Book Name: Dolphins Don't Run Marathons
Author: Sam Brand
Upon initial glance, I was hopeful Dolphins Don’t Run Marathons: 26.2 Loving Thoughts on Why You Should Not Run Marathons by Sam Brand was going to be as enlightening as Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. I was quickly disillusioned. Sam Brand’s intention was to cleverly utilize the mileage run in a marathon (26.2 miles) to articulate 26 different thoughts as to why you shouldn’t run marathons. The author divides human beings into three different groups to classify different behaviors toward marathon running.
These three groups are meant to be related to different animals. Sam Brand initially introduces ants, the fanatics of the marathon running world. He notes that the lives of ants are boring and hyper-focused on running. The second group of animals he boils human behavior down to is chimps. The chimps are social butterflies that care more about socializing than about physical activity, I can’t say I agree as this doesn’t fit my current knowledge of chimps and their war-like behaviorisms. The final group that Sam Brand discusses in Dolphins Don’t Run Marathons: 26.2 Loving Thoughts on Why You Should Not Run Marathons is the dolphin subset of people. The author describes dolphins as the perfect balance in terms of exercise and fun in life. He raves about the wisdom of dolphins throughout the book and how he believes the other animal groups should work toward gaining this wisdom.
I have to admit that the majority of this book was a large disappointment. I honestly don’t think I’ve read a book that only has a couple of sentences per page since I was in elementary school. I really wasn’t clear on what the author’s intention was with writing this book. I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be a children’s book (though I can’t believe it’s a children’s book with the light profanity), an inspirational book, a memoir, or a life-lesson book. The language and structure were elementary at best throughout the entirety of the book. There are a handful of pages that actually have scientific information, but when you compare it to the writing in the rest of the book, those pages look like they have been copied and pasted, and have me concerned about copyrights.
The other aspect of the book that seemed to lack substance was the usage of three different animal groups and the inaccuracy of the animal groups utilized. There wasn’t necessarily a strong explanation of his animal choices. He chose the Ant to represent marathon runners. While I do recognize that Ants are viewed as constantly busy and working, he painted the Ant marathon runners as individualistic, non-social beings. However, Ants are known for working with others in their colonies to achieve any work. So really, Ants are rather social creatures. Ants rely on others on a daily basis in order to achieve their work tasks. When you examine his choice of the “social animal,” he chose Chimps. I think he made that choice because all different species of monkeys are known to be tribal. However, the aspect that Sam failed to recognize is that Chimps are known for anti-social behaviors and war-type behaviors amongst tribes. So again, a poor animal choice for his intention. His final animal, the Dolphin, seems like it was only chosen due to the fact that it is one of the only animals that have sex for pleasure occasionally. He was hyperfocused on the sexual behaviors of his life post-marathon running, though it is still unclear why it was important to the author.
When looking for positive aspects of this book, I struggle to see any. I think I like the overall premise of the book which is to steer away from being all or nothing about any hobby, that mentality can consume all facets of your life. I think the premise of trying to find balance in your life is something the author could have expanded on to actually make this book worthwhile. He had a couple of insights that I wish he would have expanded on to increase the relatability of the book and to improve his stance on not being obsessive about things.
There were too many elementary level mistakes in the writing and formatting, that made me question the author’s level of knowledge and understanding about most aspects of his own content. Also, the poor utilization of animal groupings was something I cannot overlook. If the animals had been chosen with more of a scientific basis, I may have been more receptive to his points. I don’t think any human behavior should be boiled down to three subgroups, but if the subgroups had been more accurate, I would have been more forgiving. Mr. Brand makes a significant amount of overgeneralizations about certain behaviors in certain subgroups of people without any real information or knowledge to back it up.
I can’t, in good faith, recommend reading this book to anyone. I don’t see it as credible in any way, shape, or form. I don’t even feel like I can recommend it to someone who is a marathon runner who is struggling with life-balance because even though Sam Brand stated that he wanted to be a dolphin, his underlying messaging and way of communicating still glorifies marathon runners. The book reads as though he wishes he could still run marathons, but understands that his body (or relationships in his life) couldn’t withstand it much longer. So it misses the mark in every way, and I can’t think of a single person that would enjoy this book.
Grammatical or spelling errors:
Grammatical Error. “26,2” on cover
Poor formatting as he only has a sentence or two per page. All pages.
Spelling Error. “Ageing” pg 21
Inaccurate information presented as fact. Listed “evolutionary activities” and over half of them aren’t actually activities we do from an evolutionary perspective. pg 35
Profanity. “Ass”. pg 36
Inconsistency in using military time on pg 48
Grammatical Error. “Real human mad ant” is the wrong order of adjectives. pg 48
Grammatical inconsistency. Redundant and inaccurate use of military time and PM. pg 48 &49
Needs a trigger warning. “Brothers in arms, but conquering the long run alone” is terribly insensitive to the military and those that have served and is an ill-placed oxymoron. pg 59
Typo. “TheVerrazano”. pg 64
Grammatical Error. “26.2th” Shouldn’t have tried to add the suffix because he confused himself. 2 = second, 6 = sixth. pg 70
Profanity. “Asses”. pg 147
Slang. “Wanna”. Shouldn’t be using that type of slang if it isn’t dialogue. pg 173
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