Nonfiction: Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall

AUTHOR: Christopher McDougall            DATE READ: March 17 -24, 2014
TITLE:book-born-to-run_300 Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

PUB. DATE: 2009
GENRE: Narrative Nonfiction (biography) PAGES: 287

PACING: steady pace, engrossing, compelling
CHARACTERIZATIONS: detailed, interesting secondary characters
STORY LINE: plot centered, informative, inspiring
FRAME: detailed setting, fascinating, captivating, humorous

PLOT SUMMARY: An American author and runner Christopher McDougall travels to high mountains of Copper Canyon in Northern Mexico to discover how the Tarahumaras can be some of the best runners in the world. McDougall tries to understand how Tarahumara men (young and old), women, and children are able to run long distances without injuries and without gear that is used by Westerners. After learning about Tarahumara lifestyle, their culture, eating habits, and attitude towards running, McDougal realizes that this tribe does not want to compete and win, but they run because they have a true passion for the sport. McDougall also discovers that plain, natural diet such as (corn, chia seeds) provides a great amount of energy for them to run. Third, the author also believes that by running bared foot will not cause injuries in comparison with wearing running shoes such as Nike. The narrative ends with a race, in which the Westerners compete against the Tarahumara runners and it ends as a great celebration of the sport. Truly, it is a fascinating story, which inspires and convinces any runner or non-runner that everyone is born to run.

Geographical setting: Copper Canyons, Mexico
Time period: 2000’s
Series: n/a
Subject headings: Running races – Mexico – Copper Canyon Region
Tarahumara Indians – Mexico- Copper Canyon Region
Long-distance running – Mexico – Copper Canyon Region
True, Micah, -1953-2012.
McDougall, Christopher, -1962-.
Long distance runners – Mexico – Copper Canyon Region
Long distance runners – United States – Biography
Running – Mexico – Copper Canyon Region
Running and Jogging
Athletes – United States

SIMILAR AUTHORS: Dean Karnazes, Scott Jurek, Neal Bascomb, Adharanand Finn, Jack Daniels

“The book flows not like a race but like a scramble through an obstacle course. McDougall wends his way through the history and physiology of running, occasionally digressing into mini-profiles of top-tier racers and doctors, spinning off into tangents about legendary races like the Leadville Trail 100 Ultramarathon, while always looping back to the main narrative. Back on course, he describes his pursuit of the bashful, elusive Tarahumara and their secret to success on foot; his befriending of an eccentric gringo who became part of the tribe and is the key to McDougall’s communication with it; and the realization of the eccentric’s dream to pit big-name, corporate-sponsored American marathoners against the near-primeval Indians in a super ultra-marathon in the Copper Canyons. A race to end all races, in other words. A sprint to the finish between old and new.”
(Reviewed by Dan Zak, The Washington Post. June 21, 2009)
“A journalist’s adventures in a secluded Mexican community of the best endurance athletes in the world. McDougall uncovered the legend of the Tarahumara Indians, a tribe of astonishingly fit runners concealed deep within the Copper Canyons of Mexico…. McDougall’s background as a magazine writer is readily apparent—his prose is light and airy, informative without being pretentious. Most passages are short and engaging with extra doses of drama and exclamatory phrases thrown in to great effect. McDougall wisely grounds the narrative in his own struggle to engage in the concluding race—he was frustrated with his tendency to get injured—and he offers insightful sidebars on a variety of topics, from the development of the modern running shoe to an evolutionary argument that humans are literally “born to run.” A terrific ride, recommended for any athlete.”                                                     (Kirkus Reviews, May 7, 2009)

“Isolated by Mexico’s deadly Copper Canyons, the blissful Tarahumara Indians have honed the ability to run hundreds of miles without rest or injury. In a riveting narrative, award-winning journalist and often-injured runner Christopher McDougall sets out to discover their secrets. In the process, he takes his readers from science labs at Harvard to the sun-baked valleys and freezing peaks across North America, where ever-growing numbers of ultra-runners are pushing their bodies to the limit, and, finally, to a climactic race in the Copper Canyons that pits America’s best ultra-runners against the tribe. McDougall’s incredible story will not only engage your mind but inspire your body when you realize that you, indeed all of us, were born to run.”

