Best Chess Books for Beginners, recommended by Andrew Green

Chess is one of the most enduringly popular games in the world, transcending language barriers and teaching valuable life skills. Chess teacher and master Andrew Green recommends books (plus a few websites) to help beginners of all ages learn the game.

The best books on Surfing, recommended by Gerry Lopez

The second best thing about surfing is talking about it afterward. Surf legend Gerry ‘Mr Pipeline’ Lopez’s collection of surfing stories Surf is Where You Find It, now out in its third edition, relates some of the epic waves he’s encountered, and the legendary individuals he met along the way in a lifetime’s pursuit of the glide on the ocean and on the land. Here, he picks five books on surfing by friends and heroes who have found lessons in surfing about what it means to live life well.

The Best Puzzle Books, recommended by A. J. Jacobs

In a quest to solve every puzzle imaginable, bestselling author A.J. Jacobs came across a lot of books. Here, he recommends some of his favourites, from logic puzzles to treasure hunts, from codebreaking to the biggest puzzle of them all—why we’re here.

The best books on Wanderlust, recommended by Matthew Brookes & Zack Raffin

What does it mean to live wild and young and free? We asked the authors of a photography book on surf van culture along the California coast—”a story of youth choosing to follow their dreams, living out of vans, existing for surf and travel and freedom, and always chasing the best waves”—for references that help answer this question. Wanderlust can be a philosophy for life, as these books illustrate beautifully.

The best books on Indian Cricket, recommended by Prashant Kidambi

South Asia has become the beating heart of cricket, with wild enthusiasm for the game at every level of society. Historian Prashant Kidambi—whose book, Cricket Country, was shortlisted for the 2020 Wolfson History Prize—takes us through the history of cricket in India, from its traditional, colonial roots through to the colourful, frenetic national game of today.

The best books on The Olympic Games, recommended by Philip Barker

The Olympics are one of the world’s great celebrations of sport. Here Philip Barker, Olympic historian and sports journalist, chooses five books that help you to understand the games, their origins and their traditions—and to relive the sporting drama of past Olympic Games.

The best books on The Dark Side of the Olympics, recommended by Helen J Lenskyj

The Olympics are big business—but the extent to which they benefit their host cities is increasingly called into question. They’ve also long been enmired in political controversy. Here Helen J Lenskyj, the academic and anti-Olympics activist, discusses the malign influence of big business, and the inseparability of sport and politics, as she chooses her best books on the bad side of the Olympics.

The best books on Sports Psychology, recommended by Bill Cole

What do you think about when you’re training at the gym, or on the tennis court? And what should you think about, if your goal is maximizing performance and results? Seasoned sports psychologist Bill Cole, coach for numerous Olympic teams and top-level international athletes, reveals that the number one road block to athletic performance often isn’t physical—it’s overthinking.

The best books on Yoga, recommended by Liz Derow

Contrary to its popularization in Western culture, yoga isn’t just a form of fitness: its history is rooted in a long Hindu tradition shaped by great teachers in India. Here we have the best books for those who want to learn more about yoga, recommended by Liz Derow, a longtime practitioner and teacher of yoga in India and around the world.

Best Football Books for Kids and Young Adults, recommended by Dave Cousins

As World Cup fever builds to irresistible levels, there is no better time to get kids reading by presenting them with a few books about ‘the beautiful game.’ Award-winning children’s author and self-confessed football fanatic, Dave Cousins, recommends five fantastic football books for kids and young adults.

The best books on Video Games, recommended by Katherine Isbister

Video games have never been more popular – or more intricately designed. But we haven’t yet developed the vocabulary to analyse a game’s impact the way we do a film’s, says professor of computational media Katherine Isbister. Here, she chooses five of the best books that explore the art of video game design, and the subcultures that grow up around them.

The Best Books About Chess, recommended by Dominic Lawson

You don’t have to be a genius to play chess, but it helps. British journalist and chess aficionado Dominic Lawson recommends the best books on chess, focusing on some of the great players of the 20th century and including the “best novel ever written about chess players.”

The best books on Ice Hockey, recommended by Bruce Dowbiggin

Fast, violent and with a passionately political history, hockey is the sport that defines Canada. The sports columnist tells us how this came to be, and why hockey, still a thrilling spectacle, has also become more dangerous to play. He picks the best books on ice hockey.

Monty Don recommends His Favourite Gardening Books

Monty Don OBE, Britain’s most loved gardener and lead presenter of Gardeners World, discusses his favourite books on gardening including one he describes as “the best gardening book ever written.” This is a  strong endorsement, given that his own gardening library extends to over three thousand books.

The best books on Gardening, recommended by Gregory Long

The President Emeritus of The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, New York tells us about the books that all aspiring gardeners should have on their bookshelves, from reference works to the most fun guide to making the best of your garden

The best books on Soccer as a Second Language, recommended by John Turnbull

When the World Cup comes around, many of us think of our national teams and their chances of winning. But the beauty of football is how international it is, and its ability to cut across borders. John Turnbull of the Global Game blog introduces us to football (or soccer) ‘as a second language.’

The best books on Computer Games, recommended by Tom Chatfield

Computer games aren’t just for teenage boys locked in their bedrooms says author and former Prospect senior editor Tom Chatfield – they are vital tools for social development. Here he selects five of the best books on the theory behind games, and the culture that grows up around them.