Category Archives: Sports

Walking with Jack

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Title: Walking With Jack

Author: Don J. Snyder

Publisher: Doubleday, 2013

Summary/Review: It will help you understand this tale if you are a golf nut, or at the very least, golf-term-savvy. This memoir about a father’s desire to help his son realize their shared dream of the son playing professional golf with his father alongside as his caddy takes the reader through the joys and sorrows of seeing one’s children grow up and become independent young adults. The father takes his role in this very, very seriously, as he leaves the family home to caddy at St. Andrews, Scotland for two seasons, preparing him to be the best caddy he can possibly be. The son, a very talented high school golfer can’t quite match his Dad’s zeal and only attempts to play on a minor professional golf tour some years later.

We are shown the ups and downs of a father’s love for his son and the various ways the two deal with successes and the seemingly inevitable failures. Along the way the author reveals many long-term feelings of inadequacy and some triumphs, brought on by his strained relationship with his own father.

One thing I do not understand is that the author is presented as a writer and teacher with several “acclaimed” books and screenplays to his credit, yet he spends quite a bit of time describing the financial hardships he and his family endure. Perhaps acclaimed doesn’t necessarily equate with financial success in his case.

This is a very well-written book with many humorous scenes. The author does a terrific job of describing his feelings as a father to three girls and one boy, and the joy of being a good enough husband to provide at least some degree of financial stability and a full measure of emotional support.

Who will like this book?: I recommend this book to any golfers and fathers out there.

If you like this, try this: If you’d like to read more books dealing with golf, check out John Dunn’s “Loopers: A Caddy’s Twenty-year Golf Odyssey” or Joseph Parent’s “Zen Golf”, which deals more with becoming a better golfer.  As mentioned, Don J. Snyder also has a number of other books, including “Of Time and Memory” and “The Cliff Walk”.

Recommended by: Mark Z, guest reviewer

If you think you’d like to try this book, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or place a hold

Yankee Miracles

yankee miracles

Title: Yankee Miracles: Life with the Boss and the Bronx Bombers

Author: Ray Negron and Sally Cook

Publisher: Liveright, 2012

Summary/Review: If you read this book, not only will you learn the incredible story of Ray Negron who was “nabbed” by former Yankee owner George Steinbrenner (“The Boss” of the Yankees) you will also be transported into the inner sanctum of the Yankees and Yankee stadium, home of the most storied and decorated sports franchise of all time. Ray Negron became a Yankee batboy when he was caught spray painting, or tagging, the wall of Yankee stadium. As “punishment”, Steinbrenner had him work off repainting the wall by becoming a batboy with all the menial tasks assigned a batboy. He became so beloved in the club house that he stayed with the team and professional baseball his entire career. You will read inside stories about Yankee greats from Mantle to Jeter, championship seasons, runner up seasons, and all the ways Negron and sports page heroes actually do give back to their communities. I recommend this book to all sports enthusiasts–especially the Yankee faithful (and you know who you are!)

Who will like this book?:  Someone who loves Yankees, baseball, or sports in general

Recommended by: Mark Z, guest reviewer

Think this looks like a book you’d like to read?  Visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and place a hold! [Link will open in a new window]

One On One

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Title: One on One:  Behind the Scenes with the Greats in the Game

Author: John Feinstein

Publisher: Little, Brown, & Company 2011

Summary/Review: I don’t know how I keep encountering books like this one. John Feinstein, the incredibly successful sports columnist and author, takes the reader “inside”, way inside, the world of college and professional sports time after time. In this book, the author goes back to interview and to reexamine the subjects of some of his previous investigative books. You are reacquainted with Bob Knight (A Season on the Brink), Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus (The Majors), several Patriot League basketball players (The Last Amateurs), and many, many other internationally famous athletes. Feinstein’s genius for behind-the-scenes, unlimited-access sports reporting and writing allows the lucky reader first-person access to the heroes of just about any game to have watched from afar, your whole life. It’s no surprise that his books, both non-fiction as well as his novels, rise to the top, or very near the top of best-seller lists time and again.

If you enjoy sports of any kind, and are at all interested in the people behind the box scores and headlines, you will only be disappointed when you come to the end of John Feinstein’s latest investigative effort.

Who will like this book?: Those interested in sports, who are interested in getting a more personal look at athletes and sports reporting

If you like this, try this: Frank Deford is one of the more-famous sports writers, and has written a number of books that investigate the sports world.  Additionally, the book “Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN” by by James Andrew Miller might be of interest if you’re looking for a book more focused on the world of investigative reporting when it comes to sports.

Recommended by: Mark Z, Guest Reviewer

Blood in the Cage

Title: Blood in the Cage: Mixed Martial Arts, Pat Miletich, and the Furious Rise of the UFC

Author: L. Jon Wertheim

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, January 2009

Summary: Ten years ago it was decried as ‘human cockfighting’ and banned in many states across the country. Today, mixed martial arts (or MMA) is perhaps the fastest growing sport on the planet.  L. Jon Wertheim explores the phenomenon that is MMA, and in particular the dominant brand, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), through the rise of Pat Miletich, a former champion and world-renowned trainer.

