Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Once a Runner: A Novel
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on September 30, 2004
There are 87 other reviews here, so all I will do is offer the following breakdown for people interested in buying this book. Put yourself in one of these categories:

a) Competative runners: this is an increadible book, period. The best part about it is reading about a little tiny nuance in Quenton's running life and saying to yourself, "I know exactly what he's talking about, wow", which will happen literally hundreds of times. Your hopefully already-substantial appreciation for the sport will likely increase tenfold with this book.

b) The casual runner, recreational, or other athlete: this is an excellent book and is very highly reccomended. You probably will not appreciate it to it's fullest extent, but there are aspects of the story and how it is told that will be enjoyed by anyone with the capacity for excitement from sports or human physical endeavors.

c) The non-athlete: this book may not make sense to you. Not in the literary sense, but it may seem as though there is little direction in the story, and you might read it and then find yourself thinking that nothing interesting really happened, and you are not really to blame for this. There is still a good chance that you will find it enjoyable, but if you are looking for a piece of literature based on traditional merits (plot, character development, etc) there are likely better books out there for you to spend time on.

Clearly I thought this book was one of the best I've ever read. However, I hope this breakdown about who in particular might enjoy it the most was helpful.

-Andrew
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on January 8, 2000
I'm a sophomore in highschool and I'm also a extremely dedicated cross-country and track runner. This book has changed my life! The inspirational story of Quenton Cassidy's runner career left me breathless! The first chapter gave me goose-bumps because it decribed the start of a race perfectly. I read chapters from the book every night before a big race. Reading about Cassidy's determination gives any runner a boost. This book has to have the most accurate description of a runners mentality ever written. This is the best book about running I've ever read!
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on August 14, 2005
The book was great, easily one of the best I've ever read. The only times I ever put it down were to eat, sleep and run. There was one quote from Cassidy that i feel sums up the book, the main character, and competative running. I don't know how some one can read this and not be in the mood to run. "It's a simple choice: We can all be good boys and wear our letter sweaters around and get our little degrees and find some nice girl to settle, you know, down, with...take up what a friend of ours calls the hearty challenges of lawn care...Or we can blaze! Become legends in our own time, strike fear in the heart of mediocre talent everywhere! We can scald dogs, put records out of reach! Make the stands gasp as we blow into an unearthly kick from three hundred yards out! We can become God's own messenger delivering the dreaded scrolls! We can race dark Satan himself till he wheezes fiery cinders down the back straightaway! They'll speak our names in hushed tones, 'Those guys are animals' they'll say! We can lay it on the line, bust a gut, show them a pair of clean heels. We can sprint the turn on a spring breeze and feel the winter leave our feet. We can, by God, let our demons loose and just wail on!"
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on May 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If you're thinking of buying this book because you like to run and think it will be about the love of running or anything even remotely like that, don't bother. I'm 38 and have run throughout my adult years after I stopped smoking in my 20's. Running has always represented so many different things to me - about goal setting, accomplishing what I thought wasn't possible, and about the meditative nature of the journey of the long run and being alone with my thoughts while purifying my body.

This isn't a book about any of that. This is a book about the elite runner and the near-mythic life they lead and the select group of running gods they surround themselves with (poorly written in a high-school-and-college-were-the-best-years-of-my-life kind of way replete with fraternal shenanigans and the smugness of the naturally gifted). People like me are dismissed in the first chapter as pathetic specimens using running to achieve some other ends that people like the author just can't comprehend.

