Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dean & Me

The other night I finished reading Dean's book, Ultramarathon Man, for the third time. If you have 6 minutes and 10 seconds, this video gives a good idea of what his book is like.

Some books have nudged me. What I mean is that they have altered the manner in which I think about a given subject or given me a perspective that I didn't previous possess:
Intellectuals, Paul Johnson
Poland, James Michener
Banner of Heaven, Jon Krakauer
Lincoln, Carl Sandberg
Here I Stand, Roland Bainton
Freddy the Detective, Walter Brooks
The Count of Monte Cristo, Dumas
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Pirsig
Father of the Bride, Edward Streeter
Beyond Good and Evil, Friedrich Nietzsche
Tess of the D'Ubervilles, Hardy

Some books have greatly influenced me; leaving me significantly altered in thought and action:
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Parkinson's Law, Northcote Parkinson
South, Ernest Shackleton
The Orthodox Church, Timothy Ware
Charlotte Mason's volumes of delight-directed learning
Managing the Non-Profit Organization, Peter Drucker
The Three -Martini Playdate, Christie Mellor

Several books simply are who I am; that is, I am who I am because of these books:
the Bible
Future Grace, John Piper
almost every audio sermon by Piper (which impact me more readily than his books)
Religious Affections, Jonathan Edwards
portions of Calvin's Institutes
I Loved A Girl, Walter Trobisch
Growing Kids God's Way, Ezzo
The Return of the Prodigal Son, Henri Nouwen

I would have to say that Ultramarathon Man is now in this last category, not because it possesses divinely appointed words, or even subject matter; rather, it is a simplistic account of a man's insatiable desire for adventure and quest to find out how far he can push himself. Along the way, he meets incredible people, sees things others rarely see, runs farther than he imagined he could, and struggles to answer the question, "why is he doing this?" He runs through the night, when he's exhausted, where no one else has run, and he concludes that he is a better man, a better husband and father because of it.

I have found almost similar, although certainly far less demanding and dangerous, experiences: night running is quietly beautiful, hitting the 34 mile mark in a 50 mile run is exhiliarating, running 7 minute miles for the last two miles of a 50k is uncanny, and I am almost always a better, more patient, more thoughtful person after my long runs (from my perspective!).

So, with it fresh on my mind and legs, this is my unapologetic plug for Dean's book.


Mike W. said...

I agree with your assessment. I will need to check out a few of the books I have yet to read. Good post.

Turbo Photographs said...

Excellent video. Just added "50 Marathons" to my netflix queue.

SteveQ said...

That's a very interesting collection of books! My favorite parts of Dean's books were actually graphics: the elevation profile of Western States vs. Boston and the photo of his legs after 200 miles (puking in the company car was fun too).