It’s been a scorcher here in Melbourne…thank goodness it’s now the weekend and we can sit back and watch the finals of the Australian Open…with air-conditioning! Happy weekend everyone!
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.
First up, let’s look at sport in Australia…
Thoroughly Unhelpful History of Australian Sport by Titus O’Reily
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.
Fair Go, Sport by Peter FitzSimons
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.
One for the Tennis fans…
Fedegraphica by Mark Hodgkinson
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.
For the cricket lovers…
Crossing The Line by Gideon Haigh
`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.
For the NBA diehards…
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…
Atomic Habits by James Clear
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.
When you look at sporting achievements over the last decades, it seems like humans have gotten faster, better and stronger in nearly every way. But is that really the case?
It’s the middle of summer here in Melbourne and with with that comes sport…a lot of sport. We really enjoy watching the tennis on hot summer evenings. Which sport do you get into over summer?
Summer is in full swing here in Melbourne which brings with it copious amounts of sport! This week on the blog we’ll share our top sporting books but for today we have one of our favourite quotes for you.
This is one of our favourite dad stereotypes out there. You’ll recognise them, especially if your dad is one, or your husband, or perhaps you. And their numbers are swelling at an alarming rate thanks to the Tour de France and it’s ridiculously long tv coverage time.
MAMILs are Middle Aged Men In Lycra who consider themselves a keen road cyclist, typically ride an expensive bike and wear the type of clothing which is generally associated with, and suits, professional cyclists…even though they are not.
So other than a bike, inner tubes or brightly coloured lycra, what can you buy the MAMIL for Father’s Day? Fear not, we have gathered a few literary suggestions for you…that’ll save you a trip to the bike shop.
The Modern MAMIL (Middle-aged Man in Lycra): A Cyclist’s A to Z by Spencer Wilson
There is a new breed emerging. They hunt in packs, dressed in unforgiving lycra. Their natural habitat is the local espresso bar, where they obsess about power-to-weight ratios and worship the latest high-tech road bikes. Desperate to shave a few milligrams for speed, they will spend thousands on anything made out of carbon – conveniently forgetting about their own waistlines. At night they dream they are Bradley Wiggins or Alberto Contador. They are the MAMILs, and they are taking over the world. The Modern MAMIL – a cyclist’s Notebook can be used as a training log, a place to record race dates, targets and route notes.
My Time: An Autobiography by Bradley Wiggins
On 22 July 2012 Bradley Wiggins made history as the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France. Ten days later at the London Olympic Games he won the time trial to become his country’s most decorated Olympian. In an instant `Wiggo’, the kid from Kilburn, was a national hero. Two years previously, however, Wiggins had been staring into the abyss. His much-hyped attempt to conquer the 2010 Tour de France had ended in public humiliation. Poor results and indifferent form left him facing the sack from Team Sky. And then he was hit with the tragic news of the death of his granddad, George, the man who had raised him as a young boy. At rock bottom, Wiggins had to reach deep inside himself and find the strength to fight his way back. Outspoken, honest, intelligent and fearless, Wiggins has been hailed as the people’s champion. In My Time he tells the story of the remarkable journey that led him from his lowest ebb to win the world’s toughest race. In his own words he reveals the personal anguish that has driven him on and what it’s like behind the scenes at Team Sky: the brutal training regimes, the sacrifices and his views on his teammates and rivals. He talks too about his anger at the spectre of doping that pursues his sport, how he dealt with the rush of taking Olympic gold and above all what it takes to be the greatest.
The Cycling Jersey by Oliver Knight
Aside from the bikes themselves, the jersey – maillot or maglia – has become the most iconic symbol of cycling’s history, its proud teams and preeminent riders and most recently its fashion. There is a booming collectors market for vintage jerseys, and the finest quality traditional and retro manufacturers including De Marchi, Castelli and Rapha and are registering huge increases in sales. Sir Paul Smith features jerseys in his collections and designs them for the Grand Tours.
The Cycling Jersey is the result of one man’s passion for a piece of kit that defines cyclists the world over. Naturally the book has wonderful pictures of cycling jerseys (and lots of them), all presented in large, glossy, and colourful splendour.
