Everyday it seems like a sports team is on the field, court, pitch or in the pool. The great thing about sport, other than the healthy living skills you gain from taking part, is that it it can teach you lessons that go way beyond the rules of a game.
We have had a hunt around for sporting books that have been released this year so you, too, can learn and gain insights from the wonderful world of sport.
Just a note of warning: reading this may make you want to pop your running shoes on or ride your bike through France… or get that horse you’ve always dreamed about.
This is the inspirational story of how one man changed a nation, how that nation changed the man and how together they made sporting history. It is late summer 2013. Ben Ryan, a red-haired, 40-something, spectacle-wearing Englishman, is given 20 minutes to decide whether he wants to coach Fiji’s rugby sevens team, with the aim of taking them to the nation’s first-ever Olympic medal. He has never been to Fiji. There has been no discussion of contracts or salary. But he knows that no one plays rugby like the men from these isolated Pacific islands, just as no one plays football like the kids from the Brazilian favelas, or no one runs as fast as the boys and girls from Jamaica’s boondocks. He knows too that no other rugby nation has so little (no money and no resources) only basic equipment and a long, sad history of losing its most gifted players to richer, greedier nations. Ryan says yes. And with that simple word he sets in motion an extraordinary journey that will encompass witchdoctors and interfering prime ministers, sun-smeared dawns and devastating cyclones, intense friendships and bitter rows, phone taps and wild nationwide parties. It will end in Rio with a performance that not only wins Olympic gold but reaches fresh heights for rugby union and makes Ben and his 12 players living legends back home.
The story of FIFA’s fall from grace has it all: power, betrayal, revenge, sports stars, hustlers, corruption, sex and phenomenal quantities of money, all set against exotic locales stretching from Caribbean beaches to the formal staterooms of the Kremlin and the sun-blasted streets of Doha, Qatar. In Red Card, investigative journalist Ken Bensinger takes a journey to FIFA’s dark heart. He introduces the flamboyant villains of the piece – the FIFA kingpins who flaunted their wealth in private jets and New York’s grandest skyscrapers – and the dogged team of American FBI and IRS agents, headed by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who finally brought them to book. Providing fresh insights on a scandal which has gripped the world, he shows how greed and arrogance brought down the most powerful institution in sporting history. A wild, gritty, gripping, and at times blackly comic story, Red Card combines world-class journalism with the pace of a thriller.
Keep an eye out too as Red Card is set to become a major film produced by Pearl Street Films (the production company owned by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck).
From 2015 to 2017, Peter Sagan achieved the seemingly impossible: he won three road race World Championships in a row, ensuring his entry into the history books as one of the greatest riders of all time. But to look at Peter’s record in isolation is to tell only a fraction of his story, because Peter doesn’t just win: he entertains. Every moment in the saddle is an opportunity to express his personality, and nobody else has succeeded in making elite cycling look so much fun. From no-hands wheelies on the slopes of Mont Ventoux to press conference mischief with clamouring journalists, Peter exudes a passion for the sport and a loveable desire to bring smiles to the faces of his fans. So, for the very first time, you will have the opportunity to glimpse behind the scenes of Peter’s world. You will discover the gruelling training programmes necessary for success, and how Peter copes with the pressure of high expectation. You will feel that sense of elation when crossing the line ahead of the pack, and moments of desperation, like in 2017 when Peter realised he wouldn’t be allowed to challenge for his sixth Tour de France green jersey. But what better tonic than to ensure a third year in rainbow – an achievement which may never be repeated again.
