Sports' Illustrated's Top 100 Sports Books

The favorite sports books of Sports' Illustrated's editors.

 
1. A. J. Liebling. The Sweet Science
 
2. Roger Kahn. The Boys of Summer
This is a book about some young men who learned to play baseball during the 1930s and 1940s in such places as Reading, Pennsylvania; Anderson, Indiana; Plainfield, New Jersey; Woonsocket, Rhode Island; and then went on to play for one of the most exciting professional teams that the major leagues ever fielded--the Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1950s--the team that broke the color barrier with Jackie Robinson and set many other records besides.
 
3. Jim Bouton. Ball Four
An account of Bouton's 1969 season with the Astros.
4. H. G. Bissinger. Friday Night Lights
With frankness and compassion, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist H.G. Bissinger's national bestseller chronicles the dramatic 1988 season of the Permian Panthers--the winningest high school football team in Texas history. Friday Night Lights shows how the town's singleminded devotion to the team shapes the community and inspires (or shatters) the teenagers who wear the uniforms.
5. Ring Lardner. You Know Me Al
You know me Al is a classic of baseball- the game and the community. It's about competition, about the ability to reason, and most of all it's about being human.
 
6. John Feinstein. A Season on the Brink
Feinstein offers a close look at the man by following him and his basketball team through the 1985-86 season. Knight's mercurial personality is no better exemplified than in the famous chair-throwing incident and in his close relationship with a permanently injured former player.
 
7. Dan Jenkins. Semi-Tough
 
8. George Plimpton. Paper Lion
 
9. Ken Dryden. The Game
 
10. Nick Hornby. Fever Pitch
11. Norman Maclean. A River Runs Through It
Unique in the annals of modern fiction, A River Runs Through It is more than just a portrait of a vanished America--it is a living piece of that world. It recalls the experiences of a young man in frontier Montana: of his minister father, who taught his sons the ways of grace and fly fishing; of his brother, an artist at trout fishing but less than successful at life; and the swift, cold rivers that ran from the heart of the mountains into the still-mysterious heart of man.
12. Laura Hillenbrand. Seabiscuit
The story of one horse's journey from also-ran to national luminary. Seabiscuit : an American legend is an inspiring tale of unlikely heroes, a true story of three embattled men and a great racehorse captivated the world by overcoming the odds in the Great Depression.
 
13. Terry Pluto. Loose Balls
The American Basketball Association was born in 1967 and in nine tumultuous seasons introduced such legendary stars as Julius Erving, Connie Hawkins, George Gervin, and Moses Malone. Pluto, a basketball writer for the Akron Beacon Journal , spins an irreverent history in interview format of the league with the three-point shot, the slam dunk contest, the red, white, and blue ball.
14. Mark Harris. Bang the Drum Slowly
Henry Wiggin, Harris' major league southpaw, narrates the story of the last season of a teammate and of the tragic knowledge which the team must share.
 
15. Rick Telander. Heaven Is a Playground
 
16. John McPhee. Levels of the Game
 
17. David Halberstam. The Breaks of the Game
David Halberstam turns his keen reporter's eye on the sport of basketball -- the players and the coaches, the long road trips, what happens on court, in front of television cameras, and off-court, where no eyes have followed -- until now.
 
18. Roger Angell. The Summer Game
 
19. Jim Brosnan. The Long Season
 
20. Jerry Kramer. Instant Replay
 
21. Frank Deford. Everybody's All-American
 
22. Leonard Gardner. Fat City
 
23. Pete Axthelm. The City Game
24. Bernard Malamud. The Natural
"The ball was now a dew drop staring him in the eye so he stepped back and swung from his toes". This is Pulitzer Prize-winning author Bernard Malamud's classic tale of myth, money, glory, greed--and the tarnishing of a shining American icon.
 
25. Peter Gent. North Dallas Forty
26. David Maraniss. When Pride Still Mattered
By the time he died of cancer in 1970, after one season in Washington during which he transformed the Redskins into winners, Lombardi had become a mythic character who transcended sport, and his legend has only grown in the decades since. Using the same meticulous reporting and sweeping narrative style that he employed in First in His Class, his classic biography of Bill Clinton, Maraniss separates myth from reality and wondrously recaptures Vince Lombardi's life and times.
27. Robert Creamer. Babe: The Legend Comes to Life
Babe Ruth moved beyond the baselines and outfield fences of the baseball stadiums that brought him riches and adulations to become a genuine American hero. In this acclaimed biography, Creamer reveals the man behind the legend.
 
28. P. G. Wodehouse. The Golf Omnibus
Tales of careless caddies, crazy courses, and the hazards of playing with the wrong person highlight these 31 humorous tales by a master golfer. Wodehouse addresses the lighter, funnier side of the game.
 
29. Jr Roy Blount. About Three Bricks Shy of a Load
 
30. Frederick Exley. A Fan's Notes
31. Richard Ben Cramer. Joe DiMaggio: The Hero's Life
Joe DiMaggio's complicated, very public, very enigmatic life is also the story of America's media machine. Back in the 1930s, when he first played with the Yankees, DiMaggio was in effect chosen to become our new national hero. How this happened, the invention of national celebrity, and the way fame both builds and destroys is the incredible story told in this groundbreaking biography.
 
