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Find more Top 10 Sports Books
Major sports dominate the top 10 this year, but there’s also long-distance running, a book made from a very hip Web site, and a treatise on “the art of living dangerously.” Eligible titles were reviewed in Booklist from September 1, 2008, through August 2009.
Absinthe and Flamethrowers: Projects and Ruminations on the Art of Living Dangerously. By William Gurstelle. 2009. Chicago Review, paper, $16.95 (9781556528224).
No, it’s not purely a sports book, but we just couldn’t resist this offbeat guide to risk-taking from an author who believes we live in an age of the lily-livered. Want to make a batch of gunpowder, learn to crack a whip, or master the art of throwing knives? No problem.
American Icon: The Fall of Roger Clemens and the Rise of Steroids in America’s Pastime. By Teri Thompson and Nathaniel Vinton. 2009. Knopf, $26.95 (9780307271808).
Two journalists provide the full story, with detective-novel flourishes, on how baseball great Roger Clemens’ sure-thing trip to the Hall of Fame disappeared into a vat of steroids.
The Complete Game: Reflections on Baseball, Pitching, and Life on the Mound. By Ron Darling and Daniel Paisner. 2009. Knopf, $23.95 (9780307269843).
Former Mets pitcher Darling analyzes nine notable innings in his career, dissecting what pitches he threw, how the inning unfolded, and what the circumstances were behind each pitch. A unique approach and a terrific insider’s baseball book.
Four Kings: Leonard, Hagler, Hearns, Duran, and the Last Great Era of Boxing. By George Kimball. 2008. McBooks, $22.95 (9781590131626).
Boston sportswriter Kimball resurrects Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns, and Roberto Duran from the mists of memory, re-creating the nine bouts the middleweights fought against one another in the 1980s. A great boxing book.
FreeDarko Presents the Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac: Styles, Stats, and Stars in Today’s Game. 2009. Bloomsbury, $23 (9781596915619).
This is not your father’s sports book. Drawn from the Web site FreeDarko, named after NBA journeyman Darko Milicic, the volume combines quirky, spot-on player profiles and comics-style art into a one-of-a-kind presentation.
Hard Driving: The Wendell Scott Story; The American Odyssey of NASCAR’s First Black Driver. By Brian Donovan. 2008. Steerforth, $25.95 (9781586421441).
This fascinating biography of the first African American NASCAR driver tells the story of a man who not only crossed one of sports’ most unapproachable color lines but, unlike Jackie Robinson, did so in the deep South and without a team behind him.
A Race like No Other: 26.2 Miles through the Streets of New York. By Liz Robbins. 2008. HarperCollins, $24.95 (9780061373138).
Robbins offers a vivid, winning portrait of the New York City Marathon, now the world’s largest. Focusing on the 2007 race, she follows the runners mile by mile, supplying context every step of the way.
Six Good Innings: How One Small Town Became a Little League Giant. By Mark Kreidler. 2008. Harper, $25.95 (9780061473579).
In this in-depth examination of an off-the-beaten-path sports story, Kreidler follows the Toms River, New Jersey, baseball team’s quest for the 2007 Little League Championship. A feel-good saga of youth sports at their best.
Strokes of Genius: Federer, Nadal, and the Greatest Match Ever Played. By L. Jon Wertheim. 2009. Houghton, $24 (9780547232805).
Wertheim’s compelling account of the five-set 2008 Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal captures a classic sports rivalry in its prime.
Yogi Berra: Eternal Yankee. By Allen Barra. 2009. Norton, $29.95 (9780393062335).
Yogi Berra is a genuine sports icon, and this engaging biography captures the whole man, from on-field triumphs to the story of how a young boy from “Dago Hill” in St. Louis came to be enshrined in Yankee Stadium.
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