by Seth Smith, Public Services Librarian
Originally published by Columbia Daily Tribune .
Summer is now in full swing, which means many of us have started enjoying our favorite outdoor sports. Mid-Missouri offers tremendous natural beauty for us to explore and events such as the Olympic-style Show-Me State Games that appeal to our fitness- and outdoor sports-oriented population. If you’re looking for a new outdoor activity, your library can provide hundreds of entertaining and informative books about summertime sports.
Summer is a perfect time for bicycling, and Columbia is a great place to do it. We have a network of trails in and around the city, initiatives to develop a safe urban cycling infrastructure and events such as Pedaler’s Jamboree, which attracts thousands of participants from across the Midwest. To learn more about this sport, check out “The Big Book of Bicycling”  (Rodale Press, 2011). This book includes chapters about finding the best fit for your bike, building your own repair stand, eating for fitness and tips for safe mountain biking. Peter Flak, one of the book’s editors, says, “Cycling is full of beautiful complexity. As you learn more about the sport, you realize how much more is waiting to be discovered.”
Summer also is the season for the Tour de France. Forget the doping scandals — the Tour has historically showcased the beauty of cycle racing and the indomitability of the human spirit. In this spirit, read “Road to Valor”  by Aili and Andres McConnon (Crown Publishers, 2012), a biographical sketch of the great Italian cyclist Gino Bartali. Bartali is most famous for winning two Tours, one in 1938 and then again in 1948. Less well-known is that, during World War II, he used his Tour earnings to feed and shelter several Jewish families in his apartment. He also was part of a truly remarkable underground war refugee network sponsored by Italian Cardinal Elia Dalla Costa. As the McConnons point out, this story was not known until recently because of “Gino’s modesty, coupled with a broader need for absolute secrecy about the clandestine network during the war.”
Missouri is a land of many splendid natural riverways, manmade lakes and other watering holes that offer plenty of opportunities for water sports. Jeffrey Caso, author of “The Weekend Captain’s Guide to Basic Boating”  (Xlibris, 2003), makes this fundamentally sound case for making boating part of one’s life: “All we really want is to have fun so that we can recharge ourselves. We want to enter the more stressful parts of our lives in a better frame of mind.” If canoeing is more your speed, check out “Canoeing”  (Human Kinetics, 2008). There you’ll find information about the portage, purchasing safety accessories and paddling in the summertime heat.
With the Lake of the Ozarks nearby, water skiing and wakeboarding also are favorites of many Missourians. One recent title about these sports is “Water Skiing and Wakeboarding”  by Ben Favret (Human Kinetics, 2010). Look no further for the lowdown on tricks such as the “back scratcher” or how to put on those pesky ski boots.
Let us not forget the ever-popular backyard sports. Badminton can be fun for the whole family, and there are multiple levels of skill demanded in the sport. For more tips on an “underhand drop shot” or the rotation of doubles teamwork on the court, please see “Badminton”  by Pat Davis (Ward Lock, 1998). Here you will find diagrams of court dimensions, rules of the games and tips like: “The smash should never be a wildly swung blow: it should be directed to the inner hip, to elicit a cramped reply; or to a gap from which the shuttle will not be returned.”
Another family-friendly sport is the classic English game of croquet. Learn about the fundamentals in Steve Boga’s instructional title, “Croquet”  (Stackpole Books, 1995). With pointers on grip, wick placement and a whole chapter dedicated to the history of the sport, Boga points out that the sport is “ideal for gatherings of family and friends, it can be played with equal facility by both sexes, the young and old, the weak and strong.”
Finally, it’s not Missouri summertime without the heat and humidity, and how better to escape the heat than a constant 50 degrees below ground? DBRL has several recent books about caving, including “The Complete Caving Manual”  (Crowood Press, 2009). This book provides detailed information about equipment and caving survival and rescue techniques, as well exploring underground ecosystems.
For more books about summertime sports, please see our second-floor rotating display.