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This Christmas, my family was all together, my brother cooked killer steaks on the grill, and I basked in the wonder of how many incredible books I received as gifts.  (I also ran 7 miles, which felt altogether wonderful.)

I promised Rachel Chester–please lady, do start blogging again–that I would post a quick list of the books I was so happy to receive today.  Apparently, Jesus would really like me to start reading again in 2013.  So here you go, Rach.

1. The Major Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins 

I count it sheer nonsense that I’ve not read much of Hopkins, especially as he was so influenced by the Pre-Raphealite poets (Christina Rossetti is one of my all time faves), and because he practically lived in the same township as John Keats. Not to mention his being a brilliant Jesuit writer.  This year I’m hoping to really dig in to some poets from Hopkins’ era and later (1880s to 1940s), so this anthology will fit in perfectly.

2. Racing Weight – How to Get Lean for Peak Performance (Matt Fitzgerald)

My wild goal for 2013 is to run a sub-2 hour half marathon.  Honestly, this will be a massive feat for me, as it’ll mean me dropping 40 minutes from my 1st half-marathon time (May 2012), and 25+ minutes from my PR in August 2012.  No halfzies here on training allowed.  This year I want to be for real.  The reality is, to get faster, I have to lose some poundage.  I want to do that smart.

I hardly consider myself “an endurance athlete,” but I do want to train like one.  Ergo, I am pleasantly devouring Fitzgerald’s guidebook.  I unwrapped his book around lunch-time this afternoon, and I’m fairly sure I’ll be done with it within 48 hours.  It contains case study after study of well-documented scholarship about how nutrition and exercise compliment one another, and why dieting in the traditional sense truly isn’t a fantastic idea for someone in training for an endurance race.  It’s all about obtaining optimal performance.  (I want that, brother.)

Thus far, I love how often the author comments on the magnificence of our “intelligent bodies,” and how they respond perfectly to what we need, particularly as we push them further in training.

Screen Shot 2012 12 26 at 12.48.12 AM3. Momentum: What God Starts, Never Ends (Eric Johnson & Bill Johnson)

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a book from the Jesus movement up at Bethel Church in Redding, which I deeply respect.  I’m stoked to read this new one from Bill Johnson and his son, Eric.  I’m especially interested in what this book will teach about honoring the previous generation, spiritual inheritance, and learning to stay hidden.

4. A Thousand Mornings (Mary Oliver)

Mary Oliver is by far one of the most celebrated American poets of our generation.  She’s a Pulitzer prize winner and she continues to turn out exceptional writing.  I’m really excited to pick up her newest book when I return to Los Angeles.  The Amazon elves are delivering it to Boyle Heights, as we speak.

5. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (Haruki Murakami)

I’ve not yet read any of Murakami’s other novels, but my dear friend Christina Miller recommended this memoir to me as we sat on the grass in front of the South Pas Public Library, not long ago.  Murakami wrote this as he was training for the New York City marathon.  I’m excited to get an introduction to his voice as he makes connections with writing and running.

Tell me, did you receive any good books for Christmas?

What are you stoked to read in 2013?

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