We’ve got a top five (plus, Jalen Rose’s book) in Sunday’s media column that could be the answer to a holiday shopping need. But definitely consider these as well:
FOR THE MIND
== “Just Add Water: A Surfing Savant’s Journey with Asperger’s” by Clay Marzo with Robert Yehling
Ocean water became the holistic “happy place” for Marzo, a 26-year-old born in San Diego and living in Lahaina, Hawaii. He wasn’t diagnosed with this form of autism until he was 18, and then things started making sense about all the mental prep work he puts in via the Internet, marine charts, Surfline.com and buoy readings. “Remembering to put on shoes before flying overseas – and he struggles,” Yehling writes. “(But if) the ocean is involved, Clay masters his environment.” Adds Mitch Vernes, his agent: “He pours his brain into the ocean. Clay’s as smart as or smarter than any surfer when it comes to breaks, how waves work, and how the conditions will be on any given day.” Maroz, a pro surfer who doesn’t like surfing competition, or the loud crowds, was featured in a Sundance Film Festival-winning documentary on him came out in 2009, but this written form goes more in depth.
FOR THE SPIRIT
== “My Fight/Your Fight” by Ronda Rousey
While this came out in May, long before her first career UFC loss in Australia last month, it provides a blueprint for how the Venice-based fighter will likely fight her way back into the sport. It is co-written with her sister, Maria Burns Ortiz. FYI: 88 percent of the 855 reviews posted on Amazon.com give this five stars.
FOR THE FICTION
== “Entitled: America’s Biggest Star is Hiding Football’s Ugliest Secret,” an e-novel by Steve Bisheff:
The long-time columnist for the Orange County Register, L.A. Herald-Examiner and San Diego Evening Tribune tackles the domestic violence epidemic in the NFL by creating L.A. Tribune sports columnist Mike Daggett, who gets a tip that quarterback J.D. “Downtowne” Towne, the “most gifted and complex athlete he’s ever covered,” has been a serial abuser. Daggett digs deeper into Towne’s Texas past to piece together the evidence, so if you must, read between the dialogue-driven lines here that sound all-too-familiar.
FOR THE HISTORY
== “The Three-Year Swim Club” by Julie Checkoway:
When included in the discussion with David Davis’ “Waterman: The Life and Times of Duke Kahanamoku” and Simon Winchester’s “Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires and the coming Collision of the World’s Superpowers,” Checkoway checks off all the right boxes in revealing this story of how some poverty-stricken Japanese-American kids of sugar cane workers in Maui were taught by Soichi Sakamoto to become Olympic swimmers between the late 1930s and late 1940s. Despite the fact they were malnourished and, without a pool, trained in an irrigation ditch.
== “This Old Man: All in Pieces” by Roger Angell:
It’s more than just a collection of essays over the last 20-plus years, some of which touch on Derek Jeter and the 2014 World Series focused on Madison Bumgarner. It’s the latest reminder that the Baseball Hall of Fame-honored writer who just turned 95 still has wings.
== “Hockey’s Greatest” by the editors of Sports Illustrated:
These oversized “great” compilation by SI have already revealed themselves for football (2012), baseball (2013) and basketball (2014). So, it’s about time. Also new and noteworthy: “The Hockey News: Hockey’s Greatest Photos: The Bruce Bennett Collection)”
FOR GOLFERS WHO REFUSE TO QUIT
== “The A Swing: The Alternative Approach to Great Golf” by David Ledbetter
The swing guru brings his highly endorsed biomechanical A-game – “A” stands for “alternative” — into an illustrated-driven lesson that, if anything, gives one a seven-minute warmup routine that helps for those times you’re scrambling to a tee time and have little time to prepare physically. Some write little red books, others write “bibles” on how to do this.
FOR POLI-SCI MAJORS
== “The Audacity of Hoop: Basketball and the Age of Obama” by Alexander Wolff:
This is how basketball helped shape the 43rd president’s identity – beyond his annual filling out the NCAA bracket each year for the ESPN cameras. It also seems to imply he’ll rebound quite nicely back into public life soon.
FOR THE BUSINESS MIND
== “Billion-Dollar Ball” A Journey Through Big-Money Culture of College Football” by Gilbert M. Gaul:
When a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner decides to uncover the $2.5 billion-a-year entertainment business known as college football, it’s time to pay attention. The question that drove him: “Why were some of America’s largest and most prestigious universities spending tens times more on football players than on their smartest, most ambitious students? I wasn’t entirely naïve.” Gaul not only looks under the rocks in particular at Oregon, Alabama, Michigan and Texas in his expedition, but he also tries to make sense of stories like why the University of Tennessee hired Lane Kiffin, and how much USC paid to not just get him back, but then fire him with $10 million owed on his contract. “In the strange case of Lane Kiffin,” Gaul concludes, “the University of Southern California apparently got hit coming and going.”
== “Above The Line: Lessons in Leadership and Life From a Championship Season” by Urban Meyer with Wayne Coffey:
A line is drawn after the top four teams in the final College Football Playoff poll. Meyer’s Ohio State team snuck in above it in 2014 – and won a title. They were just a notch below it in 2015, but if anything, Meyer showed how he walks a fine line in how he deftly handled the criticism of running back Ezekiel Elliott following the Buckeyes’ 17-14 loss to Michigan State back in November, ending Ohio State’s 23-game win streak.
FOR THE KIDS
== “Legends: The Best Players, Games and Teams in Baseball” by Howard Bryant:
Bryant, the thoughtful columnist at ESPN, tells kids in the introduction that this is “just a road map to get you started” on deciding what players, games and teams are the best of all time. The way he nudges readers along is pointing out why Jackie Robinson’s 1949 NL MVP season may be just as noteworthy as two years earlier when he broke the baseball color barrier. Why? Because Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey told Robinson he was “free to be himself … if someone argued with him, he didn’t have to just walk away. He could argue back. ‘Not being able to fight back,’ Robinson said, ‘is a form of severe punishment’.” Bryant’s top 10 of others for kids to go find more information about include Roberto Clemente, Marvin Miller, Curt Flood, Han Greenberg, Larry Doby and Jim Abbott.
FOR THOSE WHO WANT FRESHLY MINTED SIGNED BOOKS
== Rob Goldman (“Nolan Ryan: The Making of a Pitcher”) and John Klima (“The Game Must Go On: Hank Greenberg, Pete Gray and the Great Days of Baseball in WWII”) are signing their books at The Open Book store in the Thousand Oaks Mall (512 W. Hillcrest Dr., Thousand Oaks, second level) on Wednesday from 4-to-6 p.m.