Extracted from a discussion.
“would you mind expanding on which non-sport-specific books have you found useful in your sports, [...]?
This was during a discussion between myself and another endurance athlete, an ultra- runner. It’s a question I often ask since I read a lot and I often hope I’ll find something pertinent. This time the question was turned back on me, because he knew I often asked it. This was my answer:
“[Stephen Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant]. A lot of people give up during or after the first one because of something that happens. You’ll know what it is if you read it. Covenant is adult fantasy, it beats anything else except maybe Tim Powers out of the water. I’m not a fantasy fan generally. [Ed. - We all need inspiration. The surface details of the series are far less interesting than his writing about despair & powerlessness & how it is possible to overcome through perseverance & ethics].
Since [if you] read SF,…(I’ve been reading SF for 40 years). Dune obviously. Particularly God-Emperor of Dune. Anything by Gene Wolfe, since he is a literary genius. Stephen Donaldson’s Gap Series is my favourite SF though. What he puts his characters through is unforgettable. I thought of Morn Hyland, one of the central characters during the Channel. In fact I wrote the author, (a first for me, and he is my favourite author), told him the story and he was very gracious in return. [I haven't published his response here]
Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning ranks as, I think, one of the most important books ever written, as does Khalil Gibran’s poetry, The Prophet (not religious). Both of these have helped me greatly.
“Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s first person account of the Scott Expedition, The Worst Journey In The World. [If] you like Touching the Void, this is a must read.
Philip Plisson’s photographic works. The Sea, Lighthouses of the North Atlantic and Ocean .
Gary Larson’s Complete Far Side and Douglas Adam’s Meaning of Liff when I want to remember something funny but my brain is dead.
Though it’s far from what I normally read, Tom McNab’s Flanagan’s Run, a fictional version of the Race Across America footrace is pretty fun, and you know reading it that he understands endurance athletes.”