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On My Way: Norfolk Coastal Walks by John Hurst

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Art,Sport

It was pure serendipity: after a five-hour drive we were, annoyingly, left with an hour to fill in Blakeney before we could have the keys to our holiday cottage. There was an art exhibition in the church hall, so we went in - and found a display of the most gorgeous pictures. I'd cheerfully have bought every one and hung them on our walls, but thought that I would have to make do with a couple of greetings cards when I saw On My Way: Norfolk Coastal Walks and I couldn't resist buying it. Full Review

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Twelve Times To The Max: One Man's Journey to, and Recollections of, Setting Twelve Verified World Records by Stuart Burrell

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography, Sport

The first of Stuart Burrell's world records, well, the first two, actually, as he's not a man to do things by halves, came about by accident. There had been a plan to raise some money for the Children in Need Charity and quite late on the people who were to have been the main attraction got a better offer and Burrell is not a man to let people down. What could be done to bring people in and raise some money? Most of us would have thought of jumble sales and cake bakes, but Burrell had made a hobby of escapology and idea of a sponsored escape had life breathed into it. On 3 November 2002 he went for the Fastest Handcuff Escape world record and immediately afterwards Most Handcuffs Escaped in One Hour. Both were successful and more than £300 was raised for Children in Need. Full Review

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Swell by Jenny Landreth

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Politics and Society, Sport, Biography

I love Jenny's own description of her book as a waterbiography and I love her encouragement that we should each write our own. This is more than just (I say just!) a recollection of the author's own encounters with water; it's also a history of women's fight for the right to swim. That sounds absurd until you start reading about it, then it becomes serious. Not too serious though – because Jenny Landreth is clearly a lover of the absurd. Not a lover of book blurbs myself, I do always seek to give a shout-out to those who get it dead right: in this case I'm definitely with Alexandra Heminsley's giggles-on-the-commute funny. Full Review

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A Guide to the Classics: Or How to Pick the Derby Winner by Guy Griffith and Michael Oakeshott

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Sport

It's not often that you get a glimpse into the personal, youthful interests of one of the greatest Conservative philosophers of the twentieth century, but A Guide to the Classics co-authored by Michael Oakeshott is a light-hearted look at how to pick the Derby winner. Originally written in 1936 it is, amazingly, as relevant today as it was then. In fact, the techniques and analysis employed by the authors were way ahead of their time and have only come into general use relatively recently. Full Review

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The Beautiful Game by Alan Gibbons

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Dyslexia Friendly, Sport

Football is all about its colours. And even if I write in the season when one team in blue knocks another team in blue from the throne of English football, it's common knowledge that red is the more successful colour to wear. But is that flame red? Blood red? The red of the Sun cover banner when it falsely declared 96 Liverpool FC fans were fatally caught up in a tragedy – and that it had been one of their own making? And while we're on about colour, where were the people of colour in football in the olden days? There are so many darker sides to football's history it's enough to make a young lad question the whole game…Full Review

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Today We Die a Little: Emil Zatopek, Olympic Legend to Cold War Hero by Richard Askwith

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Sport, Biography

As a runner myself, I often look for sources of inspiration. Training is rewarding, but every so often a day comes along when I question whether it is all worth it or not. Zatopek proves that is, indeed, all worth it. He put copious amounts of effort into his training, and the number of races he won over his career as a professional athlete clearly shows the results of it. Full Review

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This Mum Runs by Jo Pavey

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography, Sport

I am something of a self-confessed running addict: I think nothing of hitting the roads for 50 miles a week, and spend much of my time searching for races to run all over the country. That is, until I wound up with a persistent sports injury, hung up my running shoes for nearly a year, and switched the road to the pool. At the time I thought nothing could alleviate the misery of not being able to run; but now I wish I had had Jo Pavey's autobiography, This Mum Runs, to keep me company because the elite athlete’s account of the Olympics, injury, family, and life in general falls nothing short of inspirational. Full Review

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Lean Gains by Jonathan S Lee

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Sport

I don't often begin a book by telling you what it isn't but in this case I think it's important. If you're a fairly sedentary person or a casual sportsman or woman looking to shed a few pounds then you won't get the best out of this book. You'll find some good advice about diet, but I'm afraid that much of it is going to go over your head. Of course you could always take up a sport seriously... On the other hand, if you are a serious sportsman then you could find that the advice in Lean Gains could lift you up to the next level of performance. Full Review

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The Mock Olympian by Michael Long

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Sport

It started with an idle conversation just before the 2012 London Olympics: Michael Long's friend Sarah gave him a book as part of his birthday present. It was Time Out's guide to the history of the Olympics and it covered each of the summer Olympics in chronological order from the inaugural games in Athens in 1896. Sarah's boyfriend James commented that with all the running Michael did, he'd probably have run in most of the Olympic cities. Although Long had done a goodly number of runs, bike rides and triathlons he'd only competed in two of the twenty three cities - London and Athens. Now most of us would have left it at that, but that's not the Michael Long you're going to come to know and love. He saw it as a challenge and what's more he blogged about it and then wrote this book. Full Review

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Home and Away by Dave Roberts

