February 3, 2018

What I Read in January 2018

Yikes, I didn’t really start 2018 off well on the reading front! I am once again aiming to read 100 books this year, which is an average of about two books a week. Unfortunately, January found me well below target, having read only 3 books total for the month. Time to step it up for February!

American Kingpin and L’Appart both got four stars from me this month.

4 stars:

American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road, by Nick Bilton: My boss recommended this book to me, and it was fascinating! I knew next to nothing about the Silk Road before I started reading this, and I was incredibly intrigued by what I learned. Have to admit, it made me want to try to log on myself and buy whatever the cheapest drug is just to see if it really worked… but with my luck lately, I’d get caught and in trouble for my experiment 🙂 This was very well written and well researched, with plenty of detail to keep it interesting without being overwhelming, and the short chapters made it fly by. Great read!

L’Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home, by David Lebovitz: I really enjoyed reading about the trials and tribulations Lebovitz went through to buy his Paris home, but it did drag on longer than was 100% necessary. Still, a funny look at French culture and homeownership from the eyes of an American expat.

2 stars:

A Beautiful Work In Progress, by Mirna Valerio: I was pretty excited for this book, and it caught my attention from the beginning with an interesting chapter about the Javelina Jundred – ending with a cliffhanger to see how the race would go. But in subsequent chapters, Mirna had trouble holding my interest. Each chapter was fairly disconnected from the previous, and it was hard to tell how her stories fit together chronologically, or what the story arc was supposed to be. As far as I could tell, it was just repeated drilling of how obesity shouldn’t people from exercising. That’s a fine message, but I thought Mirna went way overboard on the HAES message – she seemed to me to be ignorant of basic biology / health. You don’t need to be stick thin, but you should be working toward a normal weight, not celebrating obesity and pushing through pain just to prove a point. The idea of pushing to prove a point was particularly evident in her stories of training and coaching. For example, Mirna would ask her young students to run 9 miles when they had only ever done 6 miles – and encouraged them to keep pushing until they were in pain. That’s not responsible coaching! For her own training, she would do things like run 4 miles, take an hour cardio class, and then lift weights – not once in a while, but every single day. As someone who’s done ultramarathons myself, that’s not how to sustainably train – no wonder she had so many aches/injuries! In all, I enjoyed some of the running stories, and there were a few passages of beautiful prose, but I really can’t recommend this book.

Any book recommendations for me? Follow me here on Goodreads to keep up with what I’m reading in real time.


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