Selections from the sportswriter and memoirist’s bookshelf.
In his latest book, the bestselling author of sports classics Friday Night Lights and 3 Nights in August chronicles a cross-country road trip taken with his 24-year-old son Gerry. Cognitively impaired due to oxygen deprivation at birth, Bissinger’s son leads a circumscribed life despite his savant-like memory. Father’s Day describes the revelatory westward odyssey the two shared, and the transformative effect it had on the author. When we asked Bissinger to share three of his favorite books, he offered this trio of engrossing narratives.
By Chad Harbach
“Dozens of books have tried to use the game of baseball as a metaphor for life. Dozens have failed. The Art of Fielding doesn’t fall into the same overwrought trap. Harbach uses baseball as the structure of his narrative, with marvelous results. Baseball is not life itself in his book, but a vivid and revealing window into life. The characters are varied and wonderfully drawn, in particular the bravely flawed catcher Mike Schwartz. There are enough twists and turns to keep you turning the pages at a mad clip. It took me several days to read but it felt like several hours.”
By Elie Wiesel
“I recently read this book after visiting the remains of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. It was the most moving experience of my life. I did not think anything else could possibly match the emotion of what I felt as I walked alone in the snow and spitting rain, trying to imagine what could not be imagined. But I was wrong. In the depiction of a father and son thrown together into horror, Night is tragic, brutal, unspeakable, but also beautiful in its testament to the human spirit and the boundlessness of love.”
By Jaimy Gordon
“I went to Aqueduct in New York as a child countless Saturdays with my mother and father and assorted relatives. The racetrack, the contradiction of beauty and brutality, mesmerized me. I knew a little about the interior lives of the jockeys and the trainers and the grooms and the handlers, but it was only upon reading Lord of Misrule that it all came alive with poetry, grit, humor, sadness, and nobility even in the most despairing. I didn’t simply feel like I was reading about the world of the broken-down racetrack on the fringe. I felt like I was tasting it with every word.”