Here are some of my favourite reads that I’ve enjoyed over the past year.
A short but fascinating book on the history of the bicycle and one man’s quest to get a custom built bike.
Eamonn Coghlan: Chairman of the Boards, Master of the Mile
Really interesting story of how Eamonn achieved so much in his running career, with plenty of bumps along the way. But he never gave up, despite not winning Olympic medals and achieved records over 40 years old, which we’d all be delighted to get close to!
The saddest story I’ve read this year but worth reading to understand how depression and suicide can affect us all. On the face of it, Robert had it all: a professional footballer, playing for his country, happily married with beautiful kids. But inside he was tormented in so many ways and in the end he couldn’t cope. Chilling.
In 20 years time, we’ll look back at FC Barcelona of the 2000s, the Rijkaard/Guardiola/Vilanova era of Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Pujol, et al. and this is the book we’ll all read to understand how it came together and what makes this special club and team tick. Graham has such an insight into the philosophy of the team and the motivations of the players, it really makes you appreciate how special this team is.
Healthy Intelligent Training: The Proven Principles of Arthur Lydiard
To learn the principles of good running and training, as well as learn about how the great middle distance runners from New Zealand reached their limits, I’d recommend this book. It’s bit heavy, with technical, physiological and biological bits, but something I guess I’ll refer to again and again.
Robert A Caro
Volume 4 of a political biography on a US president from the 1960s might sound like a snoozefest, but I couldn’t put this book down. We all probably know that Johnson became US President when Lee Harvey Oswald fired that shot at JFK in Dallas in 1963, but this story is about so much more. The rise of Johnson from the Senate, to be a rival to Kennedy in 1960 and after losing that becomes a powerless Vice President in Kennedy’s Administration. The feuds, scandal and power battles of US politics are really well outlined here and the strength of leadership that LBJ demonstrated in such a turbulent time in 1963 is a story worth reading. Inspirational. And there’s a 5th volume to come.
Running with the Kenyans
This average guy from London got to live his dream: running in Kenya with the world’s best. Most of us never have the balls to leave our 9-5 jobs and live some of our dreams, but this book is inspirational, as Finn spends 6-months living, training, sleeping in the \RIFT Valley. Somewhere all runners should visit at some stage, our Mecca.
This is a thoughtful, reflective book on how a guy who lost his brother in the South East Asian Tsunami in 2006, coped. He wanted to retrace his brother‘s last days and steps to feel a connection with where he perished. It paints a raw picture of grief and how he searched for answers to the unanswerable.
Cricket definitely isn’t a sport I follow, so this could be seen as a bit of a borefest in which he recounted wickets, overs, tea breaks and creases. But this was a much deeper book on a sportstar who became paralyzed by his own fears and demons. A really honest account on how irrational fears and thoughts can limit talented people.
One of the best sports autobiographies I’ve read for its honesty, roller coaster stories, highs and lows, combined with surprising reflection on how those who appear to have it all can in fact be so empty or unhappy. Still, I can definitely say I’d prefer to win like Agassi than Sampras.