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10 books that are not just sports books

From David Foster Wallace to Muhammad Ali

10 books that are not just sports books From David Foster Wallace to Muhammad Ali

Every season has its own books and every reader has his own tastes. Yet, sports texts are a cross-reading genre, suitable for any month of the year and able to surprise any reader - even the most skeptical one. An example of this was Open by Andre Agassi, an authentic literary case that has been read by tennis fans and not only; the same is the biography of Ibrahimovic, a cornerstone of the sports genre. So, for a serene summer to spend in the countryside or on the Mediterranean shores, here are ten tips for ten excellent sports readings.


Daniele De Rossi o dell’amore reciproco
Daniele Manusia (2020)

In Daniele De Rossi o dell’amore reciproco, Daniele Manusia - founder of the website Ultimo Uomo and Roma fan - tells the relationship between the De Rossi footballer and the De Rossi man, retracing his career from the beginning until his farewell. De Rossi has been on the pitch as a football player and fan, and Manusia - both Roman and Romanist - focuses on this symbiosis through the good and bad days of his career with the Club, marked by the presence of Totti, the World Cup, defeats, victories (a few) and the sense of wearing the Giallorossi jersey when you are a Roma fan. Daniele De Rossi o dell’amore reciproco is perhaps the clearest example of the relationship between writing, football and culture in contemporary Italian fiction, where sport creeps into society and human traits blend with professional ones.

Pages: 256
Price: 17,10 €
Where to buy: Mondadori


String Theory: David Foster Wallace on Tennis
D. F. Wallace (Einaudi, 2012)

An extremely short book, but also incredibly expressive. David Foster Wallace, one of the greatest contemporary writers of international fiction, explains in this pamphlet the whole nature of tennis - a sport that he practiced as a young man and of which he also wrote about in Infinite Jest and A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again - speaking of its aesthetics, its epic potential and the contradictory strength of this activity, full of both subjectivity and confrontation, gladiatorial strength and wonderful delicacy. The book is composed by two essays: Democracy and Commerce of the US Open and Federer as religious experience.

Pages: 89
Price: 9,50 €
Where to buy: Mondadori


Congratulations, You Have Just Met the I.C.F
Cass Pennant (Dalai Editore, 2007) 

Cass Pennant tells the stories of I.C.F., the firm of West Ham United fans, the most famous and dangerous organized hooligans group and by the way, Pennant was one of the founders. Anecdotes, stories, beatings and troubles of one of the most famous fan squad in the world, whose hierarchies and rituals are described, such as the one - like ah Hollywood film - to leave tickets to the injured opposing fans with the words: "Congratulations, you have just met the I.C.F."

Pages: 398
Price: 8,10 €
Where to buy: Mondadori


Paolo Condò (Baldini and Castoldi, 2016)

The narrative style of Paolo Condò - a columnist for Sky and the only Italian journalist voting for the Ballon d'Or - is too enlightening not to read at least one of his books. Duellanti is a human-sports portrait of the eighteen days between April and May 2011 in which Barcelona and Real Madrid challenged each other four times. A story from the coaches' point of view, the rival duelists Pep Guardiola and José Mourinho, and Condò analyzed them following the psychology of the characters both as men and as sportsmen. In the background, the political-football tension of one of the most bitter sporting rivalries ever.

Pages: 217
Price: 14,25 €
Where to buy: Mondadori


Brilliant Orange
David Winner (minimum fax, 2017)

The most important protagonists and places of totaalvoetbal, from Cruijff and Guardiola, until Barcelona and Amsterdam. But not only. David Winner’s book is the perfect way to get into the nature of Dutch football through its sports roots but also through the evolution of Dutch culture, which moves, in parallel, following the developments of this football revolution.

Pages: 362
Price: 17,10 €
Where to buy: Amazon


Friday Night Lights. A dream, a town, a team
H.B. Bissinger (66th and 2nd)

In Odessa, a lost (and depressing) Texas town, a football team composed of local college boys guides the dreams of the city community, lost between the unease of the oil crisis - the book is set in the 80s - and the passion for football. The Pulitzer Prize H.B. Bissinger - who lived a year in Odessa to write this book in 1990 - describes America’s social controversies following the events of the Odessa football team, The Panthers, whose members are boys of all races and different social backgrounds, but all united by the passion and grit of this sport.

Pages: 407
Price: 19,00 €
Where to buy: Mondadori


Éloge de l’esquive
Oliver Guez (Neri Pozza, 2019)

The origin and secrets of Brazilian football in just over a hundred pages. The French author Olivier Guez tells with finesse and passion the story of Garrincha, one of the strongest footballers of all time, and his art of making incredible dummies. His plays have defined the essence of football and inspired the greatest Brazilian talents, from Zico to Neymar, and Éloge de l’esquive is not only a book about Garrincha, but a dive into the depths of real football.

Pages: 106
Price: 9,37 €
Where to buy: Mondadori


James Kerr (Mondadori, 2019)

What can we learn from the All Blacks, perhaps one of the most famous sports teams in the history of sport? James Kerr explains it by illustrating the principles of the team and the philosophy that guides the concept of sport for the All Blacks, so as to understand what ordinary people can learn from the ethics of this rugby team, whether they are simply university students or manager of a company.

Pages: 169
Price: 11,40 €
Where to buy: Mondadori


The Fight
Norman Mailer (2012) 

A powerful book that tells one of the most iconic sport event ever. Mailer narrates the challenge between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, opponents both in the ring and outside - one supporter of Black Power, the other disinterested in the racial issue - telling the week before the meeting in Zaire - The Rumble in the Jungle - that has made the history of boxing and sport in general. Mailer reports the two personalities, the tension, the words and the training during that week in Kinshasa, ended with the clash in the most famous ring ever.

Pages: 260
Price: 10,35 €
Where to buy: Amazon


Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life
William Finnegan (66th and 2nd, 2016)

Although William Finnegan was a war reporter for the New York Times, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have the ability to talk about surfing, one of the most fascinating and attractive sports in the world. This book is in fact the story of Finnegan and his relationship with surfing, told through his autobiographical path that binds him to this sport. From the anecdotes as a boy - between acids, beaches and fights - looking for the most beautiful waves in the world from Polynesia to Australia. A text that many have called "the Bible of surfers" in which in addition to personal events, interesting and admirable, emerges the sense of surfing as a sport.

Pages: 496
Price: 23,75 €
Where to buy: Amazon