Sports books

I could not find a thread dedicated to sports books in general and did not want to put this into the cycling books thread.
I'm very interested in this topic, I have written some stuff myself (like a theater play that was hated by the actors :(), and I'm still working on my novel about a swimmer, but... I have such difficulties finding sports books that I like. I LOVE Krabbés De renner, not because it's about cycling, but because it's such a good book, not exactly avantgarde, but elegantly written, funny, suspenseful. Then there's Fever Pitch, which I liked, but I regard that as a psychoanalysis of an Arsenal fan (or maybe fandom in general), not as a sports book. Everyone tells me The Art of Fielding is so good, but I tried to read it and found it... incredibly boring (okay, in addition I'm totally not into baseball) and certainly not about the sport itself.
In fact there seem to be two kinds of "sports books": a) Sports is used as a background, but really it's a love story, crime story, history of America, whatever..., b) it's really about sports, but it's more of a documentation, not a novel you can love. Okay, maaaybe I could add Leann Shapton's Swimming studies... but not really.

So... do you know sports books, cycling or whatever, that actually capture the fascination of a sport and the movement and are great novels at the same time?
 
I'm a quarter way through Sprinting Through No Man's Land by Adin Dobkin and would recommend it to anyone interested in Tour de France history or history in general.
He depicts with meticulous detail the lead up and TDF race shortly after WW1.
Riders' backgrounds and personality are intimately described, as are the war-torn roads ridden by the peloton.
Obviously many participants fought in the war just a few months prior, and spectators were looking for something to cheer for in towns that were decimated.
It's non-fiction that reads like a novel.
Highly recommended.
 
This is totally off topic and no one will care, but I hate it when an athlete is given credit for writing a book that was written by someone else. Even worse is when you see an interview with the person who says s/he wrote the book. No, you didn't! Journalists spend a lot of time honing their craft and they deserve to be credited for it.
End of rant.
Please carry on.
 
This is totally off topic and no one will care, but I hate it when an athlete is given credit for writing a book that was written by someone else. Even worse is when you see an interview with the person who says s/he wrote the book. No, you didn't! Journalists spend a lot of time honing their craft and they deserve to be credited for it.
End of rant.
Please carry on.
Oh, that's a topic I could get started on as well. :D
Partly I agree, partly I don't. After all ghostwriters are paid to do that job, and I think people know that the athlete usually hasn't written the book himself. To me the worst thing is celebrities (all kinds) writing other kinds of books, like children's books, for instance footballers about a little boy getting into a football team and so on - those books are usually really irrelevant to bad, no normal author would get the manuscript sold, it just gets bought because of the name, nobody cares about whether it's a good book and then it's "xy has written a children's book!" Right, I could write that (like pretty much everyone) in 10-15 minutes, but okay...
Regarding autobiographies, I am in general not a great fan of biographies (with a few exceptions). I have some kind of problem with putting a whole life under one storyline. For me life is more of a caleidoscope than a line. But of course we all have a desire to make sense of our life and to see a a red line in it, and also in the lives of others.
It's not such a problem to me that the ghostwriters don't get the credit for the writing, because these autobiographies are rarely very well written. But they have to be really good psychologists. The ability to get to the actual point the person really wants to tell, to find a core from which you can form a storyline without squeezing a life into a fake frame, that's a real skill. Also the better ones find a sound that's authentic and empathic and captures more than just a few phrases. But there are many (auto-)biographies out there that don't do much in that regard, they are fast work and just live from the name of the person who's famous and the eagerness of people to know about a famous person's life...
Ah, what's also difficult for many ghost-writers, though, is that they only have a few hours with the person whose life they are to tell and then they already need to start to make the thing...
 
I only know of two athletes who have written children's books. One of whom was former NFL player Martellus Bennet, who is a truly unique character whom I admire. The other is former Toronto Maple Leaf hockey player Zach Hyman.
I haven't read either of their children's books, so I can't say whether they are good or bad.
Vaughters actually put pen to paper and wrote an autobiography that received mixed reviews. I didn't mind it all, but others called him to question certain themes he wove through the narrative -- e.g. his focus on being bullied and the fact he barely mentioned Hesjedal's Giro win. Both are valid points of criticism, but I don't read these things to gain any sort of epiphany or learning experience; I'm just there for the stories. I do not expect a literary work of art.
There are a couple other sports figures whose books I read, but their names escape me.
Which brings me back to the point about ghostwriters. Sure, they are paid for their work, but like you said, well-written stories takes skill and insight into the subject. I love a well-written story and it bugs me when the athlete takes credit for it. It's like the author who told a story about how he won the Tour de France.
 
My Sergei: A Love Story, by Ekaterina Gordeeva (with E.M. Swift)

It's been about 20 years since I've read it, but I remember enjoying it back then. It's about the terrific figure skating pair of Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov, Grinkov unfortunately died at only 28 of a massive heart attack.

Anyway, if you're looking for something completely different this book is about elite figure skaters.
 

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