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National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Jennifer Pharr Davis unlocks the secret to maximizing perseverance--on and off the trail Jennifer Pharr Davis, a record holder of the FKT (fastest known time) on the Appalachian Trail, reveals the secrets and habits behind endurance as she chronicles her incredible accomplishments in the world of endurance hiking, backpacking, and National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Jennifer Pharr Davis unlocks the secret to maximizing perseverance--on and off the trail Jennifer Pharr Davis, a record holder of the FKT (fastest known time) on the Appalachian Trail, reveals the secrets and habits behind endurance as she chronicles her incredible accomplishments in the world of endurance hiking, backpacking, and trail running. With a storyteller's ear for fascinating detail and description, Davis takes readers along as she trains and sets her record, analyzing and trail-testing the theories and methodologies espoused by her star-studded roster of mentors. She distills complex rituals and histories into easy-to-understand tips and action items that will help you take perseverance to the next level. The Pursuit of Endurance empowers readers to unlock phenomenal endurance and leverage newfound grit to achieve personal bests in everything from sports and family to the boardroom.


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National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Jennifer Pharr Davis unlocks the secret to maximizing perseverance--on and off the trail Jennifer Pharr Davis, a record holder of the FKT (fastest known time) on the Appalachian Trail, reveals the secrets and habits behind endurance as she chronicles her incredible accomplishments in the world of endurance hiking, backpacking, and National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Jennifer Pharr Davis unlocks the secret to maximizing perseverance--on and off the trail Jennifer Pharr Davis, a record holder of the FKT (fastest known time) on the Appalachian Trail, reveals the secrets and habits behind endurance as she chronicles her incredible accomplishments in the world of endurance hiking, backpacking, and trail running. With a storyteller's ear for fascinating detail and description, Davis takes readers along as she trains and sets her record, analyzing and trail-testing the theories and methodologies espoused by her star-studded roster of mentors. She distills complex rituals and histories into easy-to-understand tips and action items that will help you take perseverance to the next level. The Pursuit of Endurance empowers readers to unlock phenomenal endurance and leverage newfound grit to achieve personal bests in everything from sports and family to the boardroom.

30 review for The Pursuit of Endurance: Harnessing the Record-Breaking Power of Strength and Resilience

  1. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    Jennifer Pharr Davis‘ latest book The Pursuit of Endurance: Harnessing the Record-Breaking Power of Strength and Resilience is an inside look into the world of the FKT (fastest known time) and the athletes who accomplish these incredible feats of endurance. What personal challenges did they overcome in the effort to be the fastest and the best? Is endurance merely an athletic trait, or does it apply to humanity as a whole? Are women able to compete with the men in such endeavors? This is the firs Jennifer Pharr Davis‘ latest book The Pursuit of Endurance: Harnessing the Record-Breaking Power of Strength and Resilience is an inside look into the world of the FKT (fastest known time) and the athletes who accomplish these incredible feats of endurance. What personal challenges did they overcome in the effort to be the fastest and the best? Is endurance merely an athletic trait, or does it apply to humanity as a whole? Are women able to compete with the men in such endeavors? This is the first time some of the personal stories of FKT athletes are told, and the very special thing about this book is that they are told through the heart of someone who has been there herself. The hiking community is small, and for many years I’ve heard names like Scott Williamson, Heather Anderson, Scott Jurek, Jennifer Pharr Davis, Liz Thomas. It makes sense that they all know each other. because their experiences create a bond only they can understand. Jen writes about these friends after visiting them, sitting down with them, and hearing their personal accounts over dinner, while walking on trails, and even summiting peaks together. Her own humility in wanting to learn opened doors for her to tell about events that might never have been brought to light if not for her own search as an endurance athlete. Some of the names in this book are familiar from reading Jen’s previous books about her own journey on the AT, but this time you really feel like you get to know Warren Doyle and David Horton in a more personal way. So many of the hikers who have managed to set FKTs on America’s long trails are men, and I found myself wishing more women could accomplish this too. But then I had to stop and remind myself that a strong, powerful woman who set an FKT wrote this book. By the time I got to the chapter about Heather Anderson, I was ready to stand up and cheer. The really beautiful thing about all these stories, and about Jen being the one to write them, is that she is boldly saying that women do not need to be bound by gender when it comes to accomplishing physical pursuits that are typically dominated by men. “Once I set the FKT, I was a stronger, more outspoken feminist. I was finally at the point where I believed that my ability was of equal value, and it took feeling like an equal for me to realize that I wasn’t always being treated like one. I had to walk more than ten thousand miles and set a record to dispel the gender bias I had accepted – the one that society, media, and the marketplace present, overtly and subconsciously, on a daily basis.” In the end, endurance isn’t a gender issue. It felt like the writing of this book was a search to find the thing that makes endurance athletes unique. In the life of each person profiled there is some hardship they have to overcome, an inner drive that keeps them asking more and more of themselves. There are character traits that are similar, dedication and grit. But in the end, endurance is part of our humanity, the constant quest for inner strength. Maybe you won’t be the one to set an FKT on a national trail, but perhaps there will be a personal mountain you will conquer. As a hiker reading this book, I got the jolt of inspiration that I needed. I want to wake up earlier, hit the trail harder, push myself to achieve more. Working a desk job and being a cog in corporate life does so much to strip the soul of meaning. While some in this book were able to leave careers and pursue a different life, many of us feel the weight of responsibility and are unable to leave at a moment’s notice. And that’s ok too because we’re all on our own path. But, we can still be inspired to live fuller, more passionate lives outside of the daily grind. “Hiking is not escapism; it’s realism. The people who choose to spend time outdoors are not running away from anything; we are returning to where we belong.”

