Honor roll: Sports books

Each of these Sports books has received at least one award nomination. They are ranked by honors received.

Book:Brittle Innings

Brittle Innings

Michael Bishop

For seventeen-year-old Danny Boles, a 5’5” shortstop out of Tenkiller, Oklahoma, the summer of 1943 would be a season to remember. The country’s at war, and professional baseball needs able-bodied men. Danny’s headed for Highbridge, Georgia—home of the Goober Pride peanut butter factory and the Highbridge Hellbenders, a Class C farm club in the Chattahoochee Valley League. He’s a scrappy player with one minor quirk: a violent encounter on the train to Georgia has rendered him mute, his vocal cords tied up in knots.

Danny’s idiosyncrasy, however, is nothing compared to that of his new Hellbender roommate, an erudite seven-foot giant by the name of Jumbo Hank Clerval. With his yellow eyes, strangely scarred face, and sausage-sized fingers, Hank seems to have been put together in a meat-packing plant. But he plays a mean first base and can hit the ball a mile. With the Hellbenders in a pennant…[more]

Book:Into Thin Air

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster

Jon Krakauer

When Jon Krakauer reached the summit of Mt. Everest in the early afternoon of May 10,1996, he hadn’t slept in fifty-seven hours and was reeling from the brain-altering effects of oxygen depletion. As he turned to begin the perilous descent from 29,028 feet (roughly the cruising altitude of an Airbus jetliner), twenty other climbers were still pushing doggedly to the top, unaware that the sky had begun to roil with clouds…

Into Thin Air is the definitive account of the deadliest season in the history of Everest by the acclaimed Outside journalist and author of the bestselling Into the Wild. Taking the reader step by step from Katmandu to the mountain’s deadly pinnacle, Krakauer has his readers shaking on the edge of their seat. Beyond the terrors of this account, however, he also peers deeply into the myth of the world’s tallest mountain. What is is about Everest that has compelled so many poeple—including himself—to…[more]

Book:Come to Grief

Come to Grief

Dick Francis

Although more than a decade has passed since the publication of Whip Hand, little time has elapsed in Sid Halley’s life. Still in his mid-thirties, he remains troubled, courageous, unwilling to admit defeat to disabling injury or to corruption. Now, though, Sid faces nineties’ dilemmas, dangers, and deeply demanding decisions.

Having exposed an adored racing figure as a monster, Sid must testify at the man’s trial. But the morning of his appearance, a tragic suicide shatters the proceedings and jars Halley’s conscience. Plagued by regret and the suspicion that there’s more to the death than has yet come to light, he is catapulted into days of hard, rational detection, heart-searching torments, and the gravest of perils. Business as usual for Sid…

Book:Ballad of the Whiskey Robber

Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts

Julian Rubinstein

Elmore Leonard meets Franz Kafka in the wild, improbably true story of the legendary outlaw of Budapest.

Attila Ambrus was a gentleman thief, a sort of Cary Grant—if only Grant came from Transylvania, was a terrible professional hockey goalkeeper, and preferred women in leopard-skin hot pants. During the 1990s, while playing for the biggest hockey team in Budapest, Ambrus took up bank robbery to make ends meet. Arrayed against him was perhaps the most incompetent team of crime investigators the Eastern Bloc had ever seen: a robbery chief who had learned how to be a detective by watching dubbed Columbo episodes; a forensics man who wore top hat and tails on the job; and a driver so inept he was known only by a Hungarian word that translates to Mound of Ass-Head.

Ballad of the Whiskey Robber is the completely bizarre and hysterical story of the crime spree that made a nobody…[more]

Book:Swimming Studies

Swimming Studies

Leanne Shapton

Swimming Studies is a brilliantly original, meditative memoir that explores the worlds of competitive and recreational swimming.

From her training for the Olympic trials as a teenager to enjoying pools and beaches around the world as an adult, Leanne Shapton offers a fascinating glimpse into the private, often solitary, realm of swimming. Her spare and elegant writing reveals an intimate narrative of suburban adolescence, spent underwater in a discipline that continues to inspire Shapton’s work as an artist and author. Her illustrations throughout the book offer an intuitive perspective on the landscapes and imagery of the sport. Shapton’s emphasis is on the smaller moments of athletic pursuit rather than its triumphs.

For the accomplished athlete, aspiring amateur, or habitual practicer, this remarkable work of written and visual sketches propels the reader through a beautifully personal and universally appealing exercise in reflection.

Book:Scoreboard, Baby: A Story of College Football, Crime, and Complicity

Scoreboard, Baby: A Story of College Football, Crime, and Complicity

Ken Armstrong, Nick Perry

The adjectives associated with the University of Washington’s 2000 football season—mystical, magical, miraculous—changed when Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry’s four-part exposé of the 2000 Huskies hit the newspaper stands: “explosive…chilling” (Sports Illustrated), “blistering” (Baltimore Sun), “shocking…appalling” (Tacoma News Tribune), “astounding” (ESPN), “jaw-dropping” (Orlando Sentinel).

Now, in Scoreboard, Baby, Armstrong and Perry go behind the scenes of the Huskies’ Cinderella story to reveal a timeless morality tale about the price of obsession, the creep of fanaticism, and the ways in which a community can lose even when its team wins. The authors unearth the true story from firsthand interviews and thousands of pages of documents: the forensic report on a bloody fingerprint; the notes of a detective investigating allegations of rape; confidential memoranda of prosecutors;…[more]

Book:Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption

Laura Hillenbrand

On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood.  Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared.  It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.  So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini.  In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails.  As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile.  But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the…[more]

Book:The Culture of Bruising

The Culture of Bruising: Essays on Prizefighting, Literature, and Modern American Culture

Gerald Early

The Culture of Bruising is a collection of essays on race and culture. The sport of boxing is at the heart of the book because the author regards it as a metaphor for the way a culture can bruise the individual. Topics covered discussed in the pieces include multiculturalism, baseball, Malcolm X, and Black History Month.

Book:Arctic Dreams

Arctic Dreams: Imagination And Desire In A Northern Landscape

Barry Lopez

Barry Lopez has been hailed as a “master nature writer” by The New York Times Book Review, and Arctic Dreams is undoubtedly his masterwork.

Set amidst the shimmering seas of Northern ice, Arctic Dreams leads readers on a journey of the mind and heart into a place that grips the imagination and invigorates the soul. Part adventure tale and part meditation on the art of exploration, this magical book dazzles with the wonder of the aurora borealis; the awesome power of polar bears and killer whales; the monumental grandeur of migrating icebergs; and the beauty and nobility of the Arctic’s indigenous people.

Evocative and everlasting, Arctic Dreams is a classic.

Book:Migrants, Sharecroppers, Mountaineers

Migrants, Sharecroppers, Mountaineers: Volume 2 of Children of Crisis

Robert Coles

Since the late 1950’s, Robert Coles has been studying, living with, and, above all, listening to the American poor. The result is one of the most vigorous and searching social studies ever undertaken by one man in the United States. Migrants, Sharecroppers, Mountaineers is the second volume in Dr. Coles’s award-winning series, Children of Crisis. In it, he listens to three groups: the migrant workers who travel the eastern coast of this country, picking crops day after day; the sharecroppers and tenant farmers who live on isolated southern plantations, just as their ancestors did as slaves; and the mountaineers of Appalachia, whose only choice lies between coal mining and starvation.

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