It’s time once again for the Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. This week it’s a freebie where you can come up with your own subject and discuss it.
I pondered this for a bit and decided to get into the spirit of the New Year when a lot of us make resolutions. I figured I’d combine the resolution to workout more with reading and give my list of ten books that I’ve enjoyed about sports and/or working out.
1. Swim the Fly by Don Calame — Matt Gratton and his friends have one goal over the summer — to see a real, live naked girl. To impress the ladies, Matt decides to accept the challenge of swimming the butterfly stroke on his swim team. Yes, this one borrows a page right out of the American Pie series, but it’s honest, real, and at times hilariously funny. If you’ve got a teen or were ever a teen, you’ll love it. Also as a swimmer, I understand the huge hurdle that Matt places in the path to his goal by choosing to swim the butterfly. (My own butterfly is more like a wounded caterpillar on a good day).
2. Friday Night Lights by Buzz Bissenger — Yes, it’s a good movie and a great TV show, but this book looking at the season of the Permian Panthers and their season when they were supposed to win it all is fascinating and compelling. I love football and ate this one up with a spoon.
3. Breathe, Annie Breathe by Miranda Kenneally — I’ve recommended this one a lot in the past couple of months. Grieving over her boyfriend and some guilt associated with his death, Annie decided to honor his memory by training for and completing the Country Music Marathon. Annie’s struggle with her training, workout regiments and emotions is so authentic and genuine. If you’re taking up running or are a runner, you’ll find yourself emphasizing with Annie and maybe going through some of the same struggles she does.
4. On Rocky Top by Clay Travis — Clay Travis was given behind-the-scenes access to a season of University of Tennessee football. What he didn’t know going in was that it would be the final season for legendary coach Phillip Fulmer. This book is a result and if you love college football, it’s a compelling and heart-breaking journey through a season where everything that could go wrong did.
5. Dixieland Delight by Clay Travis — Yeah, so I’m recommending the guy twice in a list. But this book where Travis visits every team in the SEC (before expansion) and takes in their stadiums and traditions is a must read. It also makes me jealous that I didn’t think of it first and get a book contract to do it
6. Three Nights in August by H.G. Bissinger — It may be un-American of me, but I’m not a huge baseball fan. Well, let me say that I’m not a huge major league baseball fan, but I do enjoy college baseball and minor league ball. But this book by Bissinger that chronicles a three-game series through the mind of Tony LaRusse and examines the thought process, strategy and reason for each move made in the series helped me love the game a bit more. It’s not enough that I will tune in to every game on TV, but when I catch a late inning game that is close, echoes of this book come to mind.
7. A Good Walk Spoiled by John Feinstein — While making an appointment for a job interview, I was asked how much I knew about golf. I didn’t know as much as I wanted to (the job would entail covering the sport, not playing) and so I went to the library for some help. Among the pile of books I checked out was this one by John Feinstein. This is a compelling story about the ups and downs on the tour and gives you a look behind the ropes at the players. It helped me understand more about golf than meeting par.
8. The Best Game Ever by Mark Bowden. Tells the story of the game that gave birth to the modern NFL and of which very little, if any footage exists. If you love football, read it. If you don’t, you might after giving this one a chance.
And I think I’ll stop there. I don’t have two other books that spring to mind, but I think these eight are a great start.