Be an Athlete

Becoming a top athlete requires skill, dedication, drive, and a whole lot of talent. With plenty of practice, and the knowledge gained by hitting the books (and a movie) on this list, you will have an edge on the competition.

  • Joe Dimaggio : The Hero's Life

    2000 by Richard Ben Cramer

    "With a tough, throaty accent and straightforward manner, Cramer sounds as if he's telling the whole tale with his arms crossed over the back of a turned-around chair and a toothpick dangling from the corner of his mouth. And for a story about a kid rising from a large Italian family in San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf to wealth and fame as a superstar for the New York Yankees, the style fits perfectly. Cramer (What It Takes) balances the Hall of Fame outfielder's well-documented highlights—his 10 World Series titles in 13 major-league seasons, astounding 56-game hitting streak and marriage to Marilyn Monroe—with attributes the public never saw: seedy connections, loose morals and a tight fist."—Publishers Weekly

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  • Grace, Gold & Glory : My Leap of Faith

    2012 by Gabrielle Douglas

    "In the 2012 London Olympics, US gymnast Gabrielle Douglas stole hearts and flew high as the All-Around Gold Medal winner, as well as acting as a critical member of the US gold-medal-winning women gymnastics team. In this personal autobiography, Gabrielle tells her story of faith, perseverance, and determination, demonstrating you can reach your dreams if you let yourself soar."—Amazon

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  • Born to Run : A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen

    2009 by Christopher McDougall

    "McDougall reveals the secrets of the world's greatest distance runners--the Tarahumara Indians of Copper Canyon, Mexico--and how he trained for the challenge of a lifetime: a fifty-mile race through the heart of Tarahumara country pitting the tribe against an odd band of super-athletic Americans."—Publisher

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  • The Yogafit Athlete : Up your Game with Sport-Specific Poses to Build Strength, Flexibility, and Balance

    2016 by Beth Shaw

    "Whether you're a professional athlete, a weekend warrior, or a pick-up game enthusiast, yoga can dramatically affect your athletic performance and improve your alignment, balance, core stability, strength, flexibility, agility, endurance, lung capacity, and mobility. In this motivating and practical guide, celebrated fitness expert Beth Shaw provides short, sport-specific yoga routines designed to help counter tight muscles, overuse injuries, and musculature imbalances"—Publisher

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  • Team Seven

    2014 by Marcus Burke

    "We first meet man-child Andre Battel as an eight-year-old at home with his mom, Ruby; an often absent dad; and Ruby’s solid and quite wonderfully portrayed Jamaican parents, Papa and Nana Tanks. A local street gang, Squad Six, and its charismatic leader, Reggie Graham, tempt young Dre, but Ruby continually reminds her son that he is “a cut above” the rest. He is, among other things, an apparently gifted basketball player (like the author), but, like his father, he gets into “weed” and, though he escapes it, is involved in a related tragedy befalling two friends. He is maturing and acquiring self-awareness as the novel ends, and readers will hope he achieves his promise. To whatever degree the novel is autobiographical, Burke is well on the way."—Mark Levine, Booklist

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  • Champion of the World

    2016 by Chad Dundas

    "Late summer, 1921: Disgraced former lightweight champion Pepper Van Dean has spent the past two years on the carnival circuit performing the dangerous “hangman’s drop” and taking on all comers in nightly challenge bouts. But when he and his cardsharp wife, Moira, are marooned in the wilds of Oregon, Pepper accepts an offer to return to the world of wrestling as a trainer for Garfield Taft, a down-and-out African American heavyweight contender in search of a comeback and a shot at the world title."—Publisher

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  • The Art of Fielding : A Novel

    2011 by Chad Harbach

    "At Westish College, a small school on the shore of Lake Michigan, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big-league stardom. But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended."—Publisher

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  • The Natural

    1952 by Bernard Malamud

    “Malamud's first novel, published in 1952, is also the first―and some would say still the best―novel ever written about baseball. In it Malamud, usually appreciated for his unerring portrayals of postwar Jewish life, took on very different material―the story of a superbly gifted "natural" at play in the fields of the old daylight baseball era―and invested it with the hardscrabble poetry, at once grand and altogether believable, that runs through all his best work."—Amazon

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  • Race

    2016 by Stephen Hopkins

    "Jesse Owens' quest to become the greatest track and field athlete in history launches him onto the world stage of the 1936 Olympics, where he faces off against Adolf Hitler's vision of Aryan supremacy."—Publisher

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  • 42 : The Jackie Robinson Story

    2013 by Brian Helgeland

    "History was made in 1947 when Jackie Robinson broke the professional baseball race barrier to become the first African-American MLB player of the modern era. 42 tells the life story of Robinson and his history-making signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers under the guidance of team executive Branch Rickey."—Publisher

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