No live action? No weekend games? No problem. As part of our new series, ESPN will each week recommend one book that you can dig into while in quarantine, in order to fill that sports-shaped hole in your heart.
Which is your favourite sports book?
Hard to say, but probably Norman Mailer's The Fight, if I have to choose just one.
What did you particularly like about it?
Oh, everything. I suppose the thing about it is that it is exactly the sort of behind-the-scenes look at one of the great sporting events in history that people like us, sports fans and sports journalists, want to hear, read, and tell. Imagine being in Muhammad Ali's close coterie, being with him as he trains. Ali isn't at his best, perhaps not even up for the fight. He assumes the role of the underdog against the younger, and much stronger, George Foreman happily enough. The training. The mood. As a pressman, Mailer has fantastic access to both camps. And the story unfolds almost like a novel. Two complete opposites, one target. And the fight itself... told smartly, and with just the right touch of arrogance (I will confess to loving that - well, if you are writing the fly-on-the-wall story of one of the great boxing events ever, be cocky, whyever not?).
And others you would recommend on the subject (whether it's about a single person or a sport or a phenomenon)?
Sticking with boxing, Joyce Carol Oates' On Boxing. Donald McRae's Dark Trade is another, more recent, book that is very engrossing. There have been a number of outstanding books written on Ali: David Remnick's King of the World is my favourite. Or perhaps Redemption Song by Mike Marqusee; about Ali but not really about him. I thought Frank Bruno's Let Me Be Frank was a very honest, heart-breaking account of the boxer's (mostly losing) battles with his demons. I quite liked Ricky Hatton's War and Peace: My Story as well as Mike Tyson's Undisputed Truth. I am looking forward to getting my teeth into Joseph Layden's The Last Great Fight, which I have read good things about.
The first sports book you remember reading?
It started with magazines. The first book was - if I remember right - a Bangla book by the sportswriter-cum-novellist Moti Nandi, on exchanges between India and Pakistan, updated till the 1981-82 series in Pakistan. Around that time, maybe slightly later, a relative gifted me Zaheer Abbas' Zed and Sandeep Patil's Sandy Storm.
Your five sports books every sports fan should read.
As many boxing books as possible - it's the greatest sport. No? That aside, two on football that are not about stars - Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch and something I read more recently, Bill Buford's Among the Thugs. With cricket, one has to start with CLR James' Beyond a Boundary. If you're here, you have likely read Rahul Bhattacharya's Pundits from Pakistan, Osman Samiuddin's The Unquiet Ones, and Indian Summers, John Wright's book co-written by Sharda Ugra (and Paul Thomas) - all very, very good reads by colleagues here at ESPNcricinfo. A cricket book I have a very soft spot for is Sujit Mukherjee's Autobiography of an Unknown Cricketer. One more... it will probably have to be between Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, on the 1996 Mt Everest disaster, and Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall. And for a spot of fun, a 12th man so to say, Kevin Tefler's Peter Pan's First XI.
Shamya Dasgupta is the author of Bhiwani Junction, a history of Indian boxing