STRIDES - by Ben Cheever, book review

Make no mistake: Ben Cheever doesn't need my help selling books. Having John Cheever for your Dad should help (not necessarily, though) and getting your book reviewed by the Washington Post helps, too. Particularly when they say:

His musings probe the depths of his successes and failures, running and otherwise, with universal implications and insights. Beginners will relate to Cheever's inauspicious initial forays into fitness and exercise, and veteran runners can share his enthusiasm for the Kenyans and other leaders of the pack. The result is a joyous and inspirational ode to our transformative sport.

But regardless, if you won't take the Post's word for it, take mine: If you're a runner, Strides belongs on your bookshelf. This book is a collection of essays that look at how healthy running really is for you, how fast the Kenyans really are and how special Boston really is.

For the past few years, we've all read articles about how important running is to the military and yet - Cheever turns out an essay better than any I've read on the matter. This was a book that pulled me in from the first page and didn't let me go until I was done. And then - like a good book will - I was ticked that it was over.

Cheever only fails us at the very end. In the final essay, he lists his top 27 running books of all time. His own easily deserved a spot here.

Perhaps the best thing I can say about Strides is that I started it the same time as Bowerman and alternated them for the first two days before putting Bowerman down. I'm back to Bowerman now and though I'm enjoying myself, I gotta admit - I'm a little bummed. Bowerman's good, but Strides is one of the top running books I've read ever.


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