  2. 4 out of 5

    David

    NEEDS MORE TRAIL STORIES. I jumped in really hoping to get a feel for what it was like to hike or set an FKT. Instead, I received a set of loosely connected interviews with famous hikers or runners that glossed over the most interesting part: the actual hiking. Instead, it felt like a series of not very interesting biographies of very interesting people. The book touches on the science of long distance hiking and the gender imbalance, but all too briefly. It jumps around too much and ends up focu NEEDS MORE TRAIL STORIES. I jumped in really hoping to get a feel for what it was like to hike or set an FKT. Instead, I received a set of loosely connected interviews with famous hikers or runners that glossed over the most interesting part: the actual hiking. Instead, it felt like a series of not very interesting biographies of very interesting people. The book touches on the science of long distance hiking and the gender imbalance, but all too briefly. It jumps around too much and ends up focusing on the bits that aren't super interesting to the average reader. I feel like the intended audience is for folks who already are familiar with the experience, but not with the scene. Not a bad book, just not what I was hoping for.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    I enjoyed the author's stories of her own life and hike, but from the book blurb, I thought I'd learn more about endurance. Many of the personal stories of the men who hiked the trail and the trail controversies weren't interesting to me and I got tired of all the swearing. I think it would be better with more endurance and hiking information. I enjoyed the author's stories of her own life and hike, but from the book blurb, I thought I'd learn more about endurance. Many of the personal stories of the men who hiked the trail and the trail controversies weren't interesting to me and I got tired of all the swearing. I think it would be better with more endurance and hiking information.

  4. 4 out of 5

    David

    If you are looking for a travelogue of hiking the Appalachian Trail this might not be the book for you. If, on the other hand, you would like to know why some people undertake such punishing tasks this is a must read. Hiking thousands of miles as fast as you can--why? As the author points out, that question is related to George Mallory's response to why climb Everest: "because it's there". A simple answer that's hard to understand. Pharr Davis gives us insight into what makes these Fastest Known If you are looking for a travelogue of hiking the Appalachian Trail this might not be the book for you. If, on the other hand, you would like to know why some people undertake such punishing tasks this is a must read. Hiking thousands of miles as fast as you can--why? As the author points out, that question is related to George Mallory's response to why climb Everest: "because it's there". A simple answer that's hard to understand. Pharr Davis gives us insight into what makes these Fastest Known Time hikers do what they do by way of case studies of some of these top endurance athletes. Her interviews and time on the trails with these different personalities give the reader a chance to look for common goals and things learned from pushing oneself hard day after day. Her self examination of her record setting trek provides a personal look at what she learned about herself and how it has carried over into her non-trail life. A wonderful quote from this book is currently circulating on social media: "Hiking is not escapism: it's realism. The people who choose to spend time outdoors are not running away from anything; we are returning to where we belong".--Jennifer Pharr Davis

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ron S

    National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and past record holder of the FKT on the Appalachian Trail, Jennifer Pharr Davis (JPD) explores endurance in this fascinating read. Part memoir, part character study of ultra-runners, thru-hikers, FKT record breakers and the latest theories and methodologies of humans pushing themselves to do that which doesn't seem possible. The character studies of people like David Horton, Heather Anderson and Warren Doyle are worth the price of the book (I had the g National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and past record holder of the FKT on the Appalachian Trail, Jennifer Pharr Davis (JPD) explores endurance in this fascinating read. Part memoir, part character study of ultra-runners, thru-hikers, FKT record breakers and the latest theories and methodologies of humans pushing themselves to do that which doesn't seem possible. The character studies of people like David Horton, Heather Anderson and Warren Doyle are worth the price of the book (I had the good fortune to read this in ARC format: releases April 10th, 2018). Highly recommended for those interested in endurance sports, the Appalachian or Pacific Crest trails, ultra-running, adventure, or just enjoy reading about unusual and interesting people doing incredible things.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nate Hawthorne

    I know, another book by a hiker about the Appalachian Trail. But this one covers it from a different angle. Ms. Davis interviewed many past holders of the FKT (fastest known time) on the trail and other trails. She was looking to gain perspective on the personalities of endurance hikers/runners to see if they have any common traits. Funny how none of these books about the trials and tribulations of being in the trail have deterred my fascination with wanting to hike it. I probably wouldn't go fo I know, another book by a hiker about the Appalachian Trail. But this one covers it from a different angle. Ms. Davis interviewed many past holders of the FKT (fastest known time) on the trail and other trails. She was looking to gain perspective on the personalities of endurance hikers/runners to see if they have any common traits. Funny how none of these books about the trials and tribulations of being in the trail have deterred my fascination with wanting to hike it. I probably wouldn't go for a FKT though.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Samar Dahmash Jarrah

    Kept me going while on the stepper and cycling....

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    This book made a home in my favorites list. What a gem! A read full of adventure and metaphors for living life.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ginget Poulton

    Really good Amazing/interesting how much self doubt she had and expressed Neat profiles of all the other folks with FKTs

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Orlopp

    Amazing insight into setting BHAG's (big, hairy audacious goal) and having the focus and discipline to make the impossible achievable. Very inspiring! Amazing insight into setting BHAG's (big, hairy audacious goal) and having the focus and discipline to make the impossible achievable. Very inspiring!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cori

    I knew I wanted to read this book, but I took advantage of the opportunity to listen to Jenn read it herself as I drove through the Blue Ridge Mountains. As a long time follower of Jenn, I am really pleased at how much her writing has matured over time. In this book she explores what common threads help support endurance, especially athletes who have held FKTs (fastest known time) records on the Appalachian trail. Sometimes the scope of the book would widen to things outside this focus, but alwa I knew I wanted to read this book, but I took advantage of the opportunity to listen to Jenn read it herself as I drove through the Blue Ridge Mountains. As a long time follower of Jenn, I am really pleased at how much her writing has matured over time. In this book she explores what common threads help support endurance, especially athletes who have held FKTs (fastest known time) records on the Appalachian trail. Sometimes the scope of the book would widen to things outside this focus, but always containing information that I found interesting. She reached into the core of these FKT athletes during her conversations with them. I also loved how she would find the best in people while still addressing their less than flattering traits. For awhile I became tired of the chronicle of one white male after another, so I was happy to finally reach where Jenn discusses her own record attempt. I am familiar with her story, but I loved how she really put her record attempts in the context of womenhood. First she broke the women's supported record on the AT and thought... could I have done better? Why was she only reaching for the women's mark. She then went on the hold the overall record. I also love how supportive her husband has been through all of these things (perk of the audiobook also includes some songs by Brew!). She later followed with her interviews with Heather Anderson. The recent surge in female super heroes has really made me reflect on the importance of female role model. They are something I didn't really know was missing until they existed. I was also excited to hear her discussions with Scott Jurek, for as she reflected he is so famous it is hard to get to know him behind the scenes. I really enjoyed her constant questioning and the reflective voice Jenn had in "The Pursuit of Endurance." Pop Sugar Reading Challenge 2018 - A book that is published in 2018

