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Best Sports Books for Holiday Gift Giving in 2011

Do you having a sports fan on your holiday gift list who loves to read? Check out this list of great sports related books to help fill out your holiday shopping list.

With Christmas and the Holiday gift giving season upon us, I thought I’d pull together a list of the best sports books that’d I’ve read over the past year. In the first group below, I’ve read each one of these books personally and have recommended them to others. They aren’t all new releases in 2011, but all are great reads that are sure to be enjoyed by other sports fans as much as I have enjoyed them.

The second group are well-reviewed recent sports related releases that I haven’t (yet) read but should make great gifts for the right sports fan.

Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN

book-1 By James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales. This 700+ page behemoth serves as an oral history of ESPN. Beginning back in the late 1970’s as an idea for an idea to broadcast Connecticut sports, to the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” of present day, the authors get the story of ESPN from over 500 interviews of former and current ESPN employees, athletes, and others.

This book will really hit home with sports fans who are 35 and older who grew up with ESPN and are old enough to remember the early days of ESPN with events like Australian Rules Football, Yacht Racing, and SportsCenter with Chris Berman. You can read my full review of the book here.

Buy Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN from Amazon.com

 

Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won

book-2 By Tobias Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim. An immensely fascinating look at some of the psychology and other factors that influences how sports are played, coached, and officiated. The authors use original research to look at such topics as the influence of the count on the size of the strike zone in Major League Baseball, whether defense really does win championships, and why football coaches don’t go for it on 4th down even when failing to do so reduces their chance of winning. Truly a must read for any sports fan.

Buy Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won from Amazon.com

 

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

book-3 By Michael Lewis. This is the story of how Billy Beane, the General Manager of the small market and small budget Oakland A’s, used statistical analysis to discover undervalued players and compete with big market Major League Baseball clubs. Originally published in 2003, this book burst back into the public consciousness in 2011 with the release of the movie “Moneyball,” which is based on the book and stars Brad Pitt as Billy Beane.

Buy Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game from Amazon.com

 

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superatheletes, and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen

book-4 By Christopher Mcdougall. A great read for anyone with even the smallest interest in running. The book succeeds on a variety of different levels. It challenges some commonly held beliefs about running and the human body while spinning a gripping tale of the Tarahumara, an indigenous people from the Copper Canyon of Mexico who seem to have discovered the secret for superior distance running. It can be a little heavy-handed with the hyperbole at times, but it does make for some great storytelling.

Buy Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seenfrom Amazon.com.

 

Other Suggestions

Th following books were new releases in 2011 that drew a lot of attention for their subjects and topics.

The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood

By Jane Leavy. From the author of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy, comes a “warts and all” biography of one of Amercia’s biggest sports heroes, Mickey Mantle.

The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood

Through My Eyes

book-5 By Tim Tebow and Nathan Whitaker. Arguably the greatest college football player of his generation, Tim Tebow is a popular yet divisive athlete known as much for his deeply held Christian beliefs as his triumphs on the gridiron. “Through My Eyes” is Tebow’s own story of his life and how he has chosen to live it.

Buy Through My Eyes from Amazon.com

West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life

book-6 By Jerry West and Jonathan Coleman. Far more than just a career retrospective of one of the NBA most enduring figures, West by West reveals some of the dark issues such as physical abuse and depression that have plague Jerry West throughout his life and his NBA career.

Buy West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life from Amazon.com

Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton

book-7 By Jeff Pearlman. Billed as the definitive biography of one of the NFL greatest players, the books covers Payton’s life on and off the field including the tragic illness that took him at age 45.

Buy Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton from Amazon.com

Basketball Junkie: A Memoir

book-8 By Chris Herren and Bill Reynolds. The story of Chris Herren. An up and coming basketball star who lived his dream of playing for the Boston Celtics, but at the same time secretly battled alcohol and drug abuse and saw his life spiral out of control.

Buy Basketball Junkie: A Memoir from Amazon.com

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