The Gigantic Book of Running Quotations is exactly what it purports to be a gigantic book filled with quotations. This book came to my desk because I am an avid runner who races in 10’s, ½’s and marathons so the powers that be assigned the review to me. It wasn’t really hard work. The Gigantic Book of Running Quotations is edited by the legendary Hal Higdon author of Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide and one of the founders of Road Runners Club of America with a foreword by Runner’s World executive editor Amby Burfoot.
The book is divided into 15 “chapters” which are roughly configured to group together quotes of similar focus into a coherent group. This may make sense to the “editors” (I’ll get back to why that is in quotations) but it doesn’t make sense to the reader. If a reader wants to see the George Sheehan quotes they have to jump to the index at the back of the book and check which pages have Sheehan quotes then seek them out amongst the 778 pages of this thick tome. The divisions are of course completely artificial and frequently the quotes in a section don’t seem to have anything to do with that section. A book of quotations should be a resource book not merely an entertainment and while The Gigantic Book of Running Quotations qualifies as an entertainment it doesn’t quite make it as a resource.
There are two issues which are problematic for this book the first that comes to mind is that not all of the quotes are about running or by runners some are merely inspirational and could be in any other book of quotations.
“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” – John F. Kennedy There is nothing wrong with a J.F.K. quote but what does it have to do with running?
The second issue is the lack of cohesiveness in the chapters or in the source of the quotations. Either there should have been more and smaller chapters or the editor should have grouped the quotes by persons instead of thematically.
There is plenty in this book that is running specific though it does make a good pass the time read. While some of the quotes are trite and some boarder on the nonsensical (“I am passionate about my socks”) many are well worded and will ring true with runners. There are enough gems and inspirational quotes in this collection to make this book something most runners would enjoy having.