Book Review: Running Tracks by Rob Deering

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about NetGalley (read about it here), an online book reviewing site for new or soon to be released books. Some of the books have to be requested while others can be downloaded (for free) immediately. Running Tracks was a book that I requested and after a few days was given a link to download it.

Yesterday I wrote about our love of music, and how we had re-kindled it with the purchase of a record player (read about it here). As an act of serendipity, I have now finished Rob’s book, which is all about running and music.

I’d never come across the comedian Rob Deering before, but the title and description of the book definitely intrigued me. Running and music, what’s not to like. I’m a runner and I also love listening to music, although unlike Rob I don’t do them both at the same time. Many years ago I used to, but after a couple of close shaves where I didn’t hear a car, I decided that running with music wasn’t the best idea for me. Plus, my mp3 player got wet one day and stopped working.

Rob is almost an accidental runner, but once he started running he found his true passion, alongside music. His career as a comedian has taken him all over the country so he is in the envious position of having run in loads of interesting places, and often completing a tourist parkrun while out on the road. His taste in music might not always gel with mine, too many banging beats while I prefer banging heavy metal, but music when running can provide a great lift. One of the things I said after my attempt at Backyard Ultra (read about it here and here) was that I should have run with music, and this book has definitely pushed me getting myself a small mp3 player again.

Rob is also a fairly accomplished runner, having completed the London marathon numerous times, raising thousands of pounds for Parkinson’s UK. Funnily enough today is the London marathon, and I was saying to my lovely wife that maybe I should enter a big city marathon. I did enter London over 20 years ago, but was unsuccessful, so maybe I’ll have better luck this time around.

Anyway, I really enjoyed Running Tracks and gave it a big thumbs up 5 out of 5.

Book Review: All Points North by Simon Armitage

This was an absolutely cracking read. It was another book that I picked up from Barter Books (read about it here) while we were on holiday in the north east.

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Initially I had got my Simons confused, thinking that this was actually the presenter from Nevermind the Buzzcocks. That is Simon Amstell. This is a very different Simon. A poet from the north of England.

The book is full an northern anecdotes, some of them first hand, others second or third hand, and a few which despite being made up and still hugely enjoyable. There are also a few poems. I especially enjoyed the story behind being commissioned by the Coop to write one, with the instruction that it might be nice if some of it rhymed. There aren’t too many poems, so don’t let that put you off.

The story of a man who tried to break the world record for sitting in a tree and came back down after 28 days, thinking that he had broken the existing 27 day record, only to be told that the record was in fact 27 years.

I also enjoyed that the writing style was very different to anything else that I had read recently, in that this book is written in the second person present tense, whereas everything that I write is generally first person past tense.

“You go to the book shop”, as opposed to “I went to the bookshop”. The book made me want to become a better writer, to experiment, to improve. It also made me want to read some poetry.

 

Boundless by Kathleen Winter

Finished my first book of the year, and as expected it is another travel book. This time through the infamous and dangerous northwest passage.

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Kathleen was a last minute addition to a predominantly tourist trip through the icy waters of the Arctic. The boat is mainly full of geologists and bird watchers, along with knowledgeable experts. A writer was also required, so grabbing whatever gear she could find she jumped at the chance.

The ‘cruise’ begins in Greenland before crossing Baffin Bay and dropping into various small inuit settlements. As with many natives, their treatment at the hands of settlers has been very poor. The Canadian government moved whole villages to other areas, hoping to end disputes with Denmark and Russia over land. As expected this didn’t end well for the natives as they didn’t know the area, where the good hunting grounds were or the means to survive.

The book also delves into Kathleen’s background and how she moved to Newfoundland as a child with her family from the north east of England.

I really enjoyed this book, with it’s mix of history, from both the native inuits and the visiting expeditions, along with the voyage that Kathleen was part of. The ending is unexpected, but if you like your travel writing with a bit more intelligence and history, you’ll love this book.

Book Review 2018 – Part XX

Another book finished. The Associate by John Grisham.

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I have a kind of love/hate relationship with JG’s books. I find them very easy to read. Airport or holiday books, perfect for sitting on a beach, but sometimes they lack enough meat for me to get my teeth into. The last one I read, which I can’t remember the name of, and I can’t find a review for, was eminently forgettable.

The Associate is much better and kept me interested all the way through. I won’t give a run down on the plot, because the plot is fairly thin. The cover of the book says it all. It’s a deadly game of blackmail, and they’re making him play.

As with most of Grisham’s books, there isn’t really a satisfying ending. You can tell when you’ve only got 40 or 50 pages left to read and there are still loads of loose ends, that many of the threads and characters are going to be left hanging. Not a bad book by a long way and definitely better than anything by Dan Brown, but nothing special, hence why I took the book to the next street where there is a little free library (read about it here).

Book Review 2018 – Part XVI

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I wasn’t going to buy any more books until I had managed to read a few from my bedside stack of books (here). It was going well until I heard an interview on Radio 2 with Eric Idle. He has a book out, a ‘sortabiography’, as it’s called. The interview was brilliant, so I knew that I would be buying his book.

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As expected, the book is great fun to read, focusing on the good stuff. The Monty Python stuff is glossed over a bit, but as Eric states, there are more than enough books and documentaries already. He goes into more detail on the films that the Pythons made, especially how George Harrison, the former Beatle, mortgaged his mansion to help finance The Life of Brian. The eponymous song from the end of the film obviously gets more than a few mentions, especially as Eric performed it at the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics.

It’s not all a laugh, as there a few deaths, George Harrison and Graham Chapman to name two. Eric also writes about how bad a husband he was during his first marriage, blaming himself solely for their break-up.

Once again delayed trains meant that I finished this book in less than a week, putting aside another book that I had bought ages ago. It’s a great read, not too long and not too serious, or not serious in the slightest.