Lakers coach Phil Jackson distributes almost as many books as Amazon.com. Among his best literary assists: dishing off a copy of Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha to Shaquille O'Neal. "He liked it," Jackson says. "He said, 'I know why you got it for me, because it's about a wealthy man with a lot of women in his life, and he had to make a decision about what's important.' " Jackson recommends these books for SI's readers.
Underworld, by Don DeLillo (1997). "It opens with Bobby Thomson's home run in 1951, but it's about sociological change in America."
Summer of '49, by David Halberstam (1989). "A great look at a rivalry, Boston and the Yankees, and at Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams, two of the strongest personalities of their time."
The Brothers K., by David James Duncan (1992). "The story of a family of boys and their father, a pitcher. It's about his love, the kids' attachment to him and his special talent."
The Rabbit series, by John Updike (1960-90). "Rabbit Angstrom's successes and failures connect to his high school basketball team."
The House of Moses All-Stars, by Charley Rosen (1996). "It gives a look at what barnstorming basketball was like in the '30s and '40s. The House of Moses is a [fictional] group of Jewish guys who wore yarmulkes and beards and toured the country, living by the seat of their pants."