I'm not knocking all of the work these elite athletes do, and realize it's not all just handed to them, but the tone of this book is just off. Instead of opening up that world and exploring, this book just has the feel of exclusion and exclusiveness. I'm definitely not inspired.
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on November 24, 2002
Once a Runner is the best running book I have ever read. Unlike training guides or running stories that spend far too much time explaining the beauty of running and trying to introduce people to the wonders of jogging around, Once A Runner really goes into the life and mind of a runner (though the book uses fictional characters, they are easily recognizable and realistic). It describes the dedication, hard work, and goofiness that is required to be successful and what makes runners a very unique, though cetainly interesting breed. The story itself, of a young college-aged runner and his quest to run the fastest mile he could while in school and after he got kicked out, is extremely well paced and smootly written, just as a good race. It is a fantastic book and I would highly recommend it for beginners, enthusiasts, or someone who just needs a little motivation.
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on July 1, 2001
I stoped running for over a year because of an serious back injury (from track)but then I came to the US as an exchange student and decided to go out for track again. My season didn't went very well, my times were way of the my PRs from home and i struggeled with injuries and asthma. in the middle of the season one guy from my distance team had the book in the bus to a meet and I started reading and took it home to finish....( I'm not a miler but still practiced with the distance team)This day, even I hadn't finished it yet, I ran my PR for this season and never felt better in a race. It didn't matter to me anymore if I would place or what my time would be. I just felt proud to be there and to do what I loved to do for many years but lately I didn't mean anything to me anymore. I ran for myself and not for the people watching.It motivated me so much that I finished the season although I was close to quit a lot of times.I don't know if I can ever run track competitive again but I'll always keep running. Every time I don't want to put on my shoes and go for my daily run I remember Quentin and his intervale workouts and that we have to work hard to get somewhere in life. Why not starting with something easy like actually getting up early and finishing the morning workout?.....for me this book changed my life...
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on December 29, 2001
Once a Runner is the best book about running I have ever read. It has all the elements of an excellent novel-a good plot, well-developed characters, excellent writing-but for runners it will seem much more like a biography of one of their own. Quenton, the hero of the story, and his fellow runners are all intense, focused, quirky, unique people who any runner can easily recognize and relate to from their own lives. These characters struggle to endure the "Trial of Miles" necessary to compete on the top level and throughout the book wonder if and why this sacrifice is worth it. These are questions all athletes ask themselves from time to time, and through Quenton, John L. Parker does an excellent job of explaining the answers he has found. The book draws you in immediately and, just as a good race does, gets more exciting as it moves along so that I never wanted to put it down. This is a very inspirational book, an excellent read, and reminded me why running is such an amazing sport. Once a Runner is a must-read for any serious runner and would be a wonderful story for anyone who either wants to understand why people run or may need a little motivation to start doing so themselves.
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on May 10, 2002
With his character Quentin Cassidy, John Parker captures the mentality, work ethic, satisfactions, and frustrations of what it is to be a runner. He delves into Cassidy's non-running antics which include highly elaborate pranks, law school aspirations, and romantic relationships. In addition, he shows the amazing lack of understanding that non-runners have for runners. There is an excellent scene where Quentin is at a social function and is assaulted with all the customary runner questions and comments. People ask him what he thinks about when he runs and mention how they don't drive as many miles as he runs.
Parker also excellently depicts the daily grind and competitiveness of running. His book includes passages that berate Runner's World and, instead, focus on the quest for glory that running can become. He makes Quentin a very real and believable character. This book is a running classic and rightfully so. It has an excellent story, great characters, and great discussions on running. To be a runner and have not read this book is equivalent to blasphemy.
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on September 16, 1999
"Are you there, God?" I whisper at night, kneeling with my hands pressed together, elbows on the edge of the bed. "Please someday allow me the talent, tenacity and rhythm to write like John Parker in Once A Runner." It hasn't happened yet, so until then you must read this book if you want to read the best fictional book written about running. It has its humorous and sad elements, and very motivational ones, as well. But the real reason for you to buy this book is so that you know that there really is another human out there who fights off self-doubt, runs in the 10 pm rain, wants to see his name on the yearly lists, and above all wants to win - Quenton Cassidy. Take comfort in that.
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on May 9, 2005
If you were a high school or college distance runner in the 70s or 80s, as I was, Once A Runner will provoke waves of nostalgia. Every character in the book will ring true and remind you of someone. As a runner since 1977 and a high school track and cross country coach for the past ten years, I'm not sure how I missed this gem.

Quenton Cassidy ran 60 440s in 63. Of course this is "not the way to train" in the words of one Amazon reviewer. Other manifestations of obsession and committment are not for us mere mortals either. I wouldn't reccomend climbing Mt. Everest . It is not the way to train for 99.9% of us. That is because most of us couldn't come close to accomplishing it. Bruce Denton, Cassidy's mentor, knew what it was all about. "Look, runners deal in discomfort. After you get past a certain point, thats all there really is". When he had completed the workout, Cassidy had learned some very important things about himself - things most of us will die without learning - but for those few seeking what Bruce Denton and Quenton Cassidy are seeking, essential things to know.

Once A Runner is the most useful and inspiring book on runnning out there. If you are a serious runner, you will find reassurance here. Your obsession will be validated. Let's face it, obsession scares us these days. We think of it as unbalanced. We all seek to be "well rounded". We need all the mental ammunition we can get sometimes to get through that 6 AM 23 miler in the rain. I want to thank John L. Parker for helping me to embrace my obsession and renew my commitment.
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