The Running Book by John Connell: a grounded writer on the right track

A running theme, apart from running, is indigenous people’s struggle with colonialism

John Connell: Although he cannot be neutral about Ireland’s past, the author is always generous. Balance is vital to a runner after all. Photograph: Eamonn Doyle

John Connell: Although he cannot be neutral about Ireland’s past, the author is always generous. Balance is vital to a runner after all. Photograph: Eamonn Doyle

As befits a book about running, John Connell’s latest volume weighs in at a trim 165 pages, with no visible flab. Most of the runs described in it are long-distance, but the chapters are short too. The author’s speciality is the vignette. His book unfolds like a series of 400-metre loops, circling around again and again to the same place, although Connell’s philosophical reflections ripple ever wider in the process.

Despite the title, this is not any kind of coaching manual. The Running Book builds on the franchise of the author’s farming-inspired 2018 hit, The Cow Book, and is similarly structured, with the mixture of memoir and travelogue in this case punctuated by his feats of athletic endurance and the insights they offer.

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