By Jennifer Graham
A while ago on this site, I reviewed a humor book about running and didn't find it funny. I always worry in such situations that's something wrong with me.
Now, having read "Honey, Do You Need a Ride?", I'm convinced that I didn't have a humor bypass operation somewhere along the way.
Because this is a funny book. It's also equally poignant.
Jennifer Graham has been a journalist and freelance writer over the years. She gave up some parts of her career to get married and have children. Obviously, based on her resume, Graham is pretty good at the writing part of life.
The main theme of the book is, as you'd expect from the cover, about her attempts to become a "runner." The big problem is that she's always been on the heavy side. OK, Graham herself subtitled the book "Confessions of a Fat Runner." The line between heavy/fat/obese has always been unclear, but Graham's doctor has indeed told her to lose weight. Time then for her to put on some running shoes and head for the streets.
Despite her attempts to make light and put down those running efforts, Graham became a relatively slow but steady runner. She's done half-marathons, which puts her in the small minority of the running community. Still she was never fast enough to be satisfied, and the weight never came off for good. The description of those runs, and the weight-reducing efforts, are frequently laugh-out-loud material.
What's more, this all rings true for everyone. One of the best parts of running is that it's open to everyone, but the catch is that not everyone is very good at it. This is not a problem for those playing, say, basketball, since LeBron James isn't likely to show up at the local gym. But runners are in the same race as some really good athletes in many cases, making comparisons too easy, and those fast people look a lot better in shorts and a t-shirt than most. Many women have been fighting the battle of trying to fit into someone else's ideal body type, and life just doesn't work that way.
Yet there's more at work here, and that lifts this book into a higher class. Graham is quite open about her entire life. She was married to a general radio talk show host for several years, but eventually was divorced. Ever try to raise four kids and two donkeys (long story, but true) mostly by yourself? You might turn to ice cream every so often as well. It's very, very easy to root for Graham as she battles a variety of everyday woes, in part because she's so engaging in telling the story.
The book isn't exactly a straight-forward life story of running and life, and thus comes off as being a little disorganized in spots. Perhaps it started as a series of blog and journal entries, and was adapted into a book. We don't hear much about her ex-husband after he gets remarried, and the donkeys (no, not a synonym for ex-husband) enter and leave the story without much detail.
OK, it's not perfect, and none of us are. "Honey, Do You Need a Ride?" is a very enjoyable read that goes by quickly. Practically anyone who owns running shoes will like it, and those who identify with Graham's battles will love it. This is a writer who seems like she'd be worth reading no matter what the subject is.
Learn more about this book.
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