Pat Head Summit has been in the news many times as the all time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history. As head coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Vol’s her abilitiy to create amazing teams of winning girls is unsurpassed. Most recently she has been in the news for the announcement of her devastating diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Sum It Up is Pat Summit’s memoirs of a life with incredible accomplishments and difficult challenges. As the only girl in a very hard working farming family, her only past time activity was trying to keep up with her brothers in their nightly games of hayloft basketball. Her demanding father pushed her to her limits and as a coach she demanded the same in the girls she coached. The many quotes throughout the book from her family and friends verify what a strong challenger she was no matter whom or what she was up against. Pat battled back from a terrible knee injury after her journey to Russia with the Olympic team. Her drive to rehabilitate was not enough to be able to play to the level of where she had been so she was able to put her abilities into coaching. She coached an undefeated season, co-captained the first women’s Olympic team, and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. She always saw that her fame was of little importance in this world of ever changing victories.
Pat Summit is a courageous woman facing a difficult future with optimism, hope and a zest for life even though most others with that diagnosis feel the opposite. She recognizes that nothing is certain with Alzheimer’s and everything is possible. There are people in the best medical institutions working on a cure and her faith and their science together can work miracles.
The Summer Olympics seem in the distant past, but we haven’t forgotten the amazing, star gymnast Gabby Douglas who won the gold along with all our hearts. She has co-authored an autobiography about her rise to the pinnacle of Olympic history which is enjoyable and inspiring. Particularly recommended for young adults as encouragement to keep on pursueing their dreams, Gabby tells her story of sacrifice with little negativity. She shares her families history of struggle when they lived in their car and had nothing, the endless practice,the sacrifice of her sisters who gave up their own loves of ballroom dancing and ice skating, and the neglect of her father- her biggest hurt. She gives credit to her families faith in God and their love as the biggest factors in her successful rise to stardom.
Every one believes that John and Abby Reynolds are and have always been madly in love. After 22 years of marriage, no one but John and Abby know the truth. The day they had decided to tell their children that they were filing for divorce, was the day their daughter announced her engagement. They couldn’t tell them now, not until after the wedding six months down the road. How could they keep up the farce for that long.
They have left there faith by the wayside and now their love for one another doesn’t exist. Abby believes John is having an affair, despite John’s insistence that he is not. John believes Abby is envolved with her editor, but Abby insists it isn’t true. Although, A Time to Dance is mainly about John and Abby, there are many other interesting characters involved with this story of life. I read this book from the Sunflower eLibrary, but it is available in hard copy too.
True Believers by humorist Joe Queenan is a great read for football season. If you are a rabid sports fan (you know who you are), you will appreciate this book. Queenan opens his book by recounting his visits to a therapist for his sports addiction problem. He and the therapist quickly reach an impasse when Queenan can’t understand how he can care more about the fate of the rain forest than that of the Philadelphia 76erers. This book had me laughing from the get go, because I could relate to many of Queenan’s sentiments. There is a particularly hilarious chapter on front-running fans, (whom I also find annoying). While Queenan states that these fans have the right to be front runners, he does not believe that “such individuals should ever be married, befriended, employed, feted, consulted, or fed . . . . .Attention, marriageable females: If you go through your Los Angelino boyfriend’s closet and find a Chicago Bulls jersey, call off the wedding. If he betrayed the Lakers, he will have no trouble betraying you.”
There is also a great chapter on parents bringing up their kids to be fans. Any parent who has tried to take their young kids to a sporting event will appreciate Queenan’s account. His theory is that concession lines are long at major league baseball games because nobody really wants to watch more than six innings or so of baseball anyway. And, if you take your kids to the concessions three times during the game to get snacks, you might actually make it to the end of the game! He decries those “mentally ill” parents who bring their own snacks thus ensuring they will only make it to the bottom of the fifth before having to leave. If you don’t mind laughing at yourself or fellow fans, give this one a try!
