Maybe its because there is such great longform writing being done online this year, but it seemed like the book business was more about facts and figures this year than it was about good storytelling. There were some great book reads this year we came across, and these were from the books we read, not ones we didn’t, but here are some of the ones we enjoyed the most. By the way if you want a good lost of stories to read, also check out Richard Deitsch’s year-end list at Si.com. Happy New Year to all.
Moehringer, is a Pulitzer Prize–winning feature writer and the author of The Tender Bar, and he selected the best in sports writing from the past year. Chosen from more than 350 national, regional, and specialty publications and, increasingly, the top sports blogs, this collection showcases those journalists who are at the top of their game. A great addendum to all the long-form writing that has sprung up again in the digital space.
Crew is still a big deal in select colleges, but there was a time when rowing…like horse racing and boxing…where kings of the sports world. “The Boys in the Boat,” tells the stunning story of the 1936 U.S. Olympic men’s rowing team, a squad of eight young men from the University of Washington who bested the Germans to clinch gold in Berlin, defying Hitler on his home turf.
Will the guy ever stop pitching? It looks like it’s true but Jamie Moyer’s career, especially his later years, was certainly an epic study of body over mind. A true left-handed free spirit, the book is a great tale of re-invention for those looking to find a new way to get started in life, especially in your ‘40’s. A fun and easy baseball read.
Another example of learning more when you finish than what you knew when you started. Author Mark Ribowski goes into great detail to tell the story of Tom Landry before he built “America’s Team,” and then fills us in on all the rogue characters he helped make into stars during a Hall of Fame career in Dallas. The book got great exposure because of the revelations that Landry was banned from games by new owner Jerry Jones, but the best stories are of his time in New York, and his work with players like Hollywood Henderson and others.
One of our favorite writers, Rushin tells the stories of how the jockstrap and a number of other objects that are associated with baseball came to be. It is a fun read chock full of useless but interesting facts.
Hoops fans know the story of Earl Monroe in New York; what they don’t know enough of is his time in Baltimore, his brushes with the KKK and what it was like growing up in the turbulent world of 1950’s Philadelphia. All that is highlighted in Monroe’s story, a very detailed look at the NBA before it became showtime.
Again we learn just a little bit more about the Coach and his players with a good look back over the 11 NBA Championships and how they came to be. Talk about Michael Jordan is fine, learning more about assistant coached Tex Winter and Bill Bertka and how they helped build championship culture is better.
How did football fact and fiction come to be through science. These two authors take a look at all the details of how football magic and myths came to be, with the help of the logic of Sir. Isaac Newton and lots of others from the world of science
There were many books this year about the underside of college and professional sports, but we enjoyed Kristi Dosh’s relatively short and easy to read look at how college football works as a business the best. The book looks at the positives and the negatives of what has been created in NCAA play today, and provides those interested with a good primer and who wins and who loses not just now but into the future in this fast-growing side of sports business.
I love “insiders” books, where we learn something about a life we thought we already knew. Nate Jackson brings us lots of details; from scouting combines to game-day routines, and the drudgery and rituals not of a superstar but of an everyday player with real life goals, desperation and aspirations.
Love him or hate him, Mike Tyson is always interesting, and hos personality and controversy is what heavyweight boxing is missing these days. The man pulls no punches in talking about life, abuse, mental torture and all things that make him unique; a great compliment to his brutally honest one man show as well.