PEXELS
PEXELS

Nothing beats curling up during a rainy summer day with a nice book. Reading provides more than just fun and entertainment — it’s also incredibly beneficial for your health and well-being.

A 2016 study published in the journal Social Science & Medicine found that book readers experienced a 20 percent reduction in risk of mortality over the 12 years of follow up compared to non-book readers. In other words, readers tend to live longer.

What’s more, reading also reduces stress and, as a 2013 study published in the journal Science found, it can improve your social skills. Individuals who read fiction may have better “theory of mind,” or the ability to understand that people’s beliefs, desires, and thoughts are different from theirs.

Reading can even help you with your career. If you want to work in sports, you should expand your knowledge and read about topics you’re passionate about. Sports books aren’t just for aspiring sports writers; they’re for anyone who loves the world of sports.

Here are the top sports books you should be reading:

The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn

Published in 1972 to immense success, this book centers on the Brooklyn Dodgers and their 1955 World Series win. It follows the lives of some of the players, including Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese.

Kahn’s take is warmly sentimental, showing you that baseball goes far beyond the diamond. This remains a go-to classic for sports fans.

Best for: Baseball fans, sports journalists, and anyone who appreciates baseball’s influence on American culture.

The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis

This 2006 book looks at both how offensive football strategy has evolved over the last 30 years and Michael Oher’s personal story. Lewis follows Oher from his impoverished childhood through his adoption and his career successes in college football.

Three years after its publication, the book was adapted into an Academy Award winning film, called The Blind Side, starring Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw. It was a critical and commercial success.

Best for: Football fans, coaches, and anyone who understands how work in sports can give your life a new sense of purpose and meaning.

Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles, and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Game of Basketball Forever by Jack McCallum

Regardless of whether or not you follow basketball, you know the Dream Team. Between Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, and many other superstars, the 1992 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team established itself as the greatest basketball team of all time.

McCallum’s 2013 book dives deep into how the team was selected, what the players debated about, and it helps you better understand the mystique surrounding the Dream Team.

Best for: Basketball fans, Olympics fans, coaches, scouts, and anyone interested in learning about the glory days of the NBA.

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis

Another Lewis masterpiece, this 2003 book looks at the influence Billy Beane had on management and sports analytics. It focuses on how the 2002 Oakland Athletics used data and sabermetrics to assemble a competitive team despite their low salary ($44 million).

With the third-lowest payroll in the MLB, Beane led the A’s to win the AL West and pulled off an impressive 20-game winning streak late in the season. Brad Pitt starred as Beane in the widely praised film adaptation, which was released in 2011.

Best for: Baseball fans, those who work in sports analytics, coaches and managers, and anyone who cheers for the underdogs.   

Into Thin Air:  A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer

This 1997 book is a harrowing account of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, when a rogue storm killed eight climbers and stranded many others. Krakauer, a journalist for adventure magazine Outside, originally planned on climbing just to the base camp, but decided he wanted to train to climb the summit.

Krakauer’s deeply personal telling shows how he continues to struggle with guilt and frustration. His journalistic approach brings a unique style to this tragic tale.

Best for: Climbers and other adventure junkies, sports journalists, and anyone who loves a good memoir with a dose of suspense.

Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream by H. G. Bissinger

Before being adapted into a popular film and TV series, the story of the 1988 Permian High School Panthers football team delighted readers when it was published in 1990.

The book centers on the role football played in Odessa, Texas. Bissinger took a journalistic approach and spent a year living in the small town to tell the story of the team as well as the football-crazed culture of a small town.

Best for: Football fans, sports journalists, and anyone interested in learning about how football can captivate an entire town.

The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports by Jeff Passan

This 2016 book looks at the most expensive commodity in sports — a pitcher’s throwing arm. It explores the culture that is causing so many aspiring pitchers and professionals to suffer from snapped ligaments, which often sends them to surgery.

The book covers why the Cubs spent a whopping $155 million on Jon Lester, how pitchers try to recover from Tommy John surgery, how the Japanese culture addresses the ongoing crisis, and much more.

Best for: Baseball fans, sports journalists, aspiring managers, scouts, and coaches, and anyone who finds talent evaluation interesting.

When you want to work in sports, you should become well-versed in the industry. These books are just the start.

What are your top sports book recommendations? Comment below!

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