Feet in the Clouds Reviews

Mixed reviews

41 to 60 of 69 messages
15/12/2005 at 16:55
Please be nice to me if I just make a couple of points in defence of my review, and in the process probably upset a whole other group of forumites.

I wasn't having a go at your review Barnsleyrunner - it was a balanced review. It was the less balanced reviews that belittled country life and it's colourful characters that got me riled. By all means people have the right to say what they think about the book, but they don't need to be offensive.

I am not a fell-runner, but I run off-road as I love the countryside. My intention was to suggest that the reason some people maybe didn't like the book is that you really do need more of an interest in the countryside than just the odd tour of your local park. Fine if that's their thing, but then why buy a book about fell-running and then moan that you didn't enjoy it?

Finally, yes I know that reading a book 3 times is a bit obsessive! In my defence, I'm a student so have an awful lot of spare time on my hands and very little money to spend on it!
15/12/2005 at 17:08
I'll add my bit that I thought the whole book was excellent, and pretty much the best running book I've read. Most runners can't write, and even with a ghost writer fail to put together a readable book (my hero the sainted one included!).

And if you're still there Barnsley, I would like to read about your training, if you can write it in a suitably engaging fashion - heroic struggle, triumph in adversity, blisters bigger than an open cast mine etc... ;-)
15/12/2005 at 17:43
t'chip butty on't way oooam in t'evening after t'training
15/12/2005 at 18:46
I haven't had time to read this thread, but just to add my bit about the book.

I really enjoyed it. I expect one of the reasons is I love off road running and felt I could relate to much of it. I'm not a fell runner, but I have done the odd short fell race and appreciate the nature of fell running.

I think the book was well written and easy to understand, although a little repetitive in places and maybe a little too much hero worship-like you have to be someone real special to be a fell runner. In my opinion not so, just someone who loves the outdoor wild nature of multi terrain running.
15/12/2005 at 23:05
As I said, my problem was with the self-absorbption of the author in his own `struggle' (which to be fair I think most people could achieve if they put their mind to it), not the bits about fell runners and fell running history, which I found very interesting.

Having said that, some of us go in for self absorbption (see most daily threads) but you can read about it for free, not at £10 a pop:-)
15/12/2005 at 23:11
maybe one day I'll pick it up and finish it.

Could be worse...he could be a triathlete...now that would be dull and self-obsessed.
16/12/2005 at 00:31
"Self-absorbtion" is one of those annoying phrases we use when we want to be dismissive of someone. When we want to be nice, we say "dedication" instead.

I think it's a given that Askwith is immersed in his subject. Otherwise, why write a book about it? All I can say is that I found the book to be written with true passion, and yes, sometimes, a sense of awe, but that it never seemed incongruous or hagiographic. The respect seems well deserved when you learn about the largely unacknowledged feats of some of these legendary runners. As for his own goals and achievements, I didn't feel they were over-written at all. Admittedly I'm a hopeless plodder, but the author's treatment of his own ambitions were surely just a reflection of how dedicated and obsessive you have to be to achieve these gruelling targets.

Have to disagree with BR that most people could achieve these things. I certainl couldn't. That said, BR says "if they put their mind to it", which ironically, is what Askwith is accused of doing here. He did put his mind to it, hence the "self-absorbtion". The poor guy can't win!

People aren't wrong to dislike this book. It really just depends on what sort of running writing presses your buttons. As I mentioned before, plenty of people liked the Paula "autobiography" -- easily the dullest running book I've read so far.
16/12/2005 at 00:40
lol I love the BR school of thinking..

I'm pretty sure that 90% of people can do / qualify for ther chosen aims if they want to.

Doesn;t distract from this being boring as (expletive)
16/12/2005 at 04:57
RC - from the first few pages I disliked the tone of the book - the guy came across as a journalist choosing a challenge so he'd have a book to write, rather than someone writing about a hobby they already have a passion about. Even though some running books are dull, as you mention, at least they arise out of having accomplished something first for the sake of the sport, rather than someone taking mental or actual notes all the time to put into a book.