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nina

    I read this book after reading the grand adventure of “Thirst” by Heather Andersen. Heather wrote a book about setting a “Fastest Known Time” record for men and women on the PCT. So when my local library presented this summer’s read “The Pursuit of Endurance” complete with author events of the woman who set the FKT on the Appalachian Trail, I figured it would be similar to the epic journey novel of Thirst. It was not. This book was not necessarily about Jennifer’s quest, it about others who came I read this book after reading the grand adventure of “Thirst” by Heather Andersen. Heather wrote a book about setting a “Fastest Known Time” record for men and women on the PCT. So when my local library presented this summer’s read “The Pursuit of Endurance” complete with author events of the woman who set the FKT on the Appalachian Trail, I figured it would be similar to the epic journey novel of Thirst. It was not. This book was not necessarily about Jennifer’s quest, it about others who came before her. Mostly men. And about the concept of endurance and what makes ultra athletes keep going when others would stop. I learned very little about her journey. I didn’t know until chapter 8 that she was college friends with Heather Andersen. So I did appreciate the two chapters about Heather. I felt like she had much more personal information in her book than in Heather’s own book. I wonder how Heather must feel about her going more in depth into her own divorce than she did in Thirst. Two similar themes are women constantly doubting themselves and their abilities to belong. The mantra that I did pick up from Jennifer is “I belong.” Not necessarily belonging in the ultra athlete world like she does, but in general as an overweight woman going out and experiencing nature and recreation. I belong outside too.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Marisa

    In this book we get to know Jennifer’s journey towards pursuing the FKT, but also provides insight into the experiences of a lot of the other recent FKT-holders and big figures within the Appalachian Trail community. I really loved this book not only because Jennifer is a unique in being a female who held the FKT, but also because she can share her insight of actually having experienced the journey when telling the story of others. An underlying theme throughout the book definitely included Jenni In this book we get to know Jennifer’s journey towards pursuing the FKT, but also provides insight into the experiences of a lot of the other recent FKT-holders and big figures within the Appalachian Trail community. I really loved this book not only because Jennifer is a unique in being a female who held the FKT, but also because she can share her insight of actually having experienced the journey when telling the story of others. An underlying theme throughout the book definitely included Jennifer coming into her own and exploring why endurance athletes capture our collective imagination. These are characters who surpass the bounds of what seems possible for an average human, but also there is an emphasis that these are average people who have decided to pursue crazy dreams. There were a few spots that were a little slow for me, but overall I’d highly recommend this for any sports fan. Who should read it? Fans of running, the Appalachian Trail and intense sporting pursuits. See all my reviews and more at Reading to Distraction or @Read2Distract

  14. 4 out of 5

    Laura Westmeyer

    Fantastic book. I had originally started reading it thinking it would be a motivating endurance athlete stories/memoir-type read, but it really wasn't like that at all. It's more of a book about the history and evolution of FKTs and the people to hold those titles for various trails, obviously focused on the Appalachian Trail in particular. She also gets into the "unwritten rules" about FKTs (part of the evolution of FKT idea) and that was a very intriguing aspect of the book. Jennifer Pharr Dav Fantastic book. I had originally started reading it thinking it would be a motivating endurance athlete stories/memoir-type read, but it really wasn't like that at all. It's more of a book about the history and evolution of FKTs and the people to hold those titles for various trails, obviously focused on the Appalachian Trail in particular. She also gets into the "unwritten rules" about FKTs (part of the evolution of FKT idea) and that was a very intriguing aspect of the book. Jennifer Pharr Davis provides a chronology of names of the various FKT holders, but the gem of it all is how she provides in-depth coverage of those she met (or already knew) and interviewed for this book. That was the best part about it. She also spoke with some exercise science folks and got into some Q&A dealing with the science of endurance, which was also really interesting. Her interview with Shaun Bearen in particular was a good section of this book, and even turned me on to his podcast, The Science of Ultra, which I have been really enjoying (trail runners take note!) The most notable characters in this book (who she gives us enough information through interviews and anecdotes to feel like you kind of know who they are and what they're about) are Warren Doyle, David Horton, Scott Williamson, Andrew Thompson, Shaun Bearden, Heather Anderson, and Scott Jurek. If you are interested in any of these folks, you will appreciate this book. I thought it was especially neat to read about the lives of those named who aren't necessarily in the spotlight and who I probably wouldn't ever know anything about except having read about them here. The biggest takeaway for me was understanding that for endurance activities, like the PCT, AT, and other ultra trails, it is really an open field for people. Age and gender play less of a role the farther out you go. That was the main point in this book that I really hadn't given much thought to previously. Same for hikers v. runners for the longer distances like the AT and PCT. She starts the book identifying as a hiker and not a runner, and it was surprising to me when she started introducing runners who are going for the same FKT. For example, Jennifer Pharr Davis (hiker) held the FKT on the AT until Scott Jurek (ultra runner) beat her time by something like 3 hours. That's really not a big difference when you're talking about 2,000-something miles of trail. Endurance sports are more about mental toughness and the ability to suffer is the basic conclusion. I also really appreciated how she focused on the idea that great feats require a team effort, and community is important. Even for her own FKT she uses phrases like "when we were doing the FKT" instead of "when I was going for the FKT" in reference to her husband's integral participation and presence in the effort. Finally, it is always interesting to me to read about the more well-known races and trails in the world. The section about the Barkley Marathon (also known as "the race that eats its young") was particularly enjoyable. The only part about this book that I didn't care for was the last chapter. It felt very messy and chaotic and disjunct from the rest of the book. The last chapter is essentially a hodgepodge of what I assume are big picture ideas that she wanted to weave throughout the book but didn't end up fitting in so felt she needed to lug them all in the end. It was a weird ending to an otherwise fluid and well done writing. As this was a minor section of the book it didn't really influence my feeling of the book overall. Favorite quotes from this book: "I like to think of it as just happily rolling with the punches that life throws at you. If you are a life lover, you love it all, you take it all. You hike through that five-hour rainstorm when your hands are so freakin' numb that you can't operate your zipper because you know when that sucker's over, the sun's gonna come out and when it does you're gonna be sucking up all that warmth. And you're gonna be like, 'While that rainstorm was raging hell for five hours, I just hiked twenty miles. And now, I've come out the other end and I'm good to go." -quote by Andrew Thompson. On visalization: "When you use visualization, you're forming confidence and creating a mental blueprint. There are studies that show a basketball player's free throw percentage will increase if he visualizes making shots. Other research suggests that muscles can actually get stronger without working out if an individual will just visualize engaging and exercising those muscles. But just like anything else, this skill has to be practiced." -quote by Dr. Czech. And from Jennifer Pharr Davis: "I learned that physical motion is a form of therapy. There is power to be found in taking a next step." "We might all go farther if we end each day with a cold beer and a good friend."

