My Year of Running Dangerously

My Year of Running Dangerously: A Dad, a Daughter, and a Ridiculous Plan

by Tom Foreman

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CNN correspondent Tom Foreman’s remarkable journey from half-hearted couch potato to ultra-marathon runner, with four half-marathons, three marathons, and 2,000 miles of training in between; a poignant and warm-hearted tale of parenting, overcoming the challenges of age, and quiet triumph.

As a journalist whose career spans three decades, CNN correspondent Tom Foreman has reported from the heart of war zones, riots, and natural disasters. He has interviewed serial killers and been in the line of fire. But the most terrifying moment of his life didn’t occur on the job–it occurred at home, when his 18-year old daughter asked, “How would you feel about running a marathon with me?” 

At the time, Foreman was approaching 51 years old, and his last marathon was almost 30 years behind him. The race was just sixteen weeks away, but Foreman reluctantly agreed. Training with his daughter, who had just started college, would be a great bonding experience, albeit a long and painful one. 

My Year of Running Dangerously is Foreman’s journey through four half-marathons, three marathons, and one 55-mile race. What started as an innocent request from his daughter quickly turned into a rekindled passion for long-distance running–for the training, the camaraderie, the defeats, and the victories. Told with honesty and humor, Foreman’s account captures the universal fears of aging and failure alongside the hard-won moments of triumph, tenacity, and going further than you ever thought possible.

I officially signed up for my first marathon today! 2018 has brought about a love of running, and not surprisingly, a love for books about running. I’m good at combining my hobbies ☺️.

I decided to keep reading running books after finishing How to Lose a Marathon. I picked up the audio version of My Year of Running Dangerously, which is about Tom Foreman’s return to long distance running. Tom Foreman is a correspondent for CNN, but I wasn’t interested in news or politics. I was interested in hearing how he went from a couch potato to running four half-marathons, 3 marathons, and one ultra marathon in one year! My Year of Running Dangerously provided just that!

Tom’s running journey starts when his eldest daughter requests they train for a marathon together. Foreman tells the story of his training, including excerpts of running as a child, his first marathons run in his 20s, and his unintentional loss of the sport after the arrival of kids. Readers follow Foreman as he runs a marathon with his daughter, and then jumps head first into the sport of long distance running.

I absolutely loved My Year of Running Dangerously! Forman doesn’t hold back, providing both the good and the bad of his journey. We hear how running brings him closer to family while simultaneously causing strain in his work/training/life balance. We experience scary training runs, moments of defeat, and painful injuries. We run alongside on fantastic runs, see gorgeous trails, and embrace the feeling of accomplishment. Foreman talks about the people he’s met, details the places he’s seen, and shares the life revelations experienced while running. Plus, the audio book is read by the author, which makes makes you feel as if your sharing running stories with Foreman on a lazy afternoon.

My Year of Running Dangerously was just what I needed as I start my next stage of training. It reassured me that I was not alone in my struggles or joys, and made me look forward to my next race. It’s the perfect read for runners and those wishing to learn more about why people choose to run.

So, expect many more running nonfiction books this year :). And please let me know if you have any recommendations! Happy reading (and running)!

Lindsay

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Eiger Dreams

Eiger Dreams: Ventures Among Men and Mountains

by Jon Krakauer

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No one writes about mountaineering and its attendant victories and hardships more brilliantly than Jon Krakauer. In this collection of his finest essays and reporting, Krakauer writes of mountains from the memorable perspective of one who has himself struggled with solo madness to scale Alaska’s notorious Devils Thumb.

In Pakistan, the fearsome K2 kills thirteen of the world’s most experienced mountain climbers in one horrific summer. In Valdez, Alaska, two men scale a frozen waterfall over a four-hundred-foot drop. In France, a hip international crowd of rock climbers, bungee jumpers, and paragliders figure out new ways to risk their lives on the towering peaks of Mont Blanc. Why do they do it? How do they do it? In this extraordinary book, Krakauer presents an unusual fraternity of daredevils, athletes, and misfits stretching the limits of the possible.

From the paranoid confines of a snowbound tent, to the thunderous, suffocating terror of a white-out on Mount McKinley, Eiger Dreams spins tales of driven lives, sudden deaths, and incredible victories. This is a stirring, vivid book about one of the most compelling and dangerous of all human pursuits.

Eiger Dreams is my first nonfiction read in 2018! (One down…eleven to go!)

