43 books like Positively Fifth Street

By James McManus,

Here are 43 books that Positively Fifth Street fans have personally recommended if you like Positively Fifth Street. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation

Larry Olmsted Author Of Fans: How Watching Sports Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Understanding

From my list on Sports Fans.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a New York Times Bestselling author, award-winning journalist, and visiting professor at Dartmouth College, who has written for the biggest newspapers and magazines worldwide, I look for interesting untold stories for my books. As a result, I spent the past five years researching the topic of sports fandom, what makes people fans, and how it affects them and our society.

Larry's book list on Sports Fans

Larry Olmsted Why did Larry love this book?

One of the many benefits of sports fandom I researched is its use in international affairs, nation-building, and the peace process. There is no better example of this than what has been called the “South African Miracle,” and in this great book, veteran English journalist Carlin, who was in the country for years covering its politics, shows how the late great Nelson Mandela, Nobel Peace Prize winner and South Africa’s first black President, used the intense fandom behind the nation’s beloved spectator sport, rugby, to ease the transition from apartheid to democracy and prevent an almost inevitable Civil War. The book was later the basis for the Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon movie Invictus.

By John Carlin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Playing the Enemy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Read the book that inspired the Academy Award and Golden Globe winning 2009 film INVICTUS featuring Morgan Freeman and Matt Daymon, directed by Clint Eastwood.

Beginning in a jail cell and ending in a rugby tournament- the true story of how the most inspiring charm offensive in history brought South Africa together. After being released from prison and winning South Africa's first free election, Nelson Mandela presided over a country still deeply divided by fifty years of apartheid. His plan was ambitious if not far-fetched: use the national rugby team, the Springboks-long an embodiment of white-supremacist rule-to embody and engage…


Book cover of The Best Game Ever: Giants vs. Colts, 1958, and the Birth of the Modern NFL

Larry Olmsted Author Of Fans: How Watching Sports Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Understanding

From my list on Sports Fans.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a New York Times Bestselling author, award-winning journalist, and visiting professor at Dartmouth College, who has written for the biggest newspapers and magazines worldwide, I look for interesting untold stories for my books. As a result, I spent the past five years researching the topic of sports fandom, what makes people fans, and how it affects them and our society.

Larry's book list on Sports Fans

Larry Olmsted Why did Larry love this book?

I’m a big fan of bestselling author, journalist, and incredible researcher Mark Bowden, but this is easily his least well-known work. For those not up for the 1000+ pages of Guests of the Ayatollah or Killing Pablo (the basis for the Netflix series Narcos) or the staggering intensity of his true war tale Blackhawk Down, this is a more digestible choice. It simultaneously showcases three very different things about sports in America. First, how the NFL ascended to primacy using the new medium of television to surpass baseball and become the most popular sport. Secondly, how nationally televised sporting events became an integral part of our social fabric and the biggest broadcasts of any kind. Finally, for football fans, Bowden explains the seismic transition in the passing game, elevating the sport from an art to a science.

By Mark Bowden,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Best Game Ever as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the remarkable story of the 1958 NFL Championship game between the Colts and the Giants - considered by many to be the greatest American football game ever played - from Mark Bowden, bestselling author of "Black Hawk Down". On December 28, 1958, the New York Giants and Baltimore Colts met under the lights of Yankee Stadium for the American NFL Championship game. Played in front of sixty-four thousand fans and millions of television viewers around the country, the game would be remembered as the greatest in football history. On the field and roaming the sidelines were seventeen future…


Book cover of Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Road Trip Into the Heart of Fan Mania

Ed Southern Author Of Fight Songs: A Story of Love and Sports in a Complicated South

From my list on root, root, root for the home team.

Why am I passionate about this?

As I write in Fight Songs, my name has nothing to do with it: It refers to a geography an ocean away, and predates any notion of the American South (or of America, for that matter). I have spent most of my life in the South, though, loving football, basketball, and other sports that didn’t always love me back. I became curious about why they’ve come to play such an outsized role in our culture. Why did my home state come to a standstill for a basketball tournament? Why does my wife’s home state shut down for a football game? Writing Fight Songs was one way of exploring those questions. Reading these books was another.

Ed's book list on root, root, root for the home team

Ed Southern Why did Ed love this book?

