The best sports books of 2019 to buy as holiday gifts or for yourself

For your search for holiday gifts, here are some of the most insightful, inspiring, and infinitely coolest sports books of the year:

== “Dreamers and schemers: How an unlikely bid for the 1932 Olympics transformed Los Angeles from a dusty outpost to a global metropolis”, by Barry Siegel (UC Press, $29.95, 272 pages)

Cover of “Dreamers and Schermers: How an Improbable Bid for the 1932 Olympics Transformed Los Angeles From Dusty Outpost to Global Metropolis.”

(UC Press)

Giving context to the magic we experienced at the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games and what we’re planning for 2028, this story about real estate baron Billy Garland laying the groundwork in the early 1920s and traversing the Great Depression to give the city a global identity might consider “The Music Man” soundtrack playing in the background. No revisionist history here, just the foundations of a Hollywood script based on Siegel’s hard research.

== “Canyon Dreams: A Season of Basketball About the Navajo Nation”, by Michael Powell (Blue Rider Press, $28, 272 pages)

Cover of

Cover of “Canyon Dreams: A Season of Basketball on the Navajo Nation”.

(blue rider press)

A recent NPR article compares this to how Buzz Bissinger’s “Friday Night Lights” shed light on the impact of prep football. But the buzz generated by this New York Times sports columnist’s exquisite framing of the Navajo Nation’s Chinle High Wildcats in the badlands of northeastern Arizona has us wanting to see “rez ball” up close. It’s basketball that values ​​a hockey-like concept of substituting indoor and outdoor groups, focused on complex teamwork, with deeper meaning for the man who plays it. trains and fights his own season on the brink.

== “Surf Like A Girl”, by Carolina Amell (Prestel Publishing, $50, 256 pages)

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Cover of “Surf Like A Girl”.

(Editions Prestel)

Some call themselves “surfragettes” and live by mottos such as “Happiness comes in waves” and “All we need is vitamin sea”. In “The Endless Summer” meets “Gidget” for a girls’ world tour, an incredibly gorgeous collection of photos and text can best be represented by portraits from the Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club of Sri Lanka. It’s a testament to how sport continues to evolve as a challenge to nature’s equal opportunity and shifting boundaries. Amell, a graphic designer from Barcelona, ​​also channels the karma of photographers such as Maria Fernanda, Cecilia Thibier, Camille Robiou du Pont, Sara Guix, Ming Nomchong and Amber Jones.

== “State: One Team, One Triumph, One Transformation”, by Melissa Isaacson (Agate Midway, $27, 320 pages)

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Cover of “State: A Team, A Triumph, A Transformation”.

(Middle Agate)

Isaacson, the longtime sportswriter now on the faculty of Northwestern Medill, expands on an article she did 15 years ago for the Chicago Tribune about her experience as a 1970s basketball player in Niles. West High in suburban Chicago. The team embraces the challenges and ramifications of gender equality and emerges with a deeper appreciation for its 1979 state championship.

== “Jumbotron Art: Baseball Portraits”, by Peter Chen (self-published, $34.99, 140 pages, on

Cover of

Cover of “Jumbotron Art: Baseball Portraits”.

(Peter Chen)

Torrance-based graphic artist Peter Chen has created so many nostalgic portraits of 70s and 80s MLB players who once had their faces depicted on these state-of-the-art Lite-Brite stadium screens, he l expands with an illuminating book. There are over 900 glowing faces – see how many of them you can guess (yes, that’s Charlie Sheen on the cover as “Wild Thing”).

== “Reflection,” by Tyler Lockett (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $14.99, 112 pages)

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Cover of “Reflection”.

(Andrews McMeel Publishing)

After the Seattle Seahawks receiver opened up about her poetry on a recent “Monday Night Football” pre-game show, Amazon sales propelled her into the online bookseller’s Top 50. It ranks #1 in the football genre and #2 in inspirational and religious poetry.

== “Curveball: How I Discovered True Fulfillment After Pursuing Fortune and Fame,” by Barry Zito with Robert Noland (Thomas Nelson, $26.99, 272 pages)

Cover of

Cover of “Curveball: How I Discovered True Fulfillment After Chasing Fortune and Fame”.

(Thomas Nelson Publishing)

Perhaps a cautionary tale for pitchers like Stephen Strasburg and Gerrit Cole from a fellow Southern Californian who didn’t want his seven-year, $126 million contract with the San Francisco Giants in 2007 to continue. define. What is real success? Find your true self.

== “The Grim Reaper: The Life and Career of a Reluctant Warrior”, by Stu Grimson with Kevin Allen (Viking Books, $27, 352 pages)

Illustration of the cover of "The Grim Reaper: The Life and Career of a Reluctant Warrior.  ”

Cover of “The Grim Reaper: The Life and Career of a Reluctant Warrior”.

(Viking Books)

== “Teemu Selanne: My Life”, by Teemu Selanne with Ari Mennander (Triumph Books, $28, 320 pages)

Cover of

Cover of “Teemu Sellane: my life”.

(Books of Triumph)

We wondered how Stu Grimson’s career might have been different had he been named Zarley Zalapski, Ben Lovejoy or Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond (all real NHL players). Instead, the former Duck (1993-95; 1998-2000) and King (2000-01) stomped their way with a dodgy moniker under which ended up a 14-year career defined by 2,113 minutes penalties in 729 games (against 17 goals and 22 assists). Then the 6-foot-6 winger retired, became a born-again Christian, earned a law degree and served as an in-house lawyer for the NHLPA.

With Selanne, her bio is already a best-seller in Finland and now available in English. The Ducks’ anchorage to their 2007 Stanley Cup title reveals the hurdles he had to overcome to become the NHL star everyone in Helsinki expected of him.

An interesting link to both players is Paul Kariya, who wrote the foreword to Grimson’s book (“I’ve always admired Stu for the man and player he was”) and was integral to the Selanne’s career.

When does Kariya finally write his own thread?

Grover Z. Barnes