Not Oprah’s Book Club: Born to Run

I’m not a runner. Never really have been. I played basketball and lacrosse in high school, did cartwheels on the soccer field as a kid, and yes, had one very sad season as a hurdler on the junior high track team (oh, poor 7th grade Courtney and those long, bird-like legs). But I’ve never had any desire to run a marathon or anything like that.
Which is why I’m utterly shocked that I liked Born to Run so much. First and foremost, it’s an extremely well-written piece of nonfiction. Christopher McDougall does a masterful job of telling a real tale as if it were a novel, interspersed with scientific and historical tangents that are largely riveting. That’s why it’s not just a book for runners, but anyone interested in physiology (did you know that running shoes are actually terrible for our feet?), anthropology (our ancestors most likely ran animals to death rather than actually hunting them!), and cultural preservation (there is a tribe of folks in Mexico who run the equivalent of ultra-marathons, drink lots o’ beer, and want nothing to do with modern technology).
On the feminist tip, there are some really interesting gender dynamics. One of the most celebrated ultra-marathoners in history is a woman, as is a central character in the book’s unfolding action. It’s also fairly evident that ancient women were just as adept in long distance running, designed to exhaust animals until they literally keeled over and died, perfect for dinner. Experts even believe some of these women ran miles with babies strapped to them.
I’m telling you, this book will blow your mind a bit. It might even make you want to run barefoot in the park.

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