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February 15, 2018 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 Sports Nonfiction
Continuing a trend begun last year, 6 of our top 10 sports nonfiction titles concern sports without balls. Clearly, the so-called major sports no longer have an exclusive hold on our passions. Titles below were reviewed between September 1, 2015, and August 2016. —Bill Ott
Baseball Whisperer: A Small-Town Coach Who Shaped Big League Dreams. By Michael Tackett. 2016. HMH, $26 (9780544387645).
In chronicling the life of Merl Eberly, the coach of a semipro team in Clarinda, Iowa, who possessed a rare ability to nurture young talent, Tackett reminds readers of just how close baseball lies to the nation’s heart.
Blood Brothers. By Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith. 2016. Basic, $29.95 (9780465079704).
Two sports historians delve deeply into the close bond between Malcolm X and the young boxer then called Cassius Clay. Told with anecdotal panache and analytical insight.
The Boy Who Runs: The Odyssey of Julius Achon. By John Brant. 2016. Ballantine, $27 (9780553392159).
Ugandan Julius Achon was impressed into the Lord’s Resistance Army at age 12 but escaped to become an Olympic distance runner and, eventually, the founder of the Achon Uganda Children’s Fund. A powerful account of this remarkable transformation of soldier to humanitarian.
Find a Way: One Wild and Precious Life. By Diana Nyad. 2015. Knopf, $26.95 (9780385353618).
Nyad tells the amazing story of her remarkable feats in open-water swimming (Cuba to Florida in 53 hours at age 64!) in the context of overcoming a harrowing childhood of abuse and family dysfunction.
Hope: A School, a Team, a Dream. By Bill Reynolds. 2016. St. Martin’s, $26.99 (9781250080691).
In spending a season following the Hope High School basketball team in Providence, Rhode Island, Reynolds not only digs deeply into the lives of the players and their coach but also offers a candid look at the problems of inner-city schools.
Lift: Fitness Culture from Naked Greeks and Acrobats to Jazzercise and Ninja Warriors. By Daniel Kunitz. 2016. HarperWave, $26.99 (9790062336187).
This accessible and remarkably insightful cultural history of fitness will appeal to anyone who has ever set foot in a gym or laced up running shoes while wondering, “Why am I doing this?”
Pitch by Pitch. By Bob Gibson and Lonnie Wheeler. 2015. Flatiron, $26.99 (9781250061041).
Outspoken Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson recounts every pitch of the landmark first game of the 1968 World Series, when he struck out a record 17 hitters. A wonderful slice of baseball history.
Run the World: My 3,500-Mile Journey through Running Cultures around the Globe. By Becky Wade. 2016. Morrow, $15.99 (9780062416438).
All-American distance runner Wade took a gap year like no other: running 3,500 miles across nine countries. This engagingly written account is as much about multicultural richness as it is about running.
When long-distance swimmer Cox was diagnosed with a heart condition, she was forced to adapt to a very different kind of life. Whether she is describing swimming between Argentina and Chile or trying to walk from her car to a restaurant, she writes movingly about testing physical limits.
Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America. By Diane Roberts. 2015. Harper, $25.99 (9780062342621).
Roberts, a professor at Florida State, writes perceptively about her love-hate relationship with college football, deploring the uglier aspects of the sport yet still drawn to her beloved Seminoles.
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