I may be late, but juggling work and summer fun put a few things on the wayside. But I’m naturally competitive, so I changed my schedule a bit and kept up my reading pace. I’m so glad I did because I read some different and fun books.
My favorite genres, memoirs and adventure sports, filled my June reading. Looking back, I can’t believe I didn’t have one fiction read. The below list is in order from the start of June. Hopefully, you will find one of these books marvelous enough to check out.
The Race of the Century: The Battle to Break the Four-Minute Mile by Neal Bascomb
I can’t imagine running fast or competitively in this sweltering heat we are all experiencing. Instead, I’m more comfortable reading about this remarkable event of running history from the comforts of my air-conditioned home.
Even better, I didn’t have to go outside to get The Race of the Century: The Battle to Break the Four-Minute Mile by Neal Bascomb because my daughter purchased it at her school’s Scholastic Book Fair (this edition was specifically made for Scholastic).
I’ve always been interested in sports firsts. Obsessed with basketball as a kid, I was fascinated that the slam dunk was once considered impossible. But after Wilt Chamberlain made it famous, almost every player after him could easily dunk on every play (https://www.redbull.com/us-en/slam-dunk-history).
What’s It About?
Another sport first was running a mile in under four minutes. It was deemed impossible. But once accomplished, it became a finishing time a competitive mile runner had to reach. According to Wikipedia, “As of April 2021, the ‘four-minute barrier’ has been broken by 1,663 athletes and is now a standard of professional middle distance runners in several cultures (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four-minute_mile).”
I went to a track meet at the University of Arkansas this past spring, and as you can see in the picture below, a four-minute mile is close to the minimum performance to become a world-class runner.
But the story of breaking the four-minute mile is unique because it didn’t happen by accident. Rather, it started as a contest between three Olympic runners. After the Olympics in 1952, three runners who had disappointing results set out to break this barrier: Roger Bannister from Britain, John Landy from Australia and Wes Santee from America.
Each runner came to the record challenge with a unique background. Bannister was a medical student who studied oxygen intake and juggled hospital shifts while training. Landy came from a more privileged background and also juggled school and running. Santee was a Kansas farm boy who worked jobs while training and attending the University of Kansas.
The rules, knowledge and lifestyle of competitive running and health at this point in history also play an important role in the record pursuit. The athletes research their body’s limits, figure out the best type of training and fight against amateur athlete eligibility rules on their own.
What I Thought
Following three stories with a common start and end goal makes this a charming read. I found the style easy to follow and kept flipping pages. This story primarily sticks to a traditional non-fiction theme, but the exciting details of the real-life story don’t make the book too dry.
This book is perfect for motivating young, enthusiastic runners or will gain the attention of history fans. Speaking as a runner, I’ve always been fascinated with the four-minute mile, so I enjoyed this story. But this story is more on the mild side for young adults looking for extreme adventure.
About the Author
The adult version of this book by Bascomb is The Perfect Mile. To learn more about the author and his other books, check out his website: https://nealbascomb.com/. My daughter loves two of his other books, The Grand Escape and Sabotage, which are for more adventurous young adult readers.
Mrs. Kennedy and Me: An intimate memoir by Clint Hill
What’s It About?
Okay, I have to admit. The close-up cover photo of Secret Service agent Clint Hill and First Lady Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy and the word “intimate” and “Mrs. Kennedy and Me” in the book’s title drew me into what I thought would be a juicy look into a love affair. But, it turns out, it’s not that at all.
This memoir tells the true story of Clint Hill’s time as the Secret Service agent assigned to Mrs. Kennedy during President Kennedy’s administration and two years after the President was killed. An almost daily account of the First Lady’s actions helps the reader understand Clint Hill’s admirable character and Mrs. Kennedy’s grace.
Following Mrs. Kennedy seemed at the beginning like a demotion for Mr. Hill, who was on the POTUS detail of the previous Eisenhower administration. But as we all know now, Mrs. Kennedy was viewed as a pop idol at the time. So keeping her and the Kennedy’s children safe while trying to keep her private life private ended up becoming a huge challenge for Mr. Hill and the others on the team.
What I Thought
Having a glimpse into a celebrity’s private life is always interesting, and although I didn’t live during this time, the stories are fascinating. I enjoyed learning about the elite social circles and large budgets the Kennedys had at their disposal. “Should I stay at the NYC apartment or water ski off the Greek island coast?” How about both?
The only issue I had with the book is it is a little boring. There is nothing fancy to the narrative style, just a daily recounting of actions…Well, except for one part I won’t spoil for you.
The best part of the book for me is that the reader will admire and fall in love with the stand-up character and work ethic of Clint Hill. He truly built a solid (and platonic) relationship with Mrs. Kennedy, losing his own precious time with his family to do his job in the most upstanding manner.
This book won’t disappoint people who love reading about the Kennedys. Otherwise, it may be one for an audio version to pass the time.
About the Author
If you are looking for a juicy detail but don’t want to read the book, I discovered that Clint Hill married the co-author, Lisa McCubbin. You can find more about Clint Hill at: https://clinthillsecretservice.com/.
The Gosling Bride by Eileen Williams
What’s It About?
