I love running. And I love reading. So reading about running--yes, please! Sometimes a good running book is just what I need to boost my motivation.
1. Once A Runner (and Again to Carthage) by John L. Parker, Jr.
The only fiction on this list (why don't we have more fiction about running?), Once a Runner and its sequel chronicle the adventures of Quenton Cassidy, a college miler and later an Olympic marathon hopeful. I picked up a copy at a used book store after reading about the author in Runner's World. It sat on my bookshelf for a few years, until I discovered the new sequel, purchased it, and determined to read them both. The fictional Cassidy's dedication is so inspiring that for a few weeks after reading the books, I tried to run two-a-days.
2. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
Part adventure story, part scientific query, Born to Run began as the author's quest to run without pain, a journey that took him to the Tarahumara Indians in the Copper Canyons of Mexico. It's a fascinating read, and taught me more about running than I've ever learned from a single book.
3. Bowerman and the Men of Oregon by Kenny Moore
I tend to buy books and let them sit on my shelf indefinitely, and this was one of those. When I finally picked it up, I couldn't believe I'd waited so long. It's lengthy, but worth it--Bill Bowerman's story deserves this many words. From his coaching career to his revolutionary running shoe creation, there are no dull moments. It made me miss track, running fast, and having a coach and a team.
4. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
The Japanese novelist Murakami started running when he started writing full-time, and here he recounts highlights from his running life and muses about the intersection of running and writing in his life. So many running memoirs are written by the best-of-the-best, front-of-the-packers, and, while inspiring, aren't very relatable. This is a refreshing change, written by a runner who runs not to win, but to enjoy running.
5. Eat and Run by Scott Jurek
There are a lot of elite-runner-memoirs out there, and I've read several and liked a few. This is the only one I liked enough to put on this list. One reason is that while Jurek is decidedly elite, he also comes across as real. As in, he's honest about the work he puts in and how hard it is, and that maybe he doesn't enjoy every excruciating bit of what it takes to be a standout ultrarunner, but that, to quote him, "Sometimes you just do things." Another reason is that he's vegan, and while I'm not vegan or even vegetarian, veganism fascinates me, and I've lately been trying to eat fewer animal products. So I like that there are recipes in this book--his chili recipe is the only one I use anymore!