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rach

    “Endurance is not measured by someone’s first steps, it is measured by her last step.” ❤️ Both a biography of many of the FKT record holders on the AT and also a derp dove into Jennifer’s journey, her relationship with these fellow endurance athletes and friends, and an attempt to dig into the psyche of a group of athletes that have success (and failure) in reaching their goals. What can we learn from the way each of these women and men see life and strive to accomplish their goals and dreams? Wh “Endurance is not measured by someone’s first steps, it is measured by her last step.” ❤️ Both a biography of many of the FKT record holders on the AT and also a derp dove into Jennifer’s journey, her relationship with these fellow endurance athletes and friends, and an attempt to dig into the psyche of a group of athletes that have success (and failure) in reaching their goals. What can we learn from the way each of these women and men see life and strive to accomplish their goals and dreams? Why do we run? Why do we pursue hard things? In the end, running or hiking or pursuing our goals for ourselves is more valuable than doing it for fame. Endurance is a journey and you have to be prepared for the ups and downs, the heights and the depths. Know you can stick with it through the lows and be rewarded with the glorious highs. There are so many moments in this book that I have found personally encouraging and challenging. I loved listening to the audiobook, but I think I’m also going to buy a physical copy so I can read it again and highlight sections that particularly stand out. I love the idea of find your own personal mantra, something short and catchy that you can chant to yourself when times are though. Also, I plan on making it a goal to start each morning with a statement of positivity - I believe her when she says it leads to a happier day and happier life. Something I struggle with is being okay with failure, but part of the key to success is being willing to risk failure by pushing yourself farther than you know you can go. How do we know how much we can accomplish if we’re not reaching past our known limits? To paraphrase Jennifer, if you’re not failing, your goals aren’t high enough. “Don’t be afraid of failure. Endurance is failure after failure after failure.” “Endurance is consistently telling yourself that it is going to be okay, regardless of the immediate circumstances and past events. It’s okay to fall short. It’s okay to let people down. It’s okay to hurt and suffer. It’s okay to stop when you can’t go any farther. But don’t give up on yourself, your goals, or the people around you.” Here are a few more quotes and thoughts that particularly stuck out to me, but I would encourage everyone to pick up a copy of this book, whether you’re a runner or a hiker, or just someone looking to expand your mind and see what dreams you can push towards. The audiobook is really excellent, by the way - it’s read by the author, and at the end there is a really sweet and folksy song written and performed by Jennifer’s husband called “I’ll Climb the Mountain With You.” Aww. “The thing about a long grueling journey is that it strips away who you’re not, and allows you to discover what’s left, or who’s left. One damn good reason to pursue endurance and choose suffering is to get to know yourself inside and out. When you reach that moment where you have more than you thought you had, and accomplished more than you thought you could, it’s clear who you are.” Correlation/Commonality between FKT record holders and finishers of the Barkley - is there something about knowing you can push your body past its limits and not give up that makes someone successful at both things? Sleep is an emotional need, not a physical one. Our brains need to rest. “Women are caregivers, so they tend to think less about their own discomfort than about what they are doing for others. There is something that goes along with the capacity for motherhood and childbearing that allows women to just deal with chronic discomfort, and engage in less self-pity.” “When you try to make everyone else happy, you become immobilized. When you accept that you can’t, you’re able to move forward... You can’t let public opinion determine the worth of your journey.” The essential need of having people who support us in our journey. “You have to have someone great in your corner if you want to accomplish something outstanding.” Also, don’t forget to support your loved ones in return. “Support goes both ways.” “If we recognize our own need for forgiveness, it becomes easier to extend that favor to those around us... You have to forgive the people who are closest to you if you want to keep them in your life.” “It behooves us to not come to quick conclusions about other people’s paths, and instead approach each individual with encouragement and compassion. We might be on different trails, but we are all mid-journey.”

  16. 4 out of 5

    E.P.