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 17, 2014 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , ,

Genre 6, Literary Fiction: The Plague by Albert Camus

AUTHOR: Albert Camus                                DATE READ: March 10 -16, 2014                         tumblr_m9c9m7DYlT1rssvvvo1_400
TITLE: The Plague                                        PUB. DATE: 1947
GENRE: Literary Fiction                                PAGES: 278

PACING: leisurely paced, engrossing
CHARACTERIZATIONS: vivid, detailed
STORY LINE: character-driven, complex, thought-provoking
FRAME: depressed, haunting, moody

PLOT SUMMARY: In the Algerian city of Oran, while many people are starting to become ill and die, the city’s authorities are unwilling to accept the possibility that there is an epidemic of the bubonic plague. After the death toll rises, the government takes precautions and places the city under quarantine. Oran citizens are cut off from the outside world and families are no longer able to see their loved ones. The community starts to panic as they feel isolated, fearful of the epidemic, and fearful of death. Many focus on their own personal situations and regret not living their lives fully before the plague outburst. On the other hand, Dr Rieux and a few of his acquaintances are dedicated to fighting the epidemic by caring for the sick, supporting the community and believing in helping the greater good rather than focusing on their own situation. After almost half of Oran’s population die, the community changes their way of thinking. With the high probability that they may all die, the citizens develop a sense of unity. They have come to the realization that the focusing on the greater good is more important and meaningful than only worrying about their personal needs and desires.

Geographical setting: Oran, Algeria
Time period: 1940’s
Series: n/a
Subject headings: Plague – Fiction
Disease Outbreaks – Algeria – Fiction
Plague – psychology – Fiction
Psychological Fiction
Social isolation

SIMILAR AUTHORS: Jean–Paul Sartre, Samuel Beckett, Franz Kafka, Haruki Murakami, Soren Kierkegaard

/* Starred Review */ By the Frenchman who, with Sartre, shares a leading position in European literature, this is a work of considerable significance and stature, distinguished by its clarity, its composure, and above all, its scrupulous classicism. The story focuses on the outbreak of plague in Oran in the year 194-, as it reaches epidemic proportions. The author traces the crescendo of human emotions from panic to the almost unendurable agony of isolation and death. The argument extends beyond the physical impact of the plague into metaphysical terrain with the realization that each one of us carries within us the plague of injustice, of inhumanity…Distinguished by the precision, the purity of its writing, the dignity of its presentation. It may command critical rather than popular attention.
(Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 1948)

The Plague is parable and sermon, and should be considered as such. The Plague stands or falls by its message. The message is not the highest form of creative art, but it may be of such importance for our time that to dismiss it in the name of artistic criticism would be to blaspheme against the human spirit.
(Books of the Century; New York Times review by Stephen Spender, August 1948)

The Nobel prize-winning Albert Camus, who died in 1960, could not have known how grimly current his existentialist novel of epidemic and death would remain. Set in Algeria, in northern Africa, The Plague is a powerful study of human life and its meaning in the face of a deadly virus that sweeps dispassionately through the city, taking a vast percentage of the population with it.                                                                  ( Review)


Leave a comment

Posted by on April 11, 2014 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , ,

Genre 5, Fantasy: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

AUTHOR: Neil Gaiman                                      DATE READ: March 3 -9, 2014               Anansi_Boys

TITLE: Anansi Boys                                           PUB. DATE: 2005    

GENRE: Fantasy, adults and YA                        PAGES: 336

APPEAL CHARACTERISTICS:                                             

         PACING: fast paced, compelling

        CHARACTERIZATIONS: eccentric, quirky, vivid  

        STORY LINE: character-driven, intricately plotted, mystical, multiple plotlines                                                                          

        FRAME: darkly humorous, contemporary, urban, magical, entertaining  

PLOT SUMMARY: Fat Charlie lives safe and comfortable life in London with prospect of marrying his fiancée soon.  Everything changes after he finds out that he has a brother, Spider, who is god and who turns his life upside down by taking his girlfriend, his job, and his comfort.  Fat Charlie wants Spider out of his life so he travels to Florida and asks for help from supernatural beings. But after he sees his brother getting hurt, he regrets his requests and helps his brother to fight the supernatural mystical creatures.

Geographical setting: England, Florida (US), Caribbean

Time period: early 21st century

Series: n/a                

Subject headings: Anansi (legendary character) – Fiction; Fathers and Sons – Fiction; Brothers – Fiction; Adventure; Gods; London (England) – Fiction; Florida (US) – Fiction                             

SIMILAR AUTHORS:  Terry Pratchett; Charles de Lint; Emma Bull; Mercedes Lackey; Hakuri Murakami                                       


“…Intermittently lumpy and self-indulgent, but enormously entertaining throughout. And the Gaiman faithful—as hungry for stories as Tiger himself—will devour it gratefully.”

                                                                                                   Kirkus Reviews May 20th, 2010

“…Charlie and Spider are, you see, their father’s sons, and since he was/is Anansi the trickster-god, they can pull some pretty nifty stunts, though Charlie takes awhile learning how. As for Gaiman, he’s the folksy, witty, foolishly wise narrator to perfection, drawing us into the web he weaves as skillfully as any . . . spider.”                         