I liked it. It’s not going to be my favorite book of 2018 but I did enjoy Eiger Dreams. I started the year craving a book that would satisfy my need for adventure. I found myself looking at Jon Krakauer books on Audible, I realized that I had no desire to read Into the Wild (and probably never will) and that I wasn’t up to reading Into Thin Air (I can be lazy…what can I say?). Eiger Dreams seemed to be a perfect choice for my first Jon Krakauer read. It is different because it is a series of articles, some of which were published in magazines, that detail different climbing styles and locations. Each article is full of eccentric characters, death defying feats, and Krakauer’s own climbing experiences.

The format made Eiger Dreams feel like a quick read. This is essential to enjoy the story as Krakauer’s stories have a way of disenchanting the romance of climbing while also pulling at adventurous heartstrings in a way that makes you want to sell everything you own for the next trip. It can be a pretty overwhelming wave of emotion by the time you finish one climb. And then you are off to another part of the word! Eiger Dreams introduces readers to a variety of cultures that seem so foreign while so familiar as the field is full of the same type of character who longs to reach the top of each peek.

My only complaint can not be considered a complaint because its not the book’s fault. Eiger Dreams it dated. The book was published in 1997 and I never forgot that while listening. The book was great, but I finished it ready to pick up a second installment. Ready to read more stories, newer adventures, of those who long to conquer nature’s peaks and ignore danger to follow their passion

It was an interesting read, and I recommend for those wishing to learn more about the varied aspects of climbing. Let me know if you have read Eiger Dreams. What is your favorite Krakauer book?

Have a great weekend!

Lindsay

Descent Into Darkness

Descent Into Darkness

Pearl Harbor 1941: A Navy Diver’s Memoir

by Edward C. Raymer

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A tribute to the audacious Navy divers who performed the almost super-human deeds that served to shorten the war.

I’m just going to go ahead and let you know that this is one of my favorite books of 2017! Ok, so let me tell you what it about. Descent Into Darkness is the memoir of Commander Edward C. Raymer where he describes his time as a Navy Salvage Diver assigned to help raise the battleships sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The story begins right before the attack, when Raymer signs up for diver training and follows the young sailor through the raising of the battleships and his experiences during the campaign in the Solomon Islands.

This story has been on my TBR for a long time. And by a long time, I mean 3 to 4 years. Descent Into Darkness is my husband’s favorite book and he has been asking me to read it since he first picked it up. Sadly, I was just burned out on nonfiction thanks to years of grad school, and despite being interested in the subject since I am a military history nerd and an experienced scuba diver, I just couldn’t pick it up. Thankfully, Mike decided we were going to listen to it on our way back from celebrating New Years in Texas, and I was hooked within the first thirty minutes!

The narrative style is fluid and leaves readers feeling as if they are sharing a beer with Raymer while he tells his war stories. The prose is detailed and the descriptions of diving operations are detailed enough to keep experienced divers enthralled but also presented in layman’s terms which make the procedures understandable and relatable for those with little to no knowledge diving or salvage operations. Descent Into Darkness also provides a detailed look at life on Hawaii in the wake of the attack as Raymer includes plenty of hilarious antics as he and his team members managed to find enjoyment in a dangerous job and survive an island in the throws of prohibition.

I do provide a warning for readers. First, this is a story about sailors in their early twenties stuck on an island where there were far more men than women, and Raymer shares the sexual antics of his team. Also, be prepared to read about the realities of war. Yes Raymer has a humorous and lighthearted writing style, but you must remember there were men on those ships when the harbor was attacked. The divers do encounter bodies of fallen comrades and Raymer does not dance around the realities of working in these conditions. I found his honest approach refreshing and educational, especially in a time where harsh truths are glossed over for the sake of peoples feelings and the demands of political correctness. This is a real account, with real stories, where young men willingly risk their lives to do a job. It is everything I love about a good nonfiction piece.

I recommend Descent Into Darkness to everyone, but especially to anyone interested in the development of dive salvage procedures, World War II history, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the real experiences of those who ‘just went to work’ when the nation needed them most. Today marks 76 years since the attack on Pearl Harbor and I can’t think of a better way of honoring the greatest generation than by sharing this book with y’all.

Lindsay

Mad City

Mad City: The True Story of the Campus Murders that America Forgot

by Michael Arntfield

Mad City: The True Story of the Campus Murders That America Forgot

Mad City: The True Story of the Campus Murders That America Forgot is a chilling, unflinching exploration of American crimes of the twentieth century and how one serial killer managed to slip through the cracks—until now.

