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: Swimming
'Haunts of the Black Masseur'
by Charles Sprawson
Swimming references loom disproportionately large in the Western world's literature and culture, yet there's exactly one book that limns both the metaphor and the reality: Sprawson's lyrical, literary meditation on water and man, from ancient Greece to F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edgar Allan Poe to the great Johnny Weissmuller. Sprawson's own passions for water and swimming are barely submerged throughout, and both the book and the sport are far richer for it.