Alex Mathew

Product Engineer. Code writer. Python enthusiast. Sports fan.

The Book Reviews - Part 1

book reviews

That is just such an uncreative title.

On my 22nd birthday, I wrote my first post on Medium. I wrote about how I wanted to get back to reading, and clear the stuff on my Amazon wishlist. And I am off to a pretty encouraging start !

I decided to write reviews every time I finished 10 books. Surprisingly, I hit that mark in just over 3 months (surprising because I work at a company that’s going through a pretty exciting phase and keeps me pretty occupied). I realized I still can sit and read for long stretches, every day. The long train journeys helped to make sure I always had time to read. And I realized that I love reading autobiographies. Turns out I really enjoy the behind-the-scenes of the things I follow.

So here goes.

Stories from the independent wrestling scene are just so much fun ! This is just such an amazing read about the very long journey that DBry went through before his few very huge years at the top of the company. And given that I read this just a few months after he retired, it was a pretty emotional read. Right from the early years, his relationship with his family, his time training under the WWE’s GoAT, his friendship with Brian Kendrick (reading this made the Kendrick-Bryan moment from the Cruiserweight Classic so much more emotional), his years in Japan, Ring of Honor, the early WWE tryouts, the NXT years and how much The Miz helped him, his firing after the tie incident, his rehiring before Summerslam, the multiple Wrestlemania busts with Sheamus, his relationship with Brie Bella, the partnership with Kane, the Authority storyline, leading to one of the greatest Wrestlemania moments ever at WM30. This is an all round fun read.

A title addict. There’s no better way to describe him. I bought this book after he signed with Manchester United, and reading this will just make any United fan very, very excited.

His relationship with his family, his life in a family of immigrants in Sweden, turning to football for respite and wanting to be as good as the Brazilians, his years at Malmo and the move to Ajax, the strained relationship with Rafael van der Vaart, working with Mino Raiola, his respect for Fabio Capello and Jose Mourinho, being in the middle of the Calciopoli scandal while at Juventus, the falling out with Pep Guardiola. And through it all, winning title after title, while retaining his never-dying fire to keep scoring more goals. This was an overall amazing read.

Adam Copeland’s childhood stories will make you love him more than you already do. His relationship with his family, his dreams of buying his mom a house, his friendship with Christian - if you love Edge, the wrestler, you will definitely love Edge, the person. But it’s his wrestling stories that really take the cake. Stories from the Canadian independent scene sound so painful, they will make you cringe so hard. All the years of working shows in small gyms in the cold winter, to working with Jim Ross about joining the WWE. And the many stories from the WWE - Jose Estrada’s injury in his debut, his time working with Christian and Gangrel in The Brood, that ladder match at No Mercy 1999, his relationship with the Hardys and the Dudleys, the ladder match at WM16, the TLC matches at Summerslam 2000 and WM17, winning the world title at a house show, his injuries, wrestling through the pain, the beginning of the rise of Smackdown. This is when you realize just how fast Edge’s star rose early in his WWE career.

I cannot wait for the follow up. How can you not be interested to read about that WM22 match against Mick Foley, the feud with Matt Hardy, the years feuding with Cena and Undertaker, the last years before his retirement and all the other stories ?

This is definitely one of the best books I’ve read. It makes you look at sport, in general, from a very different perspective. Sport is more than what happens on the field or court or ring, and Soccernomics shows you the many different aspects of the economics of sports. This covers a wide range of topics - transfers and trades, penalties, social class and football, the rise of teams as superpowers, the effects of hosting major tournaments on a country, fans and fandom, the factors that help predict a country’s performance at an internation level, overperformers and underperformers, whether England really are underperformers and so much more. I would recommend this book to any sports fan.

After Soccernomics, this seemed like a logical choice for a follow up read. A more statistics-centred study of football, this helps you question how you watch the sport. Do the favourites always win ? Is there randomness in results ? Does scoring a goal matter more than stopping one ? Who scores the really important goals ? Why are defenders and goalkeepers undervalued in the transfer market and on award nominations ? Does possession really matter ? Are long balls more effective ?

Any football fan would enjoy the insights in this amazing book.

