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Hanging at the beach or chilling on the porch, there’s nothing like a good book to keep you company on a hot summer day… and a rainy one too. From literary masterpieces to trashy bestsellers, new releases to old classics, here are 9 of our favorite sporty beach books for Summer 2016. Baseball, football, surfing, climbing and more… even if you don’t like sports, we think you’ll still enjoy these timeless stories and compelling reads.
BARBARIAN DAYS by William Finnegan (2015)
Surfing only looks like a sport. To initiates, it is something else: a beautiful addiction, a demanding course of study, a morally dangerous pastime, a way of life. Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Autobiography, Barbarian Days is William Finnegan’s memoir of an obsession. Says Sports Illustrated, “Reading this guy on the subject of waves and water is like reading Hemingway on bullfighting.” Raised in California and Hawaii, Finnegan started surfing as a child. He has chased waves all over the world, wandering for years through the South Pacific, Australia, Asia, and Africa. Barbarian Days is an old-school adventure story, an intellectual autobiography, a social history, and an extraordinary exploration of the gradual mastering of an exacting, little-understood art.
SHOE DOG by Phil Knight (2016)
In this candid and riveting memoir, for the first time ever, Nike founder and board chairman Phil Knight shares the inside story of the company’s early days as an intrepid start-up and its evolution into one of the world’s most iconic, game-changing, and profitable brands. The man behind the swoosh, has always been a mystery. Now, in a memoir that’s surprising, humble, unfiltered, funny, and beautifully crafted, he tells his story at last.
HOUSE OF NAILS: A MEMOIR OF LIFE ON THE EDGE by Lenny Dykstra (2016)
Nicknamed “Nails” for his hustle and grit, Lenny Dykstra approached the game of baseball — and life — with mythic intensity. During his decade in the majors as a center fielder for the legendary 1980s Mets and the 1990s Phillies, he was named to three All-Star teams and played in two of the most memorable World Series of the modern era. Tobacco-stained, steroid-powered, and booze-and-drug-fueled, “Nails” also defined a notorious era of excess in baseball. Funny, unflinchingly honest, and irresistibly readable, House of Nails makes no apologies and leaves nothing left unsaid.
SEMI-TOUGH by Dan Jenkins (1972)
Made into a popular film comedy starring Burt Reynolds, Kris Kristofferson, and Jill Clayburgh, and recently named number seven on Sports Illustrated’s Top 100 Sports Books of All Time, Semi-Tough is considered by many to be the funniest sports book ever written. The novel follows the adventures of Billy Clyde Puckett, star halfback for the New York Giants, whose team has come to Los Angeles for an epic duel with the despised “dog-ass” Jets in the Super Bowl. Billy Clyde is faced with a dual challenge. Not only must he try to run over a bunch of malevolencies incarnate, but he has also been commissioned by a New York book publisher to keep a journal of the events leading up to, including, and following the game. Infused with Dan Jenkins’s characteristic joie de vivre and replete with cigarettes, whiskey, and wild women, Semi-Tough is an uproarious romp through a lost era of professional sports.
RELENTLESS by Neil Leifer (2016)
Neil Leifer is one of the best-known sports photographer of the past half century. Since 1960, his pictures have regularly appeared in every major national magazine, including Look, LIFE, Newsweek, Time, and most often, Sports Illustrated with over two hundred covers. He has created the most famous images of Muhammad Ali, including the aerial of his knockout of Cleveland Williams in 1966 and Ali looming over a flattened Sonny Liston in 1965. Now, in Relentless, Leifer takes us behind the scenes of fifty of his most iconic pictures. Recapping both an incredibly successful career and the transformation of photojournalism since the era of the great photo magazines, Relentless effectively chronicles fifty years of American popular culture.
ROME 1960: THE OLYMPICS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD by David Maraniss (2008)
With the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio just around the corner, this groundbreaking book from Pulitzer Prize winning author David Maraniss is a timely summer read. It reveals the rich palate of character, competition, and drama that gave Rome 1960 its singular essence. Rome saw the first doping scandal, the first commercially televised Summer Games, the first athlete paid for wearing a certain brand of shoes. In the heat of the cold war, the city teemed with spies and rumors of defections, and every move was judged for its propaganda value. Yet Maraniss also draws compelling portraits of the athletes competing, including some of the most honored in Olympic history: decathlete Rafer Johnson, sprinter Wilma Rudolph, and boxer Cassius Clay, who at eighteen seized the world stage for the first time, four years before becoming Muhammad Ali. The book weaves sports, politics, and history into a tour de force about the 1960 Rome Olympics and the eighteen days of theater, suspense, victory, and defeat that defined it.
THE SINGLES GAME by Lauren Weisberger (2016)
The new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Devil Wears Prada — this is a dishy tell-all about a beautiful tennis prodigy who, after changing coaches, suddenly makes headlines on and off the court. Sweeping from Wimbledon to the Caribbean, from the US Open to the Mediterranean, The Singles Game is a sexy and wickedly entertaining romp through a world where the stakes are high—and no one plays by the rules.
ALONE ON THE WALL by Alex Honnold (2015)
Alex Honnold is a visionary climber of the sort that comes along only once in a generation. Free soloing, or climbing without the safety of ropes, he has pushed the most extreme and dangerous form of the sport far beyond the limits of what anyone thought was possible. In Alone on the Wall, Honnold recounts the seven most astonishing climbing achievements so far in his meteoric career. He narrates the drama of each climb, along with reflective passages that illuminate the inner workings of his highly perceptive and discerning mind. Honnold’s extraordinary life, and his idiosyncratic worldview, have much to teach us about risk, reward, and the ability to maintain a singular focus, even in the face of extreme danger.
COUNTING COUP by Larry Coulton (2000)
In this extraordinary work of journalism, Larry Colton journeys into the world of Montana’s Crow Indians and follows the struggles of a talented, moody, and charismatic young woman named Sharon LaForge, a gifted basketball player and a descendant of one of George Armstrong Custer’s Indian scouts. Along the banks of the Little Big Horn, Indians and whites live in age-old conflict and young Indians grow up without role models or dreams. Here Sharon carries the hopes and frustrations of her people on her shoulders as she battles her opponents on and off the court. Colton shows us the realities of the reservation, the shattered families, bitter tribal politics, and a people’s struggle against a belief that all their children — even the most intelligent and talented — are destined for heartbreak.