Book Review: Beyond Birkie Fever
February 17, 2013 8 Comments
Let me start this book review with a shout out to Walter Rhein for giving us the opportunity to review his work. It is greatly appreciated. The book that I reviewed is a Non-Fiction book called Beyond Birkie Fever. As always for those of you who know how my reviews work, I never give anything away, just my opinions and observations of the book. For those that do not know how I do this, I never give away *spoilers*. I think we can all agree that *spoilers* are the bane of human existence and should be eliminated from the Universe. Or maybe it is just me. After that disclaimer, let us return to this fantastic book.
Beyond Birkie Fever is a book about the American Birkebeiner, described as “America‘s greatest cross-country ski race” and the following it has inspired. In fact, the race kicks off again for its 40th Anniversary in just 5 days. The race “..spans 50 kilometers from Cable to Hayward for Skaters, and 54K for Classic Skiers..” in Wisconsin. I am not a skier, I have never skied and always felt it looked tremendously dangerous to me. To be honest, I have lived almost my whole life in Wisconsin, and until now had not heard of the race or “Birkie Fever“.
Having said that, I really enjoyed this book. Mr. Rhein is able to harness the emotions the race holds for him, the lifestyle it compels you to lead in order to compete in the race and get that across to the reader. I was able to see what he meant in terms of the dedication, desire and hard work necessary to even attempt this race, rather than being told about it. That is a rare gift indeed in telling a story.
Anecdotes and trips down memory lane regarding the race, travels across the globe to race and Mr. Rhein’s family especially his Grandpa are another way he is able to make the connection to the reader and keep it throughout the book. My favorite memory is when his Grandpa decides to take a pair of Austrian skiers out and teach them how to drive on black ice. Oh boy, that is a memory dipped in gold. Once again, I felt like I was in the car with them and I cannot say enough about how that impressed me. For a Non-Fiction book, this one was incredibly entertaining, humorous, has you training, racing and experiencing everything he experienced in real time.
It also drives home another point among his travels to Europe, Australia and back again. Doing things you believe you cannot, expressing essentially my favorite Yoda quote. “Do or do not, there is no try.” Mr. Rhein wanted to complete the race, and he was not going to let anything get in his way. Not being under trained, over trained, the flu, out of shape(I know this one) or having sub standard equipment. Having a dream and the fire in your belly to reach for it is the over arching message I personally took from this book. Again, he does this by showing you what happened and how he responded to each situation, not telling you.
My last points on this book, I have no issues with it period. Well done, well thought out from beginning to end and executed beautifully. From the viewpoint of a non-skier I really got into the book, and for a moment contemplated trying it out. Then of course my lifelong fear of pain and anything remotely dangerous kicked in and the urge quickly passed. I can imagine that from the viewpoint of a skiing enthusiast this book is an absolute must have and you will understand exactly what is being said. To be transported back to those beautiful snow covered hills if only in your imagination during the long Summer months of waiting for the ability to strap on the skis just one more time.
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