Okay, I know. Not all of us are sports fans. But you know people who are, and wouldn’t they love a cool book about their national pastime? Doesn’t God care about sports? According to my facebook feed, God cares about sports quite a lot. At least God’s friends do.
To Stir a Movement: Life, Justice, and Major League Baseball Jeremy Affeldt (Beacon Hill) $21.99 I promoted this a bit this summer and shared how thrilled I was to read the memoir and Christian testimony of a major league pitcher who is honest, down to Earth, truly interesting and who is leveraging his fame and fortune for social justice. Everybody knows about the scourge of modern slavery, but few of us really do anything about it.
Jeremy Affeldt is using his voice to demolish the barriers that stand between people, and invites us all to make a difference. Not to mention that he’s been in two World Series and is one of the best left-handed relievers ever to play the game. I’ve not read a sports bio that is quite like this. Way to go, JA.
And what a season they’ve had this year! Included are interviews with, or testimonies of, manager Mike Matheny, third baseman David Freese, pitchers Adam Wainwright, Jason Motte and Trevor Rosenthal, and a whole host of others — including support staff, even a renowned broadcaster. Plus, it’s a cool title for a book about discipleship among ballplayers.
Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game John Sexton with Thomas Oliphant and Peter Schwartz (Gotham) $27.50 This is a deep and thoughtful book, based on and telling about the wildly popular “Baseball as a Road to God” seminar that the author (President of New York University) has lead both at the university, and elsewhere, for years. Few people know the sport, its legends and villains “its near irresistible appeal, its breathtaking moments of drama” as well as Sexton and his associates. He also is interested in religious perception, spirituality and faith. Bill Moyers says, “In the church of baseball, John Sexton is one of the preeminent theologians.” Not too many scholars of the sport also know Aquinas, Tillich and Tolkien, but this guy does. Mature, illuminating, delightful.
Baseball, Boys, and Bad Words: A True Story of Little League, Laughter, and Life Andy Andrews (Nelson) $12.99 This is a small-sized, full-color, gift-book type title where beloved storyteller Andrews narrates his 11th summer, in 1970, with a group of friends who began a Little League season they would never forget. In a funny tale that carries the smell of well-worn gloves, freshly cut grass and brand new uniforms, you’ll learn about their season with a new coach. And that’s where it gets interesting. Nice pictures, graphics, quotes, too. Very sweet.
The Game: One Man, Nine Innings, A Love Affair With Baseball Robert Benson (Tarcher) $12.99 I love this writer, admire him and trust him, and read almost anything he does — from gardening to fixed hour prayer to what we can learn from the Benedictines about being in community. He’s a measured, caring writer, and you may recall I not long ago raved about his very moving book about his aged mother, Moving Miss Peggy. Anyway, this is one that is always worth mentioning when one is search for classy, caring prose about this slow, beautiful sport. Everybody rightly mentions George Will and his amazing book on baseball,
but this one is similarly thoughtful, and fun, too.
The Best American Sports Writing – 2013 edited by J. R. Moehringer (Mariner) $14.95 Okay, it isn’t just about baseball, but we carry most of this great annual series — from the best comics to the best essays to the best infographics to the best short stories. A lovely gift for anyone who loves good writing or who wants to get up to speed on a topic or genre. Here you have some stunning writers, ruminating on some amazing athletes and waxing wonderful on some remarkable aspects of our fascination with games. Those who follow this sort of journalism will know some of the writers, and some are truly wonderful wordsmiths. Enjoy!
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