Warren St. John spent a season with the University of Alabama fans who drive their RVs to every single Crimson Tide game, chronicling the lengths and depths of their obsessive fandom, the ways they build community and identity out of a bunch of kids playing a kids’ game... and this was before the Crimson Tide won six national championships in the last 15 years.

As I often tell my wife, an Alabama fan born and raised, “You people are insane.” Lucky for me I find their insanity captivating.

By Warren St. John,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What is it about sports that turns otherwise sane people into raving lunatics? Why does winning compel people to tear down goal posts, and losing, to drown themselves in bad keg beer? In short, why do fans care?

In search of answers, Warren St. John seeks out the roving community of RVers who follow the Alabama Crimson Tide from game to game. A movable feast of Weber grills and Igloo coolers, these are hard-core football fans who arrive on Wednesday for Saturday’s game: The Reeses, who skipped their own daughter’s wedding because it coincided with a Bama game; Ray Pradat,…


Book cover of The Greatest Game Ever Played: Harry Vardon, Francis Ouimet, and the Birth of Modern Golf

Larry Olmsted Author Of Fans: How Watching Sports Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Understanding

From my list on Sports Fans.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a New York Times Bestselling author, award-winning journalist, and visiting professor at Dartmouth College, who has written for the biggest newspapers and magazines worldwide, I look for interesting untold stories for my books. As a result, I spent the past five years researching the topic of sports fandom, what makes people fans, and how it affects them and our society.

Larry's book list on Sports Fans

Larry Olmsted Why did Larry love this book?

No one watches an NFL game and decides to put on a helmet and get knocked down, but once in a rare while, fans are so moved as spectators that they get off the couch and become participants. This increased activity is important to a largely sedentary nation with an obesity epidemic and there are several historical examples of this “participation effect,” when spectators become players, but none bigger than golf. Before this Cinderella story, golf was an elite niche sport and the vast majority of courses private. “Normal” people simply did not play. But when Francis Quimet, a 20-year-old caddie and son of a handyman reached the US Open final (then match play format), it electrified the public. This changed golf forever, sparking millions to take up the game and thousands of courses, overwhelmingly public, to be built. If not for the dramatic 1913 US Open, golf today might…

By Mark Frost,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Greatest Game Ever Played as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This fascinating narrative chronicles the birth of the modern game of golf, told through the story of Harry Vardon and Francis Ouimet. These men, in pursuit of their passion for a sport that had captivated them since childhood, lifted themselves out of their lives of common poverty and broke down rigid social barriers, transforming the game of golf into one of the most widely played sports in the world today.

Vardon and Ouimet were two men from different generations and vastly different corners of the world whose lives, unbeknown to them at the time, bore remarkable similarities, setting them on…


Book cover of The Biggest Game in Town

Jonathan Grotenstein Author Of Ship It Holla Ballas! How a Bunch of 19-Year-Old College Dropouts Used the Internet to Become Poker's Loudest, Craziest, and Richest Crew

From my list on high-stakes poker for people who hate math.

Why am I passionate about this?

As the kid of tournament bridge and Scrabble players, I’ve been hooked on games my whole life. None more so than poker, which has helped me make a living both at the tables and as a writer. I’m currently working on a TV adaptation of Ship It Holla Ballas!  

Jonathan's book list on high-stakes poker for people who hate math

Jonathan Grotenstein Why did Jonathan love this book?

Poker is an American game—maybe the most American game—but an Englishman elevated it into something literary: in 1981, Al Alvarez, a poet, editor, and critic best known for introducing the world to Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, traveled to Las Vegas to chronicle the World Series of Poker. His deceptively breezy account of the larger-than-life characters who played a card game for nosebleed stakes inspired a new generation of players to discover the world’s hardest way to make an easy living.

By A. Alvarez,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Biggest Game in Town as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Al Alvarez touched down in Las Vegas one hot day in 1981, a dedicated amateur poker player but a stranger to the town and its crazy ways. For three mesmerizing weeks he witnessed some of the monster high-stakes games that could only have happened in Vegas and talked to the extraordinary characters who dominated them--road gamblers and local professionals who won and lost fortunes on a regular basis.

Set over the course of one tournament, The Biggest Game in Town is botha chronicle of the World Series of Poker--the first ever written--and a portrait of the hustlers, madmen, and geniuses…


Book cover of The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky and Death

Jonathan Grotenstein Author Of Ship It Holla Ballas! How a Bunch of 19-Year-Old College Dropouts Used the Internet to Become Poker's Loudest, Craziest, and Richest Crew

From my list on high-stakes poker for people who hate math.

