Why should you trust my reviews?
You shouldn’t. Enjoyment of a book is deeply subjective and personal to the reader. I have no professional qualifications to review books. Authors have sweated blood, time and toenails into creating the titles I review in this blog. All I do is sit at my laptop and make cheap jokes about them.
But, but, but…
I love running. I truly do. My wife says “two runners in a room equals a running conversation”. She’s wrong. I don’t need another runner there – I’ll happily blather away for hours on the subject to myself.
I have been running since 2005 and race regularly with my club, Headington Road Runners. I take on all distances from the mile up to the marathon, where my current PB stands at 2:58:48, having finally broken sub-3 at Manchester Marathon in 2018.
Anything I write here comes from a deep personal passion for the subject. That’s pretty much the only reason you should listen to anything I have to say on this site. Well that, and the occasional childish knob gags.
Follow me on Twitter: @sethcayley
I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your running book reviews! As a runner who also likes to read about running (followed by talking about running…) I was excited to discover your blog – it was a bonus to find that your reviews are genuinely well-written!
I’ve found myself exclaiming in agreement on so many of your points, eg:
Scott Jurek – compelling story, especially of his childhood, but oddly lacking in introspection for a guy who likes to toss out philosophy references. I kept thinking “DIDN’T YOU MENTION A WIFE ABOUT 120 PAGES AGO…”
Bascomb – yes, absolutely one of the best running books ever! I thought of it again recently when I tried reading Bannister’s earnest and worthy autobiography ‘Twin Tracks’ – I kept nodding off and then feeling bad about it because he’s clearly led such an exemplary life.
Karnazes – yes – why all the haters? He’s obviously a very likable guy who can run forever. I personally find his story inspiring. I’ve recommended this to many running friends as a great quick read.
Kenyans – I loved this! One of my favorite scenes in any running book is when he dials a wrong number trying to phone Wilson Kipsang but still gets a 2:05 marathoner. I look forward to reading his latest book.
Epstein – definitely one of the most fascinating books I’ve ever read. I thought I would only be interested in the running-related chapters but the whole thing was gripping.
Harvie – I don’t think I got past the first chapter. I laud you for completing the task; the best thing to come out of the book is your review’s introductory line: “When I was at university, I once had a big night out drinking absinthe.”
Butcher – we had a brief Twitter exchange agreeing on its merits and flaws – and the great photos.
Now I’m going to look for the new Finn and the Rowlands book, feeling that I can trust your good reviews!
There seems to be only a few I’ve read not on your list, so if you’re looking for candidates, I can recommend:
The Golden Mile: The Herb Elliott Story – an old-school but frank and genial telling of Herb Elliot’s rise to middle-distance greatness in the ‘fifties. Particularly interesting is his account of training with the eccentric Percy Cerutty. Cerutty of course is worthy of a book himself and indeed Why Die (http://goo.gl/Gq2dF2) is excellent – but very difficult to obtain. I had to use my special librarian powers to borrow a copy from the Library of Congress.
Duel in the Sun (http://goo.gl/VGvOBA) – a favorite – one of those books that manages to get your heart rate up while reading about a race when you already know the outcome. Also, none of the current news about Salazar will surprise you after learning about the depths of his intensity here.
Running with the Buffaloes: A Season Inside… (http://goo.gl/HoVTVP) well-told account of individuals with personal struggles coming together to achieve something great (their workouts were really, really hard!)
And this one is probably unique to me, but as a running librarian I geeked-out on this fantastic BOOK ABOUT BOOKS ABOUT RUNNING: Athletics Compendium: A Guide to the Literature of Track and Field (http://goo.gl/d0ZmpR)
Please keep up the great work – you should be published as you deserve a wide readership!
So pleased you like my site! I really appreciate your recommendations. “Duel in the Sun” is in my ‘to-read’ pile, but I haven’t come across the others you mention – they’re now on my wishlist!
I LOVE the fact you’ve found a book about books about running. Reminds me of the Seinfeld moment where Kramer publishes a coffee table book about coffee tables, which itself can be turned into a coffee table…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dE5ROl2YPbs
Please do keep letting me know what you think of the books I review,
Thanks for taking the time to read that ridiculously long ‘comment’! I always appreciate a good Seinfeld reference!
I thought that I would drop you a line to thank you for writing the fabulous piece a while ago on Phil Hewitt’s Keep on Running which is published by the company I work for Summersdale.
The review has definitely helped the book get noticed by the running fraternity!
Phil’s new book In the Running was published on 8th of September and is a compilation of stories of extraordinary runners from around the world. I was hoping that you would write a review for us?
Similarly we also have Lisa Jackson’s Your Pace or Mine that I am sure will be of interest to you and would love for you to review. This book is about life, laughter and acceptance. Unlike many runners, Lisa’s not afraid to finish last – having done so in 20 of the 90 marathons she’s completed so far! It tells her story and the extraordinary stories of people she encounters along the way
Please do let me know if you want me to send you copies of either or both of the books.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Good to hear from you, and glad you appreciated the honest review! I’d be happy to review those books, although I can’t guarantee how quickly I’ll get round to them. If you give me your contact details, I’ll send you my postal address.