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Running to the Mountain: A Midlife Adventure [Kindle Edition]

Jon Katz
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $7.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Jon Katz, a respected journalist, author, father, and husband, was turning fifty. His writing career was taking an uneasy turn, his wife had a demanding career of her own, his daughter was preparing to leave home for college, and he had become used to a sedentary lifestyle. "I had settled down," he notes. "Any more settling and I would vanish into the mud like some fat old catfish." In Running to the Moun-tain, Katz finds a way to redefine and lend new meaning to his life. He writes, "I bought a tiny cabin at the very tip of a mountain in a remote corner of upstate New York and went there by myself. . . .  I went for a lot of different reasons, but mostly, I think, to try to be a better human."
Armed with the writings of Trappist monk Thomas Merton, his two faithful yellow Labradors, and the desire to confront change rather than simply react to it, Katz departs from his suburban en-clave (where, as a carpooling father, he is known as "The Prince of Rides") and heads to a new world. What he finds is a community where a rodent problem prompts anyone within earshot at the hardware store to offer advice, and where the digging of a new well draws every neighbor within miles to his front lawn. It's also a place where he can be alone in na-ture, a new discovery for someone whose "favorite night out is a trip to a bookstore, the pizza place, and the Sony megaplex." Habitually skeptical about religion, Katz finds in solitude a chance to consider the questions that have followed him into middle age: Can one find spirituality outside of a church, temple, or mosque? Is it possible to build a rational, moral framework for one's life amid the complexities of modern life? As Katz restores his old cabin, learns self-reliance in a lightning storm, and helps a friend prepare for fatherhood, he gathers newfound knowledge that will be a source of inspiration and achievement as he returns to the life he left behind.
"It is absolutely impossible," Merton wrote, "for a man to live without some kind of faith." Katz adds, "It is equally impossible to change your life without some." Running to the Mountain is an unex-pected reading experience of adventure, humor, contemplation, and growth.

"As notions such as solitude and spirituality have been made to seem godly, they appear to float high above our mundane and unheroic experiences. Working long hours for big companies, rushing kids around to malls and soccer games, squirreling money away for college and retirement, we want to read about conversations with God, but don't really expect to have any ourselves. . . . My hope, coming to the mountain, was that change, spirituality, and idealism aren't only way Up There, but also Down Here, in the details of daily life--family, work, friends, dogs, dreams."
                --From Running to the Mountain

Editorial Reviews Review

Jon Katz couldn't afford a country house--his wife didn't want him to buy it; his career looked like it was going off track; and his daughter was about to leave home for college. But when he saw the view from a decrepit little cabin in the mountains, near Cambridge, New York, he knew he had to have the place. So, against all rational impulses, he bought the cabin and used it as a summer retreat. He read Thomas Merton, helped his best friend prepare to be a father, deepened his relationship with his dog, and wrote a book about the spiritual wisdom that came to him in everyday life. Running to the Mountain: A Journey of Faith and Change includes some particularly elegant and urgent readings of Merton, whose central concerns Katz summarizes as well as anyone has:
Merton was obsessed with a central issue for our time--figuring out how to live, trying to forge a life of balance, purpose and meaning. I've grown to share his obsession, his belief that life demands a lot of tinkering, and requires people to give birth to themselves not just once, but over and over.
--Michael Joseph Gross

