View Full Version : Best books about sport

05-10-2013, 05:55 PM
I have a friend who isn't much of a reader, but he loves his sport(s). He was asking me for book recommendations, and I thought I'd ask for the wisdom on here, too. These are my personal picks, non-fiction and fiction, and reflect my personal biases (I'm a boxing and cricket fan mainly, I'd be interested to hear about any good books about North American sports, baseball etc).

Dark Trade: Lost in Boxing, Donald McRae. IMO, the best book about sport ever written. Mr McRae is a sports journalist, and this is a book about his fascinating encounters with various boxers in the 90s (Tyson, James Toney etc), and his love/hate relationship with the sport.

Full Time, Tony Cascarino. An extraordinary autobiography for a footballer. Full of remorse, self-doubt and honesty, and almost totally devoid of self-congratulation.

A Lot of Hard Yakka: A county cricketer's life, Simon Hughes. Had me laughing out loud more than once.

The Killings of Stanley Ketchel, James Carlos Blake. A novelisation of the life of a great middleweight in the early 1900s, which is more an outlaw novel than a boxing bio.

The Damned United, David Pearce. An interesting and amusing fictionalised account of Brian Clough's brief time as manager of Leeds United.

Two Ton: One fight, one night. Joseph Monniger. The true story of an overweight, balding bartender who fought the greatest heavyweight of all time at his peak (Joe Louis, a personal hero of mine), and even managed to knock him down.

Joe Louis: Hard times man. Randy Roberts. A bio of Joe Louis. I could go on at great length about the greatness of Joe Louis both as a man and a fighter, but I won't.

Geoff Boycott: A cricketing hero, Leo McKinstry. A man who was seemingly almost as unpopular off the cricket pitch as he was masterful on it. The gruffest of the gruff no-nonsense yorkshiremen.

Ghosts of Manila, Mark Kram. The story of the feud between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, by a man who witnessed it first hand. Fascinating, in that it doesn't automatically present Ali as a saint who is above criticism (Kram even compares Ali to Chancey Gardiner in 'Being There' - a simpleton whose gnomic statements are taken for wisdom). And the author's name is a palindrome, which is pretty cool.

The Last Great Fight, Joe Layden. The greatest upset in sporting history - the indestructible Mike Tyson is beaten up by 42-1 underdog journeyman Buster Douglas. It was considered such a foregone conclusion before the fight, that only one casino in Las Vegas was even allowing bets on it, and Tyson's cornermen hadn't even bothered to bring basic equipment to the ring, so convinced were they that Tyson would blast Douglas away immediately.

The Harder they Fall. Budd Schulberg. A novel about a boxing swindle - a huge Argentinean, who can't fight, is greased to the top. A gloriously grubby story about wise-guys and hard heads. Schulberg is probably most famous for writing the Marlon Brando movie 'On the Waterfront', but he was also a boxing aficionado.

Ringside, a treasury of boxing reportage. Budd Schulberg. Schulberg again, in non-fiction mode.

Taking Le Tiss, Matt Le Tissier. Because my dad is such a huge Saints fan that I feel like I know Matt Le Tissier personally.

The Fight, Norman Mailer. Mailer is Mailer. A book about the rumble in the jungle, Muhammad Ali v George Foreman, Zaire 1974.

Coming back to me, Marcus Trescothick. Just interesting to read about an international sportsman suffering from depression.

Four Kings: Leonard, Hagler, Hearns, Duran and the last great era in boxing, George Kimball.

McIllvanney on Boxing, Hugh McIllvanney. A collection of his boxing reports from over the years.

If anyone has any recommendations, or just want to post your personal favourites, I'd be grateful. Thanks.

05-26-2013, 08:49 AM
If you're a boxing fan, I can't believe you left out A.J. Liebling's The Sweet Science (http://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Science-J-Liebling/dp/0374272271)

Not only a great book about boxing, but the writing itself is simply terrific

05-27-2013, 04:32 PM
To me, the best book about sports is without a doubt Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch.

So much truth and heartblood in this book as in this quotation:

“I fell in love with football as I was later to fall in love with women: suddenly, inexplicably, uncritically, giving no thought to the pain or disruption it would bring with it.”

There is no better way to describe the phenomenon of becoming a football fan and supporter of a specific club.

William E. Harlan
06-06-2013, 05:21 AM
Seabiscuit is outstanding.

06-18-2013, 10:00 AM
Don DeLillo's End Zone is an excellent read.

07-29-2013, 01:19 AM
Late on this, but I've always found BALL FOUR fascinating.

Since you like THE FIGHT, have you seen When We Were Kings?

07-29-2013, 01:29 AM
Another one for Seabisquit. Truly outstanding. I don't hate horses anymore.


07-29-2013, 01:35 AM
This Sporting Life - David Storey

08-23-2013, 01:19 AM
A list of cricket books that doesn't include Beyond A Boundary by CLR James? Surely not, it's a fantastic exploration of the evolution and establishment of West Indian identity, society, politics and race through test match cricket and how the game in turn was influenced and changed to reflect the world it was played in; "What do they know of cricket that only cricket know?"

10-09-2013, 07:37 AM
Out of Position by Kyell Gold is pretty good as well, its about football :D

Walter Lime
03-08-2014, 08:36 AM
Seabiscuit is outstanding.

Yes, Seabiscuit is indeed outstanding. I like how it is a great story, whether you know anything about horse racing or not.

One of my favorite sports stories ever is "The Legend of Bagger Vance". It's better than the movie and contains a lot of philosophy that applies to life. It's a golf story, and I'm not a golf fan, but I loved the book because it was about so much more. Golf was just the backdrop, and even that was fascinating as it dealt with the old era of hickory clubs, etc. Quite different from the modern game we see today. A great book.

03-10-2014, 05:33 AM
"Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen" by Christopher McDougall is a great book about the sport of long distance running. He covers everything from the evolutionary perspective of running to the Tarahummara of Mexico who can run 400 miles at a stretch.

Great book if you enjoy running!

03-10-2014, 05:55 AM
Men at Work is good overview of professional baseball (MLB) in the US. It takes each of the main tasks of baseball (managing, pitching, hitting, and fielding), and then follow a professional as he trains and plays. The manager and players were from twenty years ago but the aspects of the game are still relevant.

Walter Lime
03-11-2014, 07:03 AM
"Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen" by Christopher McDougall is a great book about the sport of long distance running. He covers everything from the evolutionary perspective of running to the Tarahummara of Mexico who can run 400 miles at a stretch.

Great book if you enjoy running!

Great book even if you DON'T enjoy running. It might even convert you. Definitely worth reading! I've read it twice now.