Range is the ground-breaking and exhilarating exploration into how to be successful in the 21st Century, from David Epstein the acclaimed author of The Sports Gene. What if everything you have been taught about how to succeed in life was wrong? From the ‘10,000 hours rule’ to the power of Tiger parenting, we have been taught that success in any field requires early specialisation and many hours of deliberate practice. And, worse, that if you dabble or delay, you’ll never catch up with those who got a head start. This is completely wrong. In this landmark book, David Epstein shows that the way to excel is by sampling widely, gaining a breadth of experiences, taking detours, experimenting relentlessly, juggling many interests – in other words, by developing range. Studying the world’s most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, and scientists Epstein discovered that in most fields – especially those that are complex and unpredictable – generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. They are also more creative, more agile, and able to make connections their more specialised peers can’t see. Range proves that by spreading your knowledge across multiple domains is the key to success rather than deepening their knowledge in a single area. Provocative, rigorous, and engrossing, Range explains how to maintain the benefits of breadth, diverse experience and interdisciplinary thinking in a world that increasingly demands, hyper-specialisation.
Ahem, technically this books wasn’t released this year, nor last, but this book is definitely worth a read so we’ve popped it in.
Michelle Payne rode into history as the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup. She and her 100-to-1 local horse Prince of Penzance took the international racing world by surprise but hers was no overnight success story. Michelle was first put on a horse aged four. At five years old her dream was to ride in the Melbourne Cup and win it. By seven she was doing track work. All of the ten Payne children learned to ride racehorses but Michelle has stayed the distance. She has ridden the miles, done the dawn training, fallen badly and each time got back on the horse. So when she declared that anyone who said women couldn’t compete in the industry could ‘get stuffed’, the nation stood up and cheered.
Michelle has the audacity to believe she can succeed against all the odds. Her story is about hope triumphing over adversity, and how resilience and character made a winner.
Okay, one more cheeky book that wasn’t released this year, nor is it a sporting book, but it does cover the topic of excellence, so we thought this earned a spot alongside the great books above.
Where does great culture come from? How do you build and sustain it in your group, or strengthen a culture that needs fixing?
In The Culture Code, Daniel Coyle goes inside some of the world’s most successful organisations—including the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team Six, IDEO, and the San Antonio Spurs—and reveals what makes them tick. He demystifies the culture-building process by identifying three key skills that generate cohesion and cooperation, and explains how diverse groups learn to function with a single mind. Drawing on examples that range from Internet retailer Zappos to the comedy troupe Upright Citizens Brigade to a daring gang of jewel thieves, Coyle offers specific strategies that trigger learning, spark collaboration, build trust, and drive positive change. Coyle unearths helpful stories of failure that illustrate what not to do, troubleshoots common pitfalls, and shares advice about reforming a toxic culture. Combining leading-edge science, on-the-ground insights from world-class leaders, and practical ideas for action, The Culture Code offers a roadmap for creating an environment where innovation flourishes, problems get solved, and expectations are exceeded.
Culture is not something you are—it’s something you do. The Culture Code puts the power in your hands. No matter the size of your group or your goal, this book can teach you the principles of cultural chemistry that transform individuals into teams that can accomplish amazing things together.
Growing up in England, Pico Iyer was taught that the point of a game was to win. We’ve found a charming and profound ted talk where Pico explores what regular games of ping-pong in his neighborhood in Japan have revealed about the riddle of winning and shows why not knowing who’s won can feel like the ultimate victory.
Sport has an amazing way of uniting and inspiring people from all over the world and there is always a game of something on somewhere. It’s currently footy final week here in Melbourne, the Rugby World Cup has just kicked off, the Ashes has just wound up and we are heading into the tennis season with the AO just around the corner. Which sport do you follow?
With so many amazing new books being released it can be daunting choosing one to buy Dad for Father’s Day. But fear not, we have had a poke around the literary world and have rounded up the hottest titles to buy Dad this September. So get your bookmark button ready and prepare to shop for Dad.
