Andrea Bishop's Reading Recommendations:
I’ve chosen optimistic reads about running, nature, and adventure – and in honour of this CNF Fiddlehead issue, they’re all non-fiction. I hope you find something previously undiscovered.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, by Haruki Murakami, is for runners and non-runners alike. I’ve re-read this shortish meditative reflection on Murakami’s running habits a few times now and always come away feeling comforted and motivated. Bonus points for being able to say I’ve read a Murakami, while his longer works of fiction intimidate me from my TBR pile.
I prefer to run with a dog at my side (or maybe you’ve already read this Fiddlehead issue, so you knew that), but that did not stop me from becoming smitten with Running with Sherman: How a Rescue Donkey Inspired a Rag-Tag Gang of Runners to Enter the Craziest Race in America by Christopher McDougall. I promise you the donkey enjoyed himself and that this book, including its many subplots on sport, mental and physical health, and loyalty, will lighten your heart.
My other recommendations feature extended adventures, which you might find to be pleasant reads, even if (or especially if?) you don't like sleeping in a tent yourself. I prefer to break from weighty subjects for my holiday reading, and though all three of these books do touch on the issue of climate change because, well, nature, they’re still generally upbeat and inspirational. Historian, archeologist, and geographer Adam Shoalts sets himself an almost impossible goal in Beyond the Trees: A Journey Alone Across Canada’s Arctic and tackles it with a sense of humour. The Sun is A Compass: A 4,000-mile Journey into the Alaskan Wilds, by ornithologist Caroline van Hemert, is the story of one couple’s journey from the Pacific Rainforest to the Alaskan Arctic. Kings of the Yukon: A River Journey in Search of the Chinook, by journalist Adam Weymouth, explores the habitat of pacific salmon as he journeys down the Yukon by canoe. I initially listened to these last two on audiobook and recommend those versions as well, but I generally prefer hard copies because I absorb information better that way. Part of what appealed to me about each of these books was the abundance of ecological information presented alongside the entertaining adventures.
If I’ve missed a book that you enjoyed about running, adventure, or nature, I’d be grateful if you could let me know in the comments, so I can add it to my own TBR pile.
Andrea Bishop’s work has been published or is forthcoming in Grain, Orca Literary, Exile’s CVC Anthology Series, and elsewhere. Her story "Good Dog" is featured in the new creative nonfiction issue of The Fiddlehead. She is currently finishing a short story collection and working on her first novel. . Find her on Twitter @_AndreaBishop, at andreabishop.ca, or running on the off-leash trails around Vancouver.