I did something last night that I haven’t done in a long, long time. I gave up on a book. I just stopped reading it, in the middle of a chapter, even in the middle of a sentence.
I’d been forcing myself to keep at it for a few days, always thinking that it was going to get better or somehow tie in and make sense, but all it seemed to be doing was getting deeper into . . . catechism.
The book is Running & Being by George Sheehan. I’ve been reading a lot of books by runners lately (and for the most part, I’ve learned that they — at least the elites — are not the kind of people I want to know) and I saw this book the last time I was at Powell’s in Portland. The title suggested that it touched on two of the three things that are important (writing being the third?).
Was I surprised. This is an old book in the field, first published in 1978, and I should have guessed from the tagline that it was self-congratulatory: “The book that got the whole world running.”
From what I could see (and I got nearly half way through it) Sheehan simply spouts airy platitudes, quotes disparate philosophers out of context (to show his erudition?), takes conventional wisdom and asserts the opposite (in a way that I suppose he believes is shocking), and then delivers a lesson in Catholic teaching to sum it all up. He struck me as the kind of person who had a lot of opinions that he thought everyone would benefit from, but he never had an audience.
This book was not about running. I think you could literally (and I think I used that word correctly here) substitute “swimming” or “glass blowing” or “bank robbing” every time the word “running” came up and not affect the drift of the ideas.
I could probably scrape together a few more complaints I have about the book, but I don’t think it is worth the bother. It’s gone to my giveaway shelf, and good riddance.
But what to read now?
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