Hot summer days spent working, traveling, and sweating require cool summer reads to pass the time. Whether you need a new beach read, something to spruce up your commute, or running inspiration we've got a book for you.
1. A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson
After living in England for 20 years, American travel writer Bill Bryson decides to hike the Appalachian Trail to get reacquainted with his homeland. Accompanied by a cranky long-lost, diabetic friend, the out-of-shape, middle-aged pair attempt to hike, camp, and complain their way through 2,100 miles of American wilderness (perfect cross-training for trail running). A must-read for hiking enthusiasts, and anyone ready to laugh out loud on the train to work.
Our favorite except of Bryson's camping gear shopping experience:
"I think because I mentioned that I had done a bit of hiking in England, he assumed some measure of competence on my part. I didn't wish to alarm or disappoint him, so when he asked me questions like, 'What's your view on carbon fiber says?' I would shake my head with a rueful chuckle, in recognition on this perennially thorny issue, and say, 'You know, Dave, I've never been able to make up my mind on that one - what do you think?' "
Paperback. Kindle. Audiobook. Movie.
2. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami
Part auto-biography, part training diary, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running details Murakami's thoughts on life, love, business, writing, and running, all while training for the New York City Marathon (!!). An avid distance runner, Murakami has raced over 30 marathons in his life, including a solo running of the original Athens to Marathon route. Running is his key to making his books top-notch.
Words to run by:
"People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they'll go to any length to live longer. But don't think that's the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you're going to while away the years, it's far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive then in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that's the essence of running, and a metaphor for life — and for me, for writing as whole. I believe many runners would agree"
Paperback. Kindle. Audiobook.
3. Born to Run, Christopher McDougall
A must-read for ultra runners. Author, journalist, and frequently injured runner (take a look at our list of Best Physical Therapists and Running Doctors if this sounds like you) Christopher McDoughall takes us to the Copper Canyons in Mexico, where the Tarahumara Indians have been running ultras like it's nbd for centuries. We're talking people who can outrun deer and Olympic marathoners people- it's all about mindful running. McDougall uncovers the secrets of this mysterious tribe and runs a 50-mile ultra through the deadly Tarahumara territory.
"That was the real secret of the Tarahumara: they'd never forgotten what it felt like to love running. They remembered that running was mankind's first fine art, our original act of inspired creation. Way before we were scratching pictures on caves or beating rhythms on hollow trees, we were perfecting the art of combining our breath and mind and muscles into fluid self-propulsion over wild terrain. And when our ancestors finally did make their first cave paintings, what were the first designs? A downward slash, lightning bolts through the bottom and middle--behold, the Running Man.
Distance running was revered because it was indispensable; it was the way we survived and thrived and spread across the planet. You ran to eat and to avoid being eaten; you ran to find a mate and impress her, and with her you ran off to start a new life together. You had to love running, or you wouldn't live to love anything else. And like everyhing else we ove--everything we sentimentally call our 'passions' and 'desires' it's really an encoded ancestral necessity. We were born to run; we were born because we run. We're all Running People, as the Tarahumara have always known."
4. Slaying The Badger, Richard Moore
We are runners at heart but we love bikes. Slaying The Badger is the true story of the infamous 1986 Tour de France upset. 5-time winner of the Tour, frenchman Bernard Hinault,"the Badger" ("Le Blaireau"), attempts to make history as the first man to ever win 6 Tours in a row. American cyclist Greg LeMond refuses to let that happen.
On LeMond's crazy pain tolerance:
"When you look at other sports it’s just ludicrous, really. A soccer player’s touched; he collapses like he’s been shot. Tennis: A player cramps, there’s a break, he gets a massage. But the embarrassment, the humiliation LeMond had to endure. But I tell you one thing: He went up in my estimation for that. There was always a sense that LeMond was … classy but soft. Yeah, classy but soft. He was looked on as being a curiosity, as not being serious. Being in a French team, I tried to fit in by pretending I was French, following the French rules—no ice cream but a ton of cheese. He refused that, refused to compromise. But what a bike rider. What a fucking bike rider."
5. Pre: The Story of America's Greatest Running Legend Steve Prefontaine, Tom Jordan
The life story of Olympic miler Steve Prefontaine. The first person to win 4 NCAA titles in one event, Pre raced at Oregon University, coached by Nike co-founder Bill Bowman (remember those waffle shoes? He invented them with an actual waffle iron!). We don't want to spoil this one if you don't know the story- be prepared, it is a great read but a sad ending. Great book to read while training for a big race.
"Some people create with words, or with music, or with a brush and paints. I like to make something beautiful when I run. I like to make people stop and say, 'I've never seen anyone run like that before.' It's more than just a race, it's style. It's doing something better than everyone else. It's being creative."
Bonus Quick Read Pick! The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances, Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal
A quick, witty graphic novel brought to you by the man behind The Oatmeal blog. If you've ever run a marathon or an ultra marathon, you'll love how accurate this is about the feeding frenzies, blisters, lost toenails, runners highs and pacing woes. The man is even organizing his own races now.
Slay the kraken!
What books are on your summer reading list?