Solstice Salute: 11 Summertime Sports Books to Get You Going

Evelyn lives in the Pacific Northwest where she enjoys birding by the Puget Sound, working on her Fiat 500, and spending time with other people's dogs and children. She recently relocated from New York City, where her work appeared in Time Out New York, Travel + Leisure, and McSweeney's Internet Tendency, among others.

summertime sports runningIt’s time to sweat: Whether you’re on the golf course, bike trail, or high school running track, the season of extra deodorant and SPF 50 is upon us. Don’t let humidity drag you down; find inspiration in these true tales of summertime athletes. From a late-blooming tennis champ’s rocky path to the story of a swimming legend fulfilling a life-long goal, these 11 books will inspire you to set your alarm clock early and hit the pavement right up to Labor Day.

Running Like a Girl

Running Like a Girl

by Alexandra Heminsley

Hilarious and refreshingly honest, this memoir will inspire you to (literally) run after your dreams. Told from the perspective of a first-time runner, Alexandra Hemingsly reveals the emotions, and the unexpected joys of running. This is just the read to get any beginner off the couch, and into their sneakers.

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Late to the Ball

Late to the Ball

by Gerald Marzorati

An award-winning author shares the inspiring and entertaining account of his pursuit to become a nationally competitive tennis player—at the age of sixty. Being a man or a woman in your early sixties is different than it was a generation or two ago, at least for the more fortunate of us. We aren’t old…yet. But we sense it coming: Careers are winding down, kids are gone, parents are dying (friends, too), and our bodies are no longer youthful or even middle-aged. Learning to play tennis in your fifties is no small feat, but becoming a serious, competitive tennis player at the age of sixty is a whole other matter. It requires training the body to defy age, and to methodically build one’s game—the strokework, footwork, strategy, and mental toughness. Gerry Mazorati started playing the game seriously in his mid-fifties. He had the strong desire to lead an examined physical life, to push his body into the “encore” of middle age. In Late to the Ball Mazorati writes vividly about the difficulties, frustrations, and the triumphs of his becoming a seriously good tennis player. He takes on his quest with complete vigor and absolute determination to see it through, providing a rich, vicarious experience involving the science of aging, his existential battle with time, and the beautiful, mysterious game of tennis. Late to the Ball is also captivating evidence that the rest of the Baby Boomer generation, now between middle age and old age, can find their own quest and do the same.

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The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances

The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances

by The Oatmeal and Matthew Inman

This is not just a book about running. It’s a book about cupcakes. It’s a book about suffering. It’s a book about gluttony, vanity, bliss, electrical storms, ranch dressing, and Godzilla. It’s a book about all the terrible and wonderful reasons we wake up each day and propel our bodies through rain, shine, heaven, and hell. From #1 New York Times best-selling author, Matthew Inman, AKA The Oatmeal, comes this hilarious, beautiful, poignant collection of comics and stories about running, eating, and one cartoonist’s reasons for jogging across mountains until his toenails fall off.

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Find a Way: The Inspiring Story of One Woman’s Pursuit of a Lifelong Dream

Find a Way: The Inspiring Story of One Woman’s Pursuit of a Lifelong Dream

by Diana Nyad

When Diana Nyad arrived on the shore of Key West after fifty-three hours of grueling swimming across an epic ocean, she not only set a world record—becoming the first person to swim the shark-infested waters between Cuba and Florida with no cage for protection—she also succeeded in fulfilling a dream she first chased at age twenty-eight and at long last achieved when she was sixty-four.

Now, in a riveting memoir, Diana shares a spirited account of what it takes to face one’s fears, engage one’s passions, and never ever give up. For no matter what life may throw at you, or how many times you may have experienced defeat, it is always possible—as long as you commit to living life to the nth degree, no regrets—to “find a way.”

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Let’s Go Fishing!: Fish Tales from the North Woods

Let’s Go Fishing!: Fish Tales from the North Woods

by Eric Dregni

Anglers are simply superior because of their contemplative pastime, according to Izaak Walton. And few who fish would disagree. In fact, the habit of amplifying the sport is documented at least as long ago as 75 A.D., when Plutarch wrote that Mark Antony faked a catch to impress Cleopatra. From Bible verse to Grandpa’s latest whopper, fishing has figured in our spiritual and cultural lore, to say nothing of our cuisine, as far back as we remember, and nowhere is this truer, perhaps, than in the great north woods.

A celebration of the sport in the land of 10,000 lakes and beyond, where the fish fry is a near-holy Friday ritual, the running of smelt heralds spring, and a village of ice-fishing huts springs up on every frozen lake, this irresistible book tells the full story from trivia to sacred tradition. Eric Dregni, who has entertained countless readers with enlightening tales of Midwest marvels, here shows his considerable skills as a raconteur and cultural historian of the fun and the facts of fishing in the Great Lakes region.

