I thought my reading was a bit more under control as normal life reasserts itself, not to mention a fairly healthy work schedule. But I still find myself two reviews behind … and reading two more books (which are taking me a bit longer, so fingers crossed …). Will I be all caught up by the time I post my June TBR photo, and will the TBR be larger or smaller, given that I’ve read more than 20 books this month (hint: oops. But the Pile is definitely smaller). Anyway, here’s Greg, and look how far along he was at the beginning of this month! But also,here are three new arrivals. Again: oops.

Greg Rutherford – “Unexpected”

(12 November 2016 – an impulse click when on sale, I think)

His life story, written with Sean Ingle (who is credited on the title page and gets acknowledgements of his own, in which he thanks his transcribers, so a double win there), opens where it should, with the long jump final at London 2012. It’s described atmospherically and I loved that Greg hung around by the flame after his challenge to watch Mo Farah come in. Then it follows the usual format, although there’s more than standard about his slightly different religious background as a member of a strict Jehovah’s Witness family and community, which saw him not allowed to celebrate Christmas or birthdays and being left with odd ideas about presents. This looks to be what led him to go through a fairly serious amount of rebellion, nothing you would guess from the good guy, ‘I love mediaeval history, me’ persona he puts out now. There was some pretty bad behaviour and a serious drinking habit which lasted longer into his career than I would have imagined, and it’s fair enough that he doesn’t want to gloss over the detail and bad bits as some sports and celebrity bios do, but it’s a bit disappointing in a way. Also, to be fair, he doesn’t come out of it that well and is clearly not proud of himself.

He’s honest and open about his family relationships and some public spats with other athletes and famous figures, but he glosses over the goings-on as people wind down after major sporting events, which is probably done for the sake of protecting others but was a bit of a shame: if you’re going to tell us everything, tell us everything (but then, would I want to know?). The descriptions of his injuries are visceral (sometimes literally) and one episode is not for the faint-hearted, and he explains accurately just what was going on behind that game face and why he performed less well on some occasions. Basically plagued by illness and injury, he’s been strong to keep going; it was sad to read him acknowledge that London 2012 was probably indeed the high point of his career.

The rest of my purchases from the other day arrived in the post this morning and I’m looking forward to getting around in due course to Ben Fogle’s book about searching for an island of his own and Neil Taylor’s history of the Rough Trade record label. But before those will come this absolutely beautiful book – the photo really doesn’t do the tactile and wood-line cover justice – “ReWild: The Art of Returning to Nature” by Nick Baker. The publisher has kindly sent me this one to review for Shiny New Books and it looks so very enticing, doesn’t it.

I’m currently still reading “Banker to the Poor” and “Greatest Hits”, both of which I was also reading two days ago, so maybe I’m finally stemming the flow of reading and reviews … Have you read any of these? Do you like a sporting bio or is that just me?