After years of putting it off, I finally got down to reading this. One of the better Dan Brown books (which is not a hard standard to reach considering there’s only one that I consider not as good), this is one book that’s hard to put down. Now I just have to read Inferno to finish the Dan Brown collection.

Welcome to the world of professional wrestling, as described by a friendly person who loves his family, and who also happens to take a lot of crazy bumps and bleed a lot.

I had heard so much about how good Have A Nice Day was, that I had to read it myself. And it absolutely delivered. There is no shortage of amazing stories - his high school years as an amateur wrestler, the birth of Dude Love, his early wrestling years, the early WWE tryouts, tours to Africa (WHAT ?), the WCW years, that ear ripper match in Germany, working in Japan, the million crazy deathmatches (including the No Rope, Barbed Wire, Explosive Barbed Wire Board, Time Bomb Death Match, WTF!), his years with Paul E Dangerously at ECW, road stories with Terry Funk, Vader, William Regal, Steve Austin and so many others, his relationship with Vince, being Cactus Jack, Dude Love and Mankind on WWE TV, wrestling through injuries, THAT HELL IN A CELL MATCH AGAINST TAKER (!!!!!), winning the title on RAW, the I Quit match at Royal Rumble 1999, and so many, many more amazing stories. This is an absolute must read for any pro wrestling fan, and for anyone who wonders why people care about pro wrestling.

The only reason I am not calling this the best wrestling autobiography is because I haven’t read A Lion’s Tale yet.

“I don’t know anything about Angola, but Angola’s in trouble.”

This book is an amazing look into the greatest sports team ever assembled. The Sports Illustrated quality that Jack McCallum brings in makes the book an amazing piece of sports journalism. If you’re looking for a game-by-game coverage of the Olympics, this is not what you want. This is about everything surrounding the Dream Team - the almost two decade long campaign to get NBA players into the Olympics, Magic’s announcement and the response to it, Bird’s injury troubles heading into the Olympics, Jordan’s rivalry with the Pistons and subsequent controversy when Isiah Thomas didn’t make the team, the whole selection process, Christian Laettner’s selection as the college representative, the practice game against the college players, the Tournament of the Americas, “The Greatest Game that Nobody Ever Saw”, the craze that the team sparked off in Barcelona, Barkley’s nights out on the streets of Barcelona, Jordan and Chuck Daly’s golf friendship, Stockton managing to walk around the streets unnoticed, Jordan and Pippen going after Toni Kukoc in the game against Croatia, all the endorsement battles with the Reebok made USA team jackets, and so much more. This is an amazing insight into one of the greatest phenomenon in sports history.

Honestly, I was a little disappointed with this. It was essentially a fast forwarded account of Wazza’s 10 years playing for Everton and Manchester United. Making it into the team as a youngster, the rivalry against Liverpool, the transfer to United, the hat trick on his debut, the pressure of Old Trafford, the first EPL title, the first UCL title, all his heated moments, his relationship with “The Manager”, his strike partnership with Cristiano Ronaldo (and later, Tevez and Berbatov), THAT OVERHEAD KICK GOAL AGAINST CITY (!!!), losing the title on the last day to City.

But more than anything, this is the EPL from the eyes of a fan who’s in the middle of it all. A United player who still cares about Everton, his childhood love, and still considers Liverpool his bitter rivals. This is a fan’s account of the EPL, except this fan is one of the most decorated English footballers of all time.

I am Joe’s huge urge to read this book.

After years of fanboying about the movie, I just had to read the book. Would I say the book is better than the movie ? Maybe, yes. But it’s the movie that really made this gem famous. So it’s hard to read it without picturing Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, Helena Bonham Carter, Meat Loaf, Jared Leto and every other character in the movie. The book is just a crazier version of what the movie was.

Also, if you’ve read the book and watched the movie, this is an amazing video about the differences between the two.

I am currently reading (and finished by the time I finished this post) My Fight, Your Fight by Ronda Rousey which is turning out to be the best autobiography I’ve read so far (though it is a little sad to see the “The Undefeated UFC Champion” subtitle).

Hopefully, I’ll cross number 20 soon and start off the next review post. (Or maybe, I’ll cut it down to writing every time I finish 5. Going 10 at a time seems hard.)

Until then, let me get back to my books (and my actual job as well).