Karen's Book Corner

I've spent 30 years around books--working as a professional librarian-- and the last eight years running.  The two activities blur together in a very satisfying way, for me, in these webpages. Here are some of my recommendations for your personal running library.  The titles will change from time to time, so check back!
--Karen B

No Need for Speed: A Beginner's Guide to the Joy of Running
by John "the Penguin" Bingham
Rodale Press; 2002
ISBN: 1579544290

Inspirational and practical advice about the "whys" AND the "hows" of running--from what you'll need to what you'll want, and from what you'll do right to what you'll do wrong. Ever the musician, John divided the book into four sections: Inspiration, Perspiration, Dedication, and Celebration. Each section concludes with a more technical chapter on "Basic Truths" about getting started, injuries, cross-training, and racing. You'll love the "Lessons Learned" too--kernels of wisdom about their early running experiences from members of the Penguin Brigade.

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The Courage to Start: A Guide to Running for Your Life
by John "the Penguin" Bingham
Simon & Schuster, 1999
ISBN: 0684854554.

At the top of my list, of course.  Give this to all the people in your life who need inspiration and motivation to get out the door, to change their lives, to discover themselves.

Read what other Penguins are saying about The Courage to Start

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It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life
by Lance Armstrong
Putnam Pub Group, 2000
ISBN: 0399146113

It's not about running either, but Lance Armstrong has much to say about
life, courage, and determination that's relevant for runners as well as
cyclists. We're watching him now in the Tour de France. You'll appreciate
his journey more after you've read about his struggle to survive testicular
cancer and then make a comeback on the championship bicycling circuit; and,
of his metamorphosis from a brash, macho young biker to a mature athlete and
man. (Paperback edition to be published in September 2001.)

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Ice Bound: A Doctor's Incredible Battle for Survival at the South Pole
by Dr. Jerri Nielsen and Maryanne Vollers
Miramax Books, 2001
ISBN: 0786866845

While I was in Antarctica running a marathon, Jerri Nielsen appeared in the city where I live to promote her book.  Luckily a friend got me an autographed copy. Dr. Nielsen’s response when told that I was running a marathon in Antarctica was “Wow, that’s TOUGH!”  The comment pleased me. Then I read her story…and was almost embarrassed to have elicited such a remark from such a woman who struggled and triumphed so quietly and extraordinarily.

Dr. Nielsen writes of her own and her family’s emotional history and of how tragedy and training led her to “winterover” at the U.S. research station at the South Pole, as it’s lone physician for the 8 months of winter darkness when it is literally impossible to transport supplies or people to or from the Pole. Her self-diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer during that long winter, and the daring flight to rescue her and save her life, made Nielsen and this book news.

It’s a story of struggle and survival—not only in Antarctica and not just to beat breast cancer, but in Jerri Nielsen’s soul.  The glimpses of the Lost Continent—its beauty, harshness, hazards, the minutiae and crises of daily life and work there—are mesmerizing…as is the look into Dr. Nielsen’s emotional world, though gaps and questions remain at the book’s end.

The real reason to read any biography is to illumine our own story, to learn from the subject’s struggle, to perhaps emulate some bit of what one learns about that person’s outward and inner heroism.  Read Jerri Nielsen’s story.  It will enlighten yours, as a runner and as a human being.

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The Runner's Guide to the Meaning of Life: What 35 Years of RunningHas Taught Me About Winning, Losing, Happiness, Humility, and theHuman Heart
by Amby Burfoot.
Rodale Press, 2000
ISBN: 1579542638

The winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon and Executive Editor of Runner's World magazine shifts gears, from training to philosophy, in this lovely little book.  Relaxed and contemplative, Burfoot writes about the human side of running–how it connects and anchors us, shapes our thinking, sparks our creativity, and teaches us to regenerate ourselves, to begin anew.  If you read only one running book this season, make it this one.

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The Elements of Effort:  Reflections on the Art and Science of Running
by John Jerome
Breakaway Books, 1997
ISBN: 0671023705

A funny, elegant, altogether fabulous book.  Jerome makes you want to read about proprioception, pleasure and pain, warming up and cooling down at the molecular level, energy budgets, concentric and eccentric contractions, and the like.  At the same time, his assessment of the color of running clothes, bugs, whining, calluses, etc. will extract a wry smile.   You'll read this book in a couple of hours, but I promise you'll remember more than a few of Jerome's erudite, contrary observations for a long time to come.

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Healthy Runner's Handbook
by Lyle J. Micheli & Mark D. Jenkins
Human Kinetics Pub.
ISBN: 0880115246

Excellent information on how to prevent and treat over 30 common running injuries of the foot, ankle, leg, knee, hip, groin, pelvis, and back. Covers symptoms and causes, concerns of female runners, and nutrition.  I consult this book the minute an ache appears. Couldn't run without it.

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First Marathons: Personal Encounters with the 26.2-Mile Monster
by Gail Waesche Kislevitz
Breakaway Books, 1999
ISBN: 1891369113

Do you think you want to run a marathon?  Read this book first!  37 people, ordinary and world famous, tell their first-marathon stories.  All chose to test themselves.  Most speak of the personal transformations that resulted.  You won't put this one down until you've read the last account of these amazing journeys—journeys that cover far more than 26.2 miles.

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The Penguin Brigade Training Log
by John Bingham
Breakaway Books, 1998
ISBN: 1558216723

The Penguin Brigade is a running group like no other. It is dedicated to the notion that any running is good running, and that just waddling along can make you healthier in body, mind, and spirit. This book contains inspiration quotes, training advice in the Penguin spirit, and photos of the members of The Penguin Brigade.

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Penguin Wisdom
My legs are too short. Maybe yours are too. Or maybe they're too long or too wide or too something. But they reach the ground, and in the end, that's all that matters. These aching, chafing, too, short legs have taken me everywhere I want to go.


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Last Updated: April 1, 2002 7:39