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Reading Recommendations

Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the movable-type printing press, could never imagine how transferring ink to a surface could change the world. The printing press is consistently rated as one of the top inventions that changed the world. The ability to disseminate knowledge to others quickly is a game changer. Think about your local library how many books fill those walls and the ideas that those books hold. We live in an age where knowledge is readily available at our fingertips. Since there is so much knowledge out there, I often get asked, “What books do you recommend to help athletic performance?”

Photo by Sorcha Augustine

The question of what books I recommend feels loaded. Reading to me has always felt like a personal endeavor. As a kid, I started reading to obtain a coupon for a free pizza from Pizza Hut. I continued reading because books allowed me to be swept away to other cultures, adventures, and quests. Books allowed me to dream bigger about the world around me. Now I still read in my free time primarily for entertainment. If I am looking to gain knowledge about athletic performance, I will read biographies or academic journal articles. One genre I tend to avoid is self-help or self-growth books. Do not get me wrong, there are some great self-help books available, but I find more often than not they tend to be spouting advice that might be too generalized or at worse harmful to the reader. 

Reading is about personal preference. You will connect better with the information that you want to read, rather than the book you are “supposed” to read. Think about, “What do you like to read?” A study out of the University of Sussex found that reading is an effective coping skill for stress. That means sometimes if you are dealing with nerves before a game, it is not about reading a certain type of book, but simply reading is an excellent coping mechanism to manage stress. Dodell-Feder and Tamir (2018) found that readers of fiction compared to non-readers and non-fiction readers showed improvement in social-cognitive performance. Improvement in social-cognitive performance means a person can interpret social situations and respond appropriately. This seems like a great skill to acquire, especially for those who are participating in team sports. 

At this point, I am sure you are scrolling through this blog and wondering if I am ever going to recommend a book for you to read. To answer that, no, not exactly. As I said before, reading is a personal preference. You should find books that you enjoy, but to help you in your search for a book here are some things to keep in mind…

  • Self-help books should be written by experts in the given field. Make sure to research the author as well as the reviews of the book. 

  • Self-help books targeted at a specific problem tend to be of higher quality.

  • In self-help books avoid claims that seem too good to be true. 

  • Readers have less mental decline later in life. 

  • Fiction readers build more language skills than non-fiction readers. 

  • The amount of Americans reading for entertainment purposes lowered from 28% to 19%.

  • Dr. Josie Billington from The University of Liverpool reported, that adults who read for just 30 minutes a week are 20% more likely to report greater life satisfaction.

Reading for the sake of reading is an important endeavor. Reading inadvertently can help with athletic performance as a way to gain knowledge, as a coping mechanism, or even as a way to improve social cognition. The first question you must ask yourself is, “What do I want to read?” That one question will guide you to a book that will fit your needs. As Betsy Rosenberg has said, “Never apologize for your reading tastes

Books I have enjoyed:

While I said I wasn't giving you any book suggestions, here are some books that I have thoroughly enjoyed. These are my cup of tea, they might not be yours.

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Open by Andre Agassi

A Voyage for Madmen by Peter Nichols

The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

Moneyball by Michael Lewis

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle


Billington, J. (2015). The benefits of reading for pleasure. Quick Reads.  

Dodell-Feder, D., & Tamir, D. I. (2018). Fiction reading has a small positive impact on social cognition: A meta-analysis. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 147(11), 1713–1727.

Gregory S. Berns, Kristina Blaine, Michael J. Prietula, and Brandon E. Pye. (2013). Short- and Long-Term Effects of a Novel on Connectivity in the Brain. Brain Connectivity, 590-600. 

Lewis, D. (2009), Galaxy Stress Research. Mindlab International, Sussex University, UK.


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