Friday, November 14, 2008

Book Review: It's Not About The Bike

Book Review: It's Not About The Bike by Lance Armstrong (with Sally Jenkins)

With all the bad stories we hear about cancer it is occasionally nice to hear a positive one. When it comes to accounts of fighting and beating cancer I can't think of one better then Lance Armstrong's. Lance Armstrong was an up and coming cyclist from Texas. A super aggressive personality with a tough background he was shocked one day when he went to the hospital because he wasn't feeling well to find out he had testicular cancer. He'd had it for awhile and his prognosis wasn't good. In a very honest fashion he chronicles what fighting cancer was like; the fear, the hope, the frustration, the pain, and especially the helplessness. For a driven man like Armstrong, cancer was the last thing he expected or wanted. He had to face not only the loss of his health (and possibly his life) but also his dreams and ambitions which he thought were about to be realized. What he experiences mentally and emotionally is brought to life in his simple prose and vocabulary. I felt along with him as he describes his fear and the reactions of those around him. This is gut wrenching stuff.

The book goes back into Armstrong's less then perfect upbringing and sets the stage to explain the persevering spirit, pure stubbornness, and willingness to embrace (and defeat) suffering that helped him so much in his fight against cancer. The fact that he survives the cancer physically is wondrous enough, but how he goes on to recover emotionally and then revive his career is pure inspiration. Cancer transforms Armstrong into a different person. I don't want to give too much away, but the new Lance is able to achieve things the old one was never capable of. He believes the cancer was his enemy but it also made him into a better man and in the end he is glad he got it. I tend to agree with him.

You don't have to enjoy cycling, stories of healing, or even biographies to really get into this book. I think that about 80% of the reading population would find something enjoyable and inspiring in it. I have read it three times now and every time I'm impacted differently. This time I was moved by what may have been his toughest battle of all, living after cancer. How do you live when others who fought the battle with you didn't make it? What does life mean now? These deep questions (and Armstrong's journey through them) are authentically explored and I appreciated it.

It's Not About The Bike is everything a book should be. It is absolutely fascinating, inspiring, emotional, and down to earth. Armstrong is not a saint (far from it actually) but his honesty is refreshing. In many ways it is one of the best books I have ever read. If Armstrong was a Christian, was more relationally savvy, and he swore less this would be one of those blanket "you have to buy this book" books. If someone you love gets cancer (especially testicular cancer) you should definitely consider buying them this book. I rate it 4.8 ninja stars out of 5.

1 comment:

Moxymama said...

My father is a huge Lance Armstrong fan and admires him greatly and for many of the reasons you nicely summarized here.