I love the Olympics. In fact, some might call me slightly obsessed! So, I was looking for a good running book to get ready for all those track and field events. I came across The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb, and it is the perfect book to get you geared up for the Olympics. Although not about the Olympics per say, it is a great glimpse into the training and competitive drive it takes to be a world class runner. The Perfect Mile is about the race to become the first person in history to break the four minute mile barrier. In the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, three runners from three different continents had disappointing performances. After returning home, each, for different reasons, decided he was going to be the first to run the mile in under four minutes. All three faced their own personal obstacles. John Landy of Australia had no coach and extremely poor track conditions to race on. Englishman Roger Bannister was in medical school and had extremely limited time for training. The American, Wes Santee, had to put his KU teammates above himself which left little time to focus on perfecting the mile. Not to mention, the three men were true amateurs, receiving no rich sponsorship deals or any kind of money for their races, even though their races attracted huge amounts of fans and generated lots of money for others. Each man was aware the others were all gunning to be the first one to break the barrier, so the pressure was on. Even though I knew the eventual outcome, it didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the book one bit, and I would definitely recommend this book to all athletes or sports fans out there.
Are you tired of all of the hype surrounding exercise? It seems like we are constantly bombarded with information regarding the best ways to exercise and how much time we really need to spend working out. Finally, a book that the average person can understand that explores actual research behind current trends in exercise. The First 20 Minutes by Gretchen Reynolds is great for everyone from couch potatoes to athletes. For instance, it answers many questions that runners have. Is it necessary to purchase those high dollar running shoes to avoid injuries or are those new “barefoot” running shoes the way to go? And, if I do go for a run or work out, are sports drinks the best way to stay hydrated and recover? If I am entering a race should I carbo load for optimal performance? For everyone from the occasional to the regular exerciser, a number of questions are answered as well. For example, just how much time do you need to spend exercising per week to start reaping health benefits? Do I really need to do all that stretching before and after I exercise to avoid injuries? Is weight training valuable or should most of my time be spent on cardio? If I’m exercising why don’t I ever lose any weight? For those who are not currently motivated to work out, this book is for you also. It discusses many of the benefits of exercise not only for your body but also for your brain!
Whether you like baseball or not, you have to admit that it provides some good stories. John Grisham just recently came out with Calico Joe, which I’m looking forward to reading. Here are some other baseball tales to enjoy.
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
One errant throw sets of a series of events that changes the lives of many in this story of the baseball team at a small liberal-arts college in Wisconsin. Harbach explores the lives of the characters, as well as the beloved game.
Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella
If you’re in the mood for a good book/movie combo, this is the book that Field of Dreams was based on. A farmer in Iowa builds a baseball field for the past baseball greats, roping a reclusive writer into the project along the way.
The End of Baseball by Peter Schilling
In a dream-worthy alternate history, Bill Veeck transforms 1940′s baseball by recruiting the best of the best Negro Leagues baseball stars to play on the the Philadelphia Athletics, causing an uproar from fans, players, and even the United States government.
Watching baseball to me is about as exciting as watching paint dry. Well, I might like it somewhat better than that cliche portends if I have a connection to one of the teams playing, but it is not something I would normally choose to do. So why did I pick up a book about baseball? I like John Grisham’s legal thrillers and I was aware that his newest book, Calico Joe was on the New York Times Bestseller list and was a fairly short book. Why not see how a good writer deviates from his normal genre?
I found myself enjoying the story and immediately getting caught up in the characters lives. The story jumps between August 1973 when a professional baseball player, Calico Joe Castle is hit in the head by a pitcher, Warren Tracey and then thirty years later when Warren Tracey is dying of cancer. Narrated by Paul Tracey, the book has a heartfelt message of righting wrongs, when Paul, estranged from his now dying father, pushes him to ask forgiveness from the man he hurt. Grisham has successfully branched out of legal thrillers with a couple other titles also, Painted House, Skipping Christmas, Bleachers, and Playing for Pizza.
