*N.B. WE HAVE separate posts on the best soccer and GAA books, hence their exclusion here…
1. Night Games by Anna Krien
A look at the rape trial of a young Australian Rules footballer, which consequently delves deeper into the country’s ultra-masculine and often unsavoury sporting culture, examining its dark side in a brave, balanced and insightful manner.
2. Alone: The Triumph and Tragedy of John Curry by Bill Jones
Documenting the life of British skater John Curry, whose Olympic triumph in 1976 made him one of the most famous athletes on the planet, Alone tells the story of his battles with homophobia and his tragic death following a long struggle with AIDS.
3. Proud by Gareth Thomas
The first rugby player to openly come out as gay, Proud is the inspirational account of how Gareth Thomas overcame his demons and maintained his status as a top athlete in the process.
4. The Race to Truth by Emma O’Reilly
Dubliner Emma O’Reilly recounts her story, from early days spent as a masseuse with the US Postal Team to how she ultimately became a key figure in one of the biggest doping scandals in sporting history.
5. The Test by Brian O’Driscoll
Legendary Irish rugby player Brian O’Driscoll contemplates his career at the top in the company of journalist Alan English, as he revisits an eventful period in the spotlight that saw him earn three Heineken Cups, two Six Nations championships and four touring spots with the British and Irish Lions, in addition to being named World Rugby Player of the Decade by the magazine Rugby World.
6. A Life With Claw by Peter Clohessy
A Life with Claw is a sports biography with a difference. It looks at the career of former Munster and Ireland star, Peter Clohessy, from the perspective of his wife Anna Gibson Steele, consolidating the legacy of one of Irish rugby’s most beloved stars in the process.
7. Undisputed Truth: My Autobiography by Mike Tyson and Larry Sloman
Mike Tyson’s upbringing was a difficult one to put it mildly. The book documents the legendary boxer’s struggles as a youth with bullying and poverty right up to his overnight stardom and swift, miraculous ascent to become the World Heavyweight Champion, in addition to the countless subsequent problems that worldwide fame created.
8. Run or Die by Kilian Jornet
This William Hill-nominated book follows the exploits of world champion ultrarunner and ski mountaineer from Catalonia, Kilian Jornet. Mountaineering since the age of five, he was also the 2011 winner of the world’s oldest 100-mile race, the Western States Endurance Run and his book proves fascinating reading for fitness obsessives and casual fans alike.
9. Played in London: Charting the Heritage of a City at Play by Simon Inglis
Following on from the 2012 Olympics, Simon Inglis takes a look at the history of London from a sporting perspective, in a book that features some iconic imagery and consistently insightful points on the wide range of sports played in the city over the course of its history.
10. The Breakaway: My Story by Nicole Cooke
The re-telling of how a young woman from a small village in Wales became an Olympic champion, Nicole Cooke’s journey — starting when she left home at the age of 18 — was not an easy one, encompassing fraudsters, drug cheats, injuries and broken contacts. Yet her story is ultimately as inspirational as it is entertaining, as she recounts the highs and lows of being professional road bicycle racer.
What were your favourite sports books this year? Let us know in the comments section below.