While every sport has a library you can turn to for technique, history, rules, recommended gear, and any other number of things, there are few books that capture the essence of what a sport is about. Not the nuts and bolts, but the sort of inside dope, whether fiction or non-, that the outside world could never understand but that those devoted few, whether in the grip of competition or mere nostalgia, cling to like sport-specific bibles. These are our picks for the 11 best.
Cult Sport Books: Cycling
by Tim Krabbé
The premise of this slim book, first published in the Netherlands in 1978, is simple: 150 pages to describe a 150-kilometer road race. The execution, of course, is the stoke: In addition to being an accomplished writer and cyclist, Krabbé is a former chess champion, and his elegant plotting and structure are worthy of a grandmaster, filled with the kind of digressions, flashbacks, and diversions that make this the two-wheeled equivalent of Nicholson Baker's The Mezzanine.