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DEBS’ Book Club — Running to Read!

Deb S and Debi U

We decided to start the Flyers book club during the 2019 Flyers elections event at Rosie O’Grady’s. 

Deb S had the idea and Debi U helped execute it. Our first book, Endure by Alex Hutchinson, became part of our original acronym DEBSDebs’ Enduring Book Social which has now evolved into DEBS’.

It has been three years with a Covid hiatus in between. We have had meetings indoors, outdoors, and most recently on Zoom. While we enjoy seeing one another in person, Zoom provides us with the opportunity to have the author attend. This has been an exciting addition which happened by default due to Covid. 

The following list of books represents our journey leading the Flyers Book Club. Although the groups are usually small, we continue to offer titles as long as people show up! 

Here we are at our first session at Harvest Kitchen discussing the book, Endure, and of course eating, drinking and socializing.

Our next book was Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor, where we again met at Harvest Kitchen. Though the photo shows the author, we want to be clear that she did not attend our book club session. One of our goals is to have the opportunity to hold a discussion with an author in person! I (Debi U.) was drawn to this book after attending a talk given by Kastor at the pavilion at NYC Marathon. My friends and I caught up with her and her daughter after the talk and she was friendly and personable. This enticed me to read her book even more.

Our first Zoom Session was with Matt Futterman, author of Running to the Edge. Deb S's son, Deniz, is a friend of one of Matt's neighbors. Because Deniz is a runner, his friend had Matt sign a book for him - and long story short, he agreed to participate in our group discussion.  Matt did an amazing job giving us a ton of background and behind the scene stories during his research for his book. And by the way, Matt runs a lot in Central Park so maybe some of you have seen him.

Our second Zoom session was with Nita Sweeney, author of Depression Hates a Moving Target. Nita shared with us how she was able to work through her deep depression and become a runner and hasn’t stopped since. Her dog (on the cover) and her husband were key in supporting her. She joined a running group, has a blog, and continues to write about topics pertaining to depression and mental health issues.

In the spring of 2021, we decided to meet in person at an outdoor café, Good Enough to Eat, to discuss the book, I Hate Running and You Can Too. Notice all the copies of books and paper/pens making us look so studious. We chose this book at least in part because of the humorous title. The author, Brendan Leonard, uses wisdom, humor, attitude, tips, quotes and charts illustrating how the sport of running can appear to be quite silly and irrational. But through his creative approach, he ultimately encourages others to start and/or continue running.

We took a chance with our next book by choosing a futuristic thriller about genetically designed elites verses the relegated poor living on the outskirts of society who are referred as “slummers.” This book, The Slummer: Quarters Till Death by Geoffrey Simpson, is about a runner living in the slums who rises to the occasion and earns the opportunity to compete in national championship races. It kept appearing on our FB feeds so we surrendered to it and we were pleasantly surprised! We had a wonderful discussion with the author learning how he developed the story and how much of it was based on his life and experiences in training for races he participated in during college. 

Most recently we had Dana Ayers, author of Confessions of an UnlikeMostly Runner, attend our Monday night group. This book in particular touched many people because Dana, on several occasions in the discussion, said she would not describe herself as an “athlete.” She was very humble and offered a fresh perspective of her life as a runner.  We received such warm feedback from those who attended.  As the NYC Half was the day before our meeting, Dana said she would consider running it as she had run through a part of NYC on one of the last legs of a relay. Someone had the idea that she could offer to write a story on the experience in exchange for a bib.  Many listened to the book through audio, and Dana recorded her own voice making it more personal. Dana also shared how she recorded it – in a closet! Her sense of humor and lighthearted style emphasized the “fun” in running as many of us were able to relate to Dana in one way or another. I (Debi U.) was particularly drawn to this book. Since I run on the "slower side" there have been times that I don't always see myself as an "athlete." I was able to see and feel Dana's point of view and I was confident that I would find humor in this book. It did not disappoint!

Our next zoom session is on May 23rd to discuss the book, Silent Running: Our Family’s Journey to the Finish Line with Autism, with the author, Robyn Schneider. The author and her husband are the parents of identical twin boys who were diagnosed with autism. The family discovers running – for their sons and for themselves. This book shares their journey of being transformed and their triumph in the face of enormous hurdles.

It's a truly inspirational book, and we are excited to have Flyers and friends join us in our discussion with the author. Click HERE for the details.

-Deb S. and Debi U.