    If you enjoy reading stories of Shackleton's attempt at reaching the South Pole, or of plucky horses like Seabiscuit who succeed against all odds, then chances are good you'll enjoy Jennifer Pharr Davis's "The Pursuit of Endurance." If you are an avid hiker but fear the idea of a high-speed through-hike, you'll probably love this book, even as you shake your head at the feats of endurance it chronicles. And if you're contemplating attempting an FKT (Fastest Known Time) yourself, then obviously t If you enjoy reading stories of Shackleton's attempt at reaching the South Pole, or of plucky horses like Seabiscuit who succeed against all odds, then chances are good you'll enjoy Jennifer Pharr Davis's "The Pursuit of Endurance." If you are an avid hiker but fear the idea of a high-speed through-hike, you'll probably love this book, even as you shake your head at the feats of endurance it chronicles. And if you're contemplating attempting an FKT (Fastest Known Time) yourself, then obviously this is a must-read. For those of you who are wondering, an FKT is the fastest known time (because there's no official measuring or record keeping body) that a hiker/runner has completed a long-distance trail such as the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail. This is not, as Pharr Davis discusses in some detail, an official sport, but a--hobby isn't exactly the right word, but it'll do for now--in which people try to cover hundreds or thousands of miles of trail as quickly as possible, often covering 40+ miles/day and sleeping only a couple of hours a night, purely for the sake of proving that it is possible to walk, say, the approximately 2200 miles of the AT in under 50 days. Pharr Davis, as a former holder of the AT's FKT and the first woman to set its overall FKT, is eminently qualified to write this book. She goes into the history of the major US trails, the various record attempts that have been made, the psychology behind FKTs and endurance sports in general, and the personalities of those who set some of the recent FKTs on the big trails. She managed to score interviews with most of the recent FKT setters, including some generally elusive ones, and describes their hikes--and her own, of course. Indeed, for me personally the most interesting chapters were those about the FKTs set by women, including herself. While until recently it was assumed that women had no chance at keeping up with men, trailblazers like Heather Anderson and Pharr Davis herself have proven that that is not the case at all. In fact, after finishing the PCT for the first time with her boyfriend, Anderson "looked down at her washboard abs and strong legs, then she looked back at her gaunt boyfriend and took note. She surmised that women might be well suited--or even *better* suited--for long-distance travel than men." While the jury is still out on that (although I tend to agree with Anderson), it is interesting to note that Pharr Davis mentions several times how her own main obstacles were mental: at first it simply didn't occur to her to try an FKT, and then she assumed she had no chance of keeping up with the guys. After she set the overall AT record at 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes, she worried that maybe she had left something on the table--after all, she walked rather than ran, and got considerably more sleep than most of the other, male, record-setters. When Scott Jurek beat her record by a mere three hours four years later, it was hard not to wonder "Should I have insisted on getting a full night's sleep so often?" In any case, the experience of setting the FKT made Pharr Davis, she acknowledges, a "more outspoken feminist." She felt at peace with what happened, though, and writes generously about Jurek's successes and the troubles that being a celebrity athlete brought on him. This is a book by, for (sort of), and about endurance athletes, but non-athletes can certainly enjoy it as well. Pharr Davis has a warm yet polished writing style, interweaving historical background, the science of endurance, and personal anecdotes into a highly readable narrative that is enthralling for the long-distance hikers and couchbound alike.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Meilee Anderson

    I recently read Heather Anderson’s “Thirst” which created in me a thirst for more books written by bold trailblazing women. When I saw the cover of “The Pursuit of Endurance” by Jennifer Pharr I picked it up without hesitation. My eyes caught one glimpse of Jennifer frozen in mid-stride on a rugged trail with the word “ENDURANCE” blazing above her in all caps. It called to me. I was in! Give me this book! Once again, I didn’t read the jacket. I didn’t realize what I was in for until I finished th I recently read Heather Anderson’s “Thirst” which created in me a thirst for more books written by bold trailblazing women. When I saw the cover of “The Pursuit of Endurance” by Jennifer Pharr I picked it up without hesitation. My eyes caught one glimpse of Jennifer frozen in mid-stride on a rugged trail with the word “ENDURANCE” blazing above her in all caps. It called to me. I was in! Give me this book! Once again, I didn’t read the jacket. I didn’t realize what I was in for until I finished the first chapter. The book isn’t solely about Jennifer. This book is a collection of stories she wrote which feature men and women with a penchant for chasing and breaking FKTs (Fastest Known Times) on various trails. Jennifer clearly knows her topic. I found the way she wrote about other athletes to be commendable. I had the feeling she tried very hard to do justice to each athlete’s accomplishments. When writing about her own attempts and victories she does so humbly without striking a self-aggrandizing tone. She’s impressive, she’s hiked over 14,000 miles on over 6 continents. Yet in an ironic twist of fate, a book about FKT’s wasn’t something I raced through. Jennifer is an accomplished author. She’s written eight books, and articles for national publications like the New York Times, Outside, and Backpacker Magazines. “The Pursuit of Endurance” has a coveted 4.5 stars in GoodReads. She’s a critically acclaimed author but for some reason, this book slowed me down. Despite being a fast reader, it took me almost a week to finish this book. I’m not sure why it took me so long to finish this book. The book has a story feel to it but also feels written with an analytical bent. Jennifer tells stories and provides history and context on the accomplishments of multiple record breakers. I particularly appreciated her chapters on Heather Anderson (whom I just read and pre-ordered her new book), Scott Jurek (whom I’ve read before) along with her chapters which highlighted her life off the trail as a wife and mother. “I chose to put my vulnerability above my social image. I was going to either fail or succeed. But I sure as hell wasn't going to be complacent.” ― Jennifer Pharr Davis I hike at the pace of a winded sloth. If I ever set a hiking record it may be a SKT (slowest known time). I joke, I don’t think that’s a real thing. And yet, you may find me next summer at Mount Rainier huffing and puffing my way slowly along the trail thinking of Jennifer Pharr David, or Heather Anderson on the PCT, or Grandma Gatewood. I am a reformed couch potato inspired by other women. I am thankful the world has space for the trailblazers and rookies, may we celebrate the spirit of strength and resilience in all of us.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jill Geyer

    When I first picked up this book, I thought it was going to be a memoir of Jennifer Pharr Davis' journey on and leading up to the trail. Instead, I found out, she delivers a bunch of anecdotes and histories of past and present people who have set Fastest Known Times (FKT's) on the AT and PCT. She sets out on a quest to identify what binds endurance athletes together, and what sets them apart. What you find out while reading is that people who complete the trail do so out of intrinsic motivations When I first picked up this book, I thought it was going to be a memoir of Jennifer Pharr Davis' journey on and leading up to the trail. Instead, I found out, she delivers a bunch of anecdotes and histories of past and present people who have set Fastest Known Times (FKT's) on the AT and PCT. She sets out on a quest to identify what binds endurance athletes together, and what sets them apart. What you find out while reading is that people who complete the trail do so out of intrinsic motivations. Everyone's journey, strategy, and responses to struggles on the trail vary. In the sport of FKT's, the reward does not lie in the glory and honor at the end of the trail, but in the chance to experience the trail, move your body, and recognize the grit, persistence, and ability to overcome within yourself and with the help of others. One of the greatest parts about thru hiking the Appalachian or Pacific Crest Trail is the ability to walk away from the trail with lessons that are applicable to life off the trail. She ends the book with these words, "On the longest journeys and the longest records, differences disappear, gender, age, diet, and ideology lose their distinction - and we are stripped down to creatures of struggle and imperfection and resilience; we are stripped down to that which binds us together. The greater the distance, the easier it is to see that we're all human." People are so quick to compare themselves to one another Sometimes a peers success can be a blow to one's own self esteem. Sometimes you look at people older than you and think you'll never get to where they are. But life is a long race, and we are all midjourney moving one step forward at a time. One of the past FKTers, Andrew Thompson, was known for his almost flippant confidence. While too much confidence can be dangerous, believing in yourself is crucial to performance. In the words of the author, "When you know you're going the distance, being self assured allows you to continue forward with less anxiety and doubt. It gives you more freedom to enjoy the journey." The book inspires and encourages readers to identify their path and to move forward, persist, and enjoy the journey.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Deena