From Publishers Weekly

The fear of stagnation at age 50 drove Katz, a nonfiction writer (Virtuous Reality) and author of the Suburban Detective series (Death Row, etc.), to buy a rundown cabin he couldn't afford at the top of a mountain in New York State's rural Washington County. Here he spent long periods of time alone with his two dogs. His wife, Paula, initially opposed taking on a second mortgage at a time when they had not only a house in New Jersey badly in need of repairs but also a daughter who would soon be going away to college, but she eventually came to support his decision to seize this time for himself. Although not conventionally religious, Katz used the works of Thomas Merton as inspiration for his own spiritual introspection. He describes the pleasures of living on the mountain (including making a close friend), learning that he could cope with the problems associated with restoring a broken-down cabin and experiencing solitude in a natural landscape. Although Katz's ruminations, which include an extended imaginary conversation with Merton, are sometimes self-absorbed, there's no doubt that he found the faith in himself and the peaceful, reinvigorating retreat that he was seeking on the mountain. 35,000 first printing.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1231 KB
  • Print Length: 274 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0679456783
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; 1 edition (June 13, 2012)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0084U4KV8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #353,933 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Living a dream January 22, 2002
Running to the Mountain is your basic mid-life crisis story except that Jon Katz -- for all his protestations of financial woes -- managed to afford to do what the rest of us would love to do: buy a little cabin in the woods, fix 'er up, and live the country life, watching the sun set. Sounds wonderful to me and more power to Katz for managing it.
The heart and soul of the book was lacking for me. It wasn't emotional enough. He outlined his concerns regarding his career, marriage and daughter, the changes in the lives of his friends, the lack of acceptance in our society for men who work at home while the wife does the nine-to-five dance, but he laid them out as simple facts. The emotional turmoil and confusion associated with mid-life re-evaluations (I'm in denial about having a "crisis") is not there.
His relationships with the locals was interesting and his observations of Thomas Merton and his writings were excellent.
For all of us who dream of escape, here's one for us! Just fill in the emotional blanks to suit yourself.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Distance from "everyday" - necessary for discernment? August 23, 2000
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Perhaps it helps to be a "fifty-something" person, for by this time in one's life you start to seriously evaluate where you want to go in the (shortening) time left, and one of the ways you do this is to sift through your life's adventures so far. Jon Katz heeds a "call" to get away (not so much from "urban life" as from the "routine" of life). While each person must find his or her own way (and some are admittedly far more adept at others at gaining meaningful perspective throughout their lives), what Jon Katz did resonated with me. It really is important to take some "time out", to give yourself a chance to see yourself anew, to remember/recall the dreams you once had and to wonder why you have achieved some, failed at others, and given up on still others. Connecting with nature is another reminder, too, that we are all inter-connected (this perspective seems particularly acute when one is both young and old, but harder to maintain in one's "middle years" when scrabbling for career paths and building a family take up so much time). This book lets us share Mr. Katz's adventure and, in so doing, gives us encouragement to do something similar in our own manner. It IS good to remember that we really are on a sacred journey. It is never too late to readjust the course.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Risking it on the mountains January 11, 2005
With a fine sense of humor, Jon Katz reveals his most innermost feelings when he explores the purchase of a crumbling, dilapidated mountain top cabin in upstate New York. Jon, an author, is not a talented handy man around the home. It appears he can barely screw in a light bulb, not to mention his weak skills balancing a check book. Obviously catered and emotionally indulged by his wife, it is a strong reflection of his love for her that he takes on the job of becoming not only responsible financially, but challenging and accomplishing simple things like scrubbing a toilet and cooking dinner. Later, he takes on tougher skills of gardening and basic home maintainance.

His emotional torture is the realization that the couple can barely afford the luxury (?) of a second home, especially one with significant needs. His prolonged assault of ponderous concerns weigh heavily on him as he goes through the decision of actual purchase and facing the extensive renovations ahead of him. He perceives the purchase as an escape for which he can write his novels, articles and self-exploratory memoirs yet the sacrifice he is inflicting on his wife and daughter disturbs his decision making processes. But his love for the home and the mountain lure him and with excessive reflection of his motives and writings of Thomas Merton, he bites the bullet and signs on the doted line.

