Never Stop Pushing: My Life from a Wyoming Farm to the Olympic Medals Stand by Rulon Gardner with Bob Schaller, 3/5
Life is tough but Rulon Gardner is tougher. His story proves that success does not always require a fortuitous alignment of luck, talent and circumstance–success can be the prize of those who are simply too stubborn and too strong to settle for less. This book is certainly not going to win any literary awards, but it is an inspiring account of hard work and good character put to the test on an international stage.
Why I read it: my wrestler boyfriend got me excited about the story, showed me the famous Gardner vs Karelin gold medal match and lent me his well-worn copy of the book.
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs, 4/5
This is a bittersweet little story, written with the refined yet melodramatic style (and casual racism) that characterizes a lot of literature from the early 1900s. Like most people, I was already familiar with the characters and story line, but I recognized very little of pop culture Tarzan in this original tale.
The edition is noteworthy because it is printed in landscape format, supposedly making it easier to read in bed. I really enjoyed the novelty, but didn’t think it was any easier to read lying down than a normal book.
Why I read it: A lovely birthday gift from one of my brothers and his family.
Wrestling Tough: Dominate Mentally on the Matt by Mike Chapman, 4/5
Filled with true stories of hard work, heart and the historic wins and losses of legendary wrestlers, this book helps put the small scrapes and bruises from my once-a-week wrestling class into perspective. Chapman provides an inspiring introduction to the wrestling greats and an in-depth exploration of the mental characteristics they seem to share with each other (and accomplished athletes in all sports). Probably the most useful thing I learned from this book is how important the mental game is–even someone who has put in the hard work to develop a talent can lose to a less talented person who wants it more. It’s not just about the physical moves, it’s about commitment, focus and knowing what you want.
While the book has a lot to offer, it frustratingly spends much more time describing winning qualities than explaining how to actually acquire them. Also, there is a logical weakness to the author’s approach–just because you can find examples of winners who have a certain attribute doesn’t mean that there aren’t winners who lack that attribute, or even losers who have it in buckets. In order to be truly compelling, I feel the book would have to focus not just on the characteristics of successful athletes, but how they differ from their less successful fellows.
Why I read it: Stephan Kesting mentioned it on grapplearts.com as one of his favorite sports psychology books, which put it on my radar. Trying to get in a good mental space for an upcoming BJJ tournament moved it up on my list.
There is a distinctly self-published feel to this book which doesn’t really inspire confidence (call me snobby, but I think the cover text shouldn’t be more colorful than the pictures inside). However, it does provide a very basic overview of equipment and skills necessary for the responsible concealed carrier. I don’t know much about the topic, so I can’t put my finger on what exactly the book is missing, but it felt light on information–there is a disappointing lack of legal guidelines and very little advice about tactics. Also, you do have to get past the author’s gun geekery and a bit of self-importance that reminds me of some of the more embarrassing scenes from Mall Cop. Kenik swears he’s not paranoid (never a hopeful sign), but he does seem borderline. For example, he actually recommends writing “detailed notes of all relevant class lectures, videos, books and magazine articles” and mailing them to yourself so “the envelope can be opened in court to prove what knowledge you possessed at a given date” (14). Hmmmm… Or you could maybe not do that and be ok too?
Why I read it: it was a birthday present (buying a gun has been on my to-do list for years).
This collection of Shrigley’s messy, misspelled, dark and unpredictably humorous art seems less accessible than his What the Hell are You Doing? The Essential David Shrigley. “Less accessible” is a fancy way of saying that I didn’t really “get” a lot of the stuff in this book (which you might find a bit ironic if you read my last review of his work). Perhaps I also didn’t enjoy this as much because I went into it expecting to be surprised and delighted, an approach that never seems to work well for me.
Why I read it: My library only has Shrigley’s books in e-book form (which I hate), so I picked this up at Easton’s Books, hoping it would be as funny as the last thing by him that I read.