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In the first part of this funny, moving and frank memoir, Alexandra Heminsley discusses how and why she started running, and – more importantly – how and why she continued to run, despite occasional setbacks and bouts of self-doubt.  She talks about how it brought her closer to family members, and made her feel better about herself, and along the way describes some of the races she has participated in.

The second part of the book is given over to hints and advice to other runners, or people who are thinking of taking up running, whether as a casual hobby, or a serious enthusiast.  The book also talks about the history of women’s running (and boy, did that chapter open my eyes; after reading about the journey that Joan Benoit Samuelson took to become the first female Olympic marathon winner, I watched some of the footage on YouTube, and was filled with admiration and tears).

While Heminsley’s own story is very entertaining and inspiring, the second section of the book is very useful to new runners, offering tips on buying running trainers and equipment, and what you will need if you take part in a big race.  It also highlights injuries that can be caused or aggravated by running, and the best ways to deal with them, and debunks many myths surrounding running.

As a fellow runner, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and identified with many of the feelings that the author described.  Heminsley is very engaging and relatable, and also very funny.  I don’t think you would have to be a runner to appreciate this book, but I am pretty sure that after reading it you would want to pull on your trainers and go for a trot around the block.

I would recommend this book for everyone, but particularly people with even just a passing interest in running.

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Sometimes, you read a book that you love so much, you want to tell everybody you know to read it. This is one of those times.  This book is beautiful, sad, moving and funny.

The book is narrated by Enzo, a dog of indeterminate breed, who is on the eve of his death. He is not scared though, because he is convinced that he is going to be reincarnated as a man, and will finally be able to speak, and will be the proud owner of a pair of opposable thumbs.  Unlike many books where the narrator is an animal, this is not written as a comedy, although parts of it did make me laugh out loud.  

Enzo narrates his life, from the moment he was picked out of a litter of puppies by his master Denny, and a deep bond of love and loyalty was formed.

Denny meets Eve and they have a daughter, and for a while all is well with the family, but then a tragedy strikes them, and life starts to come apart at the seams.  Throughout all of Denny’s problems, Enzo is right there by his side.  He sees the sacrifices Denny makes, and how Denny has to put his dreams of becoming a champion race car driver to one side.

Enzo displays far more humanity than many of the humans in the book.  He is a deeply intelligent dog, who is frustrated by his inability to express his thoughts to the people around him.  He loves watching tv, and especially videos of Denny’s races.  He is certainly a beautifully drawn character, with an incredible soul.

Through his eyes, we also get to know Denny incredibly well (after all, someone’s dog sees that person at their highest and their lowest!) Denny was another extremely well portrayed character, but of course he is not the true hero in this tale!

The title is an allusion to Denny’s motor racing, which is a theme which runs throughout the book.  However, you certainly do not need to be a racing enthusiast to enjoy this book (I am not one, although I did learn some interesting facts about Formula One along the way)!

I also don’t believe that you need to be a dog lover to enjoy this read (although I am certainly doggie crazy).  This book was very moving indeed, and made me cry, but also made me smile through my tears.

After finishing it, I wished I had read it earlier, but simultaneously wished that I hadn’t read it yet, so that I still had that pleasure to come.  Highly recommended!

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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