Saturday, August 14, 2010

Born Without Shoes

Okay, so I'm hanging out at Barnes and Noble last Winter, just minding my own business, looking at books and doing a little Christmas shopping, when one book literally jumps off of the shelf and intentionally bumps into me causing my coffee to spill all over my shirt. Angry at first, I look up ready to yell at this rude and inconsiderate book when but one glance at its dust jacket, perhaps the most beautiful and interesting I have ever seen, melts my mood away as if I have just stumbled upon the loveliest girl in the room. That book was Born to Run by Christopher McDougall and it is the first book I knew I had to read based on the cover alone.

That day in Barnes and Noble our meeting was brief, as I had to run to the restroom to address the burns that were setting in on my chest and thighs. But that cover image was permanently burned into my brain: A small shadowy figure standing atop a rock beneath a deep blue cloudless sky. Under a simple yellow title the subtext read: 'A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen'. Though my skin was burning, every cell in my brain was issuing a collective "WTF?".

I didn't buy the book that day, but Santa Claus must have received my letter. On Christmas morning as I unwrapped my gifts that same obnoxious book came out of a package and smiled at me once more. We embraced for what seemed like hours and it apologized for spilling coffee on me in Barnes and Noble. My mother always told me that I should never judge a book by it's cover, but in this case I knew she was wrong, had to be. This book was different, special.

That night, Born to Run and I made love, and it was every bit as good as I thought it would be. Maybe better. All of the promises that were made on the dust jacket were kept and there were even a few surprises to be had. McDougall somehow manages to tell the history of running from the dawn of man until today, tie it in with a plucky band of ragtag ultra marathoners going to Mexico to run side by side with secret tribesmen, sells me on the benefits of barefoot running, and provides a very convincing arguement for why everyone can and should run. Surprisingly, it's not to sell more Nikes. In fact, after reading this book, you may never buy another pair of expensive running shoes again!

Without spoiling its contents, if you have any interest whatsoever at all in Anthropology, Endurance sports, humanity or coffee, I strongly urge you to go to Barnes and Noble and pick up a copy of this book.

I would let you borrow mine, but we are to be married next week...(Hey, it's legal in California!)

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