Still struggling to find the right book for your Sports Book Bingo square? Never fear, your intrepid Seattle Public Library sports librarian has some suggestions for you, whether you’re a diehard sports writing fan, or have never picked up a book about sports before in your life.
Confession time: despite serving as the Library’s sports librarian for the past 8 years, I never really understood the appeal of reading about sports until I picked up Levels of the Game by John McPhee a few years ago. This slim volume hooked me from the first page with its insightful profiles of a young Arthur Ashe and his wealthy, white opponent Clark Graebner, skillfully woven into a nail-biting narrative of a career-changing tennis match. In fact I enjoyed McPhee’s sports writing so much that I returned to him to complete my square for this year’s Book Bingo by reading A Sense of Where You Are, his fascinating portrait of Bill Bradley and his phenomenal basketball playing at Princeton.
Not a sportsball fan? How about the Olympics? Yes, this year’s Games may be over, but it’s always a good time to immerse yourself in the stories of the gifted athletes who astound us with seemingly superhuman performances every few years. And who doesn’t love a great underdog story? The Boys In The Boat, Daniel Brown’s rousing history of the University of Washington rowing team, which overcame adversity to triumph at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, covers all these bases and more. For another inspiring Olympian story, try Fire On the Track, the incredible story of Betty Robinson, a trailblazing female track star who won gold at 1928 Olympics, nearly died in a plane crash, and recovered in time to go for the gold again in 1936. I first learned about Robinson in Molly Schiot’s fantastic Game Changers, which profiles a broad range of women in sports, including athletes, sportswriters, coaches, Title IX advocates, and more, from the well-known (Billie Jean King, Abby Wambach) to the more obscure (Ann Koger, Conchita Cintron).
But you’re more of a fiction reader, you say? No worries, there is plenty of sports-related fiction in a variety of genres in the Library’s collection. Historical fiction fans may enjoy When The Men Were Gone by Marjorie Herrera Lewis, about a women high school principal in Texas who defies gender stereotypes to coach the boys’ football team near the end of World War II. For mystery buffs, Jorge Zepeda Patterson’s The Black Jersey is a thrilling whodunit in which the Tour de France turns deadly, as riders are killed off one by one in a series of violent “accidents.” And science fiction readers might want to check out John Scalzi’s novel Head On, which takes place in a future world where a violent but seemingly harmless robot-bodied sport is all the rage until a star athlete unexpectedly dies and prompts an FBI investigation into the seedier side of the game.
None of these hitting the spot? Check out this list for even more suggestions for your Sports square!
If you haven’t yet, you can download your Bingo card and find some of our curated lists and related articles at our Book Bingo page, and find our Spanish-language Bingo card and lists here! Still looking for ideas? Don’t forget you can ask for a personalized reading list from Your Next 5 Books! Book bingo is presented in partnership with Seattle Arts & Lectures.
~ Posted by Abby B.