Obsessive Compulsive Cycling Disorder by Dave Barter
This is an anthology of thirty articles written by an amateur cyclist over a period of ten years. The collection exhibits the madness that engulfs those who descend into cycling obsession, celebrating the average cyclist living in a world defined by the pros. The writings range from fanciful musings concerning the Tao of single speeding to lengthy descriptions of end-to-end rides in Britain and Ireland. Mountain biking, road cycling and all sorts of other cycling events are chronicled along the way. Each is written in a lighthearted style designed to bring the reader into the author’s world which is often littered with incident and humour. Within the pages the reader will find a loose ticklist of events to ride, bikes to own and challenges to take on. Each described in the author’s own inimitable style.
And for the MAMIL who has no time to read, but will pop his bike up onto rollers in front of the tv we’ve found two great DVDs to gift.
During the week, they are white-collar professionals with responsible jobs, families and mortgages. Come the weekend, they transform into Lycra-clad super heroes; road warriors on expensive carbon framed bikes traveling in packs and competing with other males for dominance in the group. MAMIL is a feature length documentary that dares to enter this secret world of middle-aged men to uncover the reasons they take to the road. Narrated by Tour de France and cycling commentator, Phil Liggett.
Road To Roubaix is a documentary on the most prestigious one-day cycling race in the world, Paris-Roubaix. First held in 1896, the race is a gruelling contest over 160 miles of narrow, cobbled farm roads in the Picardie and Norde-Pas-de-Calais regions of France with a finish in the historic Roubaix velodrome. Road to Roubaix is a visual narrative of an old-school, bare-knuckle clash of the finest athletes in the world with each other and one of the world’s most unforgiving sporting environments. The filmmakers tell the story of the riders, the fans, the mechanics, and the unpredictable landscape that is the setting for the Paris-Roubaix.
Happy Father’s Day to all of the MAMIL Dads!
Global media has had a field day of late with scandals behind recent book releases. One was a podcast, which was aiming to celebrate US author Roxane Gay, that went horribly wrong – global headline-making wrong.
Another began with a Facebook post share that angered men’s rights activists, and ended with more than 2000 people showing their support to a popular independent bookstore in Brisbane.
Then, unsurprisingly, there was sport and politics…
Hunger by Roxane Gay
The day before this book was to be released Roxane Gay heard the introduction to the Mia Freedman Mamamia podcast in which she was described as “super-morbidly obese” and also made a series of sensational claims about the “planning” that went into accommodating Gay such as “Will she fit into the office lift?”. The following day, Hunger was released amid global headlines about the incident with Mamamia, including from The New York Times, Washington Post and The Guardian, as well as equivalent women’s websites in the US. Gay tweeted: “Today was supposed to be about my new book. That is what I wanted. And then an Australian website made today painful.”
So what is the book about?
In her phenomenally popular essays and long-running Tumblr blog, Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and body, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her own body as “wildly undisciplined,” Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In Hunger, she explores her past -including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life- and brings readers along on her journey to understand and ultimately save herself.
With the bracing candour, vulnerability, and power that have made her one of the most admired writers of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to learn to take care of yourself: how to feed your hungers for delicious and satisfying food, a smaller and safer body, and a body that can love and be loved -in a time when the bigger you are, the smaller your world becomes.
Fight Like a Girl by Clementine Ford
One Monday morning, West End’s Avid Reader (an independent bookstore) shared a post by feminist writer Clementine Ford who announced she had signed a contract with her publisher for a new book to be published next year.
The social media post was going smoothly until men’s rights activists started bombarding the Facebook page with one star reviews.
So what is the book about?
Online sensation, fearless feminist heroine and scourge of trolls and misogynists everywhere, Clementine Ford is a beacon of hope and inspiration to thousands of Australian women and girls. Her incendiary debut Fight Like A Girl is an essential manifesto for feminists new, old and soon-to-be, and exposes just how unequal the world continues to be for women. Crucially, it is a call to arms for all women to rediscover the fury that has been suppressed by a society that still considers feminism a threat.
Bomber The Whole Story by Mark Thompson
After 34 years in the game, Mark ‘Bomber’ Thompson stepped away from AFL footy following the Essendon drugs scandal but not before the press discussed it every week for over a year.
So what is the book about?
