It's always interesting to exchange books at the hostel. On one hand, the selection can be less than ideal. On the other, it nudges you towards books you might otherwise ignore. I found this little book sandwiched between 15 books in German, the 3 Paul Coelho novels, and a token Stephen King title. Although skeptical at first, I actually consider it a decent find.
Let me be clear: Lance is defintely a better biker than writer. (Then again, I've never read a sports memoir. Maybe his isn't so bad?) Even if putting his experiences into words isn't his strength, choosing to write a good story with his life kind of speaks for itself. He's had to overcome intense challenges, puts his whole heart into what he's doing, lives an extremely disciplined and dedicated life, and never ever gives up. If you can read past his sexist comments and the way he doesn't always treat people very nicely, you start to cheer for him and you want to see the underdog win.
On a more personal note, the #1 reason I liked this book was because I was able to relate to his experience with cancer. The unknowns, the hundreds of trips to the hospital, his frustration with being sick, the floundering during "survivorship," and the battle for his thoughts were all too familiar. His long, painful, and extremely difficult road to recovery somehow makes my road seem easier. His determination, his commitment, and his appreciation for life are clearly inspiring. It's obvious why he became an American hero.
P.S. I was disappointed to learn that after the publication of his book he seems to have lost focus. He divorced his wife (whom he openly adores in his book), faced several messy doping allegations, and was associated with a few too many racing scandals. Bummer.