In the past couple of years I’ve made a conscious effort to read more books and it’s been rewarding. I set a modest goal of 10 books in 2023; I ended up reading 13. As a “non reader” I’m pretty happy with that!
My favourite book that I read in 2023 (much like many others it seems) was Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. I think my 80s/90s youth positioned me perfectly for the pop culture shots to land, and besides that it was a great story with perfect (for me) pacing.
On the nonfiction front, I really enjoyed three books:
- The Finishers, Alexis Berg & Aurelien Delfosse - The history of The Barkley Marathons & profiles of each of the souls unlucky enough to have finished the race. The Barkley holds a weird place in the lore of ultra and trail marathoners, and this beautiful coffee table book did a great job of joining the dots that can otherwise feel a bit grey from the outside of this insular event.
- Running With Sherman, Christopher McDougall - A very touching story of donkey rescue and the insane world of burro racing. McDougall and his family moved to an Amish community and through farming and animal rescue he met their local running community. They adopted (rescued?) Sherman, a poor beast that had had a tough life, and attempted to train him for the World Cup of Burro Racing.
- UTMB: The Race That Changed Running, Doug Mayer - Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) is an iconic 100-mile (100km) race, perhaps the iconic race, in the trail ultramarathon world. It runs a lap around the Mont Blan massif, starting in Chamonix France and finishing there again 20-60 hours later. It’s got a 20-year history that has introduced us to the best of the best in our quirky sport. In 2022-2032, UTMB has been in the news this year for many of the wrong reasons following their business partnership with Ironman and some odd community interactions. In this great read (with some epic photos!) Mayer explains how they got here, why they do things the way they do, and where perhaps we should look at things a little bit differently.
For 2024, let’s aim for a round dozen books shall we? I started To Kill a Mockingbird yesterday. Perhaps you’ve heard of it?
Header photo: reading the last few pages of the UTMB book in my hammock, hanging next to a creek, 30th December 2023.