Monday, May 28, 2018

Book Review: Eat, Drink, Run. by Bryony Gordon

Title: Eat, Drink, Run.
Author: Bryony Gordon
Publication date: 31st May 2018
Publisher: Headline
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Source: Review copy from publisher

Description: Bryony Gordon was not a runner. A loafer, a dawdler, a drinker, a smoker, yes. A runner, no. But, as she recovered from the emotional rollercoaster of opening up her life in her mental health memoir MAD GIRL, she realised that there were things that might actually help her: getting outside, moving her body and talking to others who found life occasionally challenging. As she ran, she started to shake off the limitations that had always held her back and she saw she had actually imposed them on herself. Why couldn't she be a runner?

In April 2017, Bryony Gordon ran all 26.2 miles of the London Marathon. In Eat, Drink, Run., we join her as she trains for this daunting task and rises to the challenge one step at the time. Of course, on top of the aching muscles and blistered feet, there's also the small matter of getting a certain royal to open up about his mental health. Through it all, Bryony shows us that extraordinary things can happen to everyone, no matter what life throws our way.

My thoughts: I read Mad Girl, Bryony Gordon's previous book, in the autumn. To say I enjoyed it is not quite the right sentiment; it's mostly not a happy book, as it documents Bryony's life living with OCD and the frequent lows that the condition brought her to. It was a very moving book that had a lot of effect on me, though, so I was very interested to see what direction her next book would take. While I enjoyed Eat, Drink, Run., it's a very different book to Mad Girl. The book begins by setting up how she decided to run the London Marathon in the first place. It talks a bit about her OCD and how that led to her setting up a support group, beginning to write a lot more about her mental health in her Telegraph column and working on writing Mad Girl itself. She's invited to an event about mental health hosted by Price William, Princess Catherine and Prince Harry, where one thing leads to another and she tells them she'll run the marathon.

While it's just as readable as her previous book, there were places where I felt like Eat, Drink, Run. was an extended column. There are a lot of anecdotes that, while funny, don't necessarily tie in to the rest of the book very well. That aside, it manages to be a very entertaining book while looking at the serious subject of mental health, and how we can all tackle something big by taking it in small steps. It doesn't focus much on Bryony's particular marathon training plan (except to say that for a while there really wasn't one). You get a general picture of how training is progress, but it's more of a background, framing how the increased exercise is changing her habits for the better, and how the journey to running the marathon lead to her crossing paths with the royals on several occasions.

The book is light, entertaining and inspiring, while still drawing attention to what it can be like to live with a variety of mental health problems and how we can do better to help people living with them. It's a very accessible book for those who want to learn a little bit more about OCD without getting into something too emotional or draining, and I think that's who I'd most recommend this book to. If you've enjoyed reading Bryony's columns, but didn't feel like Mad Girl was right for you, I'd suggest picking up Eat, Drink, Run. I'd still very much recommend it to people who did enjoy her other books, but just caution that it is quite different from Mad Girl. Overall, I'm giving Eat, Drink, Run. 7 out of 10.


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