                                                                                                              BookList, August 1, 2005

“If readers found the Sandman series creator’s last novel, American Gods , hard to classify, they will be equally nonplussed—and equally entertained—by this brilliant mingling of the mundane and the fantastic.”                                                                     Publishers Weekly, July 18, 2005


10 Books you absolutely must read if you like Neil Gaiman. Retrieved from

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 23, 2014 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Genre 4, Romance: Miracle by Danielle Steel

AUTHOR: Danielle Steel            DATE READ: February 24 – March 1, 2014

TITLE: Miracle                          PUB. DATE: 20059780553757200_p0_v1_s260x420

GENRE: Romance                      PAGES: 181

APPEAL CHARACTERISTICS                                             

         PACING: fast paced, light

         CHARACTERIZATIONS: evocative, predictable, and lifelike

         STORY LINE: plot- driven, gentle                                                                              

         FRAME: psychological, heartwarming, contemporary

PLOT SUMMARY: Quinn Thompson is a recent widower who buys a 180-foot yacht with plans to live on it forever and sail around the world. Once he returns to his empty house, where he grieves after his wife, the house endures the storm of the century and is in need of great repairs. Jack, the newly hired carpenter, becomes not only the builder but also a friend who encourages Quinn to invite his neighbor Maggie. After spending Friday dinners together and finding a lot in common, Maggie and Quinn’s friendships turns into romance. Even though Quinn loves Maggie he does not want to commit because he believes he does not deserve her. He is determined to sail around the world without Maggie who is heartbroken. Even though Quinn enjoys sailing on his newly built yacht he understands that Maggie is the one who he needs by his side.  

Geographical setting: San Francisco, California; Europe

Time period: Present day

Series: n/a                   

Subject headings: Neighbors, Friendships, Carpenters, Storms, Fathers and Daughters, Loss (Psychology) – Fiction, Neighborhoods – San Francisco – Fiction, Dwellings – maintenance and repair – Fiction, Sailing – Fiction

SIMILAR AUTHORS: Susan Wiggs, Barbara Delinsky, Debbie Macomber, Katie Fforde


Steel ignores the old “show, don’t tell” saw entirely here, and the slim plot and repetitive, drab writing may stymie even the most devoted of her fans. (Publishers Weekly, vol 252, issue 18, p.175)

Danielle Steel brings us miracles big and small — the kind we are blessed with and those we give to others. With a subtle hand and a flawless touch, she has written a novel that soars with hope, and makes us laugh, cry, and care. (Google Books)

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 18, 2014 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Genre 3, Suspense: All Through the Night by Mary Higgins Clark

AUTHOR: Mary Higgins Clark                 DATE READ: February 17 – 23, 2014761787

TITLE: All Through the Night                    PUB. DATE: 1998

GENRE: Suspense/Mystery                     PAGES: 170

APPEAL CHARACTERISTICS:                                              

         PACING: fast paced, short chapters, deliberate, many dialogues

         CHARACTERIZATIONS: multiple point of view, series (characters), strong secondary


         STORY LINE: plot driven                                                                             

         FRAME: suspenseful and mysterious tone, minimal background         


In order to help a local shelter, Alvirah, an amateur sleuth, with her husband Willy investigates the authenticity of a will, which would help in saving the shelter for the neighborhood children. Besides that she discovers that the will is counterfeit, she also solves the mystery of the stolen chalice, and helps in reuniting a mother with a daughter who was stolen as a baby eight years earlier from the church’s steps.                                                                    

Geographical setting: Upper West Side, New York City, Northeast U. S.

Time period: 7 years (1990s)

Series: Alvirah and Willy Meehan mysteries                   

Subject headings:  New York (N. Y.) – Fiction, Christmas – Fiction, Christmas stories, Shelters for the Homeless – Fiction, Violinists – Fiction, Abandoned infants – New York City, Christian relic thefts – New York City                                    

SIMILAR AUTHORS: Carol Higgins Clark, Joy Fielding, Sue Grafton, Victoria Lanier,Iris Johansen                              


Bestseller Clark has written another Christmas seasonal mystery, and like Silent Night (1995), it’s a lighthearted suspense tale that her readers are sure to enjoy. Booklist

If the resulting tale doesn’t provide the menace or suspense of Clark’s full-length novels it does succeed, as the Epilogue tell us, in providing a “human-interest story” that’s “especially appropriate for the Christmas season.” Pass the fruitcake. Kirkus Reviews Bookreporter