In fall 1967, friends Linda Tomaszewski and Christine Rothschild are freshmen at the University of Wisconsin. The students in the hippie college town of Madison are letting down their hair—and their guards. But amid the peace rallies lurks a killer.

When Christine’s body is found, her murder sends shockwaves across college campuses, and the Age of Aquarius gives way to a decade of terror.

Linda knows the killer, but when police ignore her pleas, he slips away. For the next forty years, Linda embarks on a cross-country quest to find him. When she discovers a book written by the murderer’s mother, she learns Christine was not his first victim—or his last. The slayings continue, and a single perpetrator emerges: the Capital City Killer. As police focus on this new lead, Linda receives a disturbing note from the madman himself. Can she stop him before he kills again?

I received Mad City as my September Amazon First book and decided to upgrade it to the audiobook version because I usually prefer listening to nonfiction books. I was intrigued by the prospect of learning about a forgotten homicide; however, I quickly found myself disappointed in the story’s progression and actually relieved when I finally reached the end.

As you may guess, this will not be a glowing review of Mad City, which I rated 2 out of 5 stars. Mad City, per the synopsis, promises a discussion of the murder of Christine Rothschild in 1968 at the University of Wisconsin. Sure, we learn about this murder, take a detailed look at the killer, and follow Christine’s best friend, Linda, on her personal witch hunt for justice. We also learn about seven other murders (I think it was seven) of females loosely associated with the University of Wisconsin that occur over a span of 15 years after Christine’s death. Additionally, readers are treated to an intense discussion of criminal profiling, criminal mentality, the differences between criminal modus operandi, MO, and signature, as well as, a detailed discussion of every major serial homicide case in America between 1968 and 2013. It was just too much.

I want to get my positive points out now. The prose was well constructed. Additionally, Arntfield is obviously knowledgeable about criminology. His discussion of the criminal mind and detailing of a variety of cases is well researched and comprehensively presented. Honestly, I would consider Mad City a decent novel if it had been marketed as a nonfiction piece evaluating criminal mentality in serial murderers. These two points are the only reason I didn’t stamp Mad City with just 1 out of 5 stars.

Mad City starts strong with the details of the Christine Rothschild case, but then quickly disintegrates into chapters upon chapters of information overload. Readers are forced to sift through the information in an attempt to distinguish the forgotten campus murders between descriptions of other murder scenes, other killers, and other cities plagued with serial murder activity. Unsurprisingly, this information overload completely negates the purpose of Mad City, and leaves these UW campus murders all but forgotten in this criminology text. Additionally, Arntfield pulls this nonfiction into the realm of fiction, when he consistently provides the thoughts and motivations of every investigator associated with the UW campus murders over the course of 15-20 years. What follows is blatant cop-bashing as Arntfield pretty much claims that these investigators intentionally ignored these cases, attempted to ‘pin the crimes’ on individuals just to get them off their desk, and refused to connect the murders out of sheer laziness. Arntfield does give some nod to the lack of modern investigation techniques hampering progress, but his credibility is completely ruined by his blatant padding with pure conjecture. It is cop-bashing by a former cop and has no place in a work of nonfiction.

Spoilers: there are a number of times when the author breaks the fourth wall and provides his personal opinion on events. This type of writing is fine in certain types of nonfiction works (memoirs, self-help books, travel stories, etc.). It is not appropriate in a historical true crime novel, unless the author has a personal role in the story. I spent the whole story annoyed with this audacious style UNTIL it is revealed the author does have a personal role in the story IN THE LAST CHAPTER. UGH! This should have been announced in the epilogue or first chapter, and would have justified the language of the novel.

Sadly, I do not think Mad City succeeded in informing readers on the campus murders that America forgot. The overload of crime information only managed to further muddle the University of Wisconsin murders. I was disappointed, but I do feel that Arntfield has potential if he can make his work on criminology strictly objective.

Do you have any true crime nonfiction that you suggest? I need to read something good!

Lindsay

Changes

Hello fellow readers! Sorry its been so long, but I have some exciting news! Sand Between the Pages is getting a makeover!

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I have had a wonderful time sharing book reviews over the last couple of years, but its time for a change. Don’t worry; you’ll still get to read reviews, but I will be focusing on specific genres from now on. See, just days ago I realized it was officially two years since this happened…

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And I realized how much I missed history and reading nonfiction. I have been ignoring what I loved most about grad school: HISTORY! So I decided it was time to getting back to my passions.

