⭐⭐⭐⭐Rating: 4 out of 5.
After reading the book Running with the Pack, I was delighted to find that there was a book that dived even deeper in the bond between wolf and man. For me this is the best type of philosophy book, one that is interspersed with more light-hearted moments from the author’s life, contrasted with constructive and deeper musings on the events in his or her life. I noticed that it took me a lot longer to get through the book, just because it took a while for the messages to sink in and understand them. Therefore, this is definitely a book that would not be better as an audiobook, because I think I would miss things because there’s no time to mull them over. One thing that happened during the reading of this book, is that all the notes and highlights I took on my e‑reader got deleted, due to me shuffling around some settings. This felt like a setback, one that temporarily makes you not want to be reminded of your mistake and discontinue reading the book. However, because I was so close to finishing it, it would have been silly not to. It made me think that the memories and lessons we gain from reading a book, if they are forgotten and we can no longer rely on our (digital) memory. Of course that is not the case, but it showed me how easily your brain delegates the task of remembering to a third party. Not sure if this topic is mentioned in the other book from this author about external memory, but it made me look forward to read that one as well!
A personal and relatable account what it means to give up alcohol in your life and how it impacts ones relationship with others. The subtle humor in this book was great and made the whole book a pageturner for me. The most important lesson in this book was the impact of a relapse after a prolonged period of abstention. Realizing the impact it can have, makes it so that you do not need to make this mistake yourself to learn from it. Another great lesson was that of just bluffing, even though you have not finished writing the book, mentioning that you want to publish one can help you make it happen, even if you don’t expect it. All in all, I would recommend this book to every young person reading and doubting their own intake of emotion-surpressing drugs.
The pacing of this story was quick and kept the attention easily, even if one’s recently abstaining from caffeine. Talking about the history and impact of society’s most accepted and widespread drug. Michael Pollan did a great job in relaying his experience with temporarily abstaining of coffee and later on using it as a tool, but insinuates it will creep back to an everyday ordeal. For the coming weeks I would like to follow his plan and just drink coffee on Sunday mornings and only then. Perhaps Saturdays could work as well, but I usually tend to do my long run on Sundays, so it would beneficial for that too. I appreciated the appearance of Matthew Walker and his view on caffeine’s effect on the sleep quality. I do notice, that even when I drink coffee in the morning that my sleep is impacted, so that would be a good motivation. One of the more insightful bits was about the difference in spot-focus and canvas focus, the latter would enhance creativity by loose association. Caffeine enhances the spot-focus and therefore linear thinking and might thus reduce one’s creativity. Knowing what it can and cannot do, might help one use it for the right use cases. Without coffee, there wouldn’t be this catalyst for the age of reason. The fact that it was a replacement for alcohol in the seventeenth century was new to me and that the coffee-houses played a big role in the enlightenment by exchanging ideas, so much so that the first modern encyclopedia found its origin in one of the coffee-houses in France.
As alluded to in my previous review, I figured out a way to copy my notes of the book to my computer. Which will make the process of writing reviews of ebooks a little easier in the long run. Talking about long runs, this book was a great summary of the journey into running not all that dissimilar to mine. Let me list some of the things in the book that I liked; First, there was the term ‘wild runner’, used for a running not affiliated with any athletics club, which amused me quite a lot. Secondly, the fact that you can run with any weather, except when the road is covered in black ice. Which is very true, because I have ran in all weather times and the most dangerous one was while it was slippery as hell. Let me add though that running in the middle of a field with thundering clouds above is something that also needs to be avoided. Thirdly, the lesson that if your persist long enough, eventually you’ll gain the strength and the skill that is required. Fourthly, that nothing is as frustrating as seeing someone run while you are injured yourself, that is a weird kind of jealousy, that makes me feel super sorry for the people that are permanently disabled. Lastly, the fact that you need to warm up cold water in your mouth to prevent digestive issues. I do know that cold wind can play a role in how the bowels feel, but I never made the connection with temperature of the water I consume. Luckily, my running backpack has a water bladder that warms up through the heat of my back, so even to the water in the drinking tube might cool down out in the cold, it will always be followed by warmer water. In the end, the book describes the life of an average runner and is therefore maybe more relatable than the stories of the accomplished runners. The fact the book was written in Dutch, the examples used were rather familiar so that must have helped as well. All in all, an enjoyable quick read!
The title of the book was what triggered my curiosity and as the title of the English translation, it is clear that this book had a good marketing team. The book wasn’t bad, the information about the title’s topic was very kept to a minimum. Some blog posts have written a more concise and extensive overview on the topic. However, a little repetition never hurts and there were a lot of things I had changed over last two years that made me feel good about my choices and the path I am on. Furthermore, the biggest lesson for me was that being optimistic has a significant impact on one’s life expectancy — extend it up to seven years — compared to more pessimistic people. Being aware that correlation is not causation, there is still a lot of merit to this observation and something I would want to work on the coming years if not decades. As a sidenote, this was the first book in which I extensively used the note-taking feature on my e‑reader to help me improve my vocabulary and highlight the sentences that resonate with me and that I would like to use in the summary. However, I find that many of these are in Dutch and not all of them would work well after translation. So for now, I’ll leave it at this and in the future I hope to extend this review with those lessons, after I figure out how to export them to a more manageable format instead of having to type it word for word. Even though the latter seems better for retention of the information, I think I would be less likely to do it for most of the books I read.
