F My Life The Book Now Available

Back in February I introduced you to FML, a little acronym that has taken over the Internet and gave us Fmylife.com.  Today, the creators of Fmylife.com finally released the long awaited printed book, F My Life.

F My Life Book

At just over $10, it’s far from spendy and should keep you entertained on your favorite reading chair, aka toilet, for hours on end.   The editor’s notes are,

Enter the devastatingly funny world of F My Life, where calamity is comedy. Covering every disastrous pratfall in love, work, family-life, and more, F My Life proffers other people’s ruinous, real-life happenings to brighten your gloomiest day: someone getting dumped through a greeting card, ignored at their birthday party, or insulted by their own grandmother. Spanning everything from ironic twists of fate to down-right shameful moments, F My Life’s squirm-inducing stories are schadenfreude at its finest. So today, take solace in knowing that at least you’re not that guy. There now, don’t you feel better?

288 pages of people’s lives getting ruined, disappointed and humiliated.  Great, until it happens to me, FML.

Book Review: Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner by Dean Karnazes

Now that I’ve started to run, mostly to train to be a better cyclist, I wanted some inspiration in addition to learning how to run better and more efficient.  I remembered an article I had read in Maxim a few years back and then again in Wired magazine called The Perfect Human, both about a guy who runs ultras, running events exceeding 100 miles.  Intrigued by the story of a man who runs all night and gets pizza delivered to intersections to keep fueled, his name, Dean Karnazes, has always stuck with me.  A quick search and I found one of his books, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner and ordered a copy.

It only took 3 days to read, it was that good.  The book starts off like Heft on Wheels with regards to a half chapter about something that’s happening right now, in this case an entertaining story on Dean getting Pizza and pie delivered to a corner along some some desolate highway that he’s running along near midnight.  The following few chapters explain Deans childhood, as a runner, a brief encounter with a running couch he hated and in turn how one conversation with the coach made him stop running for years, and how hard he worked to get through college and grad school and land a dream job, get married and live a pretty normal, happy life.

Dean’s reality check happens on his 30th birthday, drunk, running 40+ miles in his boxers across town.  This in turn starts a chain of events that, before you know it, you’re listening to his blow-by-blow story of running the Western States Endurance Run, a 100 mile cross country race where less than 30% of entrants finish in 24 hours or less.  Those who do, get a belt buckle.  It’s argued to be one of the toughest, demanding runs in the world.  This takes up the bulk of the middle of the book, it’s very detailed and gives you an idea of what kind of person Dean really is, but I won’t spoil the race results for you.

More goals started to mount and Dean tells about running the Badwater race across Death Valley.  It was so hot his shoes melted in the first hour of the race, he then realized the other runners were sticking to the white line for a reason.  Then off to the South Pole to take part in the first marathon race down there.  After running most of the ultra’s available, he started to run to regular marathons, in some cases 60 or 80 miles, timing them so he’d show up only a few minutes before the gun would go off, and placing really well in the 26.2 mile races.

The start of the book where Dean gets a Pizza delivered starts to come around again towards the end, where he tells of The Relay, a 199 mile race in California that’s split up into 36 legs and 12 members per team.  Each team member runs 5.5 miles, takes a break, gets driven to the next spot where they need to run and the race continues.  Dean did it himself, starting several hours before the teams, and the pizzas from the start of the book get delivered just less than half way through the race, where he picks up the story.  Again, I’m not going to spoil the ending, but this man has heart, lots of it.

Dean covers some of the many questions people ask him throughout the book too, the most common question is why? Which is indirectly answered towards the end of the book.  It was a great read, and while I have no intentions of ever running a marathon (26.2 miles) or anything longer, his outlook on life and the sport of running did serve as some motivation for me to pick the pace up on my 5k times and start to look at stretching those runs out to 5 miles and maybe even a 10k.

Best part is, you can pick-up a used copy of this book for under $3!

Book review: It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life by Lance Armstrong

While reading through Heft on Wheels a few weeks back I made some mental notes, mainly of the the authors remarks about how he read in Lance Armstrong‘s book, It’s Not About the Bike and was inspired to climb Beech Mountain in North Carolina.  Mike did it to prove something to himself, but I was curious why it had inspired him, so I ordered a copy of the book and read it over about a weeks time.

Wow.  That’s about all I have to say.  The book is as the title suggests, it’s a story about a cocky kid who was dealt a few bad cards in life and rides his bike to get away from the troubles he has.  Only, it’s not about the bike or riding at all.  Sure this book has a few paragraphs in a chapter here and there about the technical aspects of riding and why Lance rides and all that stuff, but it’s much deeper than that.