Why am I passionate about this?

As the kid of tournament bridge and Scrabble players, I’ve been hooked on games my whole life. None more so than poker, which has helped me make a living both at the tables and as a writer. I’m currently working on a TV adaptation of Ship It Holla Ballas!  

Jonathan's book list on high-stakes poker for people who hate math

Jonathan Grotenstein Why did Jonathan love this book?

In a self-conscious effort to re-enact Positively Fifth Street’s reimagining of the writer’s journey, Grantland Magazine assigned Colson Whitehead to cover the 2011 World Series in exchange for the $10,000 entry fee. He falls short of matching McManus’ success on the felt, but that’s not really the point: the meat is in the interaction between the poker and Whitehead’s struggle with depression. Which might be unbearable in the hands of anyone other than Colson Whitehead, maybe the best there is at crafting sentences that will make you laugh and wince at the same time.

By Colson Whitehead,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Noble Hustle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys • “Whitehead proves a brilliant sociologist of the poker world.” —The Boston Globe

In 2011, Grantland magazine gave bestselling novelist Colson Whitehead $10,000 to play at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. It was the assignment of a lifetime, except for one hitch—he’d never played in a casino tournament before. With just six weeks to train, our humble narrator took the Greyhound to Atlantic City to learn the ways of high-stakes Texas Hold’em.

Poker culture, he discovered, is marked by joy, heartbreak, and grizzled…


Book cover of The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win

Jonathan Grotenstein Author Of Ship It Holla Ballas! How a Bunch of 19-Year-Old College Dropouts Used the Internet to Become Poker's Loudest, Craziest, and Richest Crew

From my list on high-stakes poker for people who hate math.

Why am I passionate about this?

As the kid of tournament bridge and Scrabble players, I’ve been hooked on games my whole life. None more so than poker, which has helped me make a living both at the tables and as a writer. I’m currently working on a TV adaptation of Ship It Holla Ballas!  

Jonathan's book list on high-stakes poker for people who hate math

Jonathan Grotenstein Why did Jonathan love this book?

Yet another magazine writer (this time, The New Yorker) using her advance money to take a shot at poker’s biggest tournament. But Konnikova’s enthusiastic and self-critical approach elevates her memoir into something more transcendent and celebratory than its predecessors. This is a love letter to poker, told with fierce intelligence and emotional honesty. If you want a deeper understanding of the game’s gravitational pull on a certain kind of mind, there’s no better guide.

By Maria Konnikova,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Biggest Bluff as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times bestseller * A New York Times Notable Book

"The tale of how Konnikova followed a story about poker players and wound up becoming a story herself will have you riveted, first as you learn about her big winnings, and then as she conveys the lessons she learned both about human nature and herself." -The Washington Post

It's true that Maria Konnikova had never actually played poker before and didn't even know the rules when she approached Erik Seidel, Poker Hall of Fame inductee and winner of tens of millions of dollars in earnings, and convinced him…


Book cover of The Moneymaker Effect: The Inside Story of the Tournament That Forever Changed Poker

Jonathan Grotenstein Author Of Ship It Holla Ballas! How a Bunch of 19-Year-Old College Dropouts Used the Internet to Become Poker's Loudest, Craziest, and Richest Crew

From my list on high-stakes poker for people who hate math.

Why am I passionate about this?

As the kid of tournament bridge and Scrabble players, I’ve been hooked on games my whole life. None more so than poker, which has helped me make a living both at the tables and as a writer. I’m currently working on a TV adaptation of Ship It Holla Ballas!  

Jonathan's book list on high-stakes poker for people who hate math

Jonathan Grotenstein Why did Jonathan love this book?

In 2003, a struggling accountant (and poker amateur) from Tennessee parlayed $39 into victory at the World Series, a $2.5 million prize. His story, coupled with his unforgettable name – Chris Moneymaker – catalyzed poker’s explosion into the mainstream. For the next couple of years, tournaments flooded television and everyone seemed to have a story about a full house cracking their nut flush. In this oral history, Raskin, former editor of All In Magazine, collects accounts from dozens of players, writers, and, of course, Moneymaker himself, to create the definitive snapshot of the moment that changed everything. 