Sand Between the Pages will now be History and Mystery: Book Reviews by Lindsay. I will be sharing reviews on nonfiction and historical fiction. I will also be sharing video reviews on my new YouTube channel, History and Mystery. (It is still under construction but will be up in the next couple of days!)

I will also have a set schedule for posts:

Monday: A once a month post about period tv shows or documentaries. 

Tuesday: My written book review. 

Thursday: A link to my YouTube review. 

Friday: Posts about historic events. 

I can’t tell you how excited I am about the new direction! It’s nice to get back to be aspect of what makes me me! Welcome to History and Mystery!

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Writing Updates – February

I decided to do a monthly writing update for 2015.  You probably aren’t too interested in my writing goals, but I have found these posts keep me motivated and positive.  Read on if you’d like and feel free to check out last month’s post and get the details on my two works-in-progress!

1.  Title: The Pocket Guide to Surviving Grad School Or  Getting Through Three Years of Self-Inflicted Higher Education Hell

Genre: Non-Fiction, Humor

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My Status: I finished a very rough first draft of the pocket guide at the beginning of February.  My plan is to edit and have it out to beta readers by mid-March.  It’s pretty short so I should be able to get it done!

2. Title: Winter

(still in need of an actual title)

Genre: Mystery, Humor

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My Status: I have written about 2/3rds of the first draft and am soooooo ready to finish.  I absolutely love the story but I am ready to rewrite and edit.  I really enjoy editing!  I plan on finishing the first draft within the next few weeks and hopefully start editing.

Let me know about your writing goals!

Lindsay

Writing Updates!

 

My plan for 2015 is to write as much as I can.  I am focusing on just getting first drafts finished and these monthly updates will hold me accountable in my writing.  So here is what was accomplished in January:

1.  Title: The Pocket Guide to Surviving Grad School Or  Getting Through Three Years of Self-Inflicted Higher Education Hell

Genre: Non-fiction, Humor

Synopsis:  So you want to go to grad school?  No big deal right?  I mean, you made it through your undergrad and you are now older and much more mature.  Grad school should be a breeze!  WRONG!  Learn from my naivety and make the most of your new living hell!  The Pocket Guide to Surviving Grad School is here to provide advice and answer questions you never dreamed of asking!

I am here to ensure both grad students and their support teams that you are not alone and that this too shall pass.  Take a quick study break, drown yourself in coffee, and flip through The Pocket Guide to Surviving Grad School for a much needed laugh!

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My Thoughts:  My time in grad school was tough.  I worked full time, went to school full time, and did a part time internship.  It was hard, exhausting, and often spirit destroying.  I cried, a lot.  I could fall asleep standing up.  My fellow students were really the only ones that understood what I was going through.  It was hard on me and my family, but I finally finished.

I expected life to go back to normal after school, but I found that I was still fighting depression and a lack of self confidence.  I decided that I just needed some time to readjust, so I was content to spend my days at a dead-end job and watching hours of TV.  This was even harder for my family to deal with because they felt I was wasting all my hard work.  I was prepared to just ride it out, but then my best friend started going through the same thing as her graduation approached.

I decided to write it all down to help explain what we were going through.  I included my unique brand of humor to help us laugh.  I use my personal stories and advice to help grad students know what their getting in to and to let them know that they are not alone.  There is a separate section for the family/friends/spouses of grad students on how they can survive the experience.

2. Title: Winter

(this is just the work-in-progress title and will be changed asap)

Genre: Mystery, Humor

Synopsis:  Lucy Jones is a Creative Writing Graduate student at the prestigious Colorado Institute of Art.  She is at her dream school working towards her dream job and her life would be amazing if it wasn’t for Dr. William Morgan.  Dr. Morgan is determined to crush Lucy’s spirit, treating her more like his personal slave instead of just his Teacher’s Assistant.  She spends her days surviving the stress and workload with no time for creative thought. Lucy can’t help but feel that this degree is a waste of her time and her dreams of being a writer slowly fade.

Then she finds Dr. Morgan’s dead body frozen in the snow.

Lucy tries to feel bad about the murder but she is finally free to pursue her dreams!  But Dr. Morgan manages to cause problems even in death and soon Lucy must abandon her studies to prove her family’s innocence.

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My Thoughts:  Yep, another grad school story.  I started writing this to put a much exaggerated and fun spin on the world of academia.  Plus, this is one of my favorite genres to read, so why not try writing it?  I am halfway through my first draft and enjoying every minute of it!  Side note: None of the characters are based on real people.

Let me know about your writing goals!  Lindsay