Mark Thompson has had more than his fair share of challenges and dramas in his career. He’s been part of five premierships: three as a player at Essendon where he was coached by the best and two at Geelong where he coached that club’s greatest team of all. He exited the game amid the Essendon supplements scandal with unfinished business. After 34 years ‘at a thousand kilometres an hour’, Thompson has taken the opportunity to reflect on the game that shaped him and to reveal the personal cost of his involvement at the top level. We ride the bumps of the coaches’ box, the boardroom and the press conferences as Mark Thompson handles things his own way. He talks about his mentors, his protégés and contemporaries with insight and candour. And he reveals the development of what became his trademark as a successful coach: building a team from the ground up to play defence-first accountable footy, with kamikaze ball movement, under a teacher-mentor relationship. This is as good a book about football as you’ll get, from a purist who is not interested in the politics of the AFL. His legacy is some of the greatest footy to be played in the modern era. ‘I hate group-think, it’s just not my style. I have never been part of any boy’s club in footy. I have been an independent going right back to my youth . . . I make no apologies for saying what I think. It is my story, after all.’
The Road to Ruin by Niki Savva
From buttock-slapping to pushing the PM’s wife out of the picture, this was the book political junkies have been salivating over and Tony Abbott loyalists had been fearing.
Former Liberal staffer and journalist Niki Savva’s explosive account of the former prime minister’s downfall, Road to Ruin: How Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin Destroyed Their Own Government, made headlines with its revelations about the pair facing affair rumours and the former chief of staff’s temper.
So what is the book about?
In The Road to Ruin , Niki Savva reveals the ruinous behaviour of former prime minister Tony Abbott and his chief of staff, Peta Credlin. Based on her unrivalled access to their colleagues, and devastating first-person accounts of what went on behind the scenes, Savva paints an unforgettable picture of a unique duo who wielded power ruthlessly but not well.
They say sport is a universal language: it bridges divides between race, religion and culture. The ability to achieve a goal through skill, persistence and team work is lauded in many modern societies. Here are our collection of new sporting titles to satiate the most fervent sporting fan.
The Game: A Collection of the best AFL Stories, edited by Dennis Cometti
If there is someone equipped to write about the best AFL stories (both on and off the field) over the past 10 years, it’s Dennis Cometti. As one of the most respected sports broadcasters in Australian history, Cometti and writers such as Greg Baum, Caroline Wilson, Martin Flanagan, Rohan Connolly, Emma Quayle and Jake Niall examine the characters, moments and champions that have impacted the game in modern history.
The Greatest – My Own Story by Muhammad Ali
The life and recent passing of boxing great Muhammad Ali has had an impact on sporting and non-sporting fans alike. However, while we all witnessed the glory of ‘The Rumble in the Jungle’ or ‘The Thrilla in Manila’ , only Muhammad Ali knew his life as he lived it. The Greatest is Ali’s own story. For six years he worked, traveled and talked with Richard Durham, a writer with a stunning talent, and the result is mesmerizing in its brilliance, drama, humanity and sheer entertainment.
My Fight/Your Fight by Ronda Rousey
“The fight is yours to win”. This is The Sunday Times and New York Times Bestseller. An Olympic medalist in Judo and #2 ranked UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion, Ronda Rousey had a difficult path to glory. A childhood marked with speech problems and loss, she pushed her mind and body to the limit in pursuit of victory. My Fight/Your Fight is about showing us all how we can turn our limitations into opportunities. An inspiring read.
This Road I Ride by Juliana Buhring
In December 2012, Juliana Buhring became the first woman to circumnavigate the world by bicycle. With only a few months of training and little sponsorship, support, or money she left from Naples on 23 July 2012. 18,060 miles, 152 days, 4 continents, 19 countries, 29 punctures, 4 breakdowns, 6 mountains, 1 desert and a cyclone later, she made it back just days before Christmas with a Guinness World Record, proving that anyone can achieve the extraordinary. Discover a story of adventure, blood, sweat and gears.
Life As I Know It by Michelle Payne
First put on a horse at age four and at 5 declaring she would win the Melbourne cup, Michelle Payne is no overnight success story. Riding 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. Michelle’s story is about hope triumphing over
adversity, and how resilience and character made a winner.
What happened at Essendon, what happened at Cronulla, is only part of the story. From the basement office of a suburban football club to the seedy corners of Peptide Alley to the polished corridors of Parliament House, The Straight Dope is an inside account of the politics, greed and personal feuds which fuelled an extraordinary saga. Clubs and coaches determined to win, a sports scientist who doesn’t play by the rules, a generation of footballers held hostage by scandal and injected with who knows what, sport administrators hell bent on control, an anti-doping authority out of its depth, an unpopular government that just wants it to enda for two tumultuous seasons this was the biggest game in Australia.