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Sport

For most football fans, non-league clubs (that is, teams who play outside the top four divisions of English football) are like a distant relative fallen on hard times; you're vaguely aware of their existence but have no particular wish to visit them. Apart from a few weeks in early January, when the odd non-league club reaches the third round of the FA cup and embarks on a spot of giant killing, the lower leagues receive almost no attention outside their small groups of devoted supporters. So what's it like to support a non-league team? Enter Dave Roberts, a fan of Bromley FC who are currently plying their trade in the Vanarama National League – the fifth tier of English football. In Home and Away, Dave documents the highs and lows of travelling the country watching Bromley during the 2015/2016 season. Full Review

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Mr Darley's Arabian: High Life, Low Life, Sporting Life: A History of Racing in 25 Horses by Christopher McGrath

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Sport

All thoroughbred racehorses are descended from one of just three stallions which came to England about three hundred years ago; The Byerley Turk, The Darley Arabian and The Godolphin Arabian. The last century or so has seen a decline in the lines from the first and last of these stallions, to the extent that some 95% of all thoroughbreds worldwide - not just in England - are descended from The Darley Arabian, which was originally bought in Aleppo from Bedouin tribesmen and shipped to Yorkshire in 1704, by Thomas Darley, who died, in difficult financial circumstances before he could follow his horse home. Full Review

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Top Of The League by Andrea Mills

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Children's Non-Fiction,Sport

Football is known as the beautiful game and when I was younger I kind of believed this. I would spend my free time playing Heads and Volleys with my mates and then go home to try and complete my Panini sticker album. There was even the halcyon days when Blackburn Rovers won the title. As I have grown older, my cynicism has grown too. Leicester may be champions, but the day I feel that a group of multimillionaires beating a group of slightly richer multimillionaires is a win for the everyman, will be a sad one. Perhaps the love of football still burns bright in the youth of today? Top Of the League certainly hopes so as it is full of facts and figures all about the ball they call foot. Full Review

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Unforgettable Walks by Julia Bradbury

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Travel, Sport

I've long been a fan of Julia Bradbury's walking programmes on television - I credit her with sparking my own interest in walking - so the news that there would shortly be another series of programmes and a book to accompany the series was music to my ears. This time she's looking at Britain's best walks with a view and she roams through Dorset, the Cotswolds, Anglesey, the Yorkshire Dales, the Lakes, Cumbria, the South Downs and the Peak District. Unless you're in Scotland there's something reasonably close to just about everyone, with a good spread around all points of the compass. Full Review

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When You Dead, You Dead by Guy Martin

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography, Sport

It's a little depressing when a 34 year old is publishing his second autobiography, but that's what this book is, and Martin proves he's certainly not short on material. The author, for those of you who don't know, is a mechanic who dabbles in TV presenting and motorcycle racing, though it's the latter for which we he will be most well-known. As an F1 widow to a boy who likes all things fast, I thought he might like this book and so, perhaps unusually, I chose it with someone else in mind but made myself read it first. Full Review

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Winner: My Racing Life by A P McCoy

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography, Sport

In any walk of life there are people who are universally known by their first names alone. In flat racing, everyone knows who 'Frankie' is and in National Hunt you need say no more than 'A.P.' Legend is an over-used word but not when it comes to the achievements of Tony 'A.P.' McCoy. He's been champion jockey an unprecedented twenty times and his career record of 4,348 wins may never be beaten. In fact, it's tempting to say that it will never be beaten. He's won the Grand National, the Irish Grand National, two Cheltenham Gold Cups and won the Champion Hurdle three times. Unusually for a jockey he's also been BBC Sports Personality of the Year. He achieved all this by the age of forty one when he retired from racing. Full Review

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Night Games: A Journey to the Dark Side of Sport by Anna Krien

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Sport

Mere mortals relax by having a game of footy of a weekend and a couple of drinks, but what does a professional sportsman do to cut loose? What do they do when they go out en masse? Investigative journalist Anna Krien looks at a rape trial of an Australian Rules footballer, just into his twenties and follows the case as it goes to court, interviewing some of those directly or indirectly involved and digressing into related areas. In deference to the fact that the woman had automatic anonymity she's chosen to give the man who was charged the name of 'Justin Dyer' in an attempt to level the playing field, so to speak. You could Google the facts and come up with the correct name, but this isn't a book of gossip about particular people. It's an investigation of a culture which has increasingly treated women as sexual commodities. Full Review

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Born to Rumble by Jeff Scott

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Sport

Rumble. It's an odd word, isn't it, with that sense of a noise like thunder (or even of a motorcycle engine) and of a street fight between rival gangs. Author Jeff Scott has picked the perfect title for his journey around various speedway venues looking at those occasions when the combination of brakeless bikes, adrenalin, ridiculous speeds and not a lot of space explode into confrontation on or off the track. It's hardly surprising that it happens - in fact it's surprising that it doesn't happen more often given the competitive nature of the sport and the diva-like qualities of some of the top riders. Full Review

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The Blind Man of Hoy: A True Story by Red Szell

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography, Sport

Redmond Széll was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) at age 19. It's now 26 years since he got the life-changing news. Although not completely sightless – he sees shadows and shapes – he is registered blind and walks with the stereotypical white stick. This hasn't stopped him from pursuing his hobby of rock-climbing, though, both indoors on climbing walls and on Britain's cliffs. The culmination of his climbing obsession came in 2013, when he became the first blind person to climb the Old Man of Hoy, the 449-foot cliff off the Orkney Islands of Scotland Full Review