As readers, we all understand the joy of browsing at a bookstore. Shiny displays with the full book jacket in clear view; it’s like looking at bulk bins of candy. While browsing at a public library might not excite the same sense of wonder, I would like to suggest you give it a try. In browsing at the library, you stand a chance of finding the most wonderful of treats; the hidden gem.
At a bookstore, the author with the most powerful publisher is the author whose book you see on the table by the front door, at checkout and directly at eye level. But at the public library, John Grisham gets shelved in the G’s regardless of his publishers marketing plan. If the G’s fall on the bottom shelf in a dimly lit corner, that’s where he stays.
Don’t believe me? Sex, Lies and Triathlon is a perfect example of a hidden gem you may never see at Barnes and Noble. It caught my eye mostly because of its bright orange cover. Pulling it off the shelf the first thing I noticed was that it’s pretty thin and the cover art looks suspiciously like a self-published title. All signs point towards a risky pick. Hmmmmm. FriesenPress. Doesn’t ring a bell…check on it later. (later investigation confirms this is a self-published title) Who is this Lieb fellow anyway? According to the “about the author” he lives in Kansas City, MO and he has a dog. With a dog named Bear, he can’t be all bad, right? OK. I’ll bite.
I’m glad I did. Here Dodell collects the columns he has published in Inside Triathlon magazine over the last ten years. Of being a triathlete, Dodell says, “I was never a particularly great athlete. I wasn’t a star high school swimmer or former elite marathon runner or anything like that. I was a middle-of-the-packer. But as an adult I quickly discovered that, through sacrifice, discipline and simple hard work, I could be just as mediocre at triathlon as I was at every other sport I’d attempted.”
As I contemplate joining the “colorful characters” who compete in triathlons the chapter called “You Always Remember Your First Tri” particularly resonates with me. Of his first he says, “I meandered, Kramer-like, around the transition area, asking extremely idiotic questions of anyone foolish enough to make eye contact with me.” Nowadays, he makes sure not to make eye contact with the noobs.
In “Bike Technology Made Simple” Dodell examines bicycle components, including “the most popular but least understood and certainly the most frequently misspelled component, the “derailleur,” which comes from the French word “de-,” meaning “rarely,” and “railleur,” meaning “works”.” He further explains in “There’s Definitely An ‘I’ in Triathlon” that “most triathletes have very firmly held opinions about the best way to get things done – often wrong, but always firmly held.”
As you can see, Dodell addresses the unique sport of triathlon with good-natured humor. Even so, Sex, Lies and Triathlon will mostly appeal to aspiring, currently competing, or retired triathletes. The rest of you will have to come to the library and browse for your own hidden gem.