I was recently asked to be part of a blog “book tour” for the newly released book “Honey, Do You Need a Ride? Confessions of a Fat Runner” by Jennifer Graham. When I read the description of the book, I was immediately interested and thought it would make a great read on one of the many flights I had coming up.
The author’s website describes the book this way: This laugh-out-loud comedic memoir of life as an overweight runner moves along at a five-minute-per-mile pace. Jennifer Graham doesn’t run to lose weight – she runs for the joy of endorphins. But life’s not always easy when the blubber hits the road. She must endure not only her self-made exhaustion and lactic acid, but the bemused stares of neighbors, offers of car rides from strangers, and the disdain of the dominant strain of runner – those long, lean “shirtless wonders.”
I remembered how self-conscious I was when I first started running – hell, how self-conscious I still am half the time now. I thought everyone was staring at me and thinking about how slowly I was moving. Right off the bat, I felt like I could relate to the author’s experience, even though no one has ever called me fat except me. Well, it turns out that she’s not exactly “fat” either. Rather, she’s a bit overweight (sometimes more, sometimes less) but doesn’t fit the mold of what she thinks a “real runner” looks like, which is apparently tall and skinny.
Note to everyone who has ever thought about running: the only people who look like “real runners” are pretty much the people winning marathons. The rest of us look like normal people – fat, skinny, short, tall, and everything in between. Stop telling me you’re not “built like a runner.” There’s no such thing. End rant.
As it turns out, the author is from Columbia, South Carolina, and many of her stories revolve around local running routes and towns that I have spent time in and run by regularly! That was a pleasant surprise, and it gave the book a lot of interesting context for me. She talks about wanting to run a complete loop without stopping around Lake Katherine, which is a lake I run around with my Team in Training group during every weekend long run, so I thought that was kind of cool.
The book chronicles Jennifer’s beginning as a runner, including her first ever full mile, all the way up to her current fitness as a half-marathon runner. However, I wouldn’t say the book is really all that much about running itself. Mostly, the book is about how running helps Jennifer deal with a painful divorce and the constant uncertainties of life, which is something pretty much any runner can relate to. She shares entertaining anecdotes about her Houdini-esque donkeys (who owns donkeys?) and heartbreaking stories about her marriage, like the time she thought her husband wanted to talk to her so they could get back together and he told her he was going to marry someone else. Awkward!
I’m going to be completely honest – I don’t think I got as much out of this book as many people would have. First of all, it’s really hard to make me laugh through writing (ironic, no?), so I’m a
ruthlessly pretty tough critic. Second, despite the fact that we’re both runners with body image issues and we’ve both been divorced, I felt like we had very little in common. The author has some pretty strong opinions about skinny runners, divorced people, and a few other categories that I belong to that I didn’t really appreciate. That being said, I don’t think this is a reflection of her writing as much as it is a reflection of the audience (me). Other stops on this “blog book tour” have universally praised the book as laugh-out-loud funny and relatable, so I’ve determined that I’m just some kind of unfeeling humorless gremlin. That does not mean this is a bad book. On the contrary, I think it’s a quick, entertaining read, and the right reader would probably find themselves nodding in agreement and laughing and crying along with the author. I’m just not that reader. I hope many of you are, though!
Enter the giveaway below for your chance to win a free copy of Honey, Do You Need a Ride?