By Eric Raskin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Moneymaker Effect as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One minute, poker was an old-man’s game played in smoky backrooms and televised now and again in the middle of the night. The next minute, it was a sensation sweeping every casino, dorm room, and man cave, ready for the bright lights of prime time.

What happened? A perfect storm that pushed poker into the mainstream—virtually overnight.

Chris Moneymaker, a 27-year-old amateur poker player with a name nobody could believe was real, defied the odds at every turn to win the World Series of Poker main event, at the precise moment the twin inventions of online poker and the hole-card…


Book cover of Backyard Giants: The Passionate, Heartbreaking, and Glorious Quest to Grow the Biggest Pumpkin Ever

Jeffrey S. McLain Author Of Backyard Big: Growing Atlantic Giant Pumpkins in Your Backyard

From my list on helping me grow giant pumpkins in my backyard.

Why am I passionate about this?

It started when my friend gave me several pumpkin seeds he acquired from a giant pumpkin grower. He said it came from a large pumpkin, and growing one in my backyard would be fun. As a gardener, I thought this sounded entertaining. I planted the seeds in little pots and moved one of them to my garden during the spring. Soon, the plant began to grow astoundingly, taking over the entire garden area. Then, pumpkins started growing. I culled all but one pumpkin, and I witnessed a little pumpkin grow to 800 pounds in three months. I was amazed and astonished, and I was forever hooked on the sport of growing Atlantic Giant Pumpkins.

Jeffrey's book list on helping me grow giant pumpkins in my backyard

Jeffrey S. McLain Why did Jeffrey love this book?

I really enjoyed reading this book, which chronicles the journey of a champion giant pumpkin grower through a full season. The book shows the challenges faced by the grower in his quest for the world record, including battles with weather, pests, and other threats to the growth of the giant pumpkin.

It's an incredible story that provides a complete insight into the wacky and competitive world of giant pumpkin growing and is very entertaining to read.

By Susan Warren,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Backyard Giants as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the tradition of Word Freak and Confederates in the Attic, a charming, witty account of a season in mad pursuit of the world's largest pumpkin.

Every year, the race to grow the biggest pumpkin in the world draws a rowdy crowd of obsessive gardeners to county fairs and weigh-offs across the country. The competition is furious; there's sabotage and treachery and the heartbreak of root rot, and many a weigh-off ends in tears. This year more than just the grand prize is at stake. The Holy Grail is within reach: the world's first fifteen-hundred pound pumpkin. And Ron and…


Book cover of Seven Days in the Art World

Gareth Southwell Author Of Pale Kings

From my list on understanding the crazy world of contemporary art.

Why am I passionate about this?

From the moment I could pick up a pencil, I’ve loved to draw. Since then, my art career has developed alongside my writing, and I’m now a professional illustrator. Despite this background, I still feel alienated from the “art world”. Contemporary art seems like a scam. Its pieces leave me cold, there’s rarely any skill to be appreciated, and their “meaning” is often obscure or trivial – at the end of the day, a pickled sheep is a pickled sheep, right? Pale Kings is a satire of all this, where a group of chancers set out to scam the scammers at their own game. But would anyone really buy a hole?

Gareth's book list on understanding the crazy world of contemporary art

Gareth Southwell Why did Gareth love this book?

Where Thompson concentrates on the economic aspects of the art market, Thornton takes a sociological perspective.

She is like an anthropologist exploring a strange culture, and in the best participative tradition, takes pains to understand it non-judgementally, on its own terms.

The seven days refer to seven distinct events that make up the ecosystem of the contemporary art world: the auction house where pieces are sold, the university where artists learn their craft, the fair where collectors find new talent, the prize that spotlights tomorrow’s stars, the magazine that critiques and identifies the latest trends, the studio where the artist works, and the exhibition where the triumphant art is displayed and celebrated.

If Thompson’s book is about the finance of art, this is about people.

By Sarah Thornton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Seven Days in the Art World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sarah Thornton's vivid ethnography-an international hit, now available in twenty translations-reveals the inner workings of the sophisticated subcultures that make up the contemporary art world. In a series of day-in-the-life narratives set in New York, Los Angeles, London, Basel, Venice, and Tokyo, Seven Days in the Art World explores the dynamics of creativity, taste, status, money, and the search for meaning in life.


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