Having known little about Lance Armstrong prior to reading this book, other than he’s won the Tour de France 7 times and a slew of other races, has had one nut cut off, used to date a few celebrities and started the Livestrong movement making it fashionable to wear a yellow rubber wristband, I knew very little about who he really was.  His book reads more like a confession, about riding too hard and too fast, racing one day and literally having surgery to remove cancer the next day and his intense physical pains while going through chemotherapy treatments.  Lance also goes into great detail about the emotional bonds between his friends, being stabbed in the back by some sponsors and still fully embraced by others.

It’s an inspiration to say the least and makes it easy to identify what it must be like to live with cancer, from both a first person point of view and through the eyes of his family.  Nothing is left untouched, even the conception of Armstrong’s first child had details most would never dream of sharing.

For cycling fans, there are some really good passages about how Lance gets spanked early on in his riding career, then post-cancer training through Europe and how he prepared himself for winning his first Tour.  While all this is going on, he confesses his emotional sins about not wanting to race, to drink beer and play golf and work whatever crap job he can just to feed those habits.

Cycling fan or not, this is a book worth reading, if nothing more than to see the struggle that Armstrong has survived through and now thrives from.  Having read this, I feel a bit more proud to support his cause in the 2009 Philadelphia Livestrong Challenge.

As a side note, Amazon has this book used for as little as $4 shipped, click here to order one.

Book review: Heft on Wheels by Mike Magnuson

It’s been no secret to long-time Randomn3ss readers that back in the summer I started to ride a road bicycle, then complete the MS charity ride and I’ve gone as far as losing 54 pounds, only 6 pounds away from a goal I set when i started riding just 5 months ago.  I’ve also been very active in the social networking site DailyMile and been rather addicted to tracking the miles and reaching new goals; I’ve even started to run.  Because DailyMile is tied in with Twitter, another service I love to hate and hate to love, I managed to grab the attention of long-time internet friend, fellow photographer and on-again off-again cyclist Ed Hidden hooked on DailyMile as well.  During one of the posts I made on DailyMile that got tweeted out via Twitter, he sent me a message asking if I’d like to read a book he recently finished, he’d mail it to me if so. Twitter continues to work for positive things!

Super stoked on this offer, I took him up on it and a few days ago Heft on Wheels arrived.  I had only done a quick search to see what the book was about, Ed told me very little other than it was a gritty, fat guy to skinny guy story.  Amazon has this to say,

a 255-pound, pack-a-day 40-year-old who’s desperate to get his life back into shape. And he chooses the challenge of cycling to achieve that, largely because of its total lack of mercy.

I’m not a reader, I’ve admitted that before, but I was stoked on this book.  Ed told me this isn’t so much of a story about a fat guy and how he got skinny, rather one’s struggle with getting thin.

I blew through just over one third of the book in my first sitting, finishing the entire book in 3 days, Mike Magnuson’s writing style is a bit odd, coarse and seems to be filled with a tad too much ADD if ya’ know what I mean.  Mike was an average guy who was always a little chubby and through years in college and then becoming a professor in college got himself up to a 100% full fledged drunk, seven days a week.  Teaching creative writing in college often led him to the bar with his students until 2am at which point they would go back to someones home and drink till 5, 6 and sometimes 7 the following morning.  This helped lead him up to a whopping 255 pounds, smoking more than a pack a day and overall, not feeling like the man he should be.

The book starts off with Mike talking about getting hit by a truck while riding, then goes on to explain what got him there.  If this was a movie, it would say Present day under that part and 4 years earlier where the story picks up.  In a nutshell, Mike realized in his mid 30’s that something needed to be done, and by the age of 38 he was pretty disgusted with himself.  It was that birthday he quit smoking, drinking and got back onto a road bicycle, a Trek 5200 that he raves about heavily in the first few chapters.

Ed was right, this isn’t a how-to book, this is more of a journal, a journey to be more correct, of a man’s struggle with himself.  To speed the diet, Mike consumed nothing more than water and three 400 calorie protein shakes for months.  He talks about being the slowest, weakest rider in the group rides he does at his local bike shop, about buying XXL cycling gear and about his love and passion for the sport.  Outside of the time-line jumps he does fairly often, this book really kind of grabs ya.

The interesting part is that Mike almost seems to punish himself, he looks for pain, he traveled to North Carolina to climb the highest hill east of the Mississippi, he rode what many consider to be the toughest American road race in a total downpour.  He rode 12 months a year, in the dead of winter and in the searing heat of summer.

For this, he not only became a thinner man, dropping his weight down into the 170’s, he became a better teacher for his students and a better writer, penning several books and many magazine articles.  It wasn’t until the last few chapters of the book that I started to question the relationship with his family.  Throughout the book Mike talks about these epic rides, 100-150 miles a day, 450-550 miles per week, often waking early to ride before work and riding into the night after.  Right around the time my mind was questioning his family, of which he has a wife and two children, he addresses them, and apologizes for not being there enough.

