Running for My Life, Warrick Dunn's memoir, begins with a heart-wrencher: the Buccaneers running back's 2007 death-row confrontation with the man who murdered his mother in '93. Dunn (right) writes movingly about coming to terms with the loss of a parent. If his stellar NFL career and charitable efforts don't impress you, his backstory will.
SIDESPLITTING RETURN TO THE LINKS
Three decades after giving up the game because his "disposition was ill suited to a recreation that requires infinite patience and eternal optimism," novelist Carl Hiaasen took up golf again. The results, which are described in The Downhill Lie, weren't pretty—except on the page, where Hiaasen the writer is on top of his antic, hilarious game.
FASCINATING INSIDE LOOK BY AN OUTSIDER
In 2006, sportswriter Stefan Fatsis spent training camp with the Broncos as a kicker. He entertainingly describes the experience in A Few Seconds of Panic, a Plimptonesque peek behind the pro football curtain. With the help of some brutally honest Broncos, Fatsis gives an unflinching look at a life that's stressful in ways most fans don't consider. He's a poor kicker, but his story has legs.
DEDICATED PURSUER OF A DREAM
It's unlikely that any Phillie appreciated this year's World Series triumph more than backup catcher Chris Coste, who spent 11 years in the minors before making the bigs in 2006. He chronicles his road to the Show in The 33-Year-Old Rookie, a sweet-but-not-sappy ode to the game by one big leaguer who definitely doesn't take his job for granted.
The Cowboys of the 1990s ran roughshod over the rest of the NFL—but that's nothing compared to what they did to each other. Jeff Pearlman paints a portrait of pro football's most debauched team in Boys Will Be Boys. The Cowboys' craziness is, at times, stomach-turning. That they won three Super Bowls in spite of it is amazing.
In Hollywood, the saying goes, half the people yearn to be discovered, the rest fear they will be. There's no doubt which camp John Montague fell into. An enigmatic golf savant who befriended the elite of 1930s Hollywood, Montague was on the lam from a robbery charge. Leigh Montville brings the once-famous Sphinx of the Links barreling back to life in The Mysterious Montague.
FITTING GIFT FOR JASON VOORHEES
Netminder gear has cultural resonance beyond slasher flicks—that's one message of Saving Face: The Art and History of the Goalie Mask. The coffee-table book by Canadian hockey nuts Jim Hynes and Gary Smith traces the mask from its leather origins to today's lavish fiberglass models, finding beauty in false faces.