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A Sporting Season

<b>The Rivals: Chris Evert vs. Martina Navratilova</b> is just one of several ace sports books this season.
The Rivals: Chris Evert vs. Martina Navratilova is just one of several ace sports books this season.

When in doubt, buy a book. It sounds like the mantra of a writer, to be sure. But it also is the credo of the holiday gift-giver who long ago gave up trying to figure out shapes and sizes.

I love to get and give books. First, the giving. I don't normally give sports books, even when they are written by friends in the sportswriting business, but this year is an exception.

There are three new, first-rate books about sports and athletes that my friends and family can expect to see this season:

The Rivals: Chris Evert vs. Martina Navratilova. Their Epic Duels and Extraordinary Friendship by Johnette Howard

A Necessary Spectacle: Billie Jean King, Bobby Riggs and the Tennis Match That Leveled the Game by Selena Roberts

All Those Mornings...At the Post: The 20th Century in Sports from Famed Washington Post Columnist Shirley Povich

Sports journalists actually interact with other writers in other departments in the newsroom, and another friend has written a book that couldn't be more timely. I'm reading Joan Biskupic's biography of Sandra Day O'Connor (subtitled How the First Woman on the Supreme Court Became Its Most Influential Justice), and I like it so much I just may give out a copy or two for Christmas this year.

An entirely different kind of book is on my list this year. Actually, it's a series of books, Nick Bantock's beautiful and mysterious Griffin and Sabine correspondence. To tell the truth, I'm a little behind on my Griffin and Sabine comings and goings. I read the first four books, then missed the last two. Alexandria was published in 2002; The Morning Star in 2003. I can't wait to dive into them -- after I re-read Bantock's first four installments, to remind myself where I left off.

As for music, I'll listen to almost anything, although I especially like classical music. Having covered my share of figure skating, if a skater has performed to it, I can probably name the tune and tell you what competition it was.

But it doesn't all have to be skating music. In fact, I'd prefer that it isn't. One CD I'd really like this year is the soundtrack from the musical Billy Elliot. I just saw the show in London and fell in love with the music but didn't get the CD on my way out of the theater. A missed opportunity in London could turn into a golden opportunity for Christmas.

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