June 26, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday

Don't forget to enter my Cheribundi giveaway to win some yummy tart cherry juice!

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
Goodreads SummaryThe Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone—and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead “checking out” impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he’s embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behavior and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what’s going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore.

With irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan has crafted a literary adventure story for the twenty-first century, evoking both the fairy-tale charm of Haruki Murakami and the enthusiastic novel-of-ideas wizardry of Neal Stephenson or a young Umberto Eco, but with a unique and feisty sensibility that’s rare to the world of literary fiction. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave, a modern-day cabinet of wonders ready to give a jolt of energy to every curious reader, no matter the time of day.

My Thoughts:  Oh my gosh.  I cannot say enough good things about this quirky, fun book.  If you are a book lover, read it now.  If you are a tech geek, same.  If you are both, RUN to the library and check it out.  I had a blast following Clay on his journey into the strange world of Mr. Penumbra's cooky book store and the following adventures it leads him on.  This book involves secret societies, eccentric bibliophiles, three story book stores with sliding ladders, visits to the Google campus, a search for a literary "fountain of youth, code breaking, and possibly most importantly, a witty and likable narrator.  Totally recommend.
4.5/5 Stars

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
Goodreads Summary: Full of incredible characters, amazing athletic achievements, cutting-edge science, and, most of all, pure inspiration, Born to Run is an epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt?In search of an answer, Christopher McDougall sets off to find a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners and learn their secrets, and in the process shows us that everything we thought we knew about running is wrong.

Isolated by the most savage terrain in North America, the reclusive Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s deadly Copper Canyons are custodians of a lost art. For centuries they have practiced techniques that allow them to run hundreds of miles without rest and chase down anything from a deer to an Olympic marathoner while enjoying every mile of it. Their superhuman talent is matched by uncanny health and serenity, leaving the Tarahumara immune to the diseases and strife that plague modern existence. With the help of Caballo Blanco, a mysterious loner who lives among the tribe, the author was able not only to uncover the secrets of the Tarahumara but also to find his own inner ultra-athlete, as he trained for the challenge of a lifetime: a fifty-mile race through the heart of Tarahumara country pitting the tribe against an odd band of Americans, including a star ultramarathoner, a beautiful young surfer, and a barefoot wonder.

With a sharp wit and wild exuberance, McDougall takes us from the high-tech science labs at Harvard to the sun-baked valleys and freezing peaks across North America, where ever-growing numbers of ultrarunners are pushing their bodies to the limit, and, finally, to the climactic race in the Copper Canyons. Born to Run is that rare book that will not only engage your mind but inspire your body when you realize that the secret to happiness is right at your feet, and that you, indeed all of us, were born to run.

My Thoughts: I know I am super late to the Born to Run party, but I just never got around to reading it until this summer.  I'm glad I finally did!  This book was so fascinating from cover to cover.  I loved reading about thee Tarahumara, the ultra marathoners McDougall meets, the crazy Leadville 100 mile race, all of the science behind the theory that humans evolved as a culture of "Running Men"...everything.  I'll admit, it made me want to try barefoot running, pinole, and chia seeds!  Although I will probably just stick to chia seeds. :)  I also loved that it totally reads like a novel, a very quick, fascinating read.  I found myself sharing anecdotes from the book with my mom whom I am currently traveling with and who could care less about running...maybe I should save those anecdotes to share with runner friends when I get home!  I'll finish with a favorite section of the book:

"Distance running was revered because it was indispensable; it was the way we survived and thrived and spread across the planet. You ran to eat and to avoid being eaten; you ran to find a mate and impress her, and with her you ran off to start a new life together. You had to love running, or you wouldn't live to love anything else. And like everyhing else we ove--everything we sentimentally call our 'passions' and 'desires' it's really an encoded ancestral necessity. We were born to run; we were born because we run. We're all Running People, as the Tarahumara have always known.” 
4/5 Stars

What have you been reading this week?

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