“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”

It would be hyperbole to claim that not reading these 15 great sports classics would be a crime.

Having said that, if one is to claim the mantle of a true sports fan, one must not merely be enslaved by the television and, thus, must experience sports through other mediums.

Great sports literature is a fine option.

This list includes great works of non-fiction and fiction alike. It spans time from recent works (such as the explosive League of Denial) to Depression-era pieces (such as Seabiscuit).

And, finally, it crisscrosses many sports from baseball classics (like Shoeless Joe) to soccer memoirs (Fever Pitch).

This list is by no means all encompassing, though it does attempt to be inclusionary and pinpoint some of the most important pieces of sports literature over the past century.

The world of sports must be experienced in person if is to be truly understood. Indeed, former athletes, whether amateur or professional, generally tend to have a more nuanced understanding of the tactics and skills of his or her sport.

Sports were meant to be played; this is a truism. However, that does not mean that one cannot, at times, take a step back and attempt to gain a fuller appreciation of the entire realm of sports. Great sports writing offers us this chance.

Harold Kushner, a prominent Rabbi, once stated that, “I think of life as a good book. The further you get into it, the more it begins to make sense.” If you get the chance to read any one of these immense pieces of writing, I hope you find them as illuminating and insightful as I did.