I genuinely found I couldn't face the rest of the book and gave up on it about halfway. And I'm not the sort of person who gives up on things easily.
16/12/2005 at 14:00
By the way, BR and RC - you're both wrong. The correct spelling is "self-absorption".
16/12/2005 at 14:29
quote - Fine if that's their thing, but then why buy a book about fell-running and then moan that you didn't enjoy it?
Surely I'm entitled to buy any book and read about anything I choose.

The fact is, I bought this book because it had recieved great reviews on this site and elsewhere but unfortunately it's not for me and I didn't find it 'truly inspirational' 'wonderful' or any of the other adjectives so freely thrown about. Others did, fantastic. That is art - some people like some things and others, others.

Oh, and a negative review is not a moan!
16/12/2005 at 15:26
mojo jojo quote:

"My intention was to suggest that the reason some people maybe didn't like the book is that you really do need more of an interest in the countryside than just the odd tour of your local park. Fine if that's their thing, but then why buy a book about fell-running and then moan that you didn't enjoy it?"

Don't think that stands up to any reasoned analysis.

Keen to widen my perspective on running (and, dare I say, just to find out if it might be something I could have a go at), I picked the book up.

I'm hardly Bill Oddie/ John Craven or whomever with an ear of corn in my gob, up to my knees in sheep, but I didn't realise city boys weren't allowed to mess in country matters (ie farming). This harks back to what I said about the insular nature of fell-running!

I started off quite liking the book, but I found the profiles of the runners repetitive and wearying in the end. As a total outsider to the sport, I think there's certainly nothing wrong with Askwith detailing his entry into it (interesting for those who would follow in his footsteps after reading), but the book as a whole is way too padded out.

It does seem to polarise opinion, there's no middle ground. I do worry about people who were engrossed in the pro vs amateur saga!
16/12/2005 at 15:30
I mean, how can you know that you'd find a book boring before you actually read it, especially if it was on a subject you knew nothing about?
16/12/2005 at 16:04
Forgive my spelling mistake, Minks. I was `tired and emotional' at the time:-)

As a matter of interest, are there any other books on fell running people would recommend?

Also, is Richard Askwith still doing fell races or has he moved onto his next `project' now?
16/12/2005 at 16:07
WAsn't he Robin Askwith who did those dodgy window-cleaning films in the seventies?
16/12/2005 at 16:12
You're confusing him with the Prime Minister at the outbreak of WW1.
16/12/2005 at 16:18
Robin or Richard? Which herbert am I confusing them with?
16/12/2005 at 16:23
If they were related would they be on Askwith the Family with Robert Robinson?
16/12/2005 at 16:25
I'm sorry, I haven't a clue. :-)
17/12/2005 at 00:00
BR - thanks for expanding on why you disliked it. Fair enough, we are all different people with different thresholds and sensibilities. I agree absolutely that Askwith came across as a journo (he is a journo of course) looking for something to write about, but this didn't offend me. Many, perhaps most books start life like this. The acid test for me personally is not the motivation, but whether they succeed in moving me. In theory, given her eminence, Radcliffe's book should have knocked me for six, but didn't, because her ghost writer was as inept as she is talented.

You're right - Askwith did adopt a "tone" that was noticeable. For reasons that are bound up in our different characters, the tone worked for me, but not for you. No value judgement here.

One other thing that did occur was whether your superior running ability / determination or whatever, made you resent him, for articulating what you already know; whereas for me, he is so remote from my experience that I can't help but find his story fascinating.

You said something else that was interesting:

"Even though some running books are dull... at least they arise out of having accomplished something first for the sake of the sport, rather than someone taking mental or actual notes all the time to put into a book."

That's another difference. I'm not that bothered about achievement 'per se'. In fact, I think this might be it. I'm more interested in the journey than the destination. You are more goal-driven. You're a competitive runner, while I'm a plodder who knows his place -- at the back of the field, happy to observe what's going on.

I guess this translates into the way we assess running writing.

It comes down to this distinction that's been mentioned before -- runners who discover writing; and writers who discover running. I much prefer the latter. I suspect you like the former.

As they used to say in Moss Side: "It's allowed".
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