    I really enjoyed this book, because so much of it spoke to me as a (very amateur and slow) endurance athlete. Jennifer Pharr Davis broke the overall FKT (Fastest Known Time) record on the Appalachian Trail in 2011, and held on to it for four years, until Scott Jurek, arguably one of the most legendary ultra runners on the planet, broke her record in 2015 by only three hours. Pharr Davis isn't nearly as well-known as Jurek is, and her record-setting hike did was not received with nearly the amoun I really enjoyed this book, because so much of it spoke to me as a (very amateur and slow) endurance athlete. Jennifer Pharr Davis broke the overall FKT (Fastest Known Time) record on the Appalachian Trail in 2011, and held on to it for four years, until Scott Jurek, arguably one of the most legendary ultra runners on the planet, broke her record in 2015 by only three hours. Pharr Davis isn't nearly as well-known as Jurek is, and her record-setting hike did was not received with nearly the amount of pomp and circumstance and publicity that Jurek's was, but to me, that made reading about her journey all the more special. She is a hiker, and an amazing, talented one for sure, but she came across to me as a regular person, which made her more relatable. The book left me with pangs of both nostalgia and wistfulness, as reading about Pharr Davis's and others' epic hikes on American long trails brought me back about 20 years when I spent a summer hiking at every opportunity I had and contemplated a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. A big part of me wishes I had just done it when I had the time, youth, and freedom to do it. Instead, I lived a bit vicariously through this book and took away many valuable lessons and reminders of all of the ways in which we are equipped to endure in every aspect of life. (And hey, maybe an AT thru-hike is still in my future at some point.) This book isn't the flashy page-turner that Scott Jurek published earlier this year, and after reading Pharr Davis' interview with Jurek in her book, I can see that she didn't intend it to be that type of book. The focus was not entirely on her, but spread over several athletes and long trail record setters. Admittedly, it was a bit tedious in sections and read more like a stream of consciousness at times, but I still really enjoyed it. As a woman, I found it exceptionally empowering and feel inspired to press on with a lofty endurance run I have been contemplating for later this summer.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Aubri

    While this book contained some interesting elements, I found the repetitive reiteration that almost all FKT record makers/breakers she knows believe in God and are people steeped in protestant religion incredibly grating. She says that it's almost a straight-up requirement to believe in God, since you need something stronger outside of yourself to rely on. I also thought I was going to get a few chapters about her experiences and her thoughts and then we'd get chapters that were mini-biographies While this book contained some interesting elements, I found the repetitive reiteration that almost all FKT record makers/breakers she knows believe in God and are people steeped in protestant religion incredibly grating. She says that it's almost a straight-up requirement to believe in God, since you need something stronger outside of yourself to rely on. I also thought I was going to get a few chapters about her experiences and her thoughts and then we'd get chapters that were mini-biographies of different endurance athletes. Instead, all of the chapters are focused on her experience of other people. There's some information about other people, but it's mostly focused on her reactions to that information. In the end, this book focused on misogyny in sports, and not by explicitly exploring it. We watch the author struggle with impostor syndrome, struggle with this idea she's internalized that women are less capable and less able in endurance sports. She encounters intense sexism and misogyny in her mentors, and excuses it because they 'actually believe in her' despite talking complete trash to her. Towards the beginning of the book, she flirts with the idea of talking about why only cis straight white men, and sorta cis straight white women, are welcomed within the Appalachian Trail community but then doesn't follow her thoughts towards the obvious conclusion and doesn't return to the topic. Perhaps conservative women from down south would appreciate this book more than me, but as a queer person who managed to survive a childhood being raised in the conservative Christian church and loves to hike, backpacking, and trail run, I found little of value for myself in this book. It was hard to get through because I read before bed and this book kept making me incredibly angry, which made it hard to fall asleep.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Sherwin

    I was recommended to read this by regular at my job who said it was powerful, thought provoking, and inspirational. He was so right. I’ll have to let this one sit for a while. Jennifer Pharr Davis is a true endurance queen and writes a beautiful depiction of her own life failures and accomplishments and those of the other endurance athletes she’s learned from. I’m left inspired to pursue the things that bring me joy and invite in the possibility of failure. Especially in a sports world dominated I was recommended to read this by regular at my job who said it was powerful, thought provoking, and inspirational. He was so right. I’ll have to let this one sit for a while. Jennifer Pharr Davis is a true endurance queen and writes a beautiful depiction of her own life failures and accomplishments and those of the other endurance athletes she’s learned from. I’m left inspired to pursue the things that bring me joy and invite in the possibility of failure. Especially in a sports world dominated by men, JPD shares her confident take on demonstrating how women are just as capable as accomplishing great things. I’m encouraged and validated to keep pursuing my favorite athletic activities with full force without fear of the public’s gender norms. Said best by JPD herself, “In the end, we’re all just movers.” Anyone want to go backpack the PCT or Appalachian trail with me now? Some quotes to remember: “Endurance is about trusting the invisible voice you believe in, and even if nobody else does. Because there’s as good chance as not that somethings really there.” -JPD “Drink some water. Go for a run. Have an attitude adjustment and stop thinking so damn much.” -Andrew Thompson “When you try to make everyone else happy you become immobilized. When you accept that you can’t, you’re able to move forward.” -JPD “David Horton helped me understand that you don’t need to overcome your insecurities to achieve greatness and that dealing with self-consciousness is not a one time struggle, but a lifelong battle.” -JPD “Endurance is consistently telling yourself that it is going to be okay regardless of the immediate circumstances and past events.” -JPD “HYOH - Hike Your Own Hike.” -common hiker acronym

