Curling up with a good read during the festive period is one of life’s simple pleasures. You’re stuffed full of chocolate, crisps and sandwiches stuffed with leftovers. It’s cold outside and hard to move off the sofa or roll out of bed. So don’t fight it. Pick up one of the best sports books available this year and embrace a riveting read.
And it goes without saying, that the best sports books also make some of the best Christmas presents around. So if you’re still struggling to shop for the sports fan in your life, this is an easy way to tick both the thoughtful and time efficient boxes.
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The name of this book might be familiar. There was, of course, a massively popular TV series released of the same name and was based on the fascinating book. But this is an icon in sports literature in it’s own rite. Friday Night Lights gives you the an insider’s view into the complex world of American Football played in high schools. It zeros in on Odessa, Texas for a one-year period in the late 1980s.
Not just one of the best sports books to read this year, this might just change your perceptions on a lot of things. It might be difficult to figure out how people can go so into teenagers playing sports, but Bissinger does the topic justice. You begin to realise just what this obsession means for that Texan town. And you can see the impact it has on politics, race, equality and much more besides.
Homing is a book about pigeon racing. But if you haven’t got a clue about that sport, this is still something you’re going to want to read. This gripping book gives you a bird’s eye (pun intended) view into the appeal of a sport that so many people know so little about. It’s a memoir of Jon Day, who became a pigeon fancier almost by accident.
And it’s about so much more than pigeon’s. This is a look at fatherhood, moving houses, biology and even early human history. It’s a masterful book and might just make you look at pigeons and their fanciers in a whole new light after you read it. That, for us, it what makes it one of the best sports books around this Christmas.
As I’m writing this, I’m about 500m away from Croke Park. It’s one of the biggest sports stadiums in Europe and it was the site of a massacre. But still, if you’re not Irish, many people don’t know about Croke Park and its history. This is the home of the Gaelic Athletics Association, known more commonly as the GAA. Irish sports are very different from other mainstream sports played widely in the world. Hurling, handball and Gaelic football are mesmerising to watch even if you don’t know the rules.
But the truly interesting thing about the GAA is its impact on politics. The Bloodied Field examines one day in the stadium’s history: Sunday. 21 November, 1920. Known as Bloody Sunday, this is one of the most important dates during the War of Independence in Ireland. Michael Foley takes us on a journey to learn exactly what happened on that fateful day and how it affects so much of Irish society even today. It spends a lot of time with a Tipperary footballer who was killed on Bloody Sunday and is now immortalised by a stand that has been named after him.
You don’t have to be Irish to appreciate this book. This is one of the best sports books for people with Irish roots or anyone with a keen interest in history. But if you live outside the country, you might need get your order in fast so the book arrives before Christmas Day!