ALA has a nice tradition of offering a yoga class at the Midwinter Conference and a 5K Fun Run & Walk at Annual. These events really are fun. It’s a great way to experience scenic parts of the city. And it adds a spirit of adventure to your conference experience. The upcoming Think Fit 5K Fun Run & Walk will be held on Sunday, June 30, at 7:00am. Participants meet at the McCormick Place Convention Center and run along the edge of Lake Michigan. So cool!
I love/hate to run. In my mind, I imagine myself with a strong stride, tanned legs, and maybe a hot pink racerback top. In reality, I’m middle-aged and, um … not a candidate for hot pink racerbacks. So I love it when I find a book that gives me some inspiration to knock out 3.1 miles. Here are some great YA novels that do the trick.
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner was published in 1959 as the title story in a collection by Alan Sillitoe. Long distance running was a track event rather than a recreational sport at that time. For Smith, resident at a grim boys’ reformatory, it becomes a way out of his bleak circumstances. Over half a century after publication, the story remains a testament to the strength of individual will.
Another older title is The Runner by Cynthia Voigt, published in 1985 as the fourth book in the Tillerman series, preceded by Homecoming, Dicey’s Son, and A Solitary Blue. The novel takes place during the 1960s, when the Vietnam War awaited many high school graduates. Bullet Tillerman is the strongest member of his high school track team. Bullet has his own ideas about the world, formed from living with his uber-controlling father and distant mother. When he’s asked to coach the new guy on the team, an African American boy named Tamer, Bullet is less than honored. But the experience changes Bullet and prepares him for the battles ahead.
My favorite YA novel about running is Wendelin Van Draanen’s The Running Dream. Jessica has loved running since she played soccer in third grade. As she puts it:
I am a runner.
That’s what I do.
That’s who I am.
Running is all I know, or want, or care about.
When the reader first meets Jessica, she has already learned that she will never run again. After a bus accident, Jessica’s right leg was amputated, just below the knee. Walking will be a huge accomplishment. Running becomes something Jessica does in her dreams. It’s quite heartbreaking when Jessica hobbles on her crutches at her first post-accident track meet.
The gun goes off and Vanessa shoots from the blocks. She gathers speed and her stride lengthens. Her legs are long.
I close my eyes and try to stop my chin from quivering.
So think about giving yourself a fresh air break and joining your fellow librarians, authors, and booksellers at the Think Fit 5K Fun Run & Walk at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago. This is a ticketed event; registration fee is $30.00. You’ll pick up your goodie bag at the McCormick Place Convention Center before Sunday morning. If you see me (you’ll need to look behind you), join me in a fist pump!
— Diane Colson, currently reading Just One Day by Gayle Forman and listening to The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, narrated by Simon Prebble.