In this extraordinary memoir, Jim Abbott tells the story of his life as a child and of the years before and after becoming a major league pitcher. Not just a biography nor just a baseball story, Imperfect: an Improbable Life is the story of a man’s perseverance and dedication to overcome his physical disability and to gain acceptance for his achievements as a player and a person, not only as a disabled person. Abbott was born without a right hand and was raised by two young parents who provided unconditional love and who taught Jim to regard his disability as an opportunity and a challenge. As a child, Abbott hides his right arm in a pocket, enduring the teasing of other children for being different. He plays baseball and football with neighborhood children and gains acceptance for his abilities on the playing field. Hours of throwing a ball against a wall improve his pitching and his technique to throw then place the ball glove on his left hand for fielding. Abbott eventually plays high school baseball and football, wins an Olympic Gold Medal for baseball, was an All-American player the University of Michigan and is drafted by the California A’s baseball team. The book follows the ups and downs of his baseball career, and chapters about his life alternate with chapters describing each inning of the no-hitter that he pitched while playing for the New York Yankees. Inspiring is Abbott’s humility, and his belief that his example of achievement despite obstacles will inspire children with disabilities to reach for their own dreams. The most touching moments in his story are those before and after each game, when Abbott spent countless hours signing autographs, talking with families of children with disabilities, and answering hundreds of letters from disabled children.
Told with honesty and humor, this is a memoir not only about a career in baseball but of a life that inspires us all to overcome the burdens and challenges of living.
The Kansas Read for 2012 is Our Boys by Joe Drape, the inspirational story of the Smith Center Redmen and the community that cheers them on. We are excited to announce that we will have the author here at our library on Thursday, February 9!
When New York Times sports writer Joe Drape moves to Smith Center, the Redmen have won 67 games in a row, holding the nation’s longest high-school winning streak. He is determined to find what creates such a successful football program, only to discover a coach that uses football to teach his team how to succeed in life and a town that maintains values of love, patience, and hard work in the midst of struggle. Our Boys goes beyond being a story about football to teach us about community and raising the next generation.
Whether Branch Rickey was a good man is still up for debate.It is beyond question, however, that he was a man that influenced the course of American history.Rickey had the radical idea of signing the first African American man to play Major League Baseball, legendary hero Jackie Robinson.According to Breslin, Rickey was motivated by both altruism and money, but, regardless of his reason, he shook up the world of baseball and eventually the entire country.Branch Rickey by Jimmy Breslin is a short biography, focused mostly on this monumental time in Rickey’s life which became his greatest legacy.The story is covered more thoroughly in other works, but Breslin has the incredible ability to write like someone gathered in a bar telling tales over a few beers.If you’re interested in American history or baseball and want a brief glimpse into the story behind the story, this is that book.
At face value, this is a story about baseball, about a little girl and her love of the Dodgers and how it brought her closer to her father. But as you get further into Doris Kearns Goodwin’s story, Wait Till Next Year, this becomes the story of a time period lost to us now. Kearns Goodwin grew up in a small suburb of New York. Her father rode the train into the city everyday and took time every evening to hear his little girl’s report on the Dodgers game. Her mother was sickly, but still managed to be the ultimate homemaker. They were surrounded by friends who gathered for backyard barbeques. She knew the local shopkeepers and they tolerated her endless curiosity. It seems like an ideal time, but she also talks about the undercurrents that were starting to bubble up like McCarthyism and racism and social conditions that would eventually tear apart the community she so loved. Threaded through the history of this community is the story of baseball. The neighborhood was split into factions that cheered the Yankees, Giants, and the Dodgers. Friendly taunting among the groups was part of the social interaction during a time when the teams often faced each other in league championship as well as World Series games. Baseball was something that brought the community and families together. Doris Kearns Goodwin utilizes her story telling magic to transport the reader to another place and time and cheer on this little girl who loved baseball.
One of the fun aspects of baseball is the larger-than-life personalities, yet those who do their best to preserve the integrity of the game prefer it if we don’t notice them at all. As They See ‘Em by Bruce Weber is the story of umpires, including the controversies, the hints, and the training. Weber attended Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring and crossed the country interviewing umpires to get the inside story. He reveals the unique talents required, the difficult living conditions, and the ability to shrug off insults along with anecdotes about difficult calls and difficult players and managers. As They See ‘Em presents a new perspective on America’s game.