An authoritative new book on Muhammad Ali—the first full-scale biography of the boxing legend published since his death last year—and sportswriting anthologies above and below the U.S.-Canada border headline fall 2017 sports books Part 1, the first installment in a five-part overview of books published since August and continuing into early November.

Ali A Life, Jonathan Eig, fall 2017 sports books Part 1A total of 50 books are included in this guide, which will cover 10 titles in each post. Among the book subjects examined in this series are Ken Dryden’s look at the NHL in the wake of deadly brain trauma, histories of women in the Olympics, a season with a cricket photographer, the Left Coast of the NBA and the rise of Major League Soccer.

Biographies and memoirs include Doctor Socrates, Dr. Z and childhood memories of an Irish sportswriter. The sports history bookshelf delves into black sports in Texas High School football, the last Negro Leagues World Series and the Civil Rights movement within the sports world. Sports photo lovers can indulge in new coffee table collections of ballparks and the speed rush of the Formula 1 world.

Glitzy new stadiums, the art of the perfect gridiron pass, the All-Blacks during World War I and the Ryder Cup are subjects of still more volumes. For the recreational soul, there are new books about the rivalry that built the Appalachian Trail and a long-form lighting out for the wilderness.

Global women’s soccer, cycling around the Great Lakes, and a paperback update to a classic sociological look at sports in American Life also are new or forthcoming.

Books featured in this guide will have links to publishers’ sites, along with reviews, excerpts, news, podcasts, authors’ information and more.

This list will be updated, and it is arranged in alphabetical order by title. If you’d like to suggest a book for inclusion that you don’t see here, or that is publishing later this year, please contact me at I also will be compiling a November-December guide as the Christmas shopping season isn’t far away.

Drumroll please for Fall 2017 Sports Books Part 1. Happy reading!

Ali: A Life, by Jonathan Eig (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Oct. 3

The author of a Lou Gehrig biography and acclaimed books about Jackie Robinson, Al Capone and the birth control pill takes on another larger-than-life figure in the first major biography of Muhammad Ali since his death in 2016. Eig conducted voluminous research, including more than 500 interviews, While many of the early views are positive, Thomas Hauser, an earlier Ali biographer, has a number of issues with this new volume (see Ringtv link below), saying Eig offers no new interpretations of the fighter’s life and is superficial in going over his last 20 years, when Ali was battling Parkinson’s Disease.  Author’s book site

Excerpt: Sports Ilustrated • Author Q & A: Chicago Tribune • Reviews: Ringtv | Wash Post | Minneapolis Star-Tribune

The Arena, Rafi Kohan (Liveright), Aug. 8The Arena, Rafi Kohan, fall 2017 sports books

Subtitled, “Inside the Tailgating, Ticket-Scalping, Mascot-Racing, Dubiously Funded, and Possibly Haunted Monuments of American Sport,” Kohan’s book is a breezy, entertaining and affectionate ode to what he calls “everything but the game.” He travels the country to tailgate with hard-core Oakland Raiders fans, hears Penn State devotees continue to anguish over the scandal that brought down Joe Paterno and spends time with the anonymous people who make ballgames work: groundskeepers, game-day event managers, scoreboard operators and mascots. Author website

Links: NPR | Huffington Post | Christian Science Monitor | Wash Post | Sunshine Boys Podcast

Ballparks: A Panoramic History, 5th edition, by Jim Sutton and Marc Sandalow (Chartwell), Sept. 19

Updated to include all major league baseball parks built into the 2017 season, this new edition remains a fans’ and sport photography devotee’s delight: A tribute to what makes a ballpark a ballpark, in a way that no other sport can.

Best American Sports Writing 2017The Best American Sports Writing 2017, edited by Howard Bryant, general editor Glenn Stout (Mariner Books), Oct. 3

A fall classic in its own right, the latest edition of BASW includes 27 long-form newspaper, magazine and web essays chosen by Bryant, a senior writer at ESPN. They include pieces by Pat Jordan, Wright Thompson, David Remnick, John Branch, S.L. Price, and Roger Angell on subjects ranging from Muhammad Ali, Steve Kerr, Tiger Woods, Colin Kaepernick and Wimbledon.

Betaball: How Silicon Valley and Science Built One of the Greatest Basketball Teams in History, by Erik Malinowski (Atria), Oct. 3)

Think of this as “Moneyball” for the NBA, and in the same city as the Oakland A’s. Malinowski, a freelance sportswriter, examines how the Golden State Warriors have built a state-of-the-art franchise, both on and off the court, and how their innovations are changing pro basketball and beyond. Author website

Links: Publishers Weekly | Sir Charles in Charge

Best Canadian Sports Writing, edited by Stacey May Fowles and Pasha Malla (ECW Press), Sept. 19

This debut collection of 38 pieces by Canadian writers on Canadian sports topics wades a bit heavier into social and cultural identity topics than its American counterpart (sexual assault, autism and MMA), and ranges across a broader variety of games and activities (ski ballet, bass fishing). Hockey, baseball, soccer and other familiar team sports are also fleshed out. Judging from the editors’ introduction, their attempt to bludgeon readers about sports and “social justice” issues make this a more obscure anthology than it could have been. Only until the final essay is the work of Stephen Brunt, a prominent Canadian sportswriter, included. Co-author website

Links: Publishers Weekly | Sports Book Review CenterBittersweet Goodbye

Bittersweet Goodbye: The Black Barons, the Grays, and the 1948 Negro League World Series, edited by Frederick Bush and Bill Nowlin (SABR Digital Library), July 24

The year after Jackie Robinson integrated the Major Leagues, the all-black circuit that nurtured him and other baseball pioneers held its final championship. This anthology includes 49 essays from writers associated with SABR (Society for American Baseball Research).

Blazing Ahead: Benton McKay, Myron Avery and the Rivalry That Built the Appalachian Trail, by Jeffrey Ryan (Applachian Mountain Club Books), Sept. 15

In the years during the Depression and right before World War II, two men driven by twin ambitions and egos turned their improbable dream into a reality. Publisher excerpt

The Boxing Kings: When American Heavyweights Ruled the Ring, by Paul Beston (Rowman & Littlefield), Sept. 8

The stories of John L. Sullivan, Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson inside the ring, and out, illustrate how boxing was deeply interwoven into 20th century American culture.

Boy Wonder, Dave HanniganBoy Wonder: Tales from the Sidelines of an Irish Childhood, by Dave Hannigan (Gill Books), Sept. 15

The Irish Times sports correspondent and author of books on Muhammad Ali’s last fight and Eamon de Valera turns his biographers’ pen on himself in a memoir about growing up sports-obsessed, and the myths and the memories of those experiences that endure. Hannigan is currently a college professor in the United States. Author website

Links: The 42 | The Times of London | Off the Ball | Second Captains

Coming Up in Part 2: The Cubs’ curse, Dr. Z’s memoir, a cricket photographer, college football follies, women athletics pioneers and the NHL’s inaugural season.

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