If you’re a woman who loves sports, I’m sure that there are a lot of things that you are tired of hearing. In this day in age, it’s surprising that people are still surprised that women could possibly like sports. Apparently once you throw a ball into the mix, women are expected to be confused, and that’s very much not fair. If you’re a sports fan who loves reading it’s even worse, because how can nerds love sports? Hasn’t anyone ever seen Mean Girls? There isn’t a table in the cafeteria for people who are both jocks and nerds at the same time.
Of course, since this is reality, of course it’s possible for people who love sports and books at the same time. In fact, some stories about the sports industry can be even more complicated and fascinating than Game of Thrones (which is saying something). Whether it’s football, baseball, or golf, there has to be a strategy, there has to be planning, and that’s when things end up getting pretty cool. If you’re a bookworm who is dying for some inside glimpses at the sports world, I’ve compiled a list of ten nonfiction books about sports. From the forbidden golf courses of modern China to the Kentucky Derby circa the late 1930’s, these books will definitely score some points with you.
1. Moneyball: The Art of Winning and Unfair Game by Michael Lewis
Billy Beane was the general manager of the Oakland A's, and found himself pretty unable to the figure out how to win when his budget was smaller than most of the other teams in the same league, until he came up with a way to get exactly the kind of team he wanted using math and statistics. In this insider account, Lewis reveals just how Beane managed to achieve it, and centers on all the fascinating characters that were there along the way. Interestingly enough, the publication of this book and the revelation of Beane's methods actually ended up evening the playing field and costing him his edge, but this read is fascinated for anyone who loves business and sports.
2. Born to Run by Christoper McDougall
The Tarahumara Indians of Mexico's deadly Copper Canyons are isolated by their treacherous terrain, but also are the gatekeepers a lost art. Generations of practice have led to a perfected technique that allows them to run hundred of miles without tiring with no pain, and with a combination of perfect health and deep serenity, this native tribe have some of the best quality of life around. Among the tribe, McDougall learns to get in touch with his inner super-athlete, sharing some secret techniques. Looking to get into running or want to perfect your already existing game? This book is for you.
3. Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger
You may be familiar with the (fictional) movie and television show of the same name, but Friday Night Lights is a nonfiction tale that centers on the Permian Panthers of Odessa, Texas, the biggest winning team in high school history. This town isn't necessarily the more glamorous town, it still struggles with racial divides, the unemployment and murder rate is a little too high for comfort, but every September to December the town lives and breathes high school football. This book centers on one high school season and how the town's rabid obsession with the sport can both destroy and inspire the teenage players. If you love yourself some football, you'll definitely love this.
4. One Shot at Forever by Chris Ballard
The year is 1971, and the Macon Ironmen are playing baseball with hand-me-down uniforms, couched by an English teacher who had never coached before. However, somehow this little team from rural Illinois managed to make it all the way to the state finals, squaring off against a powerhouse of a Chicago team in a game that would change thier lives forever. For those of you who love a good underdog story, One Shot at Forever has this in spades.
5. Orr: My Story by Bobby Orr
Bobby Orr was the greatest player to ever play hockey, and even mentioning his name would fill any hockey fan with awe. In this autobiography, Orr not only shares the story of his life, but also gives the reader an inside look into his thoughts, feelings, and even his favorite team members.
6. Open by Andre Agassi
Andre Agassi is one of the most beloved athletes in history, and one of the most gifted tennis players to step on the court. Beginning when he was just a child, Andre was sent to a tennis camp at the age of was 13, only to go pro at the age of 16, promising to change the game forever. Of course, this wasn't without struggles, including his ever mounting confusion as to his own success. In this memoir, he walks us through not only his rise to success, but also his personal relationships. For those tennis fans who would love an awesome look into the life of a professional tennis player, you'll love this.
7. Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand
Seabiscuit was more than just a horse with an awesome name, he was also the biggest sports story in history, to the point where in in 1938, this little horse that could received more news coverage than Hitler, Mussolini, and FDR. Mostly it was because his success came as a complete surprise due to the fact that he was largely considered a weird crooked leg horse with a sad sort of tail. Thanks to the efforts of three men, Seabiscuit was transformed into a failure of a horse into an American sports icon.
8. The Catcher was a Spy by Nicolas Dawidoff
Moe Berg is the only baseball player whose baseball card is a on display in the office of the CIA. Although he has a 15 year sport career playing on such teams as the New York Robins and the Chicago White Sox, he was also a spy for the OSS during World War II. Fascinating, right? This biography discusses not only his sports career, but also the epic tale of his work as a spy, refusing to accept rank and instead clinging to his civilian status and even going so far as to refuse the Medal of Freedom for his actions.
9. Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin
How important are sports to you and your family? In this memoir, Doris Kearns Goodwin tells the tale of how she grew up surrounded by the love of her family and falling in love with the concept of baseball. She walks the reader through her experiences with a sick mother at home and a father taught her how to love the Dodgers, to the heartbreak of her mother's eventual death and the moving of the Dodgers from Brooklyn to L.A. It's a study of how sports and life can intertwine and become a deep part of us.
10. The Forbidden Game by Dan Washburn
Officially, no one in China actually plays golf. It's considered a "rich man's game", but in spite of that there seems to be a bit of a boom, with hundreds of new courses opening up in spite of the fact that it's illegal to build them. Journalist Dan Washburn follows the lives of three men whose lives are influenced by the strange golf game. There's Wang, a lychee farmer whose life is upended by the fact that a giant golf complex moves in next door to his tiny village, Zhou, a peasant turned golf pro who discovered the game while working security on a golf course, and Bill, a Western business man attempting to navigate the highly political world of Chinese business while keeping an eye out for the "golf police".
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