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Book vouchers for Christmas? Here’s a shopping list of the year’s best sports reads

Do yourself a favour and buy all of these, Rozanna.

IT HAS BEEN another excellent year for sports books, so if Santa left you a few vouchers underneath the tree, you’ll have no problem spending them.

This list of our favourites is by no means exhaustive — we deliberately tried to avoid too much crossover with the shortlist for the William Hill Award — so if you have any suggestions, let us know in the comments section.

My Journey (Jim Stynes)

Before his death from cancer in March of this year, Dublin footballer-turned-Aussie Rules icon Jim Stynes penned an autobiography which serves as the perfect tribute to a life well lived.

Running with the Kenyans: Discovering the secrets of the fastest people on earth (Adharanand Finn)

Adharanand Finn moved to the town of Iten in Kenya to live and learn from some of the world’s greatest runners and their coach, Cork’s Brother Colm O’Connell. Nominated for the William Hill Award.

Richer than God: Manchester City, Modern Football and Growing Up (David Conn)

Lifelong City fan David Conn’s account of how Sheikh Mansour’s oil riches transformed the blue half of Manchester and of modern money’s nefarious influence on what started out as a working man’s game. A must-read for fans of any club.

All in my Head: The Autobiography (Lar Corbett)

Tipperary’s double All-Ireland winner and three-time All-Star tells his side of the story, including an account of that disastrous 2012 semi-final defeat to Kilkenny.

The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France (Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle)

A warts-and-all account of Hamilton’s career in the peloton, his doping, and his years as Lance Armstrong’s team-mate. The winner of this year’s William Hill Award and hailed as a “landmark publication” for its role in lifting the lid on professional cycling’s doping culture.

Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong (David Walsh)

No account of Lance Armstrong’s downfall can be complete without Walsh, the award-winning Irish journalist who relentlessly investigated and pursued the former seven-time Tour de France champion. In “Seven Deadly Sins,” he tells the story of his role in the saga.

A Season of Sundays 2012 (Sportsfile)

The definitive account of the GAA season, told through the pictures of Ray McManus and his team of photographers at Sportsfile.

The Dirtiest Race in History: Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis and the 1988 Olympic 100m Final (Richard Moore)

Richard Moore takes an in-depth look at the drug-tainted showpiece of the Seoul Olympics, the lives of the eight athletes who stood at the start line, and the circumstances which combined to turn what should have been a brilliant athletic spectacle into “the dirtiest race in history.”

More Than a Game: Selected Sporting Essays (Con Houlihan)

Arguably Ireland’s greatest-ever sportswriter, Houlihan left behind a valuable legacy of wit, insight and poetic observation when he died earlier this year. Thankfully, this essential collection has never been allowed to go out of print.

The Outsider: A History of the Goalkeeper (Jonathan Wilson)

They say you have to be mad to be a goalkeeper, but you probably need to be a touch on the eccentric side to write 320 pages on the history of football’s most-maligned position. Fortunately, Jonathan Wilson is the man for the job.

Cliffs of Insanity (Keith Duggan)

Surfing is still very much a minority sport in these parts but Irish Times sportswriter Keith Duggan takes us into a tight-knit community and discovers the ups and downs of a life spent chasing some of Ireland’s wildest waves.

The Art of Fielding (Chad Harbach)

Described by Nicholas Dawidoff as “mere baseball fiction the way Moby Dick is just a fish story,” Harbach’s novel tells the story of five lives that are changed in an instant by one erratic pitch.

Pep Guardiola: Another Way of Winning: The Biography (Guillem Ballague)

In his biography of the man behind one of the finest club teams of all time, Ballague finds a complex and complicated obsession with the beautiful game.

We’ll Leave It There So: Bill O’Herlihy, The Autobiography (Ewan MacKenna)

Master and commander of the RTÉ football panel, Bill O’Herlihy looks back on six decades in television journalism in his autobiography.

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Niall Kelly

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