In The Gosling Bride, Williams examines her deep-dive experience in the Unification Church after leaving her family and childhood hometown. Williams and her other team members lived a nomadic life in the 1970s, as the ‘boots on the ground’ 24/7 to fundraise and spread the word of the Church, often in depressed and distressed cities. The book culminates in her marriage to a man she just met at the largest mass wedding ever recorded. Handcuffed by her past experiences, Williams works to find her inner strength and confidence while balancing an unyielding faith in the face of those who believe she’s in a cult. This coming-of-age story explores how to overcome the insurmountable and stay and grow in faith when so much adversity faces you.
What I Thought
The Gosling Bride took me by surprise. The reader will discover that Williams is a great writer from the get-go. The story comes alive right out of the gate as Williams layers her beautiful use of analogies to connect the 1970s to current times. Williams’ writing style also allows readers to recognize where the author’s emotions lie immediately. Williams’ writing flow and pace are fast and fluid when writing about people she loves in the book and becomes short, clipped, and dark when describing haunting incidents and abusive characters. And stay tuned to the ending, where she tidies the story up with the most creative and poetic finish.
I received this book as an advanced reader copy and I thoroughly it. I learned about the Unification Church and how tumultuous it was to be a member in the 1970s. Williams does a great job relating this story to the readers, especially those who never lived during this time or have heard of the Unification Church. The book was full of surprises, some heartbreaking and troubling, around every corner and city Williams writes about. I also appreciated that Williams does not push her faith. In fact, the reader may not be sure whether she is still in the Unification Church or not. The book was a good time for me to reflect on keeping the faith and that ordinary people may just be saints in the making.
How to Get a Copy
I encourage you to support an independent author and independent bookstores. You can do both by purchasing this book at: https://bookshop.org/books/the-gosling-bride-a-coming-of-age-faith-memoir/9780578349602.
The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Content Marketing, Podcasting, Social Media, AI, Live Video, and Newsjacking to Reach Buyers Directly by David Meerman Scott
I have a degree in Public Relations. Close to the end of school, I could tell that some of my education may become quickly outdated when in one of my last classes, the professor wanted us to fax a press release to a local TV station. I suspected I wouldn’t be using a fax machine to send important news but more for filling out paperwork for health insurance or a bank.
So, I was a little surprised that David Meerman Scott thought the readers and me of The New Rules of Marketing and PR had not progressed from our late ‘90s jobs in PR and didn’t know what today’s world is all about—and it’s the seventh-updated version at that.
What I Thought
If you are all familiar with the modern world, say you have a smartphone, you can skip the entire first half of the book, which details how social media is now widely used or how many people use smartphones nowadays.
Once you move into the second half, I believe the information will quickly become outdated as online marketing trends rapidly evolve. In addition, the examples used in the book are somewhat obscure, too wordy and will again soon become obsolete.
I appreciated the discussion of customer personas, which comprise the backbone of any marketing strategy. Meerman-Scott thoroughly defines personas, why they are essential, and how they drive marketing efforts and advertising spending. With a mouthful of words in the title, you can expect as many words in the book but with little insight to back it up or expertise to help you win at today’s marketing game.
Never Give Up: My Life in the Wild by Bear Grylls
What’s It About?
Never Give Up: My Life in the Wild by Bear Grylls was another book I snagged from my daughter’s room. I preordered this book as a late Christmas present for her after we obsessed over Grylls’ book The Kid Who Climbed Everest: The Incredible Story of a 23-Year-Old’s Summit of Mt. Everest and Mud, Sweat and Tears.
However, Never Give Up is a bit different. Although still a memoir, this book tells more unconnected stories regarding Grylls and his adventures during his television career. For fans of his television shows, this book is for you.
You will get insights into his favorite episodes, most daring adventures with celebrities, and loads of gross food adventures. Each adventure’s close calls and dangerous conditions are real, nothing staged. In fact, you will learn that if people suggest Grylls stage something, he will do the exact opposite.
What I Thought
I was especially interested in how the shows came to be and which ones were renewed for future seasons. I also enjoyed how Grylls and his crew basically had to figure out what works, what doesn’t and what safety precautions need to be included in future adventures.
The book is told in a journalistic style, so it is easy to read, and you can start and stop at any time without missing a beat.
Grylls is an inspiring adventurer with a solid foundation, making him an admirable guy to read about. Grylls encourages adventure, resilience and taking time to enjoy life.
I recommend this book for Bear Grylls fans, young adults and adventurers. If you aren’t interested in Bear Grylls, this book drags on a bit at the end.
How to Learn More
I read this book but noticed many people recommending the audio version since the narrator speaks in a British accent. Of course, Bear Grylls has much more to offer than just his books. You can learn more about him, his television shows or purchase his gear at: https://www.beargrylls.com/.
Hopefully, you’ve had some time to enjoy summer reading in the comforts of air conditioning. So, how’s your summer reading going? I encourage you to pick up one of the books I’ve mentioned here or in my past monthly book recaps. You can also drop in a comment on your summer reading picks.
If you are a first-time or independent author that needs a book review or are looking to navigate the editing, publishing and marketing process, please get in touch with me at: https://rivetservice.com/contact-rivet-service/ to discuss your work. Writing the manuscript is only half the battle. Marketing your book is a major part of getting readers to buy your book.