Running & Reading: Ann Patchett's Run

Anyone who has spent more than an hour in my presence knows I'm a fan of Ann Patchett. State of Wonder is one of my favorite books ever written, and some of her other works, like The Magician's Assistant, The Patron Saint of Liars, and most recently, Commonwealth, have taken me on interesting, memorable adventures over the years.

So now I'm asking myself: Why on Earth did it take me so long to get around to reading Run?!

As with many of Patchett's other novels, the catalyzing incident leads one group of people to "collide" unexpectedly with another group of people, and the novel unfolds as everyone reconciles themselves to this new reality. I won't give away any more than that, so that you can enjoy the book one word at a time. 

One thing I can share with you is that this book contains truly beautiful prose on what running feels like. Young runner Kenya is passionate about running, and good at it too... and Patchett captures so much of the experience of what it means to be a runner in this book: that feeling you get when you really need a run, the thrill of movement as you put your body through its paces, and the blissful feeling afterward, when you're exhausted -- pleasantly so.


Years ago, Patchett herself trained to pass the entry exam (written & physical) for the Los Angeles Police Academy -- you can read all about that adventure in her collection of essays, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage  -- but it wasn't until reading Run that I realized to what degree running must be a part of Patchett's life. As any runner knows, being a runner is much more than striding quickly in a particular direction; it's the antsy feeling in your legs indicating you need to get out on the trail, the burn in your thighs and your lungs as you put in the miles, the blissful afterglow of peace after you've finished a solid workout. And in Run, Patchett captures these feelings perfectly.

I encourage you to read anything Ann Patchett has written, fiction and nonfiction alike. But to you runners out there, I definitely recommend picking up Run. It's a beautiful story about family, relationships, and connections between people... but it's also got some beautiful passages about the act of running itself. Check it out.

Happy reading, friends, and see you on the trail!