Knowing more about a person’s upbringing helps you better understand their personalities and traits. As an avid watcher of the programs that the author presents on Dutch television; ‘Keuringsdienst van Waarde’ and ‘De monitor’, I would like to know more about the presenter’s personal views. in the former program the goal is mostly to discover the truth behind all the promises that the food packages make, while in the latter, a more broader and idealistic goal is pursued, with the help of the stories from everyday people that write in. All in all, I was surprised at how well it was written, from a linguistic perspective, which makes sense knowing that he read a lot when he grew up, you pick up on a thing or two while you do so, I like to believe. The main topic of the book was the relationship with his ambitious and artistic father, which differs hugely from my own upbringing, as are the time and place of course. I found it to be a worthwhile read, with plenty of funny and recognizable examples. The only thing that was missing for me, was a bridge between his early past at primary school and how this affected his bond with his dad. For example, when he became a father himself and how this might have changed his relationship with his own dad. I doubt there will be a sequel.
The myth of Achilles is a story that has fascinated me ever since I was younger, so it was time for a deep-dive. Without spoiling too much of the story, I was a bit disappointed that the expectation with regards to his heel were not met. I have come to learn that this was added to the story at a later moment in time and hence might be imagined, but so were many other parts of the story. Apparently, hearsay is difficult to correct, once it has spread among the populous, almost like a (corona)virus of the mind. Honestly, I liked the well-known ending better, but I appreciate this more realistic version of the death of a half-god. For me there was definitely a part in the middle of the book with which I struggled and luckily the pace picked up later on. The fact that the protagonist was such a wuss from the start out might be the cause. All in all, after this, I am looking forward to read more stories of mythology, both Greek and Norse.
The main selling-point of this book is the idea that (static) stretching is worthless as a warm-up for your run. Better would be to dynamically stretch, as many other sources online recommend, but what was new to me was the fact that it focused on joint extensions. Basically, moving through the whole range of joint movements that will be used in the exercise thereafter, and that simply starting from walking, to brisk-walking, a slow tred and jog to proper running. That this build-up can really help preparing the muscles and tendons for the motions to come. Since I could pick up this book for a cheap price, I wonder if there’s anything wrong with its advice, but to me the evidence seems to hold up.
The other part of the book talks about the physiology of the human musculoskeletal system and what goes wrong when you are injured. The importance of scar tissue is discussed, and when you take complete rest, the scar tissue grows in random directions and when you move within your limits, that you can force this tissue to grow in the correct direction, which will help increase the chances of a full recovery. So that is definitely something to keep in mind for the future, and seems to hold true for the two times I have been injured myself, first fully resting, secondly resting while moving. Note: The second injury was a little less severe, so that might skew the data.
The last lesson I learned was about the synovia, the fluid inside the joints and how it feeds the cartilage of the joints. And with inactivity, this fluid doesn’t move and the cartilage deteriorates. Contrary, to common believe, it is this moving of the joints that helps it keep in good shape and there is no wear and tear of joints, only this type of rusting, so to speak!
Fascinating book, it is clear that the author spent a lot of time thinking while running with his dogs/wolf and is equally determined to write down and clarify his thoughts. There were a few big learnings for me, that put running in a new perspective for me. Mainly, in the Dutch version, he talks about “running is remembering”, remembering what we have lost along the way. A second, unexpected lesson was a way to humbly face the inevitable decay that will set in, sooner or later. The final perspective that stuck with me was its focus on running being a form of play, not of work and how unique that is.
The one thing that would take away half a star, would be the penultimate chapter in which there is just too much philosophical chitchat on his identity and what he is not, to exemplify Sartre’s view on the consciousness. Personally i found it to be just a little confusing and not helping further his main argument of his philosophy on running and its intrinsic value.
I was surprised by the many words I didn’t know the existence of, these really stretched my vocabulary, but again, makes the book less accessible to the reader and prevents the deeper understanding of its contents.
I found it to be a delight to listen to this book out on a run, while realizing how I’ve incorporated more reading in my life through the ability of being able to listen simultaneously and get lost in a virtual world as I do in the real world by foot. For me, there were a few funny coincidences that I came across, one was talking about the book Too Much Happiness, which I planned to read this month for a bookclub, but it got cancelled due to the coronavirus concerns. The passage was about bilbiotherapy and misunderstanding the book’s title as a self-help book. The practice of doctors and psychiatrists prescribing books as part of a cure is not a bad thought at all. I do think that I owe a very large portion of my current healthy lifestyle through reading, something that I doubt would have happened if a doctor told me so. Another fun fact was concerning the very first edition of the vegetarian cookbook being made out of parchment, thus from dead animals. Gutenberg’s press was mostly used for single sheets indulgences, to reduce one’s sins. And not for printing bibles what I had always assumed, so lots of nuggets and overall it helped me appreciate how lucky I am to find myself in a time where one can read by listening. This book also discussed its uses, virtues and how it impacts communities small and large. In the future I would like to have a physical copy on my shelves.