cover image Hate Mail from Cheerleaders

Hate Mail from Cheerleaders

Rick Reilly, . . Sports Illustrated, $25.95 (318pp) ISBN 978-1933821122

Sports fans and regular readers of Sports Illustrated will already know to snap up this book when they see it's a collection of pieces by award-winning SI columnist Rick Reilly. Others should follow their lead, as this superb, wide-ranging collection isn't so much about sports as about “people who happen to be in sports.” Some columns are tearjerkers, such as the story of a blind man who finally gets to “see” a match played by his beloved New York Islanders, but most are laugh-out-loud funny, like the one detailing the season Reilly coached his daughter's middle school basketball team (“I learned something about seventh-grade girls: They're usually in the bathroom”). A few are scathing, as in his acid-laced response to Barry Bonds denying he used steroids (“Bonds's records should stay in the books. With a little syringe next to every one”). And though it may not be surprising how many columns aim to be inspiring—like the story of spirited Ben Comen, a high school cross-country runner with cerebral palsy—it's a shock how many hit the mark. Reilly's columns are short but pack a punch; a collection best savored, readers should resist as best they can the urge to consume this book in a single sitting. (May)