The Sports Gene

I haven’t posted what I’ve been reading for several months—okay, for this entire year—primarily because I’ve been immersing myself in plenty of academic books, and I want to use this space to recommend books I can’t put down. As fascinating as I found it, I’m not going to recommend The Social Psychology of Power to anyone unless their prescription for Ambien has run out.

One book that I read a few months ago and can’t stop recommending is The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance by David Epstein.

My background in connection with the book is a big, fat zero. Not only am I not particularly interested in sports, but I’ve never taken a biology class in my life. When I was a very impressionable age growing up in Buffalo, New York, our beloved Buffalo Bills lost four Superbowls in a row. There are only so many times you can watch your relatives and countrymen mourn a collective death before you develop an aversion to whatever it was that brought them so much pain.

But I couldn’t put The Sports Gene down, and can’t recommend it highly enough. It achieves what I believe to be the ideal of any popular science book: it’s so entertaining and enthralling that it tricks you into learning. It’s the best possible combination of storytelling with current research, and even this girl from Buffalo who usually flinches at hardcore science couldn’t put it down.