Around the office we talk a lot about what we’re reading—and I don’t think that’s just because we’re editors and writers. For so many of us, reading is a true form of self-care. At various points in my life, plowing through a book has even felt like medicine: I can’t count how many times I got through anxious weeks or months by escaping in a good story.
As I’ve gotten older and become more curious, reading has also become a way for me to challenge my beliefs, expand my awareness, and simply live well. I’m always looking to work on myself and suck all there is out of life. (And, whenever possible, make life feel a teensy bit easier.)
If you’re still reading this, I’m betting you feel the same. So I’m pleased to introduce the SELF Well-Read Book Club! Each month we’ll announce a new pick that we’ll read right alongside you and hundreds of other SELF readers. The books we read will span a range of topics—from mental health and self-help to fitness, relationships, and healthy living. By staying in the loop, you’ll get access to SELF content that complements our pick of the month, intimate Instagram Live chats with the author, exclusive excerpts, and more.
So let’s jump right in! Our November Well-Read Book Club pick is—drumroll please—Running While Black: Finding Freedom in a Sport That Wasn’t Built for Us, by athlete, activist, and mental health advocate Alison Désir. Running While Black—which comes out today—is part memoir, part cultural critique, and part call to action: Désir shares her own story of becoming a Black distance runner in an unwelcoming white space while taking her readers through gut-wrenching accounts of what it means to be both Black and a runner at large, from national news stories like that of Ahmaud Arbery to troubling encounters and experiences she’s had throughout her life. The stories (and histories) Désir weaves together are captivating, eye-opening, and often even uncomfortable in their raw honesty and personal perspective. That’s all to say: This story is important, and we can’t wait to read it all together.
By the way, you may be familiar with some of Désir’s work already: She founded Harlem Run and Run 4 All Women. In 2017, she ran from New York City to Washington, DC, to raise money for Planned Parenthood. We also honored her in our 2017 SELF Healthy Living Awards. And on top of it all, Désir remains a leading expert and coach in the sport, incorporating her knowledge of running and that of mental health care (Désir has a master of education in counseling psychology) to change how all of us can work to make the sport a healing space for everyone.
So what now? First, buy the book here or here. Then, mark your calendars—we’ll be doing an Instagram Live Q&A with author Alison Désir on Wednesday, November 16 at 11 a.m. EST at @selfmagazine. If you’re curious to get a taste of what this month’s pick is all about, read an exclusive excerpt from the book here. And for related reading from SELF on the subject of race and fitness, see below.
Welcome to the Club—it’s so good to finally be here!