As noted elsewhere, I'm a big fan of the holidays. I also have a lot of friends and colleagues whose work I've long wanted to review and support but have never gotten around to doing. 2 + 2 = With Leather's last-minute holiday gift guide for fans. Unless stated otherwise, all are book titles. Because you don't read enough, asshole.
Vintage College Football Calendars (Asgard Press) — As pictured here, it's the sort of present you can get for a die-hard fan that says, "I care about your interests and recognize your fandom, but I still prefer giving you tasteful gifts."
Playboy Cover to Cover: the '50s — I love old-school Playboy because it makes it socially acceptable to look at pictures of naked women. This monster of a gift includes a re-print of Playboy's first issue (including Marilyn Monroe nude), a glossy book with insider details about the rise of Hugh Hefner's empire, and a searchable digital archive of a decade of Playboys. Guaranteed to make your masturbation extra classy.
The Agony of Victory (Steve Friedman) — This book was resolutely panned by a panel of bloggers last week at Deadspin, which (a) shouldn't come as a surprise given Deadspin commenters' proclivity for shitting on anything that approaches sincerity, and (b) is too bad, because I really enjoyed the book. It stands apart from typically staid sports journalism thanks to Friedman's stylish writing, focus on lonelier "fringe" sports, and personal touches. It's a unique and powerful look at the blurred line between mental illness and a champion's mentality.
The View from the Upper Deck (DJ Gallo) — The author of SportsPickle.com and the lion's share of funny material on ESPN.com's Page 2, Gallo delivers his hallmark Onion-like humor in easy-to-carry book form. With headlines like "Allen Iverson Keeps It Real for Record 2,548th Straight Day," no one captures the rote and repetitive stories of the sports world and twists them into pitch-perfect satire quite like Gallo.
Dixieland Delight: A Really Long Title About SEC Football (Clay Travis) — Sportsline columnist Travis, a lifelong Tennessee Volunteers fan, spent an autumn going to a game at every stadium in the SEC. A Vanderbilt-educated lawyer who married an NFL cheerleader, Travis still somehow comes across as likable as he immerses himself in the half-scary, half-hilarious world of college football's most rabid fans.