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Run the World: My 3,500-Mile Journey Through Running Cultures Around the Globe

Run the World: My 3,500-Mile Journey Through Running Cultures Around the Globe

by Becky Wade

Fresh off a successful collegiate running career—with multiple NCAA All-American honors and two Olympic Trials qualifying marks to her name—Becky Wade was no stranger to international competition. But after years spent safely sticking to the training methods she knew, Becky was curious about how her counterparts in other countries approached the sport to which she’d dedicated over half of her life. So in 2012, as a recipient of the Watson Fellowship, she packed four pairs of running shoes, cleared her schedule for the year, and took off on a journey to infiltrate diverse running communities around the world. What she encountered far exceeded her expectations and changed her outlook into the sport she loved.

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Lanterne Rouge: The Last Man in the Tour de France

Lanterne Rouge: The Last Man in the Tour de France

by Max Leonard

Froome, Wiggins, Mercks―we know the winners of the Tour de France, but Lanterne Rouge tells the forgotten, often inspirational and occasionally absurd stories of the last-placed rider. We learn of stage winners and former yellow jerseys who tasted life at the other end of the bunch; the breakaway leader who stopped for a bottle of wine and then took a wrong turn; the doper whose drug cocktail accidentally slowed him down and the rider who was recognized as the most combative despite finishing at the back.

Max Leonard flips the Tour de France on its head and examines what these stories tell us about ourselves, the 99% who don’t win the trophy, and forces us to re-examine the meaning of success, failure and the very nature of sport.

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String Theory: David Foster Wallace on Tennis

String Theory: David Foster Wallace on Tennis

by David Foster Wallace and John Jeremiah Sullivan

Gathered for the first time in a deluxe collector’s edition, here are David Foster Wallace’s legendary writings on tennis, five tour-de-force pieces written with a competitor’s insight and a fan’s obsessive enthusiasm. Wallace brings his dazzling literary magic to the game he loved as he celebrates the other-worldly genius of Roger Federer; offers a wickedly witty disection of Tracy Austin’s memoir; considers the artistry of Michael Joyce, a supremely disciplined athlete on the threshold of fame; resists the crush of commerce at the U.S. Open; and recalls his own career as a “near-great” junior player.

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18 Holes with Bing: Golf, Life, and Lessons from Dad Hardcover

18 Holes with Bing: Golf, Life, and Lessons from Dad Hardcover

by Nathaniel Crosby and John Strege

In 18 Holes with Bing, Nathaniel introduces us to the Bing Crosby he and his family knew—not the beloved singer who played golf, but a golfer who sang to pay his country club dues. Nathaniel shares exclusive stories about this American icon golfing, working, and playing with some of the most famous people in history—royalty, titans of industry, stars of stage and screen, and champions of the green, including Bob Hope, Dwight Eisenhower, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, and Louis Armstrong. At the book’s heart is an intimate account of a father and a son—how a mutual love of golf formed an exceptional emotional bond.

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The Bogey Man: A Month on the PGA Tour

The Bogey Man: A Month on the PGA Tour

by George Plimpton

What happens when a weekend athlete—of average skill at best—joins the professional golf circuit? George Plimpton, one of the finest participatory sports journalists, spent a month of self-imposed torture on the tour to find out. Along the way, he meets amateurs, pros, caddies, officials, fans, and hangers-on. In The Bogey Man, we find golf legends, adventurers, stroke-saving theories, superstitions, and other golfing lore, and best of all, Plimpton’s thoughts and experiences—frustrating, humbling and, sometimes, thrilling—from the first tee to the last green.

This intriguing classic, which remains one of the wittiest books ever written on golf, features Arnold Palmer, Dow Finsterwald, Walter Hagan, and many other golf greats and eccentrics, all doing what they do best.

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Running Man

Running Man

by Charlie Engle

A compulsively readable, remarkably candid memoir from world class ultra-marathon runner Charlie Engle chronicling his globe-spanning races, his record-breaking run across the Sahara Desert, and how running helped him overcome drug addiction—and an unjust stint in federal prison. After a decade-long addiction to crack cocaine and alcohol, Charlie Engle hit bottom with a near-fatal six-day binge that ended in a hail of bullets. As Engle got sober, he turned to running, which became his lifeline, his pastime, and his salvation. He began with marathons, and when marathons weren’t far enough, he began to take on ultramarathons, races that went for thirty-five, fifty, and sometimes hundreds of miles, traveling to some of the most unforgiving places on earth to race.

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