This is a combo post, mostly because I didn’t read a whole lot of books in June. The books I read were good, I just didn’t read that much. My time logs lay the blame on additional work hours (book launch) and the fact that I started working my way through Middlemarch, which is….long. And slow going.
So we have…
North, by Scott Jurek and Jenny Jurek
Ultrarunner Scott Jurek had won various 100-mile races in his youth. Then he hit 40 and, in addition to the usual midlife worries that his best years were behind him, he found himself mourning his wife’s difficult miscarriages. While normal people might seek out a therapist, Jurek decided to try to set the Appalachian Trail through-hiking record, with Jenny serving as the crew.
The whole attempt was not well planned. They had little familiarity with the trail. They decided to go northbound (most through hikers go southbound). They put a GPS tracker on Scott for transparency, but the result was that people started showing up at all the trail crossings, distracting both of them. Adding to the fun, Scott suffered a pretty serious injury in the first few days, meaning that he was experiencing severe pain long before he should have been.
The book started slow for me, but once I got into it, I was into it. This is non-fiction, so the reader knows that Scott succeeded (if only by 3 hours — somewhat amazingly close if you think about covering 2100 miles on foot!) And yet as he’s trying to hobble 50 miles on 2 hours of sleep day after day for that final week, you wonder how. In essence, he put himself on a death march. The human body can survive amazing things. North is full of great descriptions of the trail, and the ultrarunning mindset.
Moon Tiger, by Penelope Lively
Another book with a slow start but good payoff. Claudia, a famed historian, is looking back on her life from the hospital bed where she is dying. Her life comes in vignettes, centering around her very different relationships with different men. She met the love of her life while working as a foreign correspondent in Egypt during World War II. It was a whirlwind affair, and yet when he was killed in action she had to keep living life. So she did, having and raising a child with a man she found interesting, but in a different way, keeping a close relationship with her brother and later taking in a young Hungarian refugee who added a whimsical aspect to her older years. In a romance, all would center around those weeks in Egypt. Yet Lively manages to create a character who is more than that. It’s difficult to describe this book, but it is a good story, and I find it encouraging that it was published — and won awards — despite its genre-bending aspects.
That’s it for reading, but I’m reading Middlemarch, and will check out The Glitch, by Elisabeth Cohen (who turns out to be my neighbor!), and a number of books on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s list of 20 novels you can read in a day. (There’s a blog post that will blow up your To Be Read list!)
Now on to my Friday miscellany stuff. I was on a number of cool podcasts this week talking Off the Clock. Please check out…
Hustle and Grace, a new podcast from Hillary Sutton aimed at people who want to hustle at work, yet also have space in their lives.
How to be Awesome at Your Job, with Pete Mockaitis. Sometimes podcast hosts ask for interesting tidbits in their pre-show questions, and I mentioned I’d sung in Carnegie Hall. So that’s what we started with!
The Productivityist. It’s always fun to chat productivity with fellow enthusiast Mike Vardy.
Charge, with Gary Wilbers – which is all about how to “create habits around real goals everyday” — hence the acronym. I’m a big fan of good habits, so we talk a lot about that.
I also really enjoyed this article from Betsy Mikel over at Inc on how to make the most of the 168 hours we all have each week.
And AudioFile magazine ran a glowing review of Off the Clock! Well, except for the part about my “clipped enunciation.” They do call the narration “Zen-like” and say I have a “graceful approach to life.”
If you enjoyed reading (or listening) to Off the Clock, would you please write a review for Amazon or the retailer where you purchased the book? It’s a simple thing to do – 3-4 sentences will suffice – but it really does help potential book buyers decide to click buy.
As for other miscellany…last week at the beach my husband’s extended family did an Escape Room one afternoon. I had volunteered to stay home with the littlest kids, figuring that my 3-year-old in a small room with puzzle stuff was an invitation to misery, but I couldn’t keep him from learning that everyone else was going somewhere. So we all went. He fell asleep in the car, and I sat holding a sleeping 3-year-old for the first 25 minutes of our hour. At that point my husband was like put down the baby and get into this, so I did, and used my freakish puzzle solving ability to nudge our team through the five stages. We solved the room in less than an hour, so go us.
Have you done an escape room?