Elwood Curtis has taken the words of Dr Martin Luther King to heart: he is as good as anyone. Abandoned by his parents, brought up by his loving, strict and clearsighted grandmother, Elwood is about to enrol in the local black college. But given the time and the place, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy his future, and so Elwood arrives at The Nickel Academy, which claims to provide ‘physical, intellectual and moral training’ which will equip its inmates to become ‘honorable and honest men’. In reality, the Nickel Academy is a chamber of horrors, where physical, emotional and sexual abuse is rife, where corrupt officials and tradesmen do a brisk trade in supplies intended for the school, and where any boy who resists is likely to disappear ‘out back’. Stunned to find himself in this vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold on to Dr King’s ringing assertion, ‘Throw us in jail, and we will still love you.’ But Elwood’s fellow inmate and new friend Turner thinks Elwood is naive and worse; the world is crooked, and the only way to survive is to emulate the cruelty and cynicism of their oppressors. The tension between Elwood’s idealism and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision which will have decades-long repercussions. Based on the history of a real reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped and destroyed the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative by a great American novelist whose work is essential to understanding the current reality of the United States.
This is the story of Australia’s greatest motoring hero, and the dynasty he founded. Sir Jack Brabham was unique in the world of motor racing. He was the boy from Sydney who took on the elite of motor racing and won – not only three major F1 championships but the last one in a car he had built in his home country to his own specifications. To those who saw him on the podium, Jack Brabham might have seemed glorious and triumphant, but his story is full of pain, risk, snubs, endurance, wins, and losses. And only now is he gaining the recognition he deserves as someone who revolutionised Formula One. In 2017 he was inducted into the F1 Hall of Fame. Racing with greats including Stirling Moss, Jackie Stewart and Bernie Ecclestone, he not only revolutionised Formula One he also encouraged others, such as Bruce McLaren. But he remained an outsider – a colonial. Now his sons want to revive the Brabham name and the Brabham brand. With interviews from those who raced with and against ‘Black Jack’, those who built cars with him, those who loved him, and those who crossed him, this is a brilliant and vivid portrait of a motor genius and the racing dynasty he founded.
Dark Emu puts forward an argument for a reconsideration of the hunter-gatherer tag for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians. The evidence insists that Aboriginal people right across the continent were using domesticated plants, sowing, harvesting, irrigating, and storing; behaviours inconsistent with the hunter-gatherer tag. Gerritsen and Gammage in their latest books support this premise but Pascoe takes this further and challenges the hunter-gatherer tag as a convenient lie. Almost all the evidence in Dark Emu comes from the records and diaries of the Australian explorers, impeccable sources. Dark Emu is a must read for anyone who wants to understand what Australia once was, or what it might yet be if we heed the lessons of long and sophisticated human occupation.
A true crime story cannot often be believed, at least at the beginning. In Bowraville, all three of the victims were Aboriginal. All three were killed within five months, between 1990 and 1991. The same white man was linked to each, but nobody was convicted. More than two decades later, homicide detective Gary Jubelin contacted Dan Box, asking him to pursue this serial killing. At that time, few others in the justice system seemed to know, or care, about the murders in Bowraville. Dan spoke to the families of the victims, Colleen Walker-Craig, Evelyn Greenup and Clinton Speedy-Duroux, as well as the lawyers, police officers and even the suspect involved in what had happened. His investigation, as well as the families’ own determined campaigning, forced the authorities to reconsider the killings. This account asks painful questions about what ‘justice’ means and how it is delivered, as well as describing Dan’s own shifting, uncomfortable realisation that he was a reporter who crossed the line.
Six years ago, Evie Cormac was discovered, filthy and half-starved, hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a shocking crime. Now approaching adulthood, Evie is damaged, self-destructive and has never revealed her true identity. Forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven, a man haunted by his own past, is investigating the death of champion figure-skater Jodie Sheehan. When Cyrus is called upon to assess Evie, she threatens to disrupt the case and destroy his ordered life. Because Evie has a unique and dangerous gift – she knows when someone is lying. And nobody is telling the truth. Good Girl Bad Girl is an unnerving psychological thriller from one of the greatest crime writers of today, Michael Robotham, bestselling author of The Other Wife and The Secret She Keeps.
