Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Life Outside The Oval Office ~ Book Review

I read a book!

Don't get all excited, but I don't do that nearly as much as I would like to.
(Unless you count children's fiction. If you put those into the equation, I've read many, many, many books in the last 7 years. Out loud, and usually with someone on each side of me, and on my lap.)

This book was a little different from my usual read.


I was pretty anxious to get a copy of Life Outside The Oval Office, because I had a feeling that it would be juicy. 


If you are not familiar with the author, Nick Symmonds, he currently runs for Brooks as an elite track athlete. Nick has established himself as a world-class 800M runner, and has competed at the Olympic level. His race times are mind-boggling.

While living in Eugene, I've had the honor of seeing him run some HOT races on Hayward Field as an athlete for OTCE (Oregon Track Club Elite). He always wears a smile, and is a favorite with the loyal Eugene track fans.

Nick has the reputation of a charmer, and after reading his autobiography, I believe he thinks the same of himself!


I wondered what the biography of a 30 year old might possibly include.

Obviously, there was quite a bit about track and field; but, it was not so centrally hinged on track that you have to be a huge fan of the sport to enjoy the book. (Some background on track would probably help though, and runners would be the target audience).

Without spoiling the book, the parts I read which I will remember for years to come will be those sections regarding :

  • the dynamics Nick has had with coaches and parents
  • his choices in lovers and roommates
  • his entrepreneurial endeavors. This is the man who split from Nike and tweeted a nude photo of himself to announce he was without a sponsor! 
The book provoked some good conversations between my husband and me on many topics, like college scholarships, alcohol and drug use, and promiscuity at the Olympic trials.

At times, I felt uncomfortable or pained for Nick, (knowing what really would happen in the future, but reading from his viewpoint before events took place). More than once I caught myself (cringing) thinking, "Oh no. Don't do that."

Please note: This book will NOT be accessible to my 9 year old until he is 30--  I would not want him to be influenced by Symmonds on some topics, (I may be a stick in the mud, but I am a mom--and that's my prerogative. Sorry Nick!).

Another note: If you are Catholic, you might be offended in the early chapters in the book, but the potentially offensive material is, of course, based on the author's experience and plays a big role in how he views many other things later on in his life.

Life Outside The Oval Office left me wondering what Symmonds will do with his next 30 years.

I hope he has no regrets from writing his autobiography. (After reading, I was struck with the reality I could never write my own and still keep it interesting.)

It will be a special lady- a very special lady - who will end up being Mrs.Nick Symmonds. ☺
*****


Here's my rating on key elements (out of ☆ )

  • Flow (easy to follow)  (I just got lost and had to re-read a few paragraphs.)
  • Entertaining  ½  (Sex, booze and running drama)
  • Editing (Mostly for wrong word choices "Toe the line/ Tow the line". It seems someone in editing was in a hurry to meet a PR deadline.)

Life Outside The Oval Office is listed at 25$, but is on sale for about 18$.

You can find Nick Symmonds on Twitter @NickSymmonds and his website nicksymmonds.com.

Have you read anything interesting lately?

22 comments:

  1. That does sound like a juicy one! I love to read but don't read nearly as many "grown up" books as I'd like to. One of these years, right?

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    1. Oh.. I know what you mean! Maybe on Christmas day after gift opening? :)

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  2. I'm a stickler for editing, and homophone misuse is (in my opinion) the most egregious error to miss, so I'm afraid I wouldn't enjoy the book. That, and I do think Nick Symmonds is little full of himself! But it's an interesting idea - writing an autobiography at 30. I wonder what my 30 year old autobiography would have included?

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    1. It was still pretty good though!!
      I've done so many reads with a red pen, this didn't phase me.
      Thanks for your thoughts, Gracie! XO

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    1. It was fun to read, Robin. Thanks for commenting!

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  4. thanks for the review, Raina! I am sure I will be reading this at some point.

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    1. Oh yeah.. this would be a good book for you , my track fan friend!

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  5. I shy away from most autobiographies written by young people. How much of a "memoir" do you really have with less than 15 years as an adult? And... they'll have to write another one in 20 years (maybe that's the point).
    But I'll probably read it anyway, because I like him. It's hard not to. And it's about running.

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    1. Yeah, it's hard not to like him. Maybe he thought that his most important years are done and it was time to make some money for the future. ?

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  6. You're brave! Allowing your 9-year-old to live at home until he's 30. Wow!

    Sounds like an interesting read, but yes, 30 is too young for an autobiography. I'd rather read Bob Kennedy's now after running the NY Marathon.

    I've just finished "As Good As Gold: 1 Woman, 9 Sports, 10 Countries, and a 2-Year Quest to Make the Summer Olympics" - very readable, well written and inspiring.

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    1. Thanks for the recommendation, Ewen!
      Yep, he's also going to go to school to study sports medicine. It will be handy having a PT living in my very home, not to mention an extra hand to take out the trash and mow the yard ;)

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  7. Good review Raina. You are also good at that :). I will give it a try after finishing my current readings about The Incas. Thank you!

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    1. Thanks for reading, Benjamin! History / pre-history are topics I enjoy too, just haven't read much of those topics in recent years. Keep sharing your photos from your travels in the land of the Incas!

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  8. You have piqued my interest. I read probably one book a year and I might have to take a look at this one. Thanks for the review.

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    1. Thanks David! Hope you have a great weekend!

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  9. I just finished the book myself. I was impressed with his focus and resolve in describing his racing experiences. His off the track exploits, well, still trying to process!!

    A recommended running read is marathoner Kim Jones' autobio. "Dandelion Growing Wild". Compelling and inspiring.

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    1. Hmm.. yes. There was some good detail in the racing, especially considering the time is less than 2 minutes per race!
      Thanks for the book suggestion! I am making a list. :)

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  10. Great review, Raina! I'm still slowly, working on Unbreakable and have 14 minutes next on my list but this is definitely going to be next after those!

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    1. You can tell your friend is an avid reader when he says he wants to read the book - AFTER he has finished the other two he is working on! :)
      I think you'll be entertained, Kyle. And knowing your love for track- especially Eugene track- this will give you plenty to think about!

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  11. I've heard of him, and I probably wouldn't read his book. The book sounds like the life of a reality TV star who is also a great runner. I'm such a stick in the mud, that I probably would not enjoy reading it.

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  12. Great review :) I always wonder if someone like that will regret writing one so young. I feel like if you wait till you are a little older you may share differently, not sure if that good, bad, or wiser... but I am one of those "old" folks who wish I could go back to 30 with the knowledge I have now! That sounds really old. I like your mom protectiveness :) It's good to filter for your kids.

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