  22. 5 out of 5

    C.R. Elliott

    *I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review* Normally I wouldn't talk about my life in a book review but with Pursuit of Endurance it feels appropriate. This year has been tumultuous with big moves and work changes on the horizon. I've been reaching for this book when I've needed extra strength to take the deep breaths and keep moving forward. I'm not an athlete nor am I particularly interested in attempting any records but I found the book blurb interesting and Jennifer Ph *I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review* Normally I wouldn't talk about my life in a book review but with Pursuit of Endurance it feels appropriate. This year has been tumultuous with big moves and work changes on the horizon. I've been reaching for this book when I've needed extra strength to take the deep breaths and keep moving forward. I'm not an athlete nor am I particularly interested in attempting any records but I found the book blurb interesting and Jennifer Pharr Davis has an engaging storytelling style. At times the book had the effect of making me curious at training for a marathon or other physical feat but at others it just helped me to understand what helps people push through their own expectations of their own limitations. But, there wasn't a recklessness in the retelling. This book isn't just about endurance athletes but rather it offers lessons to anyone struggling toward their own goals. Jennifer Pharr Davis' portraits of FKT individuals paints a picture of people whose goals reside within themselves. People who have no external reason to trek over vast distances but do so because they are compelled to. In my life recently I have been struggling on a path that feels long and arduous, impossible at times but that I still feel compelled to continue upon. Reaching for Pursuit of Endurance as I wrestle with my own ephemeral goals was incredibly helpful. I recommend it highly to anyone who seeks to endure, there are wonderful lessons and stories within.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Keely

    Jennifer Pharr Davis is a hiking and endurance enthusiast, and one-time Fastest Known Time (FKT) holder for a thru hike on the Appalachian Trail. In “The Pursuit of Endurance,” she alternates accounts of her hiking experiences with profiles of other notable thru hikers and runners, including Warren Doyle, David Horton, Scott Williamson, Andrew Thompson, Heather Anderson, and Scott Jurek. She also includes chapters on the psychology and science of human endurance. I found it particularly interest Jennifer Pharr Davis is a hiking and endurance enthusiast, and one-time Fastest Known Time (FKT) holder for a thru hike on the Appalachian Trail. In “The Pursuit of Endurance,” she alternates accounts of her hiking experiences with profiles of other notable thru hikers and runners, including Warren Doyle, David Horton, Scott Williamson, Andrew Thompson, Heather Anderson, and Scott Jurek. She also includes chapters on the psychology and science of human endurance. I found it particularly interesting when she wrote about the advisability of running vs. hiking a rugged trail like the Appalachian. She hiked on all three of her thru efforts, including her FKT. Runner Scott Jurek beat that FKT a few years later—but only by three hours. By coincidence, I had just started listening to Jurek’s Appalachian Trail book “North” right as I arrived at Davis’s chapter on the tortoise vs. hare approaches. The things I most enjoyed about “The Pursuit of Endurance” were Davis’s specific perspective as a woman athlete and her ability to connect her endurance pursuits to broader things, like building community, spreading enthusiasm for nature conservation and enjoyment, living our best lives as the movers we were made to be, and also bringing the mental toughness and perspective gained in endurance sports to work, relationships, and other areas of life. I do wish she had offered more specific anecdotes and descriptions from her experiences on the AT, but other than that, I loved the book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

    The Pursuit of Endurance is an inside look at exactly what it means to be a long distance athlete. Through in depth interviews, personal experience, and guided research, Jennifer takes you through the physical pain and mental hurdles record holders overcome to accomplish their goals, both on and off the trail. Every FKT athlete brings different techniques to their hike, but one thing they all seem to agree on is that harnessing the power of endurance is crucial for reaching your long term goals. The Pursuit of Endurance is an inside look at exactly what it means to be a long distance athlete. Through in depth interviews, personal experience, and guided research, Jennifer takes you through the physical pain and mental hurdles record holders overcome to accomplish their goals, both on and off the trail. Every FKT athlete brings different techniques to their hike, but one thing they all seem to agree on is that harnessing the power of endurance is crucial for reaching your long term goals. Jennifer makes it clear that even the most prestigious FKT title holders have dealt with their fair share of failure. Their strength and resilience in spite of these hardships have made them the accomplished athletes that they are today, and should inspire us to do the same. Jennifer has filled the pages of the book with loads of advice and inspiration, making it a must-read for anyone wanting to start working at the big dreams they have up their sleeves. Her relatable and down-to-earth writing style, paired with her extensive experience make it hard to read her book and not become inspired to immediately start working towards your goals. If you're planning a thru hike, or finding the confidence to get started on any big dream you have up your sleeve, this book is a must read. It will give you the boost you need to get a jump start on training and fuel your future endeavors long after you turn the last page.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kim Kuhne

    I'll start by saying that this was better than I expected, and I expected a lot! I read Jennifer's first book, "Becoming Odyssa" a few years ago. That was much better than "Wild" for an account of long-distance hiking. "Becoming Odyssa" lead me to "Born to Run" and "Eat and Run", and finally the Backpacker article on Scott Williamson's multiple attempts to yo-yo the PCT. Pieces of all of these came up in their turn in "Pursuit of Endurance". Jennifer spent 2 years working on this book-- intervie I'll start by saying that this was better than I expected, and I expected a lot! I read Jennifer's first book, "Becoming Odyssa" a few years ago. That was much better than "Wild" for an account of long-distance hiking. "Becoming Odyssa" lead me to "Born to Run" and "Eat and Run", and finally the Backpacker article on Scott Williamson's multiple attempts to yo-yo the PCT. Pieces of all of these came up in their turn in "Pursuit of Endurance". Jennifer spent 2 years working on this book-- interviewing, researching, and hiking with the subjects as she worked her way forward from the "first" Fastest Known Times to the most recent. She was looking to find the WHY and HOW these very different people are able to persist to reach such painful goals. She succeeded in creating a book about "endurance" and pushing thru to find true self. This book is probably more meaningful to anyone that has been out hiking and pushed themselves to reach the goal on the trail. However, the accomplishments of the people interviewed here go far beyond just one hiking/running goal. To quote Jennifer "Endurance isn't a human trait; it is THE human trait. We exist only as long as we persist. and there is confounding hope and limitless possibility in our ability to rise up, change direction, and take one more step."