Central to his development are his extraordinary blond labradors and their day to day activities. A black lab owner myself, I found this the most charming aspect of his life style. There is something so deeply penetrating in one's love for their dog, and it was quite palpable in the experiences they shared together. Special kudos to his patient and loving wife, Paula who understood when to let go and trust in her man.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars UNEXPECTED TREAT August 24, 2003
I first read A Dog Year (because I have a Border Collie too) and really enjoyed Jon Katz I ordered Running to the Mountain not knowing what to expect. I was more than entertained, enlightened and even "introspected" (if that's a word). I just wish I had read it first, before A Dog Year, as I would have appreciated all the references and time spent at the cabin with the dogs. Can't wait to read his latest.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book for all us aging boomers April 13, 1999
I first encountered Jon Katz through his mystery novels about a downsized Wall Street type turned suburban private investigator. I liked his stuff. Then, I discovered the Jon Katz who writes on internet and freedom issues for and the Freedom Forum. I like him even more.
Then I read his latest book, Running to the Mountain. It's about aging and spirituality written around his purchase of a cabin in upstate New York and an attempt to write a book on Thomas Merton while there.
Books on these topics are often more preachy than insightful. Running to the Mountain isn't preachy at all. In fact, it's hysterically funny in places. In between the laughs, it got me to think more than I have in years about parenting and other relationships, where I'm going with the last third of my career, and, of course, the last half of my life.
It is by far the best book I've ever read on spirituality and personal growth and is a must for all us aging boomers.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book
Published 3 months ago by Lynn C. Helseth
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommend this book along with all his others
Jon Katz is refreshingly transparent and this book touched my very core. Highly recommend this book along with all his others.
Published 3 months ago by Judy R. Booth
4.0 out of 5 stars I am a fan of Jon Katz. He is a profound writer.
I have not read the novel, but after reading most of his books, I know that I will not be disappointed. Plus the book was used but in very well condition.
Published 7 months ago by Marha Cortez
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite book so far!
Really a good book that most of us can relate to in one way or another. I wont summarize the plot, but trust me its a good read!
Published 7 months ago by GNN Photography
3.0 out of 5 stars ok
It was ok.

Dont tell me how many wrods to write. Im not a writer. no more words to write
Published 10 months ago by Grandma Susie
4.0 out of 5 stars Peaceful Haven
I think a lot of people of a "certain age" feel like running away to a peaceful place, he was the one who did it. Makes me jealous. Read more
Published 10 months ago by mary novak
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
from start to finish I was grabbed by this & although sleep would overtake me at times. I could not wait to pick the book up & continue reading. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars Even if you love Jon Katz, don't waste your money on this book.
I've always loved everything by Jon Katz. However, this book was not about his adventures with his dogs, but almost a biography of Thomas Merton. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Barbara Dianich
5.0 out of 5 stars great animal love book
Jon Katz brings you to the farm and helps you to absorb the beauty of another type of life we all dream of but cannot all survive in.
Published 18 months ago by zoey flint
5.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed this book
As someone who has done something similar (move to the mountains in midlife, going from the city to a very rural lifestyle) there was much here I could relate to. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Teacher/Photographer
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More About the Author

Bedlam Farm in upstate New York is where I live, write and tend my animals - four dogs, two donkeys, two barn cats. The rambling old farmhouse was built in 1862; it's surrounded by pastures, streams and wooded hillsides, plus four barns and a milkhouse in various stages of disrepair.

I write books- memoirs, novels, short story collections, and beginning in 2011, children's books. I am also a photographer.

In my former life, before I grew preoccupied with sheepherding and moving manure around. I wanted to change my life and write more about the experience of living with and understanding animals.
I write novels and nonfiction books (I've written 20 books), along with columns and articles for Rolling Stone, Wired, the New York Times, and the website HotWired.
Coming to the farm turned out to be a Joseph Campbell style "Hero's Journey." I went off into some dark places, got divorced, struggled to face myself, and found someone to share my life.

My wife Maria Wulf is an artist, who specializes in fiber art. She works in the Studio Barn across the road from the farmhouse. Earlier this year, I thought briefly of selling Bedlam Farm. After getting married, we decided to stay here. My daughter Emma, a sportswriter living in Brooklyn, has written her own book about New York baseball. I publish a blog I love dearly - My photos appear there daily. My dogs are Izzy, Lenore, Frieda and Rose, the working dog who helps me run the farm.

My writing life began with a novel - "Sign Off" - an unwittingly prescient story about the jarring changes in work and security.

This year - 2010 - I am returning to fiction. I've written a novel, "Rose In A Storm," about a border collie stranded on a farm in upstate New York during a terrible storm. I wrote this book in conjunction with some animal behaviorists who helped me enter the mind of a dog, and hopefully, be faithful to that. My first children's book "Meet The Dogs Of Bedlam Farm," will be published by Henry Holt next year. I have just finished a short story collection to be published next year by Villard/Random House.
In recent years, photography has become central to me as well as writing. I have been fortunate enough to have several gallery showings of my work, and also sell my photos as notecards through the Redux Gallery in Dorset, Vt.

I am also working on a book about animal grieving. Hopefully, it will be useful.

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