Books / Reading / Sports / World Magazine / September 2, 2015

Books that go beyond Balls and Strikes

From my 8/28 Article:

“[H]e said more important things about American values than many writers who wrote about serious subjects—so seriously that nobody could read them.”

This is how William Zinsser, in his book On Writing Well, described the work of legendary sportswriter Red Smith, whose writing went beyond mere balls and strikes to include aspects of culture, relationships, and life.

I’ve selected the following books (by no means a comprehensive list) for how their authors, like Smith, use sports to provide important insights into life:

  • Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger: This season-long look at one of West Texas’s best high school football teams and its relationship with its town is moving, maddening, and inspiring in its sheer realness.
  • The Soul of Baseball by Joe Posnanski: Buck O’Neil was a legendary Negro League baseball player and ambassador for the game. Posnanski brilliantly shares his story, the story of other lost legends, and the richness of their lives.
  • Michael Jordan: The Life by Roland Lazenby
  • The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn
  • The Miracle of Saint Anthony by Adrian Wojnarowski: Bob Hurley is a legendary high school basketball coach and in the unlikeliest of places: a dirt-poor Catholic school on the wrong side of the Hudson River. Wojnarowski reveals the challenges and triumphs of a hard-nosed, unorthodox coach and his consistently great teams.
  • I Never Had It Made by Jackie Robinson
  • The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons
  • Moneyball by Michael Lewis
  • My Losing Season by Pat Conroy: Conroy tells stories as well as any living American author, and this memoir of his time playing basketball for The Citadel is just that. It is about family, maturing, patriotism, and more.

Zinsser also said this about sportswriting: “If you want to write about America, this is one place to pitch your tent.” The same is true for reading, so dig in!

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