Official Review: Dolphins Don’t Run Marathons

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Eva Darrington
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Official Review: Dolphins Don’t Run Marathons

Post by Eva Darrington » 01 Mar 2019, 15:57

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Dolphins Don’t Run Marathons" by Sam Brand.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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Are you the head-down, eye-on-the-prize worker ant, or the playful, go-with-the-flow dolphin? By way of exploring his evolution as a marathon runner, author Sam Brand identifies three distinct personality types as they relate to key aspects of life. In his 2015 nonfiction book, Brand assigns the human population three animal archetypes: the human ant, the human chimpanzee, and the human dolphin. Dolphins Don’t Run Marathons: 26.2 loving thoughts on why you should not run a marathon reflects the author’s transformation from ant to dolphin, a shift that balances his life and saves him from a fate of early aging, isolation, heart disease, and even personality disorders.

“Human ants love stress; they enjoy it – but human dolphins don’t”(p184). Human ants are the seasoned marathon runners who push hard, often override their bodies, and get lost in the focus of their colony. Human chimpanzees don’t like sports but rather are the helpers and supporters who enjoy socializing. They are thought of as lazy by the hard-working ants. The human dolphins are wise and athletic, yet instinctively know how to balance work, play, sex, and exercise.

Brand succeeds in tying these aspects to human characteristics, and the metaphor works to explore his valid concerns about exercise addiction, a concept that is not explicitly identified but it is the primary theme of the book. “You better pace yourself before you kill yourself,” and “Ants never stop until they get run over. Better to be a dolphin. Dolphins move on,” are two of the chapter headings. There is quite a bit of exercise addiction research out there, and Sam Brand’s ant-inspired characteristics match the scholarly discussions about behaviors such as loss of perspective, overtraining, and perfectionism.

Dolphins Don’t Run Marathons earns points for creativity, but it does have some problems. The book appears to be fun and light, from the playful appearance of the cover illustrations, the use of animals, and the simplistic phrasing. One might even think it is geared toward children. In actuality, the concepts handled in the book are quite adult and difficult to view as playful. The text contains references to personality disorders, obsessive behaviors, and delusions. I understand the impulse to use playful metaphors, but the presentation of this book is a mismatch with the themes and content.

Brand’s journey will likely resonate with many, though it may offend an audience it hopes to reach: long-distance runners who are happily embedded in the ant archetype. While the ant-driven characteristics of unhealthy exercising are concerning and important to highlight, I wonder if some of the traits could be considered useful in proper doses, even necessary, for focus and motivation. The author tends to pathologize it all, leaving little room for ants in the equation of life. I think this is an oversight, as Brand largely touts the dolphin archetype as the only way.

I rate Dolphins Don’t Run Marathons 2 out of 4 stars, based on the creative metaphors and educational message. A higher rating is not possible due to the stylistic vs. thematic mismatch, uneven development of the animal archetypes, and number of editing errors (well over ten). I picked up the book because of my affinity for dolphins. I enjoyed seeing the author find the way of the dolphin by running shorter distances, playing in the water, doing yoga, having sex just for fun, being flexible, and smiling a lot. Despite the fact that long-distance runners could find important information in this book, they may be offended by it. Readers who prefer a lighter exploration of serious issues will appreciate Brand’s creative efforts.

******
Dolphins Don’t Run Marathons
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Post by inaramid » 06 Mar 2019, 08:50

Well, this was definitely not what I thought it was going to be (put me down for assuming that this was a children's book). I like the use of metaphors, though it's a bit difficult to see personality types as just having three categories (and that one is apparently more recommended than the others? I don't think so.) Great analysis and evaluation -- I know for sure this isn't for me.

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Post by DogoMulla » 06 Mar 2019, 08:56

I'm tempted to say am a dolphin but I feel like a chimpanzee. Well, not physically and all. This seems like an out-of-the-box and extra-ordinary read. However, I support your notion that ants also deserve a place and voice. Excellent review!

