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Find more Top 10 Sports Books
We really can’t help it if many of our best sportswriters choose to write about major sports. Yes, baseball and basketball claim half the spots on this year’s top 10, but there’s also soccer, surfing, golf, sports in the classical world, and even hunting by a “girl.” Great sportswriting comes in many forms, and we do our best to keep our eyes on the balls, the waves, the bullets, and whatever else comes our way.
The Art of Fielding. By Chad Harbach. 2011. Little, Brown, $24.99 (9780316126694).
A novel wriggles its way into this year’s sports top 10, and what a novel it is. Harbach plumbs the psyches of his characters with remarkable psychological acuity and manages to tell a hell of a baseball story, too.
Chasing Dean: Surfing America’s Hurricane States. By Tom Anderson. 2011. IPG/Summersdale, paper, $12.95 (9781840247411).
Welshman Anderson and his buddy, physicist Marc Rhys, set out in search of some really big waves during hurricane season in the U.S. Even if you’re not a surfer, it’s absolutely impossible not to get caught up in this book’s wacky spirit of adventure.
Dream Team. By Jack McCallum. 2012. Ballantine, $28 (9780345520487).
Michael, Magic, Bird, Barkley, Malone—no wonder they call the 1992 U.S. Olympic basketball team the greatest team ever. McCallum remembers what they did, how they did it, and why we loved it.
Fenway 1912. By Glenn Stout. 2011. Houghton, $26 (9780547195629).
Stout reprises Fenway Park’s first year, culminating with the dramatic story of the Red Sox’s victory over the New York Giants in the 1912 World Series. Fine baseball history imbued with a unique vibrancy and a razor-sharp intelligence.
Girl Hunter: Revolutionizing the Way We Eat, One Hunt at a Time. By Georgia Pellegrini. 2012. Da Capo/Lifelong, $24 (9780738214665).
Foodie blogger Pellegrini has crafted a memoir rich both in her hunting experiences and ruminations on what it means to kill what you eat. Without romanticizing, she digs deep into a level of Americana that few have captured on the page.
The Longest Shot: Jack Fleck, Ben Hogan, and Pro Golf’s Greatest Upset at the 1955 U.S. Open. By Neil Sagebiel. 2012. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne, $25.99 (9780312661847).
The story of unheralded Jack Fleck’s triumph over the great Ben Hogan in the 1955 U.S. Open golf championship is one of sport’s greatest upset stories, and Sagebiel tells it superbly, wringing every ounce of poignancy and drama out of the action.
Over Time. By Frank Deford. 2012. Atlantic Monthly, $25 (9780802120151).
Deford has reported on sports for 50 years, and in this memoir of a life on the beat, he drives home the point that it’s the players, not the scriveners, who matter. Put this one of the shelf alongside similar memoirs by Roger Kahn and Robert Lispsyte.
This Love Is Not for Cowards. By Robert Andrew Powell. 2012. Bloomsbury, $25 (9781608197163).
Powell’s account of the Ciudad Juárez Indios’ horrendous 2009–10 season is about much more than soccer. It provides an eye-opening and unforgettable portrait of a part of the world that, for all its notoriety, is effectively invisible.
The Victor’s Crown: A History of Ancient Sport from Homer to Byzantium.
By David Potter. 2011. Oxford, $24.95 (9780199842759).
To understand the modern world’s obsession with sports, Potter investigates the comparable obsession permeating ancient Greece and Rome. Sports scholarship of the highest order—and written to engage today’s thinking fans.
When the Garden Was Eden: Clyde, the Captain, Dollar Bill, and the Glory Days of the New York Knicks. By Harvey Araton. 2011. Harper, $26.99 (9780061956232).
Araton revisits those magical years in the early 1970s when the New York Knicks won two NBA championships by playing basketball at its very best: five players working as one, sharing the glory and achieving the ultimate success.
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