May 7, 2020

Read and react: Selecting our 20 favorite sports books


We’ve been without sports for going on two months now. We’ve become desperate for the content that so many of us craved on a daily basis. The NFL draft set record viewership numbers. People are waking up early, staying up late or setting their DVRs to watch live baseball from South Korea.

When ESPN re-aired cornhole tournaments from beer-swilling, bean-bag tossing days of yore, we watched.

Oh, we watched. Because we wanted anything to feel normal again.

J.K. Rowling said: “I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a book.”

With that in mind, our latest Star Tribune Sports Virtual Happy Hour Draft focused on sports books. Not necessarily the best books. Not even the most popular ones. Merely our suggestions or our favorites.

Ten writers and editors gathered to make their picks, two choices each draft-day style. What are we reading during this time of blank TV screens where there once was heart-pulsing action?

We probably could have gone 20 rounds here (and several advocated for such). But here are our top 20.

You’ll find classics. You’ll find forgotten treasures. You’ll even find a couple novels. What did we miss? Let us know in the comments.

Happy reading.

1. “State” by Melissa Isaacson (Howard Sinker, digital sports editor)
2. “Ball Four” by Jim Bouton (Jerry Zgoda, soccer and golf writer)
3. “Seabiscuit” by Laura Hillenbrand (Joe Christensen, college sports editor)
4. “Friday Night Lights” by Buzz Bissinger (Naila-Jean Meyers, senior assistant sports editor)
5. “Paper Lion” by George Plimpton (Rachel Blount, Olympics and horse racing writer)
6. “Boys of Summer” by Roger Kahn (Chris Miller, pro sports editor)
7. “Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace (Jeff Day, copy editor)
8. “A Good Walk Spoiled” by John Feinstein (Brian Stensaas, night web sports editor and golf writer)
9. “Ted Williams: The Biography of An American Hero” by Leigh Montville (Casey Common, web editor)
10. “The Soul of Baseball” by Joe Posnanski (Michael Rand, senior digital writer)
11. “Seasons in Hell” by Mike Shropshire (Rand)
12. “Lords of the Realm” by John Helyar (Common)
13. “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon” by Stephen King (Stensaas)
14. “The Summer Game” by Roger Angell (Day)
15. “The Game” by Ken Dryden (Miller)
16. “Crazy Good” by Charles Leerhsen (Blount)
17. “The Art of Fielding” by Chad Harback (Meyers)
18. “Bottom of the 33rd” by Dan Barry (Christensen)
19. “The Receiver” by Tex Maule (Zgoda)
20: “Next Man Up” by John Feinstein (Sinker)
 

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