A Lucky Man, Keith Quinn – @pm_spotter
My kind old dad sent it to me when I was working in Japan around 2000/2001, and it’s brilliant. And it’s Kiwi too.
The Damned United, David Peace – @sportsfreakconz
As a movie it was rightly rated by @girvana as a great movie. But without wanting to sound like That guy the book is so much better.
Stream of consciousness books can be hit and miss, and even more so when a book swaps in and out of that style; especially when often reverting to stoic recollection of events.
And half the book is written in the second person. A complete masterpiece from David Peace. The way Clough is brutally dismantled, yet treated with empathy is quite come achievement.
Slaying the Badger, Richard Moore – @Womble101
This recommendation is a two-in-one; a book by Richard Moore and an ESPN 30 For 30 documentary. It examines the rivalry between two incredible cyclists; American Greg LeMond and Frenchman Bernard Hinault, teammates at the 1986 Tour de France and both capable of winning the race. Hinault was a five-time winner of the race, LeMond the young gun destined for greatness. Slaying the Badger tells their story.
Friday Night Lights, H.G. Bissinger – @NewYorkNixon
An excellent, popular and entirely fictional TV series might be what many are familiar with, but before that came HG Bissinger’s outstanding book and a movie based on his work. American football is a religion in Texas, and Bissinger spent the 1988 season with Odessa’s Permian Panthers, a high school team with state championship ambitions. Billy Bob Thornton stars as coach Gary Gaines in the film, which is accompanied by a wonderful soundtrack from Texas post-rock band Explosions in the Sky.
The spirit of the game: How sport made the modern world, Mihir Bose – @pm_spotter
It’s all about how different world events and leaders and influencers from history, intentionally or otherwise, shaped sport and the culture and the professionalism and nationalism around it as we know it today. If you generally like history and being constantly surprised by what you probably never knew or realised, then this book is it. It’s bloody brilliant.
Beartown, Frederick Backman – @HDiddyNZ
Beartown is small town with nothing much to live for except its schoolboy ice hockey team. Grown men hold teenage boys up on pedestals. When one player does something unthinkable, it’s incredible to see what lengths the town will go to ignore the controversy and protect their star athlete. You don’t have to be an ice hockey fan to enjoy it – the town could easily be anywhere in the world, with the local sport dropped in. Intriguing characters and scarily insightful into how being good at sport can change the rules. (The sequel, Us Against You, is also very good).
Moneyball, Michael Lewis – @NewYorkNixon
Michael Lewis’ book dives deep into the sabermetric approach of Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane, as he sought to gain an advantage to compete with richer rivals ahead of the 2002 Major League Baseball season. The Oscar-nominated movie of the same name features Brad Pitt as Beane, and does a fantastic job of converting a complex mathematical approach to baseball into a dramatic sports movie.
Goalkeepers Are Different, Brain Glanville – @pm_spotter
About the ups and downs of a young goalkeeper at a professional club in England. Used to keep it under my pillow as a kid! Reckon I would still enjoy it now too! I wasn’t a goalie either, it’s just a cool book.
Unbreakable; Jelena Dokic:- Jessica Halloran – @sportsfreakconz
Oh boy; where to start with this one. Great literature does not have to be easy to read.
This is a brutal tale, recounted beautifully of the worst piece of tennis parenting imaginable. Born in Croatia, and growing up in the environment of post-Yugoslavian hostilities it is the tale of a man desperate to do anything to get out of there, and the use of his gifted daughter to do so.
It is a fascinating story of one man’s control and violence, and of the resolve of his daughter to first please her father, and then achieve her own independence.
It is a gripping read, but one you need to take breaks from to get through it.