Sunday, November 17, 2019

Basketball (and Other Things) - Shea Serrano ------------------------------- 4.5 Stars

Who would have thought a basketball book with questions like, "Was Kobe Bryant a dork?" and "What attributes make for the best basketball villain?", would be so entertaining and enjoyable to read? I certainly wouldn't have thought so but I am sure happy I came across Shea Serrano's Basketball (and Other Things).

This book was the truly the perfect read for me. First, all about basketball (pro, college, high school, pick-up)!  Second, it wasn't just boring columns about this team winning against another team or about which player had the highest points per game. No, this book took a different tact at looking some of those questions but from more fun angles. Third, the book scoped the time period of late 80s through today. For me, this was perfect. Like many of us, I never saw Russell and Wilt play but I certainly saw Shaq, and MJ, Lebron and Curry - so this was much more in my wheelhouse. Finally, the book was written in such a fun way with such great illustrations. I'm not normally into "picture" books, but the art by Arturo Torres greatly complimented the words on the page and provided a fun pause in between chapters.

A few other things I loved: Serrano has an obsession with using incredibly funny and entertaining footnotes. I'm not exactly sure how many, but due to the small size but large numbers, I estimate they take up about a quarter of the book. To be clear, they are great. Some of the biggest laughs I had were reading those footnotes (if you think some of the chapters are bizarre/off-topic, wait till you see the footnotes).  Also, the book was very easy for me to relate to. Many of the questions and opinions he has about players I shared or often thought about. Serrano has clear favorites and not, and I often found myself nodding along to his conclusions. As a basketball player, he also has a great chapter about pick up basketball expectations that was my favorite.

While I gave this book 4.5 stars (I almost felt like it should be 5 by how quickly I read it and enjoyed), I am not sure how many others would enjoy at same level. As a basketball junkie that likes irreverent humor, this book was meant for me. Not sure everyone falls into that category. If you do like basketball, I do suggest taking the time. It's a very good read.*

* So I don't know how to make footnotes on this blog but felt obligated to do so. I did want to add - I highly recommend getting a hard copy of this book. Yes, it may be easier to handle and quicker to read on Kindle, BUT you will miss out on the great art and easy to access footnotes at the bottom of each page. Only downside, because of the design and color of the book, many of the chapters start on non-white color paper (blue, green, purple, etc.) which is a huge problem for the eyes (you quickly realize  why white paper is so wonderful). Other than that, the hard copy is way to go.

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