Now that you’ve polished off that last plate of Thanksgiving leftovers, perhaps you’ve decided to hit the gym and unleash your inner athlete—and work off some of that pie you ate for breakfast. Before you go (or while you’re on the treadmill), check out these sports stories, both real and imagined, that will give you the motivation you need to get the most out of your gym membership or try out a new sport entirely.
As if swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112, and then running 26.2 weren’t enough of a challenge, imagine trying that Ironman after undergoing a heart transplant and hip replacement. Garlett’s inspiring journey from cancer patient to Olympic torch-bearing triathlete makes spin class look like a snap.
Climbing Mount Everest? It’s been done. Swimming the English Channel, and doing it as a teenage woman in 1926? There’s something you don’t often hear about—because it has so rarely been done. This account of Trudy Ederle’s accomplishment will make you want to log some laps at the nearest pool.
You’ve probably seen Hillary Swank throw some impressive punches in the Oscar winning movie, but have you read F.X. Toole’s short stories that inspired the film? Published just two years before his death, Toole’s precise, graphic prose hits like a well-rehearsed right hook.
Maybe we’re too fixated on any given Sunday here in the U.S., but Foer’s unlikely book on soccer—which explores globalization and world economics through the lens of this sport—will make you think there’s room for another type of football in your life.Norman Mailer declared James Jones the only writer with more talent than himself, and his writing prowess certainly comes into focus in this tale of a playwright becoming obsessed with deep sea diving—a sport not for the faint at heart.
Whether you’re trying to set a personal record or just finish a mile, Bascomb’s account of a young British doctor, a Kansas farm boy, and an Australian aristocrat with nothing in common but the desire to outrun each other will give you new-found respect for your local track.
What is it that drives people to maddening lengths to succeed, especially at a sport that lies in the margins of popular culture? That question drove Halberstam to write this book about the four Americans who rowed in the 1984 Olympics, and it’s a compelling read for sports fans and pacifists alike.
There are things we like to do, and there are things we like to read about but never, ever, ever do in real life. Case in point: this clever memoir about people who run marathons in Antarctica. Yes, you heard that correctly: Antarctica. It sounds miserable, but we’re glad someone did it (and had enough energy left to write a book about it).
History is full of great rivalries. Greece vs. Troy. Aaron Burr vs. Alexander Hamilton. Kanye West vs. Taylor Swift. When it comes to basketball, though, no rivalry was more important in bringing the game to national attention than Larry Bird versus Magic Johnson. This is their dual account of their own experiences during the NBA’s glory days.
Sports stars are often elevated to mythical proportions, and baseball legend Mickey Mantle is no exception. Before you hit the big leagues, may we suggest Leavy’s biography: a search for the man behind seven world championships, and a good reminder that even athletes are mere mortals.
Deep in the Himalayan Mountains, twelve athletes race to the top of a 22,000 foot peak, a two million dollar prize on the line. Oh, and the world is watching via live streaming broadcast. Ullman’s novel reads like Survivor on steroids.
For beginners or seasoned runners, check out this guide to training your mind to maximize the pleasures of pounding the pavement. With a little Zen in your morning jog, you just might do it again tomorrow.
Maybe you’ve done a Tough Mudder and you’re looking to kick things up a notch. How about moving to Alaska to train Siberian Huskies for the world’s hardest dogsled race? Obstacles include wayward moose, hungry wolves, and thin ice. Safety not guaranteed.