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Summer book reviews

The Beekman Boys and their Bucolic Plague

First let me say I had never heard of the Beekman Boys when I got their book from the library. Their unconventional memoir was a recommendation from another blog, thanks Farmgirl.  I was unaware that they had recently been on the Amazing Race or had their own television series.  Regardless…this was a great read.

As I started following Josh and Brent’s journey up the to the Mohawk Valley to Sharon Springs, I could not put the book down. Maybe it was their proximity to me or that I could relate to falling in love with the idea of being a gentleman farmer, whatever the reason, I found myself rooting for their success and empathizing with their failures.

Between the goats, canning, and every challenge in between, I related to the stress of working full time,  being in a relationship and most of all – wanting to dig my fingers into the dirt and be in the garden.

This was a fun book and would be great to add to any summertime reading list.  Best of all, you can check out their website, Beekman1802,  to follow their latest antics.

Made From Scratch, Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life

When reading a self-help or DIY type book, a key factor in the readers ability to believe they can accomplish the same feat as the author is the confidence that s/he instills. That usually comes from impressing your reader with the expertise and knowledge you have accumulated on the given subject area.  If Bob Villa’s houses kept falling down, I probably would not feel confident that I could restore my dog house.  However as I read Jenna Woginrich’s tales of failure; her dogs ate her chicks and the next batch of poultry managed to escape, how she killed the queen bee and then a bear ate her new hive, then something went wrong with the rabbits…you see the pattern.

If this crazy lady figured it  out and managed to write a book about it…then I certainly should be able to pull some of it off.  This was not your typical inspirational live off the land and prance along happily ever after story…but it was an easy to read and interesting book.  It was well written and filled with honest mistakes made by someone that I could relate to.   Jenna does not talk down to you as if she knows it all… because she clearly had to learn several hard lessons along the way.  She simply shares her journey of trying to live a better life and hopes that something she has already experienced might benefit you.  After reading Made From Scratch, you might not walk away be fully self-sufficient, but Jenna surely makes you realize that you will experience some bumps along the way and that failure is just one step in the journey…its not the end point.

Book Reviews: Eat & Run

The second of my summer running books was  Scott Jurek’s Eat & Run. Once again, the author successfully managed to motivate me to make a change in my life.  Eat & Run challenged me to rethink my approach to eating and running.  Jurek highlights his success in transforming his diet and mindset to take better care of himself mentally and physically and subsequently improve his performance.

Throughout Eat & Run the author describes the circumstances of his life and how he came to achieve the unparalleled success as an ultra marathoner through becoming a vegan and overcoming the mental challenges he faces as an ultra runner.  In spite of routinely accomplishing super human feats by running 100-miles in a race as if it was a walk in the park, Jurek shows that he is human after all.  Throughout the book, he describes the sad but courageous fight his mother had with MS and the impact that her life had on his.  He also recounts the lasting lessons his strict and unwavering father taught him, like “Sometimes you just do things!”.

I was surprised how Jurek, one of the  most decorated long distance runners, has the same thoughts I do when I run my mortal 6-miles in the morning.  Scott does a great job speaking to the reader no matter if they are new to running or an experienced marathoner.

Again, the greatest compliment I can give the author is that because of his book, I was motivated to  improve my diet. Eat & Run does not preach my way or the highway…merely that these techniques work for me and maybe some of them can work for you. Scott also peppers the book with some of his favorite vegan recipes and some training words of wisdom that all runners  should heed.

Book Reviews: Born to Run

Like many new enthusiasts to a hobby or interest, my desire to learn more about running has taken many forms.  I’ve been reading websites and blogs, buying new gear and supplies, and most recently hording library books on the subject matter at hand.  Since having my own personal coach and trainer is out of the question,  I’ve looked for external sources of information to bolster my enjoyment and proficiency in my new found passion.

This summer I’ve read two excellent books related to running.  First was Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run.  Chris’ book was an interesting combination of the science of running and one man’s quest to bring a group of ultra marathoners to race the fabled Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s Copper Canyons.

The book was extremely insightful and to be honest, while I was reading it, it inspired me to run more;  which is the greatest compliment I can give the author.

Whether or not all of the science and studies he presented are accurate is irrelevant.  Born to Run made me want to get up off the couch and run, while keeping me intrigued in the outcome of Caballo Blanco’s quest to match the “super human” Tarahumara Indians against ultra legends like  Scott Jurek.

Born to Run is a page turner for any runner and will motivate you to reexamine your passion for running.