Ten Sports Books You Should Read Before You Die

Alex FergusonSenior Analyst IIAugust 6, 2008

If you love writing, you've got to love sports books. After all, they are an inspiration to us all. Alex Ferguson writes about his favorite books.....


1)  Summer of '98 - Mike Lupica

Plain and simple review of this one: Lupica's detailing about THAT summer ten years ago makes you love baseball again. The iconic black-and-white shot of McGwire hitting No 62 against Chicago will stick in your mind - as will the feeling that 'ball' made the world a better place after reading it.

2) Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer- Warren St John

A wonderful journal about driving in a SUV with Alabama fans for the season, while Shaun Alexander was running back for the team. Makes you actually appreciate Alabama and their crazy, crazy fans.

3)  A Lifetime of Yankee Octobers - Sal Maiorana

After I finished this book I felt well and truly cheated. Not only because of the fact that the book was over, but because the whole story was MADE UP. I must have skipped that bit. And you know what? I'm glad I did.

4) The Blind Side- Michael Lewis

Quite possibly the best sports book ever written, this concerns a dumb offensive linesman getting recruited by every school in the country. And he goes to Mississippi. Great for recruiting, Lewis' book is an incredible page-turner.

5) Beyond the Game- Gary Smith

When Gary Smith writes for Sports Illustrated, his pieces are on the front page of the magazine. And more often than not, they deserve to be. His piece about being part of THAT 1998 home run chase is incredible to reading: you don't know whether to cheer or cry.

6) Hate Mail From Cheerleaders/ Life of Reilly - Rick Reilly

Rick Reilly's always been my favourite writer. His What Would Jesus Do? Article (now available on SIVault.com but criminally not in these books) still stands the test of time as one of the best pieces ever written. That's saying something - because Reilly - who was at SI but is now at ESPN after 'gardening' for about a year - makes sport come alive in almost every single one of these articles.

7) Moneyball - Michael Lewis

People have talked about it as one of the best baseball books ever written. It's basically a piece about Oakland As GM Billy Beane, who searches far and wide to draft or trade the country's most criminally underrated players. And when they get to a good value, he'll trade them. Lewis' chronicle spawned a generation of stat fans the likes of which will never come again....unless he does another one about steroids.

8) Quiet Strength - Tony Dungy

Tony Dungy kickstarted one of the country's best offences and made the Indianapolis Colts an NFL superpower. His book - which talks as much about his faith and his family life as it does about football - is inspiring to the coach - and the person - in you.

9) Dixieland Delight - Clay Travis

Booze? Check. Tickets? Nope. Hotel reservation? Nope. Map? Nope. Love of the SEC? Yes. Going to every ground in 16 weekends? Check. Unputdownable? You've got it.

10) Tilting at Windmills - Andy Miller

About a guy who actually HATES sport, but he'll go around Britain trying to find out why sports is a British obsession. Brilliant.

Honorable mentions:

Boys of Summer - Roger Kahn. The Brooklyn Dodgers an' all that jazz

Saturday Rules  - Austin Murphy. A journey through the 2006 College Football season. Wish someone would write one about the 2007 football season, which was ironically a better season....

Friday Night Lights: A town, a team, and a dream. by H.G. 'Buzz' Bissinger. Football crazy Odessa, TX and its Permian Panthers are on display during the 1988 season. The book only became a movie and inspired a TV show.