9 sports books for holiday reading and giving

If you like variety, these 2017 sports releases offer an abundance of that.

9. ‘Unstoppable: My Life So Far,' by Maria Sharapova

Tennis headliner Maria Sharapova found herself in the headlines for a drug violation in 2016 that rocked the tennis world and led to her 15-month suspension. Sharapova claimed a newly banned substance was never taken to enhance her on-court performance and was determined not to let the incident end her tennis career, which has included five Grand Slam tournament titles. Her return to the circuit earlier this year was marked by true grit and occurred not much before the release of “Unstoppable,” which recounts her move to Florida at age 7 to enroll at a tennis academy and her emergence as one of the most recognizable stars of her sport (she is 6 ft. 2 in. tall with cover-girl looks that have landed her endorsements and modeling assignments).

Here’s an excerpt from Unstoppable:

“People often ask me: Are you Russian or American? I could be American and speak English like an American and get all the references and all the jokes because I really grew up in Florida and was raised by my parents and my coaches but also by movies and television, by the scrappy counterpuncher and all the evil bullies in 'The Karate Kid' and by the all-knowing wisdom of Mike and Carol in 'The Brady Bunch.' My humor is less Gogol than Seinfeld, and my smarts are less Dostoyevsky than 'Full House.' But I never stopped and never will stop feeling Russian. When I’m down a break point deep in the third set of a match, I am Russian. But more – it’s deep in my soul, in the history and the heritage of my family. I feel it every time I go back to Gomel in Belarus to see my grandparents, or to Sochi to see old friends, or to Moscow to play in tournaments. It’s the language, the sound of the people on the street, not just the voices and the words but the mannerisms, the mentality, and the assumptions. It can be hard to define home, especially when you have led a life as crazy and all over the place as mine, but you know it when you’re there.”

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

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