Powys (aka The Middle of Nowhere), Wales
Sunday 25th December 2011
Happy Christmas to one & all!  In fact for me, it's my second Christmas of the season...yesterday I spent Christmas I (or everyone else's Christmas Eve) with my mother, which I guess is rather European when all is said & done, whilst today I am spending Christmas II with my father.  Duck for lunch yesterday, a little local pig for lunch today - not a vegetarian's idea of a great feast but I enjoyed both!

As with many of you, I got some wonderful presents, which will keep me entertained for the months ahead & it was great to hear that those gifts I gave, including several I brought back from my Kenyan adventure, were well received.

The two that will be of most interest for discussion on the Blog, are the two literary offerings that made their way into my stocking.  Firstly "Born to Run", written by the journalist Chris McDougall, describes the author's quest to answer the question "Why does my foot hurt?", which sees him embark on a search for the fabled Mexican Tarahumara Indians after receiving answers he doesn't want to hear from the Western medicine "experts" whose advice he initially seeks out.  The ultra-running residents of the Copper Canyons are shrouded in mystery & legend but are reported to be able to run hundreds of miles, without rest & fuelled by a tequila rocket fuel brewed from rattle snake corpses & cactus sap, as opposed to sports drinks & energy bars.  So far, it is, as recommended, an enthralling read, which I am finding a challenge to put down.

Secondly, "Bounce", written by former international table tennis champion Matthew Syed, explores the question of what it takes to be "the best" & how much of skill mastery is the result of sheer practice & how much can be attributed to pure genetics.  Syed throws out the commonly held belief that we can be born brilliant & that our genetic blueprint limits our ability to master a task.  Other topics that are addressed are the "impact on performance of intense religious belief; the question as to what makes athletes "choke" & how a Hungarian man turned his daughters into three of the best chess players in history".  Much of my review is taken from the recommendations I have received from friends, in addition to the summary on the dust cover - the book was unwrapped second & is, therefore, going to be read second.

If there are any books you received in your Christmas stocking that you would like to recommend, then please feel free to get involved using the comments box below. 
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