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 18, 2014 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Genre 2, Chick Lit: Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

AUTHOR: Sophie Kinsella                                    DATE READ: February 10 – 16, 20149416

TITLE: Confessions of a Shopaholic                       PUB. DATE: 2001     

GENRE: Chick-Lit                                                 PAGES: 310

APPEAL CHARACTERISTICS:                                            

        PACING: light, quick

        CHARACTERIZATIONS: quirky, series (character), first person narration, realistic 

        STORY LINE: straight-line plot, main character centered novel, single point of view                                                                         

        FRAME: humorous, romantic, contemporary, urban, upbeat, romantic, minimal background     


A young sophisticated woman, Rebecca Bloomwood, who lives in a luxury apartment in London deals with every day temptations of buying expensive items she cannot afford.  Even though she is a writer for a finance magazine, she is neglectful about managing her own finances, her spending escalates, and she falls more into debt.  Rebecca ignores the problem by hiding away the bank bills, not communicating with them, and running to the country to leave all her financial problems behind. Her attitude to take responsibility towards her financial life changes after she helps her family’s friends with their money misfortune.

Geographical setting: England

Time period: 1997-2000

Series: Shopaholic series (6 novels)                

Subject headings: Young women – Fiction, London (Englad) – Fiction, Shopping – Fiction, Debt – Fiction, Rebecca Bloomwood – Fictitious character

SIMILAR AUTHORS:   Lauren Weisberger, Lori Culwell, Lindsey Kelk, Alexandra Potter, Sue Margolis, Jane Green


Genre comments:

On her website, Rian Montgomery defines Chick lit as “smart, fun fiction for and/or about women of all ages.  Many of these books are written from a first-person viewpoint, making them a bit more personal and realistic. The plots can range from being very light and fast-paced to being extraordinarily deep, thought-provoking and/or moving.” Chick Lit is considered one of the emerging genres and it is surely addresses problems that women face today.  (Saricks, 2009, p.159) 


Chick Lit Club. (2007-2014). Retrieved from

Maatta, S. L. (2010). A few good books. New York, NY : Neal-Schuman.

Montgomery, Rian. (2006). What is Chick Lit? Retrieved from

Saricks, J.G. (2009). The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction (2nd ed.). Chicago, IL:

            American Library Association (ALA).

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 18, 2014 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Genre 1, Historical Fiction: Memoirs of Geisha by Arthur Golden

geisha1AUTHOR: Arthur Golden                   DATE READ: February 3 – 9, 2014

TITLE: Memoirs of a Geisha               PUB. DATE: 1997     

GENRE: Historical Fiction                   PAGES: 428

APPEAL CHARACTERISTICS:                                             

          PACING: leisurely unfolding, densely written, engrossing

         CHARACTERIZATIONS: detailed, vivid, well-developed, intriguing  secondary  characters

         STORY LINE: character centered, resolved ending                                                                             

         FRAME: exotic, details on Geisha culture and traditions, historical details, charming


Nine years old Chiyo is sold and taken away from her family to a large city of Kyoto.  In order to pay debt she has to work as a maid and undergoes cruel treatment at the hand of owners and a head geisha Hatsumomo.  Once she meets a chairman, she is determined to become a geisha so she can have a better life and become his companion one day.  Chiyo, under her new geisha name Sayuri, returns back to geisha school and thanks to her talents, unique color of her eyes, and great mentorship from her Geisha mentor, Sayuri becomes a famous geisha.  Sayuri has to still keep watching for Hatsumomo and Pumpkin who are jealous of her success and undermine her position at all times.  Sayuri is still in love with the chairman who does not show any interests in her.  During WW2 Sayuri has to leave Kyoto but after her return she meets with the chairman who also expresses his feelings toward her; Sayuri is not a geisha anymore; she becomes the chairman’s mistress.                                       

Geographical setting: Japan

Time period: 1930s – 1950s

Series: N/A                

Subject headings: Geishas, Japan, women, culture, social life, prostitution, history, manners and customs

SIMILAR AUTHORS: Tracy Chevalier, Amy Tan, Katherine Govier, Anchee Min, Lisa See, Lesley Downer, Philippa Gregory    


 Genre comments:

This elegantly written novel is considered as a historical novel and beautifully depicts customs and traditions of Geisha culture. The story portrays lives of Geishas in realistic way; historical details are accurate. The author describes that period by using “authentic” language and style so that reader can easily imagine that historical era. (Saricks, 2009, p.292)



Saricks, J.G. (2009). The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction (2nd ed.). Chicago, IL: American Library Association (ALA).


Leave a comment

Posted by on March 18, 2014 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , ,