This probably wasn't the post you were looking for. I'll get to my Relay Iowa and Gravel Dude reports soon enough. For now you can see what I read in May.
Fabric of the Cosmos, Brian Greene.
For my first semester in college I was a physics major. That didn't last. I was bored with circular motion and I didn't have patience for the math. This book is all the exciting stuff from physics without the math. Black holes, quantum entanglement, string theory. It's all here and explained pretty well (though I shouldn't really comment as I'm not all that well versed in it). On some level though I've lost (or maybe never had) the curiosity that drives physicists and other scientists to delve into the mysteries of the cosmos. I'm a little too focused on the pragmatic, on simple rules for getting along in a complex world. On a larger, philosophical, scale I also don't see where it's all headed. I think it's unlikely we'll ever discover the truth, that we'll ever be satisfied that this is the final answer. Maybe that's part of the appeal. You can't fool me. It's turtles all the way down.
Zen Baggage, Bill Porter.
I promise this is the last Zen book for a while (well, maybe not). Actually, there isn't that much Zen in this book. It's more of a travelogue than anything else. The upside (I don't usually like travelogues) is that it actually makes me want to visit China. It's easy for us in the West to see China as monolithic, but anyone who thinks about it for a moment will realize that this can't be true. As a document about the diversity and transformation taking place in China this is a worthwhile read.
Chi Walking, Danny Dreyer.
I read Dreyer's first book Chi Running last fall (too late to have any effect on my races) and found it to be a pretty insightful guide to running technique. The focus on balance and posture that I learned translated to skiing and walking quite effectively. I ski much more efficiently that I did before reading that book and I don't slip on ice while walking as much. Chi Walking is a bit of a follow up that focuses more on people just getting started on being fit. It's a little more philosophical and big picture oriented than the previous book.
Embassytown, China Mieville.
I've been a fan of Mieville for a few years now. He's a fantasy writer who likes to break genre and in his case that's a good thing. This particular novel is a little more Frank Herbert like. In order to make sense of it you just have to dive in and ignore the neologisms. They'll make sense eventually. Mieville's books always require a pretty hefty suspension of disbelief to get into. Because he doesn't hew closely to any genre you can't make the same assumptions. You just have to trust him to make sense. In the end he does and it's worth it, but I can see why he is a love/hate kind of author.
Mastering Mountain Bike Skills, McCormack, Lopez.
The riding portion of this book starts with “You suck at biking” and it's true. I may be able to pedal all day long and into tomorrow, but I can't corner. This books is an accessible and entertainingly written guide and the authors know what they're talking about. It turns out that I've been doing some things seriously wrong for a long time now. With some practice (which I haven't been getting) I think I might just improve at mountain biking. Unfortunately a lot of my motivation to learn went with the demise of the Seven Oaks 24 Hour race. I don't have a mountain bike race on the schedule any more.