Summer reading is here! This year’s overall theme of Wellness, Fitness, and Sports not only lends itself to some pretty cool handmade signage, as displayed throughout the building (I have some seriously talented coworkers), and creative programming (check our newsletter for all the details), but it also reminds us of the many books and films related to this topic that would make worthy additions to our Summer Reading Lists. Keep reading for some sports-related book recommendations and check back in next time to read about our favorite sports films.
The high-stakes of athleticism serves as a great foundation for compelling fictional and nonfictional stories. In fact, some of the most popular and well-reviewed releases in recent years center around America’s favorite pastimes. These stories can even come from the unlikeliest of sources. For example, I was surprised to see that John Grisham–usually known as a master of legal thrillers–has a repertoire of sports novels, including Bleachers (football), Calico Joe (baseball), and Playing for Pizza (football). A recent standout in this genre was The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, which was one of the most lauded books of 2011. I just picked this one up and am looking forward to seeing if it lives up to the hype; I’m told it’s a sprawling story about what happens to the lives of several individuals after a college baseball player’s throw goes off course. Speaking of baseball, there are two classics that any sports-loving bookworm should consider: The Natural by Bernard Malamud and Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella, both of which were adapted into successful films. (If you’re having trouble remembering the film version of Shoeless Joe, this should jog your memory: “If you build it, he will come”).
Across the pond, the big sport isn’t baseball, but football–albeit, not football as we know it. In the U.K., “football” is what we know as soccer, and it is HUGE. British writer Nick Hornby penned the memoir Fever Pitch about his lifelong obsession with the sport. Other popular nonfiction titles for sports lovers include: The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game and Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game (both written by Michael Lewis and both adapted into Academy Award nominated films); Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream by H.G. Bissinger (also adapted into a film and television series); Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series by Eliot Asinof (another film adaption!); The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown; Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand (yet another film adaptation!); and Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales.
Younger readers should get to know the name Mike Lupica. This sports columnist has written hits like The Batboy, Fantasy League, Heat, and QB 1, among many others. Tangerine by Edward Bloor is another sports-related book known for its uplifting message: When a middle school outcast, new to the town of Tangerine County, Florida, joins the soccer team, he gains a better understanding of his community, his family, and himself. Another popular series is the Baseball Card Adventures by Dan Gutman, which mixes sports nostalgia with time traveling adventure. You’re never too young to get a kick out of a sports story (obligatory pun alert!), and there are plenty of picture books that celebrate sports in nearly every form. Examples of books that can be found in the Children’s Room include: Snowboard Twist (Jean Craighead George), Smarty Marty’s Got Game (Amy Gutierrez), Winners Never Quit (Mia Hamm), She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story (Audrey Vernick), and Karate Hour (Carol Nevius).
If you want an idea of how I found the books mentioned above, see below for a list of the resources I used:
Top 15 Greatest Sports Books Ever Written (written by William Johnston and published on the website The Sportster)
Goodreads Popular Sports Fiction
Goodreads Popular Nonfiction Sports Books
Really, the greatest resource at your disposal is the knowledge of our librarians. Do not hesitate to call or drop in for more recommendations. Additionally, the Teen and Children’s sections of our website include links to reading lists. Finally, as I’ve said on many occasions, Novelist is an excellent database for reading suggestions, and it is available in-house or from home for Levittown patrons.