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A Summer Reading List With Purpose

Summer Reading

A Summer Reading List With Purpose

In looking back at last summer’s reading list, I noticed that my reading was only somewhat focused. I read for pleasure, for inspiration, and for education. Particularly, I read about writing.

This summer, my reading list is very intentional with a goal of learning the conventions sports biography in order to write one. After I complete the initial draft of the last in the Coach Dave series, I will begin working on a story that has been almost thirty years in the making. Its time has come, and I want to write it well.

In addition to the sports biographies, I have a “just for fun” book on my reading list, as well as a motivational book. Here’s a rundown of my summer reading list with an Amazon description of each. As always, the links are associate links. Should you choose to purchase a book through them, you will be dropping a few coins in the coffers that keep this blog afloat (without paying anything extra yourself).

My Summer 2017 Reading List

First, the biographies:

Summer Reading

Friday Night Lights (25th Anniversary Edition) (H.G. Bissinger)
Return once again to the timeless account of the Permian Panthers of Odessa–the winningest high-school football team in Texas history. Odessa is not known to be a town big on dreams, but the Panthers help keep the hopes and dreams of this small, dusty town going. Socially and racially divided, its fragile economy follows the treacherous boom-bust path of the oil business. In bad times, the unemployment rate barrels out of control; in good times, its murder rate skyrockets. But every Friday night from September to December, when the Permian High School Panthers play football, this West Texas town becomes a place where dreams can come true. With frankness and compassion, H. G. Bissinger chronicles a season in the life of Odessa and shows how single-minded devotion to the team shapes the community and inspires–and sometimes shatters–the teenagers who wear the Panthers’ uniforms.
Summer Reading

Moneyball (Michael Lewis)

Moneyball is a quest for the secret of success in baseball. In a narrative full of fabulous characters and brilliant excursions into the unexpected, Michael Lewis follows the low-budget Oakland A’s, visionary general manager Billy Beane, and the strange brotherhood of amateur baseball theorists. They are all in search of new baseball knowledge—insights that will give the little guy who is willing to discard old wisdom the edge over big money.
Summer Reading

Seabiscuit (Laura Hillenbrand)

Laura Hillenbrand brilliantly re-creates a universal underdog story in this #1 New York Times bestseller. Seabiscuit was one of the most electrifying and popular attractions in sports history and the single biggest newsmaker in the world in 1938, receiving more coverage than FDR, Hitler, or Mussolini. But his success was a surprise to the racing establishment, which had written off the crooked-legged racehorse with the sad tail. Three men changed Seabiscuit’s fortunes: Charles Howard was a onetime bicycle repairman who introduced the automobile to the western United States and became an overnight millionaire. When he needed a trainer for his new racehorses, he hired Tom Smith, a mysterious mustang breaker from the Colorado plains. Smith urged Howard to buy Seabiscuit for a bargain-basement price, then hired as his jockey Red Pollard, a failed boxer who was blind in one eye, half-crippled, and prone to quoting passages from Ralph Waldo Emerson. Over four years, these unlikely partners survived a phenomenal run of bad fortune, conspiracy, and severe injury to transform Seabiscuit from a neurotic, pathologically indolent also-ran into an American sports icon.
Summer Reading

Unbroken (Laura Hillenbrand)

In boyhood, Louis Zamperini was an incorrigible delinquent. As a teenager, he channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when World War II began, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to a doomed flight on a May afternoon in 1943. When his Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean, against all odds, Zamperini survived, adrift on a foundering life raft. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

Just for Fun

Summer Reading

Wrapped in Rain (Charles Martin)

After reading Martin’s A Life Intercepted and Water from My Heart last year, I look forward to another of his riveting stories. (See my review of A Life Intercepted here.)

An internationally famous photographer, Tucker Mason has traveled the world, capturing things other people don’t see. But what Tucker himself can’t see is how to let go of the past and forgive his father.

On a sprawling Southern estate, Tucker and his younger brother, Mutt, were raised by their housekeeper, Miss Ella Rain, who loved the motherless boys like her own. Hiring her to take care of Waverly Hall and the boys was the only good thing their father ever did.

When his brother escapes from a mental hospital and an old girlfriend appears with her son and a black eye, Tucker is forced to return home and face the agony of his own tragic past.

Though Miss Ella has been gone for many years, Tuck can still hear her voice—and her prayers. But finding peace and starting anew will take a measure of grace that Tucker scarcely believes in.

Motivation/Education/Parenting

Finally, a little book about little things that make a big impact from one of my favorite authors:

Summer Reading

The Little Things: Why You Really Should Sweat the Small Stuff (Andy Andrews)

New York Times bestselling author Andy Andrews is known for his strong storytelling and unequaled perspective on principles that empower the human mind and spirit. The Little Things embodies his own approach to life and work, detailing for the first time some of the exclusive material that he uses to teach and coach some of the most successful corporations, teams, and individuals around the world. In his unique humorous style, Andy shows how people succeed by actually going against the modern adage, “don’t sweat the small stuff”.  By contrast, Andy proves that it is in concentrating on the smaller things that we add value and margin.

And There You Have It, My Summer Reading List

There’s my summer reading list. I’m sure I will also read a couple of classics on my electronic device after Mrs. Right wants my reading light turned off.

What’s on your summer reading list? If you want to read one of the books on my summer reading list, let me know, and maybe we can discuss it. After all, summer reading is better in community.

About Al Ainsworth

Al Ainsworth is a values storyteller. He works with individuals, businesses, churches, and other organizations to pass along their values through the stories they tell…and re-tell. Al is the author of Lines in the Gravel (and 52 Other Re-Told Childhood Tales), Stories from the Roller Coaster (of a Faith Life), and Coach Dave: Season One. Subscribe to his email list for more values storying.

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