The book is part inspiration, part entertainment and all Mike Magnuson.  Mike seriously beat the crap out of himself, in ways that were more than likely not healthy, he makes no lame excuses for his drinking problems or for how he ended up so fat.  He simply writes out a two year journey of his life and what he went through to get there.  It also deals heavily with friends he had, friends he lost and friends he made during cycling and training.

Bringing the story full circle, the end meets up where the beginning started, with the crash.  I won’t ruin the end, but it’s not a sad one.

Heft on Wheels appealed to me not only as someone who’s interested in cycling, but because Mike went through something I have, being fat and out of shape to thinner and in shape, it was easy for me to see the similarities in that.  While I don’t drink and don’t smoke, there is a lesson to be learned in here.  The only flaw with the book is Mike’s obsessive use of the term Trek 5200, an all carbon fiber bicycle that I know he must have been proud of but comes off as an advertisement after the 35th mention of it.  The scatter-brained writing style bothered me at first, as Mike often skips ahead 3 months in the first half of a chapter and then goes 2 months behind within the same chapter to better explain the story.  I learned to like it, and I think it actually helped me get through the book faster.

During the Twitter conversation Ed and I were having, Brad, who follows both of us had said he heard of the book and was interested in hearing more about it when I was done.  After a quick discussion with Ed, he said the best thing to do with the book would be to give it to someone else who could appreciate it.  So, it will be in the mail shortly Brad!  I hope it brings you the same enjoyment as it did Ed and I and you in turn give it to one of your readers.

If you’ve just read a book that blew your doors off and think I should read it and write a review, Contact me for my shipping address, maybe we can turn this into a huge book-passing thing.  Since this whole thing more or less started because of DailyMile and Twitter, follow me at:

Special thanks to Ed for mailing me the book to read in the first place!

I Can Has Cheezburger?: A LOLcat Colleckshun book

Randomn3ss reader Aprille sent me a link to a book that is bound to make just about anyone laugh, based on the now famous icanhascheezburger.com website.  While the site provides daily entertainment, this book is perfect for cat loving g33ks everywhere.

At $8.00 it’s hardly a bank breaker either!  Get it here on Amazon.

Book review: The Dip by Seth Godin

Let me preface this with, I am not a reader, I won’t make myself out to be one. Reading Maxim or some other men’s magazine and occasionally my local newspaper are about as out there as my reading goes in the traditional sense. I do read a lot of blogs, hell that’s part of the reason I started this one, so I could bitch and complain about them. In any event, I often find myself craving more knowledge, and reading is somewhat relaxing for me, it’s something I’m trying to work into my not so busy schedule, part of trying to make a better me. Now that I’m done with the touch feely new age crap, onto the review!

Reading some blog over the weekend, sadly I honestly don’t recall which one, was an authors 5 books worth reading. One looked really interesting, The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) by Seth Godin. Looks interesting, catchy title and a two sentence review on the book had me hooked. Being the lazy person I am and not wanting to head to the local bookstore to shell out a ton of cash, I search online for it. Then a thought came to me, let’s see if they have this as an audio book. Sure as shit, I find me a copy and started to download it.

Audio books kind of fascinate me; it is all the work of reading yet none of the sleepiness that comes along with it, for me at least. Added to the fact that I finally have my iPod hooked up in my car, what a great way to kill some time in my commute to work. So honestly, this isn’t a true book report in that I didn’t read the book, I listened to it. In any event, I did take some good from the words and I do plan to buy a print copy since the audio version I listened to was abridged.

Seth definitely tries to make this a somewhat uplifting book meant to provoke inner thoughts of change and force you to improve yourself by answering a couple simple questions. One of the things that caught my attention was that quitting is not always a bad idea. Seth quotes a very famous line from well known, loved and respected football coach and inspirational speaker that I’m sure we’ve all heard, Vince Lombardi‘s, Winners never quit and quitters never win. Back in high school I remember a teacher showing a Lombardi video and hearing that in his speech, but what was Seth trying to get across?

He points out that quitting isn’t always bad, most of the time it is good, in nearly all aspects of life, jobs and relationships. One point he makes is that quitting the fast food job you had when you were 16 was probably a smart move. This is where the dip comes into play. Honestly, I need to read the book because I still don’t fully grasp it, but the dip is the deciding factor in when quitting is a positive or negative choice to make. When the dip is too big, or the reward is too far away, quitting is the best answer.

The audio book is about 90 minutes long, I blew through it in two days driving back and forth to work, the book itself is only 80 pages, I figure I should be able to breeze through it in less than a week, even at a snails pace. One thing I was really concerned with was that this was going to try to make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, it doesn’t. The book makes the point that quitting your job now forces you to do something, to take action, same goes with a relationship. It is about making that choice to quite that is toughest for most of us.

Seth Godin also has a personal blog which has some pretty good content; I’ve added it to my RSS feed so expect to see me pulling some info from that sooner or later. It can be viewed at: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/

His book can be purchased through Amazon.com here: The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)