

  10. Steve Wray says:

    First Comes Love: Finding Your Family in the Church and the Trinity by Scott Hahn
    How to S&*# in the Woods by Kathleen Meyer

    Hope you let us know what wins.

    • lizahoward says:

      Will take a picture of me, the chosen book, and the big pack before I go. I teach pooping in the woods, you know. Will take a look at the first one you mentioned when I get back.

  11. Yukun says:

    and i read this book while ago and i think very entertaining…

    Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex – Mary Roach

  12. Paul says:

    the perfect is a great book. I saw someone recommended it. and I would agree all but finished it and loved it

    a great account of the 3 way battle for the precious 4min battle between 3 men who while very independent of each other geographically were closely intertwined to each other by
    the magical time barrier of 4 mins

    several great blow by blow accounts of some those final races

    Got me off the couch, or at least hoped to ad I nurse a stress fracture in my left foot after my own 100 mile ultra a month ago

    btw…. a friend of yours Anna Williams put me onto your blog. she is a good friend of mine. thanks for your thoughts

  13. Tommy says:

    I know you said nonfiction but … my son and I just trekked 10 days in Nepal and read The Hobbit along the way. It is an excellent book to read while walking in the mountains plus the movie(s) will be out in the next couple of years.

  14. Tony Maldonado says:

    “Once They Moved like the Wind”. By David Roberts.
    About the Indigenous people of the area you will be in. The Chiricahua Apache.
    I’ve read this book twice and will read it again. I have it only in hardcover but you’re welcomed to it.

  15. Greg L. says:

    “Why we Run”, by Bernd Heinrich, US record holder 100K (early 80s). Great writer, runner, zoologist, artist. Amazing man! One of my favorite writers.

  16. Steve says:

    Lone Star: A History Of Texas And The Texans by T.R. Fehrenbach. A great narrative style history of Texas

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