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A new biopic offers a touching story about a horse and its owner and trainers. But as with 2003's Seabiscuit, the Hollywood story can't quite convey the impact an animal had on the people who knew him and the nation that watched him. William Nack's excellent Secretariat offers an in-depth profile of a horse that touched Americans so profoundly that, years later, people still made pilgrimages to a farm in Kentucky to watch him merely stand in the grass.


In 1960, one of America's greatest novelists sat in Fenway Park in Boston to witness the final at-bats of the man who wanted to be known as "the greatest hitter to play the game." When John Updike spent an afternoon watching Ted Williams' last ballgame, the result was an article that changed sports journalism, bringing it a literary respectability and prominence that it's never relinquished. It's at once a classic sports moment and a classic of American storytelling, worth reading not just to discover the outcome but to discover its prose.

Almost every serious sportswriter today takes a page from his book. The same goes for the practitioners of the long-form journalistic profile. Yet the man who stamped "New Journalism" indelibly with his style and made his first Esquire articles synonymous with greatness is little known outside serious journalist circles. Read more...
After years covering American sports on a national level, Chuck Culpepper had had enough. He moved to England, fell in love with Premiership soccer and went about discovering how to be a fan again, in the world's most popular sports league. Many mistakes, a big blue bear, and countless cultural observations later, he emerged with a guide to rediscovering the joy of games, with the help of fans who sing even while losing. Read more...
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Wimbledon's recent three-day match between John Isner and Nicholas Mahut has been the sort of intense contest that allows fans to know two new players in a profound way that only sport offers. That intimate look recalls John McPhee's "Levels of the Game," a profile of Arthur Ashe and Clark Graebner, still widely considered the definitive book on tennis. Read more...
I've long held a belief that the worst period in American history is the weeks-long stretch after the Super Bowl and before spring training. Thankfully, we've just entered that glorious part of the year when baseball begins again. As the players get ready for the season, why not get your brain in shape with two books that can greatly expand your understanding and enjoyment of the game (and even walk a non-fan through the fundamentals)? Read more...
Sports are great — heck, they're wonderful. But they're wonderful because they don't really matter: they're games. It's everything that comes between you and the sport that's a giant pain in the neck. Preening sportswriters? Tedious. Screeching on-air personalities? Unbearable. Marketed player personalities designed to sell books or a brand? Insufferable. Morality plays and equivalencies drawn to dire real-life issues? Completely missing the boat. Read more...
About Unabashedly Bookish: The BN Community Blog
Unabashedly Bookish features new articles every day from the Book Clubs staff, guest authors, and friends on hot topics in the world of books, language, writing, and publishing. From trends in the publishing business to updates on genre fiction fan communities, from fun lessons on grammar to reflections on literature in our personal lives, this blog is the best source for your daily dose of all things bookish.