I am an avid long distance runner and share books I find on Audible with my wife who is not a runner. Haruki Murakami writes earnestly about running as a void or space in his day. Being the space between his activities he doesn't write about running as a pathway to mind blowing revelations about writing - although running does help him stay motivated to write. The book is about a quest that got underway by trying to use running from Athens to Marathon as a magazine topic piece, leading to an enduring race against his younger self in besting his marathon times; to a transcendent ultra marathon that led to less running. In other words, things mostly dedicated runners tend to understand and have enough interest to listen to or read. Ray Porter was smooth in his reading of the translated material and seamlessly made me think that the author himself was reading. If you are a runner this is a "must read" along with "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall... if you are not a runner you might, like my wife, get a little bored with "all the runner insider stuff." You can always find a writer who shares a hobby you like and read his/her book about it.
I became interested in Dietrich Bonhoeffer after plowing through the William Shirer very detailed three-part history of the Nazis, from their quest for power through their rule of Germany ending with its defeat in 1945. The Shirer series provides a detailed account of the role of various Christian denominations with the rise of the Nazis. It's easy to be perplexed by the passive to active consent by many religious leaders to the Nazi genocide of Germans, Slavic Peoples and Jews alike. Eric Metaxes sets the stage for the story of Rev. Bonhoeffer in a chronological factual manner, allowing the reader to sense the tension of the age in the German and International ecclesiastical community as career religious opportunists distinguished themselves apart from men of authentic faith such as Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer's bravery as well as that of fellow co-conspirators to assassinate Hitler is thankfully not over-sold by Metaxes thus making an impression of Bonhoeffer life-lessons highly meaningful in an age of many pretenders to piety
Bill Bryson is at his core a travel writer. From his family treks to the downtown of his childhood, and visits to his relatives in other Iowa towns, to his standing at the gates of Disneyland for the first time - it's his story in motion. What makes the Thunderbolt Kid so pleasant to listen to is that one is reminded of the sense of wonder we experience when we see new things growing up and the mischief we may have been tempted to with new freedoms. It's just like traveling when we grow up. Many of Bryson's recollections are funny as in his other works. I chuckled plenty while listening.
Academia like any profession is warped in insider trivia that reveals itself in its ugliest forms but only understood by those that know the trade. Roth does a superb job within the metaphor of the academic environment to demonstrate what people are capable of hiding in the name of "professional integrity." At the same time, he reveals how one creates the plank of vulnerability we all walk, whether we know it or not. The Human Stain reveals its plot and sub-plot by respecting the reader's intelligence with common sense for what is believable for each character and the contrived realities we all use to justify our own motives and pretenses. Patience with imperfect characters pays off for the reader.
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