The first was Laura Hillenbrand's new novel Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption . It's the true story of Louis Zamperini, a runner who came within spitting distance of the sub-4 minute mile before deploying with the Army's Air Force during WWII where he was shot down over the Pacific, spent 40+ days on a life raft before being captured by the Japanese and placed in a POW camp for over two years. This book talked alot, both directly and indirectly, about mental strength - what it took to come within seconds of a 4 minute mile and what it took to make it through the day on just one ball of rice and not give up hope. As an athlete, this book offered so many lessons on mental fortitude. I know that reading it won't make me a better athlete, but it did give me some food for thought on strategies to fall back on when hitting a rough patch during a race.
The other book was Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. This book had nothing to do with sports or mental toughness - it was just a really interesting, well-written, and entertaining story. It's about the lives of twin brothers, and the lives of those around them, as they came of age in Ethiopia in the mid-20th century. It was written so vividly that I could actually picture in my mind the places described in the book, what I imagined the characters to look like, and the events as they took place. I totally lost myself in the book and finished it in about two days - THAT's when you know a book is good, when you can't put it down and you find yourself looking forward to a few quiet moments alone so you can sneak a peak at a few more pages.
And now I'm reading Pride and Prejudice. You can download alot of the classics for free on the Kindle and I've told myself that I can't buy the third book of the Hunger Games, or any other book for that matter, until after I finish Pride and Prejudice. In 2012 I'd really like to expand my reading horizons and delve into some classics so I've devised a plan. I must read one classic book for every contemporary/fluff/Nicholas-Spark-ish book I download on my Kindle.