Sunday, June 28, 2009

Crazy For The Storm

I saw this book at Starbucks, and even though it seemed over-exposed and generic, I thought it sounded like a good read….it was.

It is the true, autobiographical story of Norm, an 11-yo California kid with divorced, but attentive parents. He just won the state championship for down-hill skiing and is flying back to pick up his trophy when his plane crashes, killing the pilot and his beloved father. The book flashes back between the crash and past experiences with him and his father as he was growing up.

At first, I felt like Norm was just a spoiled, un-appreciative kid that didn’t know what a good life he had. I think the author did this on purpose in order to juxtapose the reality of his situation before and after the crash. The scenes from the crash were kind of hard to picture (I just skipped over most of the descriptions because they didn’t make much sense). It was still very engrossing, and I had to keep reminding myself that he was only 11 years old!

My only beef was that I felt like there was a big chunk missing from the book. After telling the story of the crash, he takes the timeline up until he is about 13 years old, and he still hasn’t come to terms with his father’s death. Then he leaves all these issues unresolved and jumps up to when he is in his 40’s with a son of his own. While I enjoyed and was strangely touched by the scenes with his own son, I would have liked to know if he got counseling, why he chose to go to UCLA (instead of Yale or Harvard like his dad wanted), if he ever skied professionally again.

Love the one you're with

Emily Giffin really has a talented writing style. She makes you identify with the characters in her books to a degree that I have not experienced with any other author. Her other books include “Something Borrowed” and “Something Blue”. I really liked this book a lot. It was a little bit hard to read because I hate anything that has to do with adultery. This book is about a woman who has been happily married for only 3 months when she runs across her old boyfriend, the one who got away. She never fully understood why they had broken up, but he makes it clear that he wants to turn back the clock when he sees her again.

As the character progresses through the story, rationalizing and making decisions that place her closer and closer to her ex, however innocently, I inexplicably find myself thinking that I would have done the same. I won’t spoil the ending for all you readers because it is a great book that feels very real-to-life, don’t miss it!

Careless in Red

I’ve read every book that Elizabeth George has written. She is the best mystery/suspense writer out there. Her novels are not so much “scary” mysterious as they are “intellectually” mysterious. This is her latest book. Her hero, Detective Lynley is hiking along the England coastline, still reeling from the senseless and tragic murder of his wife and unborn child when he finds a body. Against his will, he is drawn into the investigation. While I wouldn’t rate this as one of her best books, I was pleasantly surprised. I had all but written George off because I loved the character of Helen, Lynley’s slain wife. I didn’t see how the story-line could be continued without her. However, I was pleasantly surprised that I still cared for the other characters enough to remain interested. I think George was laying the groundwork in this book for Lynley’s recovery and in future books there may be new romantic possibilities? There is one in this book, but he just isn’t ready. I’m looking forward to her future writings.

Born to Run

I can’t remember where I first heard of this book, but I never would have picked it up and paid full price if I hadn’t gotten a tip that it was good. But it wasn’t just good….

…it was amazing! It starts off with a 50-something guy who suffers from running injuries. He is told by multiple doctors that he was not built to run and needs to stop. This isn’t a option for him because he loves running and wants to complete an ultra-marathon (50-miles). He embarks on a journey to unlock the secrets of long-distance runners. Along the way he exposes the athletic-shoe industry and the marketing that duped us all into thinking we need ultra-padded, ultra-air/gel shoes to cushion this unnatural human activity…running. In reality, the human body was built for long distance running, most of us just go about it the wrong way. In fact, it may be our running prowess that gave us the evolutionary edge against the Neanderthals.

The author manages to transform himself into an injury-free distance runner with the help of a good coach, a new stride and an old, worn-out pair of shoes. The book climaxes with a secret 50-mile race through the Mexico mountains, pitting the greatest ultra-marathoner in the US against the greatest ones in the world, the Tarahumara Indians. While I can definitely guarantee that I’ll never run an ultra-marathon, I found this book to be inspirational to the human spirit and an excellent read, even if you aren’t an athlete…yet!