Many of the world’s great writers have been drawn to writing about sport. They make for great reads: high drama, human tension, effort, payoff, win or lose. Here are our top 5 recommended reads for classic sports action:
Beyond a Boundary by CLR James
In C. L. R. James’s classic Beyond a Boundary, the sport is cricket and the scene is the colonial West Indies. Always eloquent and provocative, James–the “black Plato,” (as coined by the London Times)–shows us how, in the rituals of performance and conflict on the field, we are watching not just prowess but politics and psychology at play. Part memoir of a boyhood in a black colony (by one of the founding fathers of African nationalism), part passionate celebration of an unusual and unexpected game, Beyond a Boundary raises, in a warm and witty voice, serious questions about race, class, politics, and the facts of colonial oppression. Originally published in England in 1963 and in the United States twenty years later (Pantheon, 1983), this second American edition brings back into print this prophetic statement on race and sport in society.
Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby
A famous account of growing up to be a fanatical football supporter. Told through a series of match reports, FEVER PITCH has enjoyed enormous critical and commercial success since it was first published in 1992. It has helped to create a new kind of sports writing, and established Hornby as one of the finest writers of his generation.
Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team & A Dream by H G Bissinger
Return once again to the enduring account of the Permian Panthers of Odessa — the most successful high school football team in Texas history.
King of the World by David Remnick
Explores the transformation of a young boxer into an internationally renowned athlete, mythic hero, American icon, and central figure in the twentieth century’s social, cultural, and racial conflicts
The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
Follows Peekay, a white British boy in South Africa during World War II, between the ages of five and eleven, as he survives an abusive boarding school and goes on to succeed in life and in the boxing ring.
The sporting autobiography is often about the motivation, the sacrifice and the drive that it takes to succeed at such high levels of professional sport. We have included 5 of our favourites, including some controversial characters:
Keane: The Autobiography by Roy Keane
Roy Keane, captain of Manchester United and the Irish national team, was born in Cork in 1971. He signed for Manchester United from Nottingham Forest in 1993. In 2000 he was awarded the PFA Player of the Year 2000. His footballing intelligence and fierce determination helped Ireland to qualify for the 2002 World Cup. But his passion has sometimes given rise to the wrong kind of headlines. His commitment to winning has led to violent confrontation on the pitch and controversy off it.
Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi
A candid memoir by the tennis champion includes coverage of his Grand Slam wins, establishment of a charitable foundation for underprivileged children and marriage to Stefanie Graf.
Aussie Grit: My Formula One Journey by Mark Webber
In the exhilarating, high-stakes world of Formula One, only the fastest make it to the top. And no one knows this better than Australian Formula One legend Mark Webber. His career in F1 stretched for an incredible eleven years, seeing him garner thirteen poll positions, earn forty-two podiums and win nine races including the crown jewel of F1, the Monaco Grand prix, twice. But there’s more than F1 to the story of the boy from Queanbeyan. In this candid book, Webber divulges the personal struggles that formed his Aussie grit character and reveals for the first time what really went down at Red Bull and the truth behind his rivalry with teammate Sebastian Vettel. From his near career-ending injury in 2008, his breakthrough ‘not bad for a number two driver’ win in 2009 to the ‘Multi 21’ controversy of 2011 and his new beginning with Porsche and the challenge of Le Mans 2014, Mark Webber pulls no punches in this captivating, personal story.
Surf for your Life by Mick Fanning
Two-time world champion surfer Mick Fanning may only be twenty-eight, but he’s already experienced more than most of us ever will. How does it feel to lose a brother? Win a world title? Rip your hamstring muscle clean off the bone? Weave through a zippering Superbank barrel for twenty to thirty seconds or paddle over the ledge at places like Pipeline and Teahupo’o?
KP: The Autobiography by Kevin Pieterson
The fascinating life story of professional cricketer Kevin Pietersen, MBE, from his childhood in South Africa to his recent experiences as one of the leading lights in the world of international cricket. Kevin was dropped from the England squad in February of this year, seemingly calling time on an international career that began nearly ten years earlier.