Sports & Competition Genre Study

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


WMLA – Author talk coming up in June in Whately. Jennifer Haigh – News From Heaven – MA Book Award winner 2014

Take a look at summer reading t-shirts to make sure the size is right or let Molly know if you would like on and haven’t gotten one yet

Summer reading is coming! Starting June 23 and running through August. Now entry form for each book instead of requiring 3 books. Forms at area businesses

Big Read Grant was won and we will be reading the Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett. Included in the grant requirements are 10 book discussions.

The Roost offers a “library night” and it might be fun to go and check it out.

New Western MA Reader’s Advisory group is meeting with Molly as facilitator. This month is “gentle reads” and the benchmark is Lucia, Lucia and will meet on 6/9 at the Jones Library in Amherst.

Ben, Molly and Lilly went to an “unconference” in CT and there were lots of great ideas. One of the big ideas is more “staff picks”. Everyone is encouraged to participate.

The Novelist database now has an audiobook reader’s advisory service.


Sea Biscuit
Biographical details, sense of place, relationship with the horses, characterizations, economics of the times are all fascinating. The specific horse details and statistics may be tedious if not of interest although the genetic lineage is integral to the history of thoroughbred racing. Very readable and tells a great underdog story.

Halbersham is a great writer. Short. Not much about baseball – lots of male bonding. Lots of biographical details. About four former Red Sox players including Ted Williams. Appeal to those that grew up watching these guys.

Flame of Pure Fire
Included a fair amount of history. Strong biography and interesting political details. Well researched. Meandering used to build suspense around a concise storyline. Lots of details about how to fight. Fighting has a local connection with welterweight competitions in Holyoke.

Word Freak
A home scrabble player decides to enter the competitive world. He manages to make scrabble interesting. Lots of interesting details and humorous. The history of scrabble is interesting. Maybe over the top with play by play details of games. You’d have to like games playing and especially scrabble to make this book work.

Not many of us are natural sports readers although they cover a wide range and it is a popular genre. Look at appeal and not just recommend based on sport.


French Revolutions
Memoir, travel narrative about Tour de France. Out of shape, middle aged British man decides to ride the course to give it a try. Amusing and “Bryson-esque”.

Dr. J
Memoir, great for professional basketball fans. More about life than statistics. Well written. Honest, somber and well told.

Roller Girl
Historical details about roller derbies and the modern phenomenon. Very enthusiastic, long winded, lots of play by play, includes a list of fun roller derby names. Glimpse into another culture (“getting bruises and drinking beer.”)

Boys in the Boat
1936 Olympics crew race.

Jim Kaplan- local author – worked for Sports Illustrated.

The Greatest Game Ever Pitched
baseball, well researched

Jack Who Would be King
bridge master including hands you can play, historical

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
Concise and deeply personal. Talks about how running is integral to his writing and is equally about each. Great read if you like his books and allows you learn more about his fiction reading. Great book about running for non-runners.

Founding Fish
Shad fishing, personal experiences with historical details. Humorous.

The Eastern Stars by Mark Kurlansky
Time and place. Cultural and political history with a little baseball. About a town in the Dominican Republic that produces the best players. Baseball is the only way out and they can be bought by dictators. Author brings in lots of multi-faceted details and is well written.

Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston
About deep institutional racism in Red Sox. Historical and investigative. Talks about passing on players because of race. Fascinating and depressing.

Climb: The tragic ambitions on Everest
Story about climbers caught in a blizzard and 8 out of 23 died. Based on taped interviews with survivors just after the incident. Controversial because of who survived and who died among 3 different teams. Nerve wracking, dangerous, and dramatic. Change in voice of narrator is distracting and the translations of Russian are choppy.

Peak Experiences
Anthology of stories of hikers in the White Mountains especially Mount Washington. It highlights how ill prepared and uneducated hikers can be and how it ends up getting people hurt and killed. Very repetitive!

Taking Up the Reins
From MA dressage champion. When she turned 50 she went to Germany (without speaking it and without being an experienced rider) and turned herself into a fluent speaker. Very sad story about a lonely, wealthy woman. Reporting on circumstances and not many autobiographical details.

Dream Team
1992 basketball team

Money Ball
About the Oakland As and how they take the smallest salary in the league and put together a really great team. Focuses on very specific approaches, statistics and details that the team uses that are quite unique. Movie with Brad Pitt based on the book. Characterizations, economics, enjoyable.

Outcasts United
About a town in Georgia that is a destination for refugees and a former Smithie soccer coach who brings them together with the backdrop of a small southern town going through tremendous changes.

Janet buys sports books and is very open to suggestions.


Many journalist authors

Male dominated subjects and authors – this may be changes

Often focuses on talking about people in the spotlight

NEXT TIME: Action/Adventure (September) followed by a catch all and then we’ll move away from non-fiction

Exploration, certain kinds of sports, certain kinds of travel, all focus on inherent danger

Next time: Adventure & Disaster


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