The John Wooden reading list

As tributes to legendary coach John Wooden continue to flow, here are the books that remind us why he matters.

Chris Carlson
Longtime UCLA coach John Wooden was hospitalized this week.

They call him "the winningest coach." John Wooden, coach of UCLA's basketball team for 27 years, saw his team to 10 NCAA national championships in a 12-year period, a feat unmatched by any other college basketball coach.

As the 99-year-old Wooden suffered a health crisis this week, the world watched and remembered the remarkable legacy he created.

Did Wooden ever tire of the world of coaching? It would seem not. In a review for the Monitor of John Feinstein's book "Last Dance: Behind the Scenes at the Final Four," a reader describes his own favorite scene in the book:

"Immortal UCLA coach John Wooden, now well into his 90s, recounts how he recently visited a Duke practice. His successor as the sport's top coach, the aforementioned Coach K. [Duke University coach Mike Krzyzewski], invites him to sit in, and Wooden comes away impressed.

" 'I really liked his practice,' Coach Wooden tells the author. 'No wasted motion or time. A clear plan about what was to be done that day. I remember sitting there thinking, "The only thing that would be more fun than watching this practice would be to run it." ' "

Wooden has not been shy about sharing his thoughts and philosophy in print. He is the author of at least a dozen books, including several children's books tracking the adventures of tiny friends Inch and Miles. For those who want to catch up on Wooden's life and work, here's a list of books – mostly by Wooden himself – that provide an excellent starting point.

1. "They Call Me Coach," by John Wooden with Jack Tobin. In his autobiography Wooden answered some of the questions fans most often clamored to know about his life, his work, and his players.

2. "A Game Plan for Life," by John Wooden with Don Yaeger. This primer on the power of mentoring reveals much – both about the lessons that Wooden felt he learned and those he strove to teach.

3. "Inch and Miles: The Journey to Success," by John Wooden with Steve Jamison and Peanut Louie Harper. Writing for primary-grade readers, Wooden becomes an owl who offers some advice to his pupils, Inch (an inchworm) and Miles (a mouse). "The energy and pep you show/ will rub off on those you know."

4. "Coach Wooden One on One," by John Wooden and Jay Carty. Conversations between Wooden and former Laker Jay Carty form the basis for a collection of 60 daily readings attempting to encompass the wisdom of Wooden.

5. "You Haven't Taught Until They Have Learned: John Wooden's Teaching Principles and Practices," by Swen Nater and Ronald Gallimore. Nater, one of Wooden's former players at UCLA, writes on his former coach's teaching methods.

6. "The John Wooden Pyramid of Success," by Neville L. Johnson. This is both an authorized biography of Wooden and an attempt to encapsulate the Wooden blueprint for life.

7. "Adventure Underground," by John Wooden with Steve Jamison. This time Inch and Miles learn the importance of hard work as they seek to rescue Axelrod the Ant.

In any list of great books about basketball, it would be hard to omit the name of John Wooden.

Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor's book editor.

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