Running books – what’s in a name?


There is, it seems, a rule for anyone who wants to write a book about running.

It must have the word ‘running’, ‘run’ or ‘ran’ in the title – just to leave the reader in no doubt about the subject matter.

Eat and Run

Running Hard

Run Mummy Run

Running High

Run Wild

Running for my Life

Run or Die

Running with the Kenyans

This Mum Runs

Running: Cheaper Than Therapy

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

This Girl Ran

Running Like a Girl

Running the Smoke

Just a Little Run Around the World

So what’s in a name (of a running book)? Nothing very subtle, it appears.

For subtlety, look to climbing and mountaineering, a genre that has spawned evocative and poetic titles.

Touching the Void

Into Thin Air

Alone on the Wall

Push

Buried in the Sky

The Magician’s Glass

Art of Freedom

The Beckoning Silence

And so, as the author of an imminent book about running, I was faced with a dilemma: what do I call it?

I suppose some authors have a title in mind before they begin – be it functional and informative, or romantic and abstract. But what if the narrative begins to run away from the chosen title? With no fixed idea, I allowed the developing story to determine the title. That was the hope, at least.

My book is about the sport of hill running in Scotland, about the people who go to high places and the inspiration they find there. I spoke to dozens of runners – the champions and the backmarkers, and everyone in between. A common theme, a uniting bond, emerged. These people felt called to the fabulous hills and mountains of Scotland. To go to the high places is what matters to them: how fast they run, how many summits they touch, whether they are first or last, is irrelevant. To have answered the call, to just be there – that is enough.

The mountains are calling, the very well known words of John Muir that he followed with the statement, ‘and I must go’, seemed to be the right title. And so my book is The Mountains are Calling.Running’ is there in the subtitle. (My publisher did not give me much choice about that).

And I suppose the title indicates my hopes for The Mountains are Calling – that it will be enjoyed as a book about running and human endeavour, while also evoking the magnificence of hills and mountains and Scotland. For me, there is no greater collaboration.

The Mountains are Calling (Sandstone Press) is published on May 17 and can now be preordered.

@MuirJonny

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Jill Davies says:

    Footprints on 5he summits is a fantastic book about fellrunning. Falls in the subtle category.

    1. heightsofmadness says:

      Stud Marks on the Summit or Feet in the Clouds? Both evocative titles.

      1. Jill Davies says:

        Ah yes! My dodgy memory seems to have amalgamated the two titles. Evocative titles and inspiring reads!

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