Cox describes her thoughts upon hitting the water for a one-mile swim off the coast of Antarctica: "All I could think about was moving forward." The same drive infuses her gripping memoir of a career spent one-upping herself. In an understated style as clear as polar sunlight, Cox re-creates her epic swims and brilliantly conveys what it feels like to push across Antarctica, the English Channel and the Bering Strait.
STATE OF GRACE
by Robert Timberg
Free Press, $26
Hardly anyone remembers sandlot football from the 1950s. But what's to remember about a bunch of blue-collar Brooklyn teens smashmouthing it up with their counterparts from Queens? In this moving memoir Timberg reveals that he, like many of his teammates, was given the courage to strive for a more fulfilling life by his time spent on the sandlots.
THE SECOND MARK
by Joy Goodwin
Simon & Schuster, $25
The judging scandal at the 2002 Winter Olympics provides the backdrop for Goodwin's look into the sometimes beautiful, sometimes hideous world of pairs skating. Key here are the stories of the three pairs (from Russia, Canada and China) who won medals in Salt Lake City. Goodwin explores how skating is perceived in their respective homelands. Then, against those disparate backdrops, she brings the skaters, coaches and parents to life, and we root for them all as we learn of the hardships they overcame to reach the top.