View Full Version : Best Sports Related Books

01-30-2008, 08:19 AM
One guy's opinion (from the weekly magazine "The Week"). Some of these sound pretty intriguing:

Best books … chosen by Will Leitch

Sunday Money, Jeff MacGregor (Harper Perennial, $15) I don't quite understand NASCAR. Neither does MacGregor, which makes his fresh-eyed look at the culture of watching cars drive around in circles for three hours so riveting. I'm just as scared of NASCAR as I was before, but now I understand why.

To Hate Like This Is to Be Happy Forever, Will Blythe (Harper, $15) Nineteenth-century essayist William Hazlitt wrote that, "Love turns, with a little indulgence, to indifference or disgust: Hatred alone is immortal." Blythe's target of hatred is Duke basketball; his obsession is so contagious that you'll be able to insert your own.

Beyond the Game, by Gary Smith (Grove, $13.50) Sports Illustrated's Smith might be the greatest living sportswriter. He recognizes that the true, throbbing pulse of sports is not found in its games but in its participants. The stories in this collection are a reminder that our athletes are human beings, even when they are surpassing the bounds of human achievement.

Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, Warren St. John (Three Rivers, $13) An obsessed Alabama football fan conjures the terrifyingly intense world of Southeastern Conference college football in such detail, you'll never hum "Rocky Top" the same way again. St. John has a light, humorous touch that makes sure the satire never slips into malice.

Semi-Tough, Dan Jenkins (Thunder's Mouth Press, $16) Forget the
Burt Reynolds–Kris Kristofferson movie. The original 1977 book, by the guy who also wrote Dead Solid Perfect and Baja Oklahoma, tells a potty-mouthed story of a sex-drenched 1970s football team, and it's hilarious even if you can't tell the difference between a holding penalty and a body slam. If you have trouble getting past the football, just imagine that all the teammates are actually people who work in your office.

A Fan's Notes, Frederick Exley (Vintage, $15) About as dark a sports book as one could imagine, this classic novel is about a troubled, disturbed man whose deep infatuation with Giants quarterback Frank Gifford would make even Kathie Lee step aside. I can only dream of writing something even half as gorgeous as this book.

01-30-2008, 09:46 AM
I have read and enjoyed a couple of those books. Did you read Grisham's new booK "Playing for Pizza", its a fun quick read, I recommended it earlier.

01-30-2008, 05:06 PM

I have mentioned it before, but it is worth repeating....Jerry Tarkanian's autobiography called "Runnin' Rebel: Shark Tales of Extra Benefits, Frank Sinatra and Winning It All" is an absolute must read for any college basketball fan. In addition to being one of the most hilarious books I have ever read (the recruiting stories are priceless), it's also one of the most informative. Lots of talk about infamous UCLA booster Sam Gilbert, and what he did during the Wooden era. The NCAA stories are just incredible...how student workers were hired to follow UNLV players in an effort to catch them commiting a major violation, to the NCAA sticking the Fresno State basketball program with an academic fraud charge for 2 players who received "extra help" from outside the program for term papers they wrote well after their basketball eligibility had expired. Tark, of course, ended up winning a 2.5 million dollar lawsuit against the NCAA for harassment. His fight against the system and speaking out for the little guy (the NCAA was notorious in the late 60's and early 70's for putting small schools on probation for meaningless transgressions when the big schools had boosters paying players left and right) led to a lot of NCAA reforms in how they conduct investigations and such in the modern era.

01-30-2008, 05:27 PM
A Season on the Brink is good, but that's like saying it rains in Seattle...

Just got (as a present) Let Me Tell You A Story, also by Feinstein (about Red Auerbach) - haven't read it yet. Anyone read it?

read a few year ago and enjoyed this: Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made by David Halberstam

01-30-2008, 07:05 PM
One of my favorites was written by William Nack, a long time contributor to Sports Illustrated, who covered the horses, boxing, and other sports.

My Turf: Horses, Boxers, Blood Money, and the Sporting Life

His treatment on the passing of Secretariat, "Pure Heart," is one of the most moving pieces of journalism I've ever read. And Nack knew his horses: at an office Christmas party in 1971, he was able to recite the names-- in order--of all the Kentucky Derby winners from 1875 to the then-present.

My Turf is a compilation of stories previously published in SI, GQ, and other publications.

01-31-2008, 11:12 PM

Great book.

btw, this thread could be added to the Crosby forum also.

01-31-2008, 11:33 PM

Includes Tom Wolfe, Red Smith, Dick Young, Ira Berkow, Jimmy Cannon, Mike Royko, Dick Schaap, and others. . .

01-31-2008, 11:56 PM

A terrific book. . .one of the best-written sports related books I've ever read.
When it was published in 1999, it received great critical reviews as much for the history of the era -- 1960 -1965 -- as for the depiction of Ali's rise, Sonny Liston's fall, and the fading career of Floyd Patterson.

This, along with Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand, is in my Top 5 favorite sports-related reads. . .

Angelo Roncalli
02-01-2008, 10:22 AM
I've always liked the Sports Book at Caesar's Palace.

02-01-2008, 10:32 AM
Although both books are novels, Wil Mara shows a real knowledge and understanding of the day to day operations of an NFL franchise and all the dirty tricks involved in signing and keeping players.
If you are a fan of the game, then the Draft is one book you absolutely must read. -Peter Golenbock, author of Landrys Boys. HBZ has read "The Draft" and is now reading "The Cut", Mara's second book, it is an excellent read, maybe even better than the other.

02-01-2008, 11:34 AM
Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer is great... and it is funny how much you see of yourself in the descriptions of people's fan-dom. I highly recommend it--it is laugh out loud funny.

02-01-2008, 02:41 PM
I've always liked the Sports Book at Caesar's Palace.

That sportsbook resembles a Star Trek set, IIRC.

Northern NV has a few good ones; the Grand Sierra Resort and the Peppermill are pretty good.