Book Reviews, Project 4

Journey to the Center of the Earth – Book No. 18

This book review is a part of Reading Week. To read more reviews, click here!

80. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne (1864)

Dates: 7/14/20 – 7/15/20 (1 day)

Plot: After deciphering a message left in an ancient book, a professor, his nephew, and a guide head to Iceland where there’s a hole to the center of the Earth.

Experience Before Reading: This seems to be a story most people are somewhat familiar with – myself included. There’s exciting things inside the Earth, but I couldn’t tell you exactly what was there until I actually read it myself.

Takeaway: As an adventure lover, I was really looking forward to this book. Yet it left me incredibly indifferent. I’m neither upset to have read the book nor am I grateful I took the time to read it.

I have read other Jules Verne stories in the past (and will be re-reading them in the future). But this one just didn’t do it for me.

I know I always go on about how characters are written, so I won’t spend too much time unpacking this – but these characters aren’t very relatable or attachable. The quirky scientist, the skeptic boy, and the stoic Icelandic hunter. I don’t know how inventive that was when the book was published, but to a modern-day ear, it’s been overdone. For that reason, I’m not going to be too critical here.

SPOILERS AHEAD: Almost a third of the book is about the preparations for the journey, which includes a trip to Copenhagen and then a long journey in Iceland. The funny thing about it is those are two of my favorite places in the entire world. Reading about them in this setting felt a little funny. I was eagerly awaiting the actual journey that I just didn’t care about the train ride to Zealand or the voyage on the ship through the North Sea.

Although, I will concede that these drawn out parts did make the world seem realistic and plausible. There was careful attention to Victorian-era science that I appreciated. The tools they use to monitor their surroundings and the “calculations” they do seem realistic. Obviously as they get deeper and deeper underground, the science falls more and more apart, but I can set aside my convictions for a bit. But how they exit their subterranean journey…

Anyway, I appreciate the imagination and creativity it took to craft this story. The concept of ancient eras still flourishing today is surely worthy of a book. But even so, it was lacking somewhere and I just can’t quite put my finger on it. Has anyone read this book? I want to know other’s opinions on it… am I missing something? I want to love it, I really do.

Would I Recommend It?: Probably not.

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Project 8

Another Big Announcement: Project 8

You thought yesterday’s news was exciting? I’m here with another new project! It’s finally a physical project, too. I’m going to run a 10k.

My (Not-So) Athletic Background

I’ve always been relatively in control of my general health and fitness. As a kid, I was a big softball player. All throughout college, I was a bit of a gym rat. I was never really obsessive, but I enjoyed working out. When I started law school, working out took a bit of a pause. A year long pause to be exact.

Even though I enjoyed working out, I’m not much of an athlete. Especially when it comes to running: my knees face slightly inward so I have a strange run. I also have asthma and feet that don’t quite fit properly into any shoe. On top of that, I’m really slow. I tend to interval run: walk x feet, run y feet, etc. My runs in college averaged around a 5k (3.1 miles).

Despite my quirks, I’ve always wanted to run races. Five years ago, during my freshman year of college, I tried to run a half marathon. Somewhere around 8-10 miles into my training, I got nasty shin splints and nixed the idea since I didn’t want to injure myself. Nothing more embarrassing than a freshman girl hobbling to her classes from a treadmill injury. Since then, I haven’t tried distance running.

But with the creation of this blog, I wanted to try a race again. I figured a 5k was a little too easy and with the next highest race being a 10k (6.2 miles), I thought it might be a good goal. To break out of my interval running, I want to try and do it in under 60 minutes.

My First 10k

Fast-forward to yesterday morning. It was time to kick myself into shape. I figured I’d try the 10k without any sort of training to establish a baseline. I’ve gone on maybe two other runs this month, both 5ks. Besides that, the lethargic quarantine lifestyle has kept me from any other workouts.

So at what might be the most out of shape of my life, I took to running the 10k. My goal was to just be under 2 hours. This is what happened:

Mile 1: There’s some nature reserves and parks near my home that I thought I’d run to. The problem is that they’re at the top of a 300-foot hill. So right at the start of my run I was met with elevation. Great. I didn’t even try to run it. At least I’d coast down it on the way back.

Mile 2 and 3: This is where your body just wants to stop. Hands down, these were the most difficult miles. At the end of mile 3, I made it to a lake which was a nice little spot for joggers. All of them waved hello.

Mile 4: I had now accepted my suffering. My hips started to lock a little, but knowing I was on my way back, I found my stride. I was surprised I had it in me since pretty much every other run in my life was done by this point.

Mile 5: I was so jaded at this point. I did coast down that hill, but it came at the cost of cramps on the right side of my body. Also, queue the nausea.

Mile 6-6.2: I made it to my boyfriend’s house with a tenth of a mile to go. I did little laps around the sidewalk of his place. I was pretty much crawling. I looked like an extra for The Walking Dead. But damn it, I did it.

I was proud to have done it. As a student, I’m constantly pushing my mental strength, but to know that I’ve become strong enough to control and push myself physically was really exciting. I think I might have caught the bug again.

But now for the part you’re all waiting for: my time. I clocked in at 1:41:10. I was so proud to have finished, I didn’t even care. I also saw a variety of factors that could be optimized: I was out-of-shape, it was so humid, it was muddy from rain the day before, my asthma kicked up, I didn’t know how to pace myself, etc. etc. I know that to improve by 41 minutes is insane, but I know I can do it.

It was just so gratifying to complete my first run. I know that I’ll continue to get better. Seeing my boyfriend’s face when I walked in, he was so proud of me. As a runner himself, he was excited to see me trying something he loved so much. That in and of itself made it all worth it. I asked him if he’d plan my runs, go on some with me, and be a running sensei to me. He agreed to all of them.

As if that wasn’t good enough, I did some research: the cutoff time for most 10k races is 1:30:00. That means if I were running at 10k for a race I wouldn’t have finished or gotten my medal. So yeah, there’s still some work to be done. And man am I hungry for it.

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