32. Stanley Cohen. The Game They Played
 
33. Bill Veeck. Veeck as in Wreck
 
34. Ben Hogan and Herbert Warren Wind. Ben Hogan's Five Lessons
 
35. Apsley Cherry-Garrard. The Worst Journey in the World
 
36. C. L. R. James. Beyond a Boundary
 
37. Pat Jordan. A False Spring
 
38. Bill Bradley. Life on the Run
A thinking man's guide to basketball with fascinating insights into the author himself.
 
39. Red Smith. The Red Smith Reader
A collection of the author's newspaper columns which appeared between 1934 and 1982.
 
40. Thomas McGuane. An Outside Chance: Essays on Sport
 
41. Gordon H. Fleming. The Unforgettable Season
 
42. Eric Rolfe Greenberg. The Celebrant
43. William. Nack. Big Red of Meadow Stable: Secretariat
This is a portrait of the horse many consider to be the greatest in horse racing history - Triple Crown winner, Secretariat. Winner of the Kentucky Derby in under two minutes - the only horse ever to break that mark - and the Belmont Stakes, where he won by 31 lengths and set a world record that has not been broken in 30 years, Secretariat was a phenomena.
44. Bill James. The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract
The critically acclaimed bestseller that brilliantly analyzes, turns upside down, ranks the best and the worst of, pokes fun at, and shows a completely new way of viewing the game of baseball.
 
45. Don Delillo. End Zone
 
46. David Wolf. Foul! The Connie Hawkins Story
47. W. P. Kinsella. Shoeless Joe
A timeless story of love, commitment, and baseball. Inspiration for the movie Field of Dreams.
48. Jon Krakauer. Into Thin Air
When Jon Krakauer reached the summit of Mt. Everest in the early afternoon of May 10, 1996, he hadn't slept in over 57 hours and was reeling from oxygen depletion. Twenty other climbers were pushing for the summit, and no one had noticed the clouds filling the sky. Six hours later, and 3,000 feet lower, Krakauer collapsed in his tent. The next morning he learned that six of the climbers hadn't made it back.
49. Eliot Asinof. Eight Men Out
This book covers the fantastic scandal in which eight Chicago White Sox players arranged with the nation's leading gamblers to throw the 1919 World Series.
50. Jules Tygiel. Baseball's Great Experiment
The story of the first Black player in Major League Baseball history. The author suggests that Robinson's impact on society went far beyond the parameters of baseball, since, in the days before Martin Luther King Jr., he personified the era's liberal optimism and reaffirmed the possibility of racial integration. The author's research includes interviews with an impressive number of baseball legends.
 
51. Bill Barich. Laughing in the Hills
 
52. Kevin Kerrane. Dollar Sign on the Muscle
 
53. Sparky Lyle and Peter Golenbock. The Bronx Zoo
54. W. C. Heinz. The Professional
The story of boxer Eddie Brown's quest for the middleweight championship of the world.
55. Macmillan Publishing. The Baseball Encyclopedia
Provides complete statistics for every major league player since 1876, includes Negro league statistics for more than a hundred players, and briefly traces the history of the sport.
56. Richard Hoffer. A Savage Business
In A Savage Business, Richard Hoffer examines the extraordinary two-year series of events that culminated in Tyson's bizarre and horrific biting of Evander Holyfield in their second fight.
 
57. Lawrence S. Ritter. The Glory of Their Times
Great news for baseball fans--here is Lawrence Ritter's remarkable and universally hailed classic, now available in trade paperback. This is the enlarged edition, with 120 fantastic and rare photographs, of the 1966 original. In the words of 26 players, it describes what it was like to play major league baseball at the turn of the century and in the decades shortly thereafter.
 
58. John Thorn. The Complete Armchair Book of Baseball
 
59. Bill Buford. Among the Thugs
 
60. John Helyar. Lords of the Realm
Chronicles the history of the baseball business, from the creation of a multimillion-dollar industry, to the despotic owners and the rise of the union, to the relationship of baseball and television.
 
61. Robert Coover. The Universal Baseball Association, J. Henry Waugh, Prop.
62. Arthur Ashe. Days of Grace
An inspiring memoir by the late Arthur Ashe--tennis champion, social activist, AIDS victim, man of courage and grace. Ashe tells about the athlete's life; tennis court contemporaries such as Connors, McEnroe, and Navratilova; his passionate devotion to his wife and daughter; the places he has been; people he has known; and more.
 
63. Dave Meggyesy. Out of Their League
64. John Updike. Golf Dreams: Writings on Golf
The camaraderie of golf, the perils of its present boom, how to relate to caddies, and how to manage short putts are among the many topics covered. These thirty pieces of pure gold have been dug up from a great variety of sources.
65. Madeleine Blais. In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle
Following one championship season in the lives of the Lady Hurricanes, a high school basketball team from Amherst, Massachusetts, this involving personal account offers a riveting portrait of contemporary female adolescence and the development of girls' self-esteem.
 
