Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Journalist and recreational runner Christopher McDougall's epic adventure Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen began with a simple question: "Why does my foot hurt?" Finding the answer led him through the dangerous terrain of Mexico's Copper Canyon in search of the running secrets of the reclusive Tarahumara Indians, into the competitive and quirky world of ultrarunning, to consultations with sports medicine experts and high-tech science labs at Harvard, and ultimately to the race of his life. With humor, enthusiasm, and humility, McDougall argues that we are all born to run. In an interview with his publisher, McDougall says, "I think ultrarunning is America's hope for the future. Honestly. The ultrarunners have got a hold of some powerful wisdom. You can see it at the starting line of any ultra race. I showed up at the Leadville Trail 100 expecting to see a bunch of hollow-eyed Skeletors, and instead it was, 'Whoah! Get a load of the hotties!' Ultra runners tend to be amazingly healthy, youthful and - believe it or not - good looking. I couldn't figure out why, until one runner explained tht throughout history, the four basic ingredients for optimal health have been clean air, good food, fresh water, and low stress. And that, to a T, describes the daily life of an ultrarunner. They're out in the woods for hours at a time, breathing pine-scented breezes, eating small bursts of digestible food, downing water by the gallons, and feeling their stress melt away with the miles. But here's the real key to that kingdom: you have to relax and enjoy the run" (http://www.randomhouse.com/) A reviewer for Booklist calls Born to Run "slyly important." What could this story about a sports event for outliers of the running world have to say to the average reader?
To catch up with Christopher McDougall and Caballo Blanco, read their interviews on the Outside blog: http://outside-blog.away.com/blog/2010/02/born-to-run-christopher-mcdougall-interview.html and http://outside-blog.away.com/blog/2010/03/born-to-run-caballo-blanco-interview.html.
To learn more about a new nonprofit, Norawas de Raramuri, or Friends of the Tarahumara, that works to support local and international foot races that will celebrate and encourage the Raramuri running culture and benefit Raramuri communities, visit http://www.norawas.org/.
Monday, April 5, 2010
One of the most inspiring books we have read for our Not Fiction Book Discussions is Mountains Beyond Mountains by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy Kidder, the story of Dr. Paul Farmer and his quest to provide free, dignified health care for people in Haiti and beyond with his nonprofit organization Partners In Health. In his new book, Strength in What Remains, Kidder tells the story of a young man who worked for Farmer at Partners In Health, a hero for our times. Deogratias, a medical student from Burundi, survived civil war and genocide in Burundi and Rwanda and fled to America, where he found himself homeless, plagued by nightmares of the violence he had witnessed, and with no English. The story of how he met strangers who would help him find his way to medical school and of how, with great hope and forgiveness, he established a medical clinic in Burundi, "transcends the moment and becomes as powerful and compelling as those journeys of myth" (Jonathan Harr). Kidder writes, "When Deo first told me about his beginnings in New York, I had a simple thought: 'I would not have survived.'" What were the ingredients in Deo's almost mythical ability not just to survive but to transcend? Providence? Character? Experience? The coincidence of meeting the right people at the right time? And what can we learn from this great story of our times?
We invite you to join our discussions: Tuesday, April 6 at 6:30 p.m. at Main Library; Thursday, April 22 at 11:00 a.m. at West Ashley Branch Library; or here on the blog.
To learn more about Partners in Health, Paul Farmer's nonprofit, visit http://www.pih.org/.
To learn more about Village Health Works, Deogratias' nonprofit, which has served more than 28,000 patients since opening its doors in December 2007, visit http://www.villagehealthworks.org/.