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: Running
'Once A Runner'
by John L. Parker Jr.
This novel, self-published in 1978, is only recently back in print, though earlier editions were passed around running clubs until the covers fell off. The story of miler Quenton Cassidy and his obsessive, eventually monastic quest for greatness was written by Parker, a former mile and steeplechase champion, "to capture some of the bittersweet beauty and heartbreak of the only all-consuming quest for physical excellence I would likely experience in my lifetime." He succeeded.