My last 2 mini-reviews of the year! I was able to squeeze these in right under the wire, bringing me up to 49 for the year. Not bad!
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
Little, Brown and Company, 2005
I put this book on my 30 Before 35 list because I've heard raves about it for the last 10 years, and have had a copy on my bookshelf for almost as long, but I kept pushing it off due to the fact that it's a pretty sizeable chunker (676 pages). I finally picked it up on a whim, not even knowing what it was about, and was pleased to find that it's a historical fiction novel about the legend behind Dracula. How fortuitous that I read Stoker's famous book just a few months ago! However, reading Dracula before The Historian is certainly not a requirement, as this book provides more than enough background to keep you on top of things.
Quick synopsis: the narrator is a teenager in the 1970's, living with her father (a diplomat) in Amsterdam. One day, she stumbles upon some old letters in her father's study, which turn out to be the beginnings of a rather epic mystery surrounding the legend of Lord Dracula. When, in the midst of learning about this mystery, the narrator's father disappears, she begins her own journey to figure out where he went, what sort of discoveries he made in the past, and what really happened to her mother.
I only gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads, which feels underwhelming, but unless you are a serious fangirl/fanboy of medieval history, this book is surely going to drag in parts. And I feel bad saying that, because this book is positively overflowing with lavish detail--a more elaborate story would be hard to find. But that doesn't erase the fact that it's terribly drawn out, the frequent flashbacks making an already-detailed story even tougher to follow at times. Even so, the mystery at the heart of the story is intriguing, and I enjoyed the little twist in the epilogue. Thus, 3 stars is accurate for this middle-of-the-road novel.
Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide by Hal Higdon
Rodale Books, 2011 edition
received as a Christmas gift :)
What a surprise, right? Haha. Now that I am fairly certain I will be running my first marathon in late 2016, I figured it's time to start doing some reading. I'm a huge fan of Higdon's race training plans (they have worked for me at both the 15K and half marathon distances), and I plan to use one of his novice marathon plans in the fall. However, I also have a lot of questions about proper nutrition during training, hydration needs, tricks for staying in the game mentally, etc. and I thought this would be a good place to start.
I was correct in my thinking! Higdon speaks equally to novice and more advanced runners in this book. Some of the information was familiar to me after following his programs in the past, but some of it was new as well, and a LOT of it is going to be re-read as I dive into marathon training in the late spring. In particular, I was very interested in the parts about the different varieties of speedwork (seriously, I still have a hard time telling a fartlek from a stride from intervals...), proper long run pacing, and pre-race nutrition. Plus, I found this book to be a great motivator in general. Reading about Higdon's formulas for success has left me feeling excited for the marathon journey ahead.
If you're a newbie marathoner looking for some solid advice starting out, or a more advanced marathoner who wants to shave time off of a PR, Hal Higdon's Marathon is an excellent read to help you get going in the right direction.
What's your last book of 2015? Runners, any other good marathon training books I should look for?