Scott Parker is July's Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob and he has written a guest post on Writing and Running and he includes five of his favorite running books. Welcome Scott.
Running seems a natural fit for literature. The hallmarks of the sport—solitude, persistence, and equanimity—are some of the hallmarks of writing as well. Many of the writers I know do some of their best writing while running, whether they’re thinking about writing or not. The rhythms of running are amazingly conducive to producing the kind of reflection that is necessary for writing. Not surprisingly, there is no shortage of great books on running. With apologies to George Sheehan, Alan Sillitoe, JerryLynch, and many other authors I’d include in a longer list, here are five of my favorite running books.
Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run: A Hidden
Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen is the book that exploded the barefoot
running movement. McDougall mixes research with first-hand reporting to
thin, flat-soled sandals without injury, and a cast of elite American ultra runners. It’s a paradigm-shifting page turner. See my full review of Born to Run here.
More than thirty years before Born to Run, Thaddeus Kostrubala described the running of the Tarahumara in his sadly forgotten The Joy of Running. Kostrubala, an out-of-shape doctor in the early ‘70s, took up running for the sake of his health. He quickly noted psychological benefits in addition to his improved physical condition. It wasn’t long before he was using running in his medical practice and studying its impact on everything from depression to schizophrenia. Kostrubla’s personal and professional stories are
given here along with advice for how to find the joy of running in one’s own life. The Joy of Running is long out of print, but used copies are out there and can be found without much trouble. See my interview with Kostrubla here.
Once a Runner by John L. Parker (no relation) is a classic of running literature. Parker self-published his novel in the late ‘70s, loosely basing the story on his own collegiate running experience at the University of Florida. In addition to capturing the challenges, intrigues, joys, and frustrations of running, Once a Runner is the best literary rendering of what it’s like to be an elite runner. As Parker himself has said, "There aren't many writers who get close to a 4-minute mile, or who got to be roommates with an Olympian, and who can tell other people what that's like."
Running and Philosophy: A Marathon of the Mind, edited by Michael W. Austin, features over a dozen essays on running by leading contemporary philosophers, including Martha Nussbaum. But don’t dismiss this book as academic. It’s written for the runner who is interested in learning about philosophy more than for the philosopher who wants to start running. And as runners know, with or without a background in philosophy, running lends itself quite easily to thoughtful reflection. Chances are in reading this collection you’ll see some of your own insights and intuitions expanded and developed.
Kenny Moore was a member of the University of Oregon track team coached by the iconic Bill Bowrerman, running distances in the late ‘60s with teammate Steve Prefontaine. After finishing fourth in the marathon at the Munich Olympics, Moore turned to writing. His works include the
excellent screenplay to the Prefontaine biopic Without Limits and the biography Bowerman and the Men of Oregon: The Story of Oregon’s Legendary Coach and Nike’s Cofounder. This book is essential for anyone interested in the flourishing of track as sport or in jogging as recreation in the latter half of the twentieth century. Bowerman was the central figure in both movements and he proves a fascinating study. Moore makes the most of his insider knowledge, offering a thorough and thoughtful look at this legend. Cannot recommend this one enough.
Please comment if you know of any good running books to add to Scott's list? Please comment if you have read any of the books Scott's mentions?
To enter to win a copy of Scott's book Running After Prefontaine please click the link:
Running After Prefontaine Giveaway