Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Book Review: Long Distance by Bill McKibben

Title: Long Distance
Author: Bill McKibben

Author Website:

From his website


Testing the Limits of Body and Spirit in a Year of Living Strenuously
In his late thirties, celebrated essayist, journalist, and author Bill McKibben —never much of an athlete—decided the time had come for him to really test his body. Cross-country skiing his challenge of choice, he lived the fantasy of many amateur athletes and trained; with the help of a coach/guru; nearly full-time, putting in hours and miles typical of an Olympic hopeful. For one vigorous year, which would culminate in a series of grueling, long-distance races, McKibben experienced his body's rhythms and possibilities as never before.
But the year also brought tragedy to McKibben and his family as his father developed a life-threatening illness. Forcing a deeper exploration of both body and spirit, the arrival of this illness transforms McKibben's action-packed memoir into a moving account of two men coming to terms with the limits of the flesh.
The author of such impassioned and groundbreaking books as The End of Natureand The Age of Missing Information, Bill McKibben is re-nowned as an original thinker. Here, writing with his trademark honesty and insight, he once again creates a provocative and unconventional book, a fascinating portrait of a man in midlife pushing his body and soul to the breaking point—and learning some unexpected truths along the way.

My Thoughts

I cannot remember how I came across this book. It was published in 2000. It must have been referenced in one of the previous books I have been reading about leadership and toughness. Regardless, this book came from the library and it was a good read. It was the perfect to come my way after reading two books about what it takes to being a leader and making something of yourself. This book was not one of those types of book, but rather a story that provided an example of a typical, regular, run of the mill person pushing himself to his limits while dealing with the regular dosage of life giving you obstacles along the way.

In his case, he was into skiing in a variety of cross country races. I am not into this nor have I even attempted this sport/exercise, but I took away man great ideas from his book. The book referenced many other references of books and gurus that I wrote down and have began to investigate a little further( I am on a current mission of learning more about the mental aspect of life in terms of pushing yourself to the limits). This was a good read. You know you have a good read when you are reading a book about a topic(skiing) that you could care less about and yet you find yourself interested in reading how things will turn out.

Let us not forget the upsetting aspect of life of his father losing his way of life and eventually succumbing to the better world along the journey of getting himself in shape. Between the two story lines, how can one not walk away from the book ready to push themselves to the next level?

I am glad I took the time to read this book. It is one that I am surprised I did not just give back to the library right away. Sometimes these little gems are the ones that stick with you longer than the other books that you swear you will never forget.
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