  26. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth McInerney

    This is the story of the few people key people who have set records hiking the Appalachian Trail. Their records are known as FKTs (Fastest Known Times), and until I read this book, I had no idea FKTs were even a thing! The author was the first female to best all of the previous female and male times, a record she held for several years. She is an excellent writer and managed to keep me fully engaged for the entire book. She discusses the history of the AT, the history of the people who have set This is the story of the few people key people who have set records hiking the Appalachian Trail. Their records are known as FKTs (Fastest Known Times), and until I read this book, I had no idea FKTs were even a thing! The author was the first female to best all of the previous female and male times, a record she held for several years. She is an excellent writer and managed to keep me fully engaged for the entire book. She discusses the history of the AT, the history of the people who have set records there, and the back stories to their lives. She also talks with experts in exercise science etc on endurance issues overall, the question of whether we are born to run or hike, and the issue of male vs female performance advantages. The book ends with some pontificating about the meaning behind these achievements. I would have preferred to simply learn the stories and come to my own conclusions about the meaning of it all. The pontificating seemed out of place mostly because the record setters themselves did not strike me as people who would ascribe any meaning or lessons to what they did, other than to say they simply did what they were compelled to do. Anyone who enjoys hiking or running, esp longer distance endeavors, will enjoy this book. It would also make for an inspiring read for someone getting ready to start any long term, seemingly insurmountable, task!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Andreas

    Jennifer is a long distance hiker and held the record for the fastest thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. In this book she explores what drives people to attempt a record breaking hike and what it takes physically and psychologically. Great stories can be found along the way and I am sure that because of Jennifer's background people were more open and willing to share their experiences with her. I didn't know most of the people she has interviewed and reading about them felt like being part of th Jennifer is a long distance hiker and held the record for the fastest thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. In this book she explores what drives people to attempt a record breaking hike and what it takes physically and psychologically. Great stories can be found along the way and I am sure that because of Jennifer's background people were more open and willing to share their experiences with her. I didn't know most of the people she has interviewed and reading about them felt like being part of their struggles and adventures. The biggest takeaway is that the journey is the reward. Without an intrinsic motivation it will be hard to finish at all, especially when reaching the point when no energy seems to be left and your mind starts playing tricks. I also enjoyed the female point of view and it's an interesting question whether women are able to endure more than men considering what they have to go through during childbirth. What the book didn't answer was how to actually prepare. At one point it was mentioned that you can't and that your body will get stronger along the way. Mental toughness is more important and should not be underestimated. 5 out of 5 stars and highly recommended if you are interested in long-distance hiking or endurance in general.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Robert Sutherland

    This book is a bit of a paradox. It's about endurance, specifically about enduring the thousands of miles of national scenic trails like the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail--but it's doing so faster than everybody else. It's a lot about outlast, but there is also an element of outpace, because the focus of the book is bio/personality sketches of people who have endured these trails from beginning to end faster than anyone else. The idea of completing a 2000 plus mile trail is an ep This book is a bit of a paradox. It's about endurance, specifically about enduring the thousands of miles of national scenic trails like the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail--but it's doing so faster than everybody else. It's a lot about outlast, but there is also an element of outpace, because the focus of the book is bio/personality sketches of people who have endured these trails from beginning to end faster than anyone else. The idea of completing a 2000 plus mile trail is an epic quest. It's the stuff of a great adventure novel. Adding a level of competition to an already great idea makes it irresistible to me. Davis was herself a one time FKT (Fastest Known Time) record holder on the AT, and knows what it takes to tackle the trail, and to do so quickly. She researched and interviewed several other record holders to understand their technique, their motivations, and how they could dig deep to get through it. The stories were entertaining, and the sidebars into psychology and physiology were interesting. Her own story of beating the record on the AT--then losing it to someone else, were handled with an objectivity and even a humility that I found surprising.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jen Heininger

    I loved this book. Very unlike her first two. Thorough and objective look at endurance athletes, mostly long trail record holders. It might not appeal to everyone but I have become a huge fan of Jennifer Pharr Davis after reading all three of her books and I so appreciate her honesty and also her pragmatism. She is also very honest about her faith but not preachy or judgmental and her books don't come across at all like "Christian lit" -- she exemplifies C.S. Lewis' quote well, “The world does n I loved this book. Very unlike her first two. Thorough and objective look at endurance athletes, mostly long trail record holders. It might not appeal to everyone but I have become a huge fan of Jennifer Pharr Davis after reading all three of her books and I so appreciate her honesty and also her pragmatism. She is also very honest about her faith but not preachy or judgmental and her books don't come across at all like "Christian lit" -- she exemplifies C.S. Lewis' quote well, “The world does not need more Christian literature. What it needs is more Christians writing good literature.” In this case it reads almost more like a history or sociology book but it is draws you in all the same. And last but not least, I loved one of her quotes in regard to environmentalism and valuing trails and the preservation of them (of course this quote can be applied to ALL THINGS). "People won't work to protect something if they don't value it; and we typically don't value something unless we experience it." Yes, and Amen.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jasmyn Barca

    I Enjoyed this book on long trail FKT history, specifically the AT. She illustrates the backgrounds of previous and current record holders with personal interviews, and is not just asking about their athletic abilities, but also about their lives and how they came to the trail. I appreciated reading about the personal details of these people. They are all so ordinarily wrapped with such extraordinary strength on the inside. I feel the potential for endurance in myself as I enjoy the outdoor hobb I Enjoyed this book on long trail FKT history, specifically the AT. She illustrates the backgrounds of previous and current record holders with personal interviews, and is not just asking about their athletic abilities, but also about their lives and how they came to the trail. I appreciated reading about the personal details of these people. They are all so ordinarily wrapped with such extraordinary strength on the inside. I feel the potential for endurance in myself as I enjoy the outdoor hobbies I love. Maybe I can see what depths I have yet to tap into. I also will look at others I see outside, normal people, maybe jogging in the neighborhood, perhaps slowly pedaling a rusty bike.. and I will be less quick to judge or critique them, because now I am aware of how much greatness could be inside them. I can see how just a few decisions could take anyone from a hobbyist to a superhero in a few years. I reccomend this to anyone who thinks they have a short life to live with little or nothing to give, because I promise J. Pharr Davis will make them feel otherwise.

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