3 out of 4 stars
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Dolphins Don’t Run Marathons: 26.2 Loving Thoughts on Why You Should Not Run a Marathon by Sam Brand is a non-fiction book about the dangers of marathon obsession. The book is partially a memoir; Brand uses his personal experiences running marathons, including the New York City Marathon, to relay his message. However, the book also takes a close look at how exercise impacts different people. Brand has categorized humans in three ways: The human ant, a person stuck in the world of long-distance running; the human chimpanzee, a person who doesn’t regularly exercise; and the human dolphin, a person who is active in many different sports but also has a balanced social life.
The book is written in an encouraging tone with simplistic language. The author’s goal is to help human ants escape from the runner’s mentality and begin to enjoy life outside of the confines of long-distance running. Brand conveys his message with short chapters imbued with his personal experiences, feelings, and advice. For anyone familiar with the marathon world, or the exercise industry in general, this book will be extremely easy to relate to. As I read Brand’s story, I quickly identified symptoms from my own exercise-crazed past.
However, there is something off about this book. The absence of a specific category makes it difficult to determine the main point: Dolphins Don’t Run Marathons lacks enough detail to be a memoir, and it does not have clear guiding information to be categorized as a self-help book. For those ants trapped in the overbearing mentality of a dedicated long-distance runner, this book doesn’t hold any helpful tips about how to overcome the obsession and become a dolphin. Further, dolphins familiar with this transcendent approach to exercise might find the author’s anecdotes amusing but relatively uninspiring due to the lack of description in Brand’s personal stories.
The most disappointing aspect of the book was the lack of development of the categorization of humans as ants, chimpanzees, and dolphins. A brief description of each type of human is provided at the beginning, but only slight connections between the psychological aspects of exercise and obsession and the correlation between each of the categories are made; the hypothesis is never fully developed. Moreover, the organization of the book is strange. There are big gaps in spacing between paragraphs, and the conciseness of some chapters made them seem like hollow add-ons so the author could reach the intended 26.2 chapters.
Overall, I was unsure how to rate this book. Since I found the content relatable, the writing engaging, and the categorization of humans amusing, I didn’t want to go with a low rating. However, the lack of helpful advice and the underdevelopment of the main hypothesis left me feeling unsatisfied. Therefore, Dolphins Don’t Run Marathons earns 3 out of 4 stars. Readers interested in a new perspective on marathon running may find this book, told from the perspective of a reliable source, engaging and humorous. However, those strictly looking for a guide to help them break free of this lifestyle will be disappointed.
Dolphins Don’t Run Marathons
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