Friday, May 27, 2011

That's Sporting! volume I

Looking for adventure, excitement, inspiration, and controversy? Check out the world of sports literature and film. From biographies of larger than life figures to chronicles of sports’s greatest moments, sports-related books and movies feature some of the most amazing stories you’ll ever encounter.

Here are several of my favorites books:

The Bambino had an enormous appetite for baseball, food, being a celebrity, alcohol, women, and life, which means that he makes for a fascinating biography. As a former senior writer for Sports Illustrated, Montville’s engrossing writing is well-matched for such an icon, warts and all.

Coming Back Stronger by Drew Brees:
I can’t discuss sports without mentioning my New Orleans Saints! Drew Brees’s account of overcoming his potentially career-ending injury and playing for the Saints during the first post-Katrina season is inspirational and heartfelt.

Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team, And a Dream by H.G. Bissinger:
The critically acclaimed (and recently cancelled) television show of the same name was inspired by this chronicle of a high school football team in a depressed Texas town. Like many Texas football championship teams, the football team is the center of the town’s social life on Friday evenings. Bissinger’s portrayal of the team and the town are engaging and unforgettable.

Hate Mail From Cheerleaders by Rich Reilly:
Although Rick Reilly occasionally wrote about sports stars in his popular Sports Illustrated column, his best columns were often about everyday people in the sports world with inspirational stories—from unlikely teenage champions to those behind the scenes. At times incensed, at times uplifting, and at all times thoughtful or funny (and sometimes both), Hate Mail From Cheerleaders is a prime example of excellence in sports journalism; compelling storytelling that even non sports fans can enjoy.

As an ice skating and gymnastics fan, Little Girls in Pretty Boxes troubled and saddened me. Joan Ryan reveals the occasionally desperate and dangerous methods young skaters and gymnasts will take to reach the top. This was controversial in the skating and gymnastics worlds when it was first published in 2000.

While Lou Gehrig wasn’t initially as popular as the more gregarious Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio, his solid and steady prowess coupled with his public dignity in the face of an incurable disease have endeared him to generations of fans. It would have been easy to idolize Gehrig at the expense of forgetting that he was human; Jonathan Eig presents a fully-fleshed portrait of the great player struck down entirely too soon in his career.

Clarke knows NASCAR like the back of her hand; her extensive knowledge and working relationships with NASCAR drivers informed the Washington Post sports journalist’s fascinating look at the sport’s rise to fame.

Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed the World by David Maraniss:
Why were the 1960 Olympics so world-changing? They were the first televised Olympics. The Cold War was heating up, with American and Soviet athletes competing for more than just medals. The first doping scandal happened in the 1960 Olympics. And viewers witnessed Cassius Clay (later Mohammad Ali) and Wilma Rudolph reigning victorious in their events. You won’t be able to put this one down; gripping storytelling.

For more sports-related nonfiction books, check out the 796-799 section, which also includes many how-to manuals.  And tune in next week to catch a glimpse of some great sports movies from the library!

Jennifer @ Warrenton

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