Miletich was among the first fighters to combine multiple fighting styles into one complete attack, and through his meteoric rise from poverty in the Midwest to international stardom, we see the evolution of MMA from it’s no-holds-barred origins to today’s slick promotional machine, with monthly pay-per-views and a massively popular reality show. Love it or hate it, MMA is an economic powerhouse that outdraws boxing and professional wrestling. You probably know someone who watches it. Give this book to them!

Who will like this book: This book is indispensable for MMA fans, but it is also a great read for sports generalists or fans of other combat sports such as boxing or traditional martial arts.

If you like this, try this: A great read about the hows and whys of fighting, A Fighter’s Heart by Sam Sheridan. A biography of an iconic UFC champion, Iceman by Chuck Liddell. Another (slightly irreverent) look at a booming sport, NASCAR, in Sunday Money by Jeff MacGregor.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

American Shaolin

Title: American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks and the Legend of Iron Crotch: An Odyssey in the New China

Author: Matthew Polley

Publisher: Gotham, December 2007

Summary: This is not your typical travelogue or coming-of-age story, but this Alex Award winner will be as entertaining as any book you’ll read this year. In 1992, Matthew Polley dropped out of Princeton and went to China to learn kungfu from the legendary monks of the Shaolin temple in China. He lived there for two years at the temple, studying kickboxing and becoming the first American to be accepted as a Shaolin disciple.

This book chronicles not only Matthew’s story, but also the rapid changes occurring in rural China during the ’90s, where cultural traditions and social mores truly began to collide with the modernizing influences of the West. Written in an almost irreverent tone with several laugh-out-loud, cringe inducing moments (the noted Iron Crotch technique being among them), American Shaolin is really about the relationships between Matthew, his fellow trainees and monks, and the other laowai (foreigners) who come to Shaolin to study and to profit. The monks of Shaolin, young and old, provide the heart and soul of this terrific book.

Who will like this book?: People looking for a book about the changes in China that isn’t overly political or preachy. Readers who like stories about other cultures. Anyone who harbors fantasies about secretly being the toughest guy in the room…and being able to prove it.

If you like this, try this: A Fighter’s Heart by Sam Sheridan. Iron and Silk by Mark Salzman. Shenzen by Guy Delisle.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

The Kid Who Climbed Everest

Title: The Kid Who Climbed Everest

Author: Bear Grylls

Summary: The author of this book, is the subject of the wildly popular Discovery Channel Series entitled “Man vs Wild.” Each week Bear is dropped off by helicopter to a horrifying part of the planet from where he must escape by using his impressive survival skills. Bear spent three years in the British Special Air Service and his latest triumph in May 2007 involved him flying a motorized paraglider over Mount Everest. I find the series really educational and thrilling and somehow satisfying as I watch from my comfortable armchair. Bear is articulate and shares his impressive knowledge of survival skills with the audience in an engaging way.

This book describes Bear’s climb of Mount Everest at the tender age of 23. (Most climbers wait until their thirties to attempt such a feat when they are fully mature in terms of attitude and physiology. ) On May 16, 1998 he became the youngest man and one of only thirty British climbers to summit. He informs the reader about the preparation for such a climb. Bear shares his challenges in funding such an adventure, his extensive training, and the requisite education about the tough environmental and climatological elements as well as the physiological needs of the human body to carry out such a feat.

After reading this book I felt I had a far better understanding of many facets of attempting and succeeding at such a climb. This information did not take away from the mounting excitement as Bear prepares for the ultimate climb. He shares his fears, his awe of the mountain, and his respect for his predecessors and team mates. Altogether an exciting and informative read.

If you like this, try this: Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air and Outside Magazine articles about individuals who push their limits.

Recommended by: Karen, Deputy Town Librarian

Sunday Money

Title: Sunday Money: Speed, Lust, Madness, Death: A Hot Lap Around America with NASCAR

Author: Jeff MacGregor

Summary: If you are a sports fan, especially if you are a sports-business fan, you will enjoy this book. Author MacGregor and his wife follow the NASCAR circuit during a time of transistion – the year after Dale Earnhardt’s death at the Daytona 500 – and while they spend some time reporting the on-track action, most of the book is spent describing the culture and business of NASCAR, currently the second-most popular sport in the country (and for you doubters, MacGregor will explain why drivers are indeed athletes.)

If there was such a thing as Gonzo Sports Journalism, this would be it – the tone is irreverent and the author’s outlook is definately not sentimental. This book provides a unique insight into NASCAR – even if you don’t get it, you’ll walk away from this book understanding why some people – particularly CEOs and marketers - do.

Who will like this book? NASCAR fans, marketing people

If you like this, try: Moneyball by Michael Lewis, National Pastime by Steven Szymanski, Amped by David Browne

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian