Good Reads: Dave Grohl, The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music

B is a longstanding member of the NY Public Library system. She rips through like 2-3 books per week sometimes. Occasionally while perusing the library inventory she will pick up a book or two for me as well. Sometimes I get around to reading them, sometimes not. One of such books in the “did read” category recently was Dave Grohl’s “The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music.”Continue reading

Winter Running Gear — Salewa Jacket

The Author Cranking Through Some Winter Miles in That New Jacket. Photo: Dr. B. Maschal Private Collection.

For the past 15 years or so, I have been using a Nike waffle fleece lined neoprene zip-up for cold weather running. It has been an awesome jacket. After a few thousand trips through the washing machine, it is starting to come apart at the seams. I have been creeping the Nike website like a fiend, looking for a new one since it first started to fall apart last Autumn. Continue reading

Winter Running Gear — Nike Trail Shoes

Running in the winter can be tricky because of the mixed conditions that often exist. I find this to especially be true when spending time in the Catskills. The routes that I run typically are a mix of paved and unpaved roads. In the winter, depending on when it last snowed, the last plow, if the sun is out, etc., one can encounter everything from snow, to mud, and dry pavement, to solid ice (sometimes all on the same road!). I have some friends who wear the elastic mini crampons in the winter. I think that those would be awesome for a run that is entirely on snow or ice. But when pavement and dirt/mud are also in the mix, I feel like they would probably wear out in a handful of miles. Continue reading

Good Reads- “Barbarian Days, A Surfing Life” by William Finnegan

This book was actually a gift from B (sort of). B was the one who added it to the Amazon cart, but it was my turn to pay for the order, haha. Anyway, I’m glad she did because I loved reading this book. It had been a while since I read a book that I didn’t want to put down at the end of the night. This was definitely one of those. To enjoy this book, being a fan of surfing definitely helps. But even if surfing is not your cup of tea, Finnegan is such an incredible writer that it may not matter. The book is essentially an autobiography with an emphasis on the plentiful elements of surfing that comprise his life. The prose with which he uses to tell these stories is as artful as it is interesting. Finnegan’s tales of the ‘barbarian days’ evoke a strong sense of nostalgia for a bygone era of simpler times when the world seemed much larger and more mysterious. I highly recommend reading this book.

Good Reads: “Wayward” by Chris Burkhard

Once again I have to thank Fieldmag for turning me onto this gem. Prior to reading the Q & A Fieldmag posted, I had certainly heard of Burkhard and was semi-familiar with his work (I stopped reading surf mags before Burkhard really became a fixture in that world). But after reading the piece, I realized that he was a pretty interesting dude who probably had some cool stories to tell. A few pages into the book, I could already tell it was right up my alley. As a kid who loved photography and board sports, young me essentially dreamed of having Burkhard’s life. The stories that he tells from his early career left a little bit of FOMO pang in my gut. If you are remotely interested in photography and/or cold water surf, I highly recommend this book. The images alone are worth the flip. Plus, the hard cover makes it a very handsome addition to the coffee table.

Good Reads: ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’ by Bill Bryson

This is another recommendation from my old man. It is actually his copy (complete with hand-marked copy editing, haha). This was my first read by Bryson, and I quite enjoyed it. Brittany has read most of his catalogue, and got so excited when I picked this thing up, that she bought me 4 or 5 other of his books to read. Anyway, the premise of this gem is that Bryson was interested in science, but could never pay attention to the dry text that is so ubiquitous in science writing. So he set out to explain science in a way that is captivating (and even entertaining). In my opinion, he succeeded. It doesn’t hurt matters that he is a pretty funny writer. I definitely recommend this book to fellow nerds.

Good Reads: Phil Knight’s ‘Shoe Dog’

I have been sitting on this one for a long time. “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight came recommended by several friends back when it was first released. I finally knocked it out on flight last summer, but am barely getting around to posting this eightish months later. As a person who enjoys college sports, running, history and sneakers, this book checked a lot of boxes for me. Before reading this book, I had only known bits and pieces of the Nike story. My knowledge was mostly based around Prefontaine and Bowerman, but I didn’t really know much about Knight. It is a great story, and Knight is a pretty good story teller. I highly recommend checking this one out.

Good Reads: ‘The Passion Paradox’

This is probably not a book that I would have chosen to read on my own. B reads a ton of these self mastery type of books because of their relevance to her line of work. She recommended it to me because one of the authors was a competitive runner. The crux of this book, “The Passion Paradox,” by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness, is unpacking what catchphrases like “finding your passion” and “living a balanced life” really mean. Further, the book uses historical real world examples of how applying such ideas in one’s life does not always yield the intended consequences (i.e. long term success, happiness, fulfillment, etc.). I normally find these types of books cheesy and only marginally (if at all) scientific. But I really did enjoy this read, and it caused me to scrutinize some personal traits with a new perspective after having digested the text. Worth checking out, in my opinion.

Good Reads: ‘Team of Rivals’

I have been reading this book on and off for a couple of years. I normally read on the go, and lugging a 700+ pager around with me is not something that I have really done since law school. I finally finished it a couple of weeks ago, and now I’m kind of sad that it’s over. “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin is an extremely well written (obviously, since she’s got a Pulitzer), chronological account of Lincoln’s life. The focus of the book is on Lincoln’s political career, but it is obvious that his professional demeanor was shaped by certain aspects of Lincoln’s humble upbringing, also covered in this text. Before reading this book, I didn’t know the full extent of Lincoln’s true genius (not in the hyperbole way that people have used to dumb down this word) and strength of character. It is unlikely that the US will ever see another person of Lincoln’s caliber occupying its highest office. I highly recommend this book.

Good Reads: ‘We, The Drowned’

This book was a bit of a deviation from my normal fare, in that, it’s fiction. I have a hard time reading just for entertainment’s sake. I like to be able to take away bit of new practical knowledge from every book I read, even if it is just a story about someone’s life. I was able to justify reading We, the Drowned because, while fiction, it is based on the history of Marstal Denmark from the 1840s through the end of World War II. I’m fascinated by that era generally, and because of my Danish heritage, I’m specifically interested in the history of Denmark during that era. There was added entertainment in the fact that several of the characters in the book bore the same names as my ancestors.

Prior to reading this book, I knew nothing about Marstal. Having now read the book, I actually have a pretty strong desire to visit. It is a small town in the southern part of Denmark, on the island of Ærø. The book is written from third person, but not in an omniscient voice. Instead it is written from the collective voice of the town of Marstal. As the title of the book would suggest, Marstal has a history laden with sailing. Carsten Jensen does an amazing job of telling this story, creating very detailed imagery with the text. This is true to the point that I would not suggest this book for readers who shy away from a bit of gore. It spans over two world wars, and graphically depicts the ugliness that occurs at sea during wartime.

The book was a bit slow to draw me in. But once it did, I did not want it to end. Luckily it is 675 pages, so it lasted me a little while. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys learning about that span of history, merchant sailing, or just reading a really good story.