Chilling post surf or between ocean dips, we all love a great book to keep us company while soaking up the summer sunshine. With your perfect towel, beach bag, bikini, board shorts, sunglasses, hat and tasty refreshment, the only thing left to complete that perfect STYLE OF SPORT day at the beach is the perfect read. There are many ways to go…. fiction or non-fiction….e-reader or good old-fashioned paper… new bestseller or literary classic… but if you want to keep it sporty, here are some of our favorite beach-tested reads:
UNBROKEN by Laura Hillenbrand (2010). Read the book before the Angelina Jolie directed movie comes out! This is the unforgettable story of Louie Zamperini, a teen-age hooligan who went on to become one of America’s greatest runners and compete at the 1936 Olympics as a teenager. Zamperini later joined the Army Air Corps, survived a plane crash and 47 days adrift at sea in a tiny raft, and then endured years in a notorious Japanese prisoner of war camp. Hillenbrand, who wrote Seabiscuit as well, also describes the hardships Zamperini faced when he returned to civilian life. Sadly Zamperini passed away just last week at age 97.
WILD: FROM LOST TO FOUND ON THE PACIFIC TRAIL by Cheryl Strayed (2013). This is the first person account of Cheryl Strayed, who at age 22 thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death and crumbling marriage, with nothing to lose she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her. Coming this holiday season is the movie starring Reese Witherspoon.
THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA by Ernest Hemingway (1952). Okay, we’ve all read this one (or maybe not), but we all should probably read it again. It’s the only work of fiction on our list, but it somehow fits. Here’s the first line: “He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.” Lest we forget, this book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953 and was cited by the Nobel Committee as a major contribution to Hemingway receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954.
THE TEAMMATES: A PORTRAIT OF FRIENDSHIP by David Halberstam (2003). He’s so good, we could have chosen from a number of David Halberstam’s classics, including The Amateurs (about rowing), October 1964 (on the social and racial aspects of the 1964 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Yankees), The Summer of ’49 (on baseball and post-war America), or Playing for Keeps (on the phenomenon known as Michael Jordan), but we chose The Teammates: A Portrait of Friendship. The book poignantly tells of the friendship among four members of the Red Sox in the 1940s, Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Dom DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky. Halberstam weaves the history of their playing days into the story of a road trip the men take to see an ailing Williams at his home in Florida.
THE BOYS IN THE BOAT by Daniel James Brown (2013). This gem is as much a history of the deprivations of the Depression and the Dustbowl, as it is a stirring account of how nine hardscrabble boys from Washington State beat their Eastern elite rivals to represent their country at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
INTO THIN AIR by Jon Krakauer (1998). Published just two years after the events he describes, Into Thin Air is an account of the deadly assault on Mount Everest by a mismatched group of climbers. Krakauer brought his deep knowledge of climbing to tell a gripping story of perseverance and tragedy of the eight who were lost. More poignant still is that his critique of adventure tourism foreshadowed the rising numbers of climbers and the many tragedies that followed on Everest, including last season’s loss of 16 in one day.
MY FOOT IS TOO BIG FOR THE GLASS SLIPPER: A GUIDE TO THE LESS THAN PERFECT LIFE by Gabrielle Reece (2013). Former pro volleyball player and supermodel, wife and mother, the stunningly beautiful and fit Gabby Reece lives the quintessential STYLE OF SPORT life of which we all dream. There is plenty of that in this memoir, but it is the unflinchingly honest and humorous discussion of her personal life that connects to her readers and fans, and tells a story to which we all can relate.
WHAT I TALK ABOUT WHEN I TALK ABOUT RUNNING by Haruki Murakami (2008). Murakami’s memoir should resonate with anyone who loves running, writing, or the life-sustaining pleasure and pain of any solitary pursuit.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS by H. G. Bissinger (1990). Read the original book that inspired the movie that inspired the TV show. Bissinger created a new genre of sports literature with this masterpiece, and also received a couple of death threats from the Texas town he depicts.Special thanks to Contributing Editor Jay Diamond for these great picks and reviews!