Pursuit Picks – top non-fiction reads

This edition of Pursuit Picks we highlight some of the sports and adventure books we love – non-fiction inspiration that gets you in the #MyPursuit mood.

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Where There’s a Will – Emily Chappell

“Hope, Grief and Endurance in a Cycle Race Across a Continent” – the full title sets the scene for this remarkable story of grit and determination. An unsurported 4,000km race across Europe, the Transcontinental is one of the most gruelling endurance cycling challenges out there, testing physical and mental resilience to the absolute limit.

More real-life tales of endurance:
Just a Little Run Around the World (Rosie Swale Pope) – a gripping tale of grief, and running.
Maiden Voyage (Tania Aebi) – how an unambitious 18-year-old became the youngest woman to sale around the world alone.

The White Spider – Heinrich Harrer

The Eiger’s North Face – one of the most arduous and dangerous ascents in mountaineering history. A classic account of the 1938 expedition that conquered the fearsome climb in the face of brutal conditions, technical challenges and physical trials.

More historic attempts and iconic moments:
Into Thin Air (John Krakauer) – a personal account of the notorious 1996 Everest disaster.
Slaying the Badger (Richard Moore) – the unforgettable drama of the 1986 Tour de France LeMond/Hinault rivalry
Annapurna (Maurice Herzog) – recounting a landmark ascent, the first mountain over 8,000m to be climbed.

Four Men in a Boat – Tim Foster and Rory Ross

In 2000, the GB men’s coxless four rowed to victory in the Sydney Olympics, claiming a fifth Olympic gold for Steve Redgrave and global attention. Behind that moment of glory lies a story of intense pressure, conflicting personalities, and the mad world of elite sport.

More teams, trials and competition:
Open (Andre Agassi) – Agassi’s raw, emotionally and brutally honest account of his life on and off the tennis court.
My Life and Rugby (Eddie Jones) – One of the most influential coaches of recent times charts his journey through the game.
Legacy (James Kerr) – taking lessons for leadership and life from the outstanding consistent dominance of the All Blacks in rugby.

Barbarian Days – William Finnegan

For many years before (and even after) he became a renowned journalist and war correspondent, William Finnegan devoted his life with single-minded passion to surfing. Part travel-diary, part exploration of the beautiful but dangerous obsession. Surfers and non-surfers will find themselves immersed in the vivid storytelling.

More passion and obsession:
The Push (Tommy Caldwell) – how an obsessive focus and determination turned a young boy into one of the most famous climbers alive.
The Secret Race (Tyler Hamilton & Daniel Coyle) – the dark side of cycling and doping from the former U.S. Postal team member Tyler Hamilton.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – Haruki Murakami

Runners love talking about running, thinking about running, and of course, running. A bestselling author, Murakami has a unique style of exploring the philosophy and meaning behind putting one foot in front of the other. A book to ponder on long training runs!

More reflections on running:
Footnotes – How Running Makes Us Human (Vybarr Cregan-Reid) – a journey to discover why running is so important to so many.
Pants of Perspective (Anna McNuff) – a 3,000km running adventure that questions what you can be capable of.
Born to Run (Christopher McDougall) – the classic text that inspired the barefoot running movement.

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We all need a bit of inspiration every now and then. Pursuit Picks is our way of highlighting a selection of things we’re enjoying, sharing and exchanging recommendations across the SportPursuit community. We hope you find something exciting in our curation, and we look forward to discovering new suggestions from you as well – just comment below, let us know on social, or ping us an email!

Cover Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

One Comment

  1. Sameer Rane says:

    Great list. Have read a few of these and have lived them..Will definitely try to read some of the rest ones.

    Couple of others that I really enjoyed:
    The boys in the boat: book from the US team’s Olympic Gold medal win in the 1936 Olympics

    The perfect mile: first successful attempt at 4 min mile mark

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