In-Shape Book Club: Sports
No NBA . No NHL. No MLB. No NCAA. And barely an NFL. Of late, it’s hard even to find a good professional snooker or darts tournament on TV, and even ESPN.com is short on good content. If you’re crazy for sports and desperately craving it right now, here’s a list of great sports books that can help get you through the drought.
Friday Night Lights
You may have seen the TV show or movie that sprung from this true story, but the book—named by Sports Illustrated as the best football book ever--is a great read not just for football fans, but for anyone who loves gritty, real-life drama. This is the story of 1988 Permian High School Panthers football team, from Odessa, Texas. The story not only looks into the team, but the town whose identity is so wrapped up in high school football. Become a fan here.
A Season Inside: One Year in College Basketball
This book details Warriors head coach Steve Kerr’s playing days at the University of Arizona. But it’s not just about the glory of playing for a legendary coach (Lute Olson) at a top-notch program. The book also covers the tragic death of Kerr’s father, the president of American University in Beirut, who was assassinated by two gunmen. It’s a riveting and thoughtful story that sheds light on how Steve Kerr became what Olson described as “the best leader I’ve ever seen.” Dive in here.
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game
Author Michael Lewis specializes in making complex, non-fiction stories read like page-turner novels. Moneyball is one of his best. Even if you've seen the movie, the book is still an amazing read. It’s the story of how the Oakland A's used statistics to get ahead when their budget was too small to compete through pure talent. Thanks to Lewis’ writing, General Manager Billy Beane becomes one of most interesting characters in any book, be it non-fiction, fiction, or fairy tales. Get it here.
So you don’t consider horseracing a real sport? Well, you’ll be hard-pressed not to consider Seabiscuit one of America’s greatest athletes after reading this beautifully-written, inspiring story. From Sports Illustrated: “Engrossing . . . Fast-moving . . . More than just a horse’s tale, because the humans who owned, trained, and rode Seabiscuit are equally fascinating. . . . [Laura Hillenbrand] shows an extraordinary talent for describing a horse race so vividly that the reader feels like the rider.” Hop on here.
Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich
Pete Maravich was Steph Curry, Allen Iverson, Larry Byrd, and The Harlem Globetrotters all wrapped into one. San Francisco Chronicle sports columnist Bruce Jenkins says, “I once heard Maravich described as ‘basketball’s answer to Elvis: a white Southerner who sold Middle America on a black man’s game.’” A wildly inventive genius on the court, Maravich averaged 44 points per game over the course of three seasons at LSU…without the benefit of a 3-point shot. A compelling story about a once-in-a-lifetime player, without the happily-ever-after end. Pick it up here.
Don’t call it soccer. This is author Nick Hornby’s tribute to his lifelong obsession…real football, as they’d say in Great Britain. Part autobiography, part comedy, part analysis of utter insanity, Hornby’s award-winning memoir captures the fever pitch of fandom—its agony and ecstasy, its community, and its defining role in thousands of young men’s coming-of-age stories. A real joy to read, sports fan or not. Become a fan yourself here.
Born to Run
If you miss the treadmill, or are just fascinated by the abilities of the human body, this book is for you. Journalist Christopher McDougall tells the story of the Tarahumara Indians, who have honed the ability to run hundreds of miles at a time without rest or injury. In an effort to discover their secrets, he takes readers from science labs at Harvard to the broiling valleys and frozen peaks across North America--where ever-growing numbers of ultra-runners are pushing their bodies to the limit--and, finally, to a climactic race that pits America’s best ultra-runners against the tribe. This breathtaking story starts here.