I Fell in Love With a Book About Baseball, Because Good Writing Can Make Almost Any Topic Riveting

What's the book you didn't think you'd love but you do?
Publish date:
May 12, 2016
open thread, books, sports, baseball, world series, surprises

Obviously y'all like to read my words because of all the sports I talk about.

"NOT!" ~ Wayne Campbell.

When you think of Louise Hung, xoJane writer, you may think of terrible photographs, living abroad, or a mongoose named Gef (or my near inability to let a week go by where I don't talk about Gef the talking mongoose — by the way, did you know there was recently a play about him running in Los Angeles? WHAT?! Oops, I digress...) but I bet you never think "sports fan" or "athlete."

And while I actually grew up playing tennis, softball, and volleyball, and I love baseball games and hockey games, reading "sports books" usually doesn't excite me. My literary tastes generally lean toward memoirs of people with unusual childhoods, scary stories, time travel, talking animals, death practices, horses, and immigrant stories (I knew my husband was a keeper when he gave me a YA novel called Time Cat early on when we were dating).

So years ago, when I had nothing to read on a cross country flight but a book about baseball (I'd lost my novel, and my boyfriend at the time had the baseball book on him), I sighed and hoped that there was a chapter about macabre, baseball-playing ponies or something.

The book was Three Nights in August: Strategy, Heartbreak, and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manager by Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist Buzz Bissinger (who is also the author of Friday Night Lights).

And I couldn't. Put it. Down.

While yes, I liked baseball at the time, and St. Louis was my team, for the few hours I spent reading Three Nights in August, I LOVED BASEBALL. As I read about how pitches and lineups and batting and World Series teams were built, all through the lens of manager Tony LaRussa's obsessive eye, I was engrossed. I loved learning about the mechanics of baseball — and the PASSION!

Following the tension and heartache of winning and losing, as well as the highs and lows of making baseball your profession, I was riveted by the drama. For the first time, I saw real artistry in baseball.

And while I haven't read many sports books since (I do like to read about famous racehorses though), whenever I get a chance to blab on about Three Nights in August, I do. Hence this post.

What's the book that you unexpectedly love? The book that "isn't your type" but took you by surprise? What is your "baseball book"?