Over the summer, I gave myself a challenge: read a book a week. I wasn’t doing anything particularly strenuous, other than working a small job and applying to fall internships, so the task became doable. The problem then became, what to read? It needed to be focused, so I’d get something out of what I was reading and not share the literary material of bored stay-at-home moms.
In turn, I set up a list that would do three things: educate me, entertain me, and allow me to be a better sports writer, my career of choice. From there I chose an assortment of books and found them all to be witty and clever, not only in voice and style, but in subject matter. Now, there were additions to my list, but overall, I felt each book achieved the set goals.
Here are some of my personal favorites that I think all sports fans should read:
Don’t Put Me In, Coach: My Incredible NCAA Journey from the End of the Bench to the End of the Bench by Mark Titus
First and foremost, allow me to introduce Ohio State graduate Mark Titus. The former Buckeye is an accomplished baller, winning two Big Ten titles in his career. How much did he play? Nine minutes, over the span of four seasons. Now, one might ask, where is the story? That is the story. Titus turned his exploits on the bench into an excellent blog on what it is like to get sideline splitters. The book details his life at Ohio State, his declaration for the 2009 NBA draft, and other happenings during his time as a Buckeye. In addition, an essential reading is the current Grantland writer’s attempt on humanizing his former college and AAU teammate, former #1 NBA Draft pick, Greg Oden, for the masses.
The Best American Sports Writing 2010, edited by Peter Gammons and Glenn Stout
In collecting some of that year’s (and many others, including this year’s) best sports writing, I now have a goal—make it into this book. Aside from that, the real importance of the book isn’t to catch up on big sports stories like the fall of Tiger Woods or the World Cup. Stout has collected some of the best stories about any and every sport found in the US. Pulling from magazines and newspapers, the topics range from profound biographical pieces to an analysis of Boston public schools failing their athletes.
Soccernomics, by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski
The full title is too long to be put in this post, and that should have made it off-putting. However, it is also reason enough to read it. The book answers a lot of the questions that any fan of the beautiful game would have, including “Why are the people who run soccer clubs so dumb?” “Why is the US bad?” and “Where are the most passionate fans?” At the same time, it has in-depth analysis of the footballing world on economic standards, as well as political standards. This is a book that should have been dedicated to Americans with the note “this is real football.”
Overall, these books were entertaining and worth the $33 I spent. I hope everyone will get the same amount of fun and insight that I gained from these books.