The yield in English is the reaping, the things that man can take from the land. In the language of the Wiradjuri yield is the things you give to, the movement, the space between things- baayanha. Knowing that he will soon die, Albert ‘Poppy’ Gondiwindi takes pen to paper. His life has been spent on the banks of the Murrumby River at Prosperous House, on Massacre Plains. Albert is determined to pass on the language of his people and everything that was ever remembered. He finds the words on the wind. August Gondiwindi has been living on the other side of the world for ten years when she learns of her grandfather’s death. She returns home for his burial, wracked with grief and burdened with all she tried to leave behind. Her homecoming is bittersweet as she confronts the love of her kin and news that Prosperous is to be repossessed by a mining company. Determined to make amends she endeavours to save their land – a quest that leads her to the voice of her grandfather and into the past, the stories of her people, the secrets of the river. Profoundly moving and exquisitely written, Tara June Winch’s The Yield is the story of a people and a culture dispossessed. But it is as much a celebration of what was and what endures, and a powerful reclaiming of Indigenous language, storytelling and identity.
It’s no secret that sport is hugely popular in Australia as it is all over the world. With Summer in full swing here many Australians opt to take on the searing heat, load up cooler bags, grab picnic rugs and head outside to watch sport… any sport. Currently we have the tennis at the Australian Open in full swing, cricket balls being bowled with an impending game against Sri Lanka along with sailing, cycling, rugby, not to mention the Grand Prix coming up on the calendar at the tail end of the season.
With so many options, how on earth does one understand all of the rules, athletes and scandals? To help you with this, we have found a few fabulous titles that can give you an insight into the world of sport so you can hold your own in a conversation around the picnic rug.
When it comes to sport, Australians are mad. Completely, irrationally insane. It’s the closest thing we have to a culture. From Don Bradman’s singular focus to Steven Bradbury’s heroic not falling over, sport has shaped our sense of self. But how did we get here? Part history, part social commentary and a lot of nonsense, Titus O’Reily, Australia’s least insightful sports writer, explains. Covering Australian Rules, League, Union, soccer, cricket, the Olympics and much more, Titus tackles the big topics, including; how not to cheat the salary cap, the importance of kicking people in the shins, and the many shortcomings of the English. Titus takes you through the characters, the pub meetings, the endless acronyms, the corruption and the alarming number of footballers caught urinating in public. Sport is important – gloriously stupid, but important. To understand Australia you must understand its sporting history. With this guide you sort of, kind of, will.
The idea for this book is simple. In the year when Australian cricketers have colluded to nakedly cheat, when attendance rates for all of soccer, rugby union and rugby league have either drifted or roared south, there is an obvious disaffection with modern sport and all the grubbiness that has come with it. Over the last 30 odd years, in articles and books, Peter FitzSimons has tried, among other things, to capture the best, most inspiring, and most heart-warming tales of sports, together with profiling the characters who gave us that magic – or at the very least, engaged us. One thing that became apparent over the years was that there was frequently more reaction for stories about unknowns, and golden greats of yesteryear rather than the modern big bird professionals. Fair Go, Sport is what he regards as the best of such tales. Most, but not all, are Australian based. Ideally, they represent the best of sport, or at least the most alluring, and inspirational, before the ‘serious-ification’ of the whole shebang started to squeeze the life out of it, on so many different levels at once. This is Fitzy at his passionate best. He reminds us that there really are good guys in sport, and that fair play still exists.
He may have just been knocked out of the Australian Open but he’s still our favourite player. Roger Federer’s incredible 2017 comeback which saw him winning Grand Slams in his mid-thirties and reaching new heights most had thought impossible has confirmed his place in the history books as the greatest male tennis player of all time. In this innovative graphic biography, Federer’s tennis is explored like never before: stunning graphics illustrate his serving patterns and superb footwork, detail the spin and speed of his shots, as well as showcase his astonishing records – no man has won more majors, or spent more weeks as the world number one. Drawing on Mark Hodgkinson’s conversations with the Swiss and exclusive interviews with those closest to him, this is the ultimate celebration of the genius of Roger Federer.
