After years of Robert building it up for me I finally read his favorite book, Once a Runner by John L. Parker. Let me emphasize that it is his favorite book ever by telling you that we have two copies of this book in our house- just in case. So after all the build up did the book live up to the glorified status he has always elevated it to? I don’t think so. Not for me- but it might be the book for you. Let me explain why.
These are the two DIFFERENT versions of the book we have on our book shelf.
Let me start by saying I do like this book. I am planning on reading the prequel and sequel to it so obviously it was not terrible. The book just would not be my first choice. There are a few reasons why I don’t think I gel with this book in the manner my dear husband does. One is simply that I am not a huge fan of fiction unless it’s Harry Potter or another Nicholas Sparks book. It’s not that I do not enjoy fiction- I finally made time to read Little Women this summer and loved it. I just usually prefer nonfiction books about historical people or events (shocking, I know). The second issue I had with the book was that there were chapters in it that added absolutely nothing to the storyline- if anything they detracted from it. The author created an extremely interesting character in Quentin Cassidy, then lost focus trying to make other characters bigger than they needed to be. Some of the chapters were so out of place that I would finish reading, look up, and think, “Why was that in there?” The last major qualm I had with the book was the language the author used. I hate when an author has characters cuss in a book. It cheapens the characters to me and I hold books to a higher esteem than that. If I wanted to be entertained by cussing, I would turn on the television.
So it should be clear by now that Robert and I have very different opinions of this book. That being said, I think part of my problem connecting with this book as deeply as he has is because I did not run at the collegiate level. Although I did play team sports all throughout high school, I did not run cross country or track. The whole magic of a track meet thing is lost on me because I have not attended one since middle school. I think if I had been a collegiate runner I would have enjoyed this book much more. As a runner I liked this book and there were a few quotes that really stuck out to me and made me realize that the author does have some great insight into what it is to be a runner. However the book itself would have connected with me more if I had been on some sort of running team in the past. I will say as much as I was not a true fan of the writing style of this book, Parker had extremely interesting word choice which I appreciated. It was not written as a book for jocks with the most basic vocabulary- there were words I had to look up the definition to as I was reading. In that regard I was quite pleased with the writing.
Overall I would give this book three out of five stars, but do not get me wrong, it is a decent read. The second half of the book was much better than the first and the last few chapters made the whole novel worth the read. I am looking forward to reading the other two books in the series to see how they compare to this one.
The other two books in the series.