Our final “Runner Reads” recommendations of the year include two beautifully written nonfiction accounts and the debut novel by Jaclyn Gilbert, each of which shows the ways in which running continues to inspire athletes of all backgrounds.
By Jaclyn Gilbert
Little A, $15
Read it: When a Yale college running coach finds his star athlete unresponsive during a routine practice, the trauma resurrects ghosts of his failed marriage and forces him to face the consequences of his repressed past and tenuous grip on life. Desperate love and a terrible tragedy are contrasted against the backdrop of competitive women’s running in this debut novel from Gilbert.
Snapshot: “It wasn’t until several minutes later, in the distance, that he saw the white of her T-shirt, shapeless and crumpled. The closer he approached, the more he could discern of her body: fetal, motionless. He checked his stopwatch—10:23:57—and clicked stop. Frantically, he thrust his body forward, shoulders jerking unevenly to make up for his wobbly stride. He bent over where she lay in the grass. A dark-purple bruise marred her right temple.”
By Markus Torgeby
Bloomsbury Sport, $18
Read it: For a compelling real-life story of a young man who moved into the forest in northern Sweden at age 20 so that he could run and escape modern life, including caring for his MS-stricken mother. Translated from the Swedish bestseller, The Runner is the first-person account of how those four years in the Scandinavian wilderness turned him into the man he is today.
Snapshot: “I don’t move. Nor do the elks, and their big ears are pointing toward me like satellite dishes. We form a triangle—the bull, the cow and I. The elks have got the evening sun in their eyes and the wind at their backs. Their legs are long and thin, and they look strong. I run on, and so do the elks. There are crashing sounds from the forest as they disappear.”
The Incomplete Book of Running
By Peter Sagal
Simon and Schuster, $27
Read it: A tale about running from an untraditional voice, this book by Peter Sagal, host of NPR’s “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!” radio news show, tells the story of Sagal’s entrance into the world of running in his 40s. Amid the things that make up an everyday life, Sagal writes about his running experience and how it ultimately became something that speaks of the deeper principles in life, such as faith, hope and understanding, that truly keep us moving forward.
Snapshot: “There is regret and fear and doubt and there are the injuries done to us and there are the injuries we do to others. But the lesson and practice of running is, again, a faith in the possibility of positive change. That, in the end, if you run enough miles, with enough dedication and the right kind of mindset, if you accept the limitations of what’s possible but refuse to accept the rutted path of what’s painless, if you keep at it, if you keep going, you can become what it is you were meant to be.”