`I’m not proud of what’s happened. Y’know, it’s not within the spirit of the game.’ Steve Smith was not to know it at Cape Town on 24 March 2018, but he was addressing his last press conference as captain of the Australian cricket team. By the next morning he would be swept from office by a tsunami of public indignation involving even the prime minister. In a unique admission, Smith confessed to condoning a policy of sandpapering the cricket ball in a Test against South Africa. He, the instigator David Warner, and their agent Cameron Bancroft returned home to disgrace and to lengthy bans. The crisis plunged Australian cricket into a bout of unprecedented soul searching, with Cricket Australia yielding to demands for reviews of the cricket team and of itself to restore confidence in their `culture’.
This is bound to make you chuckle. In Dan Liebke’s debut cricket book, The Instant Cricket Library, you’ll find excerpts from a number of remarkable cricket books, none of which you’ve ever read before -because none of them actually existed. There’s I, Pad, Shane Watson’s infamous manifesto arguing that the LBW Law should be abolished. There’s Out of My Ed, in which you’ll discover the truth about the real Ed Cowan. There’s a Banner-Man comic book, a Mitch Marsh play, and much more. They’re all part of the Instant Cricket Library. Imagine a world after a complete societal collapse. A big collapse, like Australia on a raging Chennai turner. In this dystopian future, all of the world’s cricket books have been destroyed. Nothing remains, not even the Steve Waugh autobiographies, which were previously believed to be impervious not just to casual readers, but to all known forms of physical damage. And yet, a hardy group of researchers search desperately for hints of what might have been lost. A title here. A snippet of text there. A tattered cover somewhere else. They gather all the clues they’ve discovered of the lost world of cricketing literature, and enter them into a hastily constructed supercomputer. Finally, with a burst of makeshift artificial intelligence, they extrapolate from those fragments and regenerate a complete cricket library in an instant. This instant cricket library is a marvel of resourcefulness, and a glorious tribute to the ingenuity and determination of humanity, even when faced with the most nightmarish and cricketless of futures. Just because a cricket book never existed doesn’t mean it’s not worth reading.
Who had the greatest dunk of all time? Which version of Michael Jordan was the best Michael Jordan? What is allowed and absolutely not allowed in a game of pickup basketball? Basketball and Other Things takes readers through the most pivotal and ridiculous fan disputes in basketball history, providing arguments and answers to basketball’s greatest questions, explained with the wit and wisdom that is unique to Shea Serrano. Serrano breaks down debates that all NBA fans have considered, from the classics (Which years was Kobe at his best?) to the fantastical (If you could assign different values to different shots throughout basketball history, what would they be and why?). With incredible art from Arturo Torres, this book is a must-have for anyone who has ever stayed up late into the night debating basketball’s greatest moments, what-ifs, stories, and legends.
And one for those that have been inspired by the athletes in your favourite sport…
So this isn’t technically a sporting book, but it’s message is on point for all athletes, coaches and anyone with a goal.
An atomic habit is defined as a small habit with big results. People say when you want to change your life, you need to think big, swap jobs, move house, change partners. But they’re wrong. World-renowned habits expert James Clear has discovered a completely different way to transform your behaviour. He knows that lasting change comes from the compound effect of hundreds of tiny decisions – doing two push-ups a day, waking up five minutes early, or holding a single short phone call. He calls them atomic habits. In Atomic Habits, Clear delves into cutting-edge psychology to explain why your brain can amplify these small changes into huge consequences. He uncovers a handful of simple life hacks (the forgotten art of Habit Stacking, or the unexpected power of the Two Minute Rule), to show how you, too, turn minuscule shifts in behaviour into life-transforming outcomes. And he reveals a simple four-stage method that will let you build atomic habits into your day-to-day routine, starting now. These nuclear changes will have an explosive effect on your career, your relationships and your life.