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Post by kandscreeley » 06 Mar 2019, 10:08

Well, it definitely sounds like a unique take on the personality issue. It also sounds like it does have some benefit. However, I think I'm somewhere in between the ant and the dolphin and don't know that I have much use for the book. Thanks for your review.
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Post by Eva Darrington » 06 Mar 2019, 10:43

inaramid wrote:
06 Mar 2019, 08:50
Well, this was definitely not what I thought it was going to be (put me down for assuming that this was a children's book). I like the use of metaphors, though it's a bit difficult to see personality types as just having three categories (and that one is apparently more recommended than the others? I don't think so.) Great analysis and evaluation -- I know for sure this isn't for me.
Thank you for the reflections. I really do think this would have worked had the author realized that any archetype can veer into extreme and unhealthy territory, even the dolphin. If we played and did yoga and had sex all the time, we would need those ant characteristics to do some work and balance that. I always appreciate your thoughtful comments.
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Post by Eva Darrington » 06 Mar 2019, 10:44

DogoMulla wrote:
06 Mar 2019, 08:56
I'm tempted to say am a dolphin but I feel like a chimpanzee. Well, not physically and all. This seems like an out-of-the-box and extra-ordinary read. However, I support your notion that ants also deserve a place and voice. Excellent review!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. One of the problems in the book was that the chimpanzee was not fully explored at all. I was wishing it had been fleshed out a bit more.
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. -Scott Adams

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Post by Eva Darrington » 06 Mar 2019, 10:47

kandscreeley wrote:
06 Mar 2019, 10:08
Well, it definitely sounds like a unique take on the personality issue. It also sounds like it does have some benefit. However, I think I'm somewhere in between the ant and the dolphin and don't know that I have much use for the book. Thanks for your review.
Personally, I think that ant-dolphin balance is a pretty well-adjusted way to go. :D I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts.
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. -Scott Adams

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Post by kislany » 07 Mar 2019, 01:14

It sounds like an interesting story, but honestly, the number of grammatical errors puts me off from picking it up. Great review, as usual.

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Post by DogoMulla » 07 Mar 2019, 11:18

Eva Darrington wrote:
06 Mar 2019, 10:44
DogoMulla wrote:
06 Mar 2019, 08:56
I'm tempted to say am a dolphin but I feel like a chimpanzee. Well, not physically and all. This seems like an out-of-the-box and extra-ordinary read. However, I support your notion that ants also deserve a place and voice. Excellent review!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. One of the problems in the book was that the chimpanzee was not fully explored at all. I was wishing it had been fleshed out a bit more.
It's such a pity. However, it's how the world seems to be functioning nowadays. The focus is always on the famous and socialites, not forgetting the very wealthy, while 'others' go on almost totally unnoticed. As they say, it's just life.

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Post by Eva Darrington » 07 Mar 2019, 11:59

kislany wrote:
07 Mar 2019, 01:14
It sounds like an interesting story, but honestly, the number of grammatical errors puts me off from picking it up. Great review, as usual.
Yes, those pesky errors were cumbersome. Thanks for sharing a comment!
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Post by teacherjh » 08 Mar 2019, 14:17

I like those personality tests that match you with certain characteristics. However, I’m not a fan of exercise, so this probably is not for me. Thanks for a good review.

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Post by Eva Darrington » 08 Mar 2019, 17:43

teacherjh wrote:
08 Mar 2019, 14:17
I like those personality tests that match you with certain characteristics. However, I’m not a fan of exercise, so this probably is not for me. Thanks for a good review.
You would be the chimpanzee archetype, which I wish the author has fleshed out more! Thanks for stopping in and sharing your thoughts.
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Post by Bianka Walter » 11 Mar 2019, 12:21

I agree - you can't write a professional book and hope to back it up with childish metaphors. It does make it slightly less authentic. It seems like the author missed the mark on this one.
I loved this review - thanks!
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Post by Eva Darrington » 11 Mar 2019, 22:35

Bianka Walter wrote:
11 Mar 2019, 12:21
I agree - you can't write a professional book and hope to back it up with childish metaphors. It does make it slightly less authentic. It seems like the author missed the mark on this one.
I loved this review - thanks!
Thank you, Bianka! I think it tried to be too many things. I appreciate you dropping by.
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Post by Quinto » 13 Mar 2019, 00:47

Still sounds like a fun book to read (mainly because of the archetypes), and an opener to the more serious stuff. Thanks for the wonderful review.

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