If your fall reading list consists of Us Weekly at the grocery store checkout and an hourly Twitter feed, Julia Lucas has five recommendations to help you suck less.
Julia Lucas was the third-fastest American in the 5,000-meters this year, with a 15:08.52 best set at the Payton Jordan Invitational in April. But before that and before she joined the Oregon Track Club, Lucas was a Linguistics major in the English department at North Carolina State. And just like every other English major, she’s got some crazy-good taste in books.
“I probably spend more of my time reading than I do running,” Lucas says. “It’s the easiest way for me to turn my brain off from what I’m doing and onto something completely different.”
In a Trailer first, Lucas gives her top five books for this fall, in her own words.
1. Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, by Mary Roach
This book had everyone around me annoyed because I’d burst out laughing in public places, or I’d say to whatever friend was next to me, “Hey! Hey! I bet you didn’t know this!”
There aren’t that many real studies done on sex. (Oddly enough, it’s that taboo.) Basically, every bit of scientific research that has ever been done is contained within this book, at least in a small mention. It’s just so interesting and so funny, and everybody who read it just couldn’t wait to pass it on.
Also, Deena Kastor gave it to me.
2. “How Tracy Austin Broke My Heart,” from Consider the Lobster: And Other Essays, by David Foster Wallace
First, I like DFW’s Infinite Jest. No, I love that book. It’s one of the few books that I didn’t pass on because I wanted to have it. And I pass on almost every book.
Tracy Austin was a tennis prodigy who was about the same age as DFW, and he watched her just dominate the sport, and then fall apart. It seemed like she would have a lot to say in her book, but she just came off as dumb. So he’s attempting to reconcile this lack of continuity between physical genius and mental genius.
Most sports memoirs written by athletes are significantly less interesting than watching them perform their sport. You want to understand what goes into making this athlete, or at least I do. But in order to do what we as athletes do well, you can’t fully process it or it becomes unmanageable. The best races are run without that much going on in your head. All you are is in the moment, sort of an animal. When you listen to a great athlete in any sport talk about their achievements after the game, it does not sound intuitive; it sounds dumb.
3. Skippy Dies: A Novel, by Paul Murray
Murray’s a Scottish author and he went to a boarding school. The book’s completely fiction, but it is obviously “well-researched.” The conversations and the dynamic between all the characters, which are mostly teenage boys in high school, are all about girls and their little half-baked philosophies on teenage life. It’s about excitement and being a kid. Everything is new and fresh and needs figuring out.
If I were a mother, I probably wouldn’t read it because I wouldn’t want to know all that was going on in those little perverted minds. I’ll never have kids.
4. The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, by J. R. R. Tolkien
I was a real nerd of a kid. Instead of spending time with friends, I’d mostly be curled around a giant book in my room. So I’m really excited about the movie. I’m planning on reading all the LOTR books again before the December release.
But Les Miserables is coming out the same night.
I also love musicals, again because I am a big nerd. One of my friends on the Oregon Track Club, Stephen Finley, is, too. We are equally emotionally invested in The Hobbit and Les Mis, so we have decisions to make. It will probably come down to rock-paper-scissors.
(I think the musical’s going to win because a lot of kids are going to be at The Hobbit, and I anticipate getting unreasonably upset with the children disturbing my viewing experience at midnight. That sounds absurd, but you have to make decisions somehow.)
5. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, by Haruki Murakami
Like I said, I was a fantasy-fiction kid. I love the way Murakami writes and thinks, and I pretty much read everything that he writes as soon as it comes out.
I really enjoy my time musing on running—I spend so much time doing it. Obviously my mind wanders around to the process and the reason. And I like hearing other people’s take on the things that I’ve been thinking about. I’m anticipating the genius version of what’s in my head.
You thought Julia Lucas was smart now? Wait till you follow her on Twitter.