66. John Wooden with Jack Tobin. They Call Me Coach
 
67. Howard Cosell. Cosell
 
68. Bobby Jones and O.B. Keeler. Down the Fairway
69. Alexander Wolff. Big Game, Small World
In this engaging piece, the bestselling author of "Raw Recruits" canvasses the globe and travels to 16 different countries (and ten states in the U.S.) to find out exactly why basketball has become a worldwide phenomenon.
70. Darcy Frey. The Last Shot
A rich and poignant chronicle of the hopes, hardships, devotion, and deceptions experienced by young basketball players from New York's meanest streets,
71. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Douglas Kent Hall. Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder
Before he became one of the biggest box-office attractions of our times, Arnold Schwarzenegger was the name in bodybuilding--five-time Mr. Universe and seven-time Mr. Olympia. In this classic book, first published in 1977, Arnold shares the bodybuilding regime that made him a champion and offers glimpses of his personal life.
 
72. Rex Lardner. Out of the Bunker and Into the Trees
73. Norman Mailer. The Fight
The "fight" is the 1975 world heavyweight championship bout in Zaire between then reigning king of the ring Muhammad Ali and up-and-coming George Foreman.
 
74. Robert W. Peterson. Only the Ball Was White
75. Harvey Penick with Bud Shrake. Harvey Penick's Little Red Book
The legendary Harvey Penick who began his golfing career as a caddie in Austin, Texas, at the age of eight, worked with an amazing array of champions over the course of nearly a century, dispensing invaluable wisdom to golfers of every level Penick simplifies the technical jargon of other instructional books and communicates the very essence of the game, and his Little Red Book is full of inspiration and homespun wisdom that reflects at once his great love of golf as well as his great talent for teaching.
 
76. Joe Jares. Whatever Happened to Gorgeous George?
 
77. Arlene Blum. Annapurna
In 1978, 13 women set out to climb Annapurna I in the Nepal Himalaya, achieving the first ascent of the world's 10th highest mountain by an American and by a woman. By proving that women had the skill, strength, and courage necessary to make this difficult and dangerous climb, the 1978 Women's Himalayan Expedition's accomplishment had a positive impact around the world, changing perceptions about women's abilities in sports and other arenas.
 
78. Philip Roth. The Great American Novel
 
79. Eduardo Galeano. Soccer in Sun and Shadow
 
80. Herbert Warren Wind. The Story of American Golf
81. Christine Brennan. Inside Edge
Stating that figure skating is as brutal and competitive as any athletic discipline, a reporter examines today's big stars, from Oksana Baiul to Elvis Stojko, and reveals the dark side of the sport.
 
82. Paul Gallico. Farewell to Sport
 
83. Thomas Hauser. Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times
"The first definitive biography of Muhammad Ali" (The New York Times Book Review), this complete story--written with Ali's full cooperation--takes readers from his rural boyhood to his explosive fight career to the truth about his physical condition today.
 
84. Jimmy Breslin. Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?
85. James F. Fixx. The Complete Book of Running
The first book to popularize jogging covers all the rudiments of the sport, from selecting a good pair of shoes to eating before a race, is presented in an anniversary edition featuring a new introduction.
86. Ted Williams. The Science of Hitting
A comprehensive book of wisdom and anecdote, a baseball bible that offers clear, concise, well-illustrated, fundamental information on how to hit a baseball and, just as important, how to think about hitting a baseball.
 
87. Robert Daley. Only a Game
 
88. Michael Novak. The Joy of Sports
 
89. Vyv Simson and Andrew Jennings. The Lords of the Rings
 
90. Steve Rushin. Road Swing
91. Michael Murphy. Golf in the Kingdom
 
92. Russ Conway. Game Misconduct
 
93. Jerome Holtzman. No Cheering in the Press Box
94. Murray Sperber. Beer and Circus
Issuing what many publications have called a sobering, devastating critique, Murray Sperber argues that what universities offer instead of a meaningful undergraduate education is a meager and dangerous substitute: the party scene surrounding college sports that he calls "beer and circus" and which serves to keep the students happy while tuition dollars keep rolling in.
 
95. Budd Schulberg. The Harder They Fall
 
96. Grantland Rice. The Tumult and the Shouting
 
97. Robert Lipsyte. SportsWorld
 
98. William Brashler. The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings
99. Joe McGinniss. The Miracle of Castel di Sangro
In the summer of 1996, Joe McGinniss set out for the remote Italian village of Castel di Sangro, located deep within the forbidding and isolated region of the Abruzzo. His goal was to spend a season with the village soccer team, which only weeks before had accomplished the feat - hailed throughout Italy as a "miracle" - of winning promotion to the second-highest professional league in the land.
100. Joan Ryan. Little Girls in Pretty Boxes
Welcome to the real world of women's gymnastics and figure skating -- the real world that happens away from the cameras, at the training camps and in the private lives of these talented teenage competitors. From starvation diets and debilitating injuries to the brutal tacties of tyrannical gymnasties guru Bela Karolyi, Little Girls in Pretty Boxes portrays the horrors endured by girls at the hands of their coaches and sometimes their own families.