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A book about or involving a sport?

(50 Posts)
Composteleana Tue 02-Jan-18 01:47:02

Mumsnetters I need your help. Last year I took part in the ultimate popsugar reading challenge over on goodreads (the name is offputting but there’s some thought provoking prompts and lots of recommendations over there if you’re interested) and am going to attempt it again this year because I like the way it makes me try books I wouldn’t normally.

This prompt however - a book about or involving a sport - is seriously troubling me. Every single sport ever invented could fall off the face of the Earth and it would make precious little difference to my life, except I’d lose my two evenings with sole charge of the tv remote if DP couldn’t play football. I will watch some athletics, the odd game of tennis and even a smidge of football if pressed, but I don’t care for it in my fiction. I always find the big match/race/fight scene of a film that is supposed to be the climax to be rather tedious, and I’ve even less interest in reading descriptions of them - I even skipped the quidditch sections in Harry Potter.

So are there any books you’ve read that are about sport but not really? Anything you could recommend me that involves sport but doesn’t focus on it exclusively or give blow by blow accounts of various matches/games etc. I like literary type fiction really, but am not adverse to a bit of trash now and then. I could do a non fiction book if it had a social/historical focus rather than being a straight history of x team or y sport. Or maybe a really good biography of a sporting figure that also had a fascinating life outside sport?

Everything being recommended on the goodreads group seems to be pretty USA focused, I was thinking if I must read about sport I’d rather avoid baseball etc, though why I think it’ll make a difference I don’t know. I’ve read both Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby and (the infinitely superior grin ) Polo by Jilly Cooper many moons ago so if it comes to it a reread of one of those might have to do.

So please can you recommend anything that involves sport but would still be of interest to the non- fan, or failing that something that is at least very short?

OP’s posts: |
BarchesterFlowers Tue 02-Jan-18 01:52:46

I am currently reading Four Mums in a Boat.

Battleax Tue 02-Jan-18 01:56:40

Fever Pitch?

Battleax Tue 02-Jan-18 01:57:16

Teufelsrad Tue 02-Jan-18 07:51:46

I'm not a sports fan at all, though do have an interest in East Germany and I really enjoyed The Race Against The Stasi.

Piggywaspushed Tue 02-Jan-18 07:54:40

Rain Men by Marcus Berkmann is very funny.

Also You'll Win Nothing With Kids. But I am not sure how much you need to know about cricket/ football to really get the humour.

I actually found Paul Gascoigne's (auto?)biography very interesting.

I'll keep thinking as I have read lots!

Teufelsrad Tue 02-Jan-18 07:58:36

If you want a lighter but still interesting easy read there's this.

Firstaidnovice Tue 02-Jan-18 07:58:56

Into Thin Air - about the year lots of people died climbing Everest? (1996 I think). Mountaineering is technically a sport, but it's not really a sports book as such. A very good read, but I believe controversial, and the author's account has been called into question.
Touching the Void also - I've only seen the film, but imagine the book is good? The one where one mountaineer leaves his companion for dead after him falling down a crevasse somewhere in South America.

Firstaidnovice Tue 02-Jan-18 08:03:18

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach might also fit your criteria. And The Post Birthday World by Lionel Shriver, that prominently features snooker, although that might be stretching the definition?

BikeRunSki Tue 02-Jan-18 08:06:48

Personal Best - Its the autobiography of Beryl Burton. She was an unsung hero, very much so. Cyclist from Leeds in the 1950s-80s, holder of many, many national and international records and largely unheard of outside of a few old school cyclists. Its about cycling yes, but its really about the life of an extremely determined working class mum from Leeds making her mark in a mans world.

YY to mountaineering books too - I'll add "Psychovertical" by Andy Kirkpatrick to those suggested by FirstaidNovice, although those are both very good.

BikeRunSki Tue 02-Jan-18 08:13:04

Clouds From Both Sides - Julie Tullis
Another mountaineering biography, which is as much a philosophy on life and essay in gender politics as it is about mountaineering. Julie died on K2 before finish the book - lots of and it was finished by someone else. Lots of discussion about wether mothers young children should put them selves in potentially life threatening situations.

secondhoneymoon Tue 02-Jan-18 08:13:30

'Friday Night Lights' is centred around American football, but is more about American High School & small town culture.

randomsabreuse Tue 02-Jan-18 08:13:38

Riders by Jilly Cooper as you liked Polo.

Maybe horse racing based detective stories (Dick Francis, John Francombe, Jenny Pitman)

Flambards fits around hunting which is a non-competitive sporting pursuit.

Bit horsey biased here - sorry!

Piggywaspushed Tue 02-Jan-18 08:14:19

Penguins Stopped Play and Fatty Batter are also good. I like sports books when they are by actual proper writers who can turn a phrase. I do think the humorous books about cricket are very entertaining. They sort of cross Hornby with Bryson and Tony Hawk (s? the comedian not the snowboarder - or is he a skateboarder!)

If you liked Fever Pitch I think you will like the ones I have mentioned.

Firstaidnovice Tue 02-Jan-18 08:15:39

Ooh, two new mountaineering books to add to my reading list, thanks!

TheOnlyLivingBoyInNewCross Tue 02-Jan-18 08:17:00

It depends what you define as sport.

Taking on the World by Ellen MacArthur, about single-handedly sailing round the world?

Touching the Void by Joe Simpson about the time he nearly died while climbing? I have read the book and it is very absorbing.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed - walking the Pacific Crest Trail. That one is excellent: I read it in about two sittings, and DS (14) loved it too.

TheOnlyLivingBoyInNewCross Tue 02-Jan-18 08:25:58

Ooh, I loved the film as a child but have never read the book - how about National Velvet by Enid Bagnold?

WhyDidIEatThat Tue 02-Jan-18 08:40:31

The darley arabian, history of racing through 25 thoroughbreds?

imsorryiasked Tue 02-Jan-18 08:58:04

If you could stretch sport to walking/cycling there are lots of more travel orientated books which might suit.

Composteleana Tue 02-Jan-18 09:22:45

Wow you guys are brilliant thank you! Lots of good recommendations here.

OP’s posts: |
CMOTDibbler Tue 02-Jan-18 09:29:32

Leap In by Alexandra Hemingsley is about how she learned to swim, but a lot about her life at the time and also has some history of swimming. Very readable

Born to Run? About ultra running, but loads of interesting stuff

Find a Way by Diana Nyad - in her 60's she swam from Cuba to the US, but the book is more about all the times she failed to do so. Just amazing

lastqueenofscotland Tue 02-Jan-18 10:32:12

Fever pitch is good
Manchester United ruined my life is quite funny but I'm a life long city fan so might enjoy it more than most.
Outcasts United which is about immigration and race relations as much as it is sport

BikeRunSki Tue 02-Jan-18 10:57:05

Talking of Alexandra Heminsley - her first book “Running Like A Girl” is good too.

Warmworm Sat 06-Jan-18 00:11:52

Double Fault by Lionel Shriver is about tennis but really about relationships. Also Claire Balding’s autobiography has a lot of horsey sport in it. I enjoyed both and I’m not a sports fan either.

AKAmyself Sat 06-Jan-18 17:13:24

Andre Agassi autobiography, Open. Not my usual thing and all but I really, really loved this book.

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