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10 books for...

HERE are ten novels and stories to keep you on the edge of your seat during the Commonwealth Games..

RECOMMENDED: Robin Jenkins's The Thistle and the Grail.
RECOMMENDED: Robin Jenkins's The Thistle and the Grail.

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

by Alan Sillitoe

Published in 1959, in the era of the Angry Young Men, Sillitoe's long short story is a first-person portrait of a rebellious borstal boy who refuses literally and metaphorically to play the games of the establishment.

The Swimmer

by John Cheever

Cheever's best known story concerns one Neddy Merrill who, in the course of an afternoon, goes from one neighbour's pool to another, drinking when not swimming.

The Thistle and The Grail

by Robin Jenkins

In a small Scottish town - which may be based on Cambuslang, where the author was brought up - the 'holy grail' is to win the Scottish Junior Cup. Grim but compelling stuff.

This Sporting Life

by David Storey

Were there a prize for a great rugby league novel, Storey's would wipe the floor. Its rugged hero is Arthur Machin who, when he's not being a human battering ram, becomes emotionally involved with his landlady.

Three Men on the Bummel

by Jerome K. Jerome

The same three men who rowed down the Thames take to their bikes for a tour of Germany. Humour as we once knew it.

The Golden Bat and Other School Stories

by PG Wodehouse

If cricket has a laureate who else could it be but PG Wodehouse? At school he was a medium-fast bowler and remained addicted to the game. The immortal Jeeves took his name from Percy Jeeves, a Warwickshire bowler who died in the First World War. In these stories the milieu is that of the public school in the innocent days of fags and faggots toasted at dusk at the fireside. Pure nostalgia.

The Natural

by Bernard Malamud

Baseball player Roy Hobbs is a natural sportsman, worshipped by fans and sportswriters. Women are another thing, two of whom play fatal roles in his life.

Putting the Boot In

by Dan Kavanagh

Back in the 1980s, Julian Barnes wrote four novels at a lick under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh, featuring the bisexual sleuth and goalkeeper, Duffy. In this - the third in the series - Duffy investigates the troubled word of England's third division while also troubled by Aids.

The Sportswriter

by Richard Ford

The first of Ford's wonderful Bascombe novels. Its hero is a magazine sportswriter who can't write a novel. Meanwhile, he's separated from his wife and mourning the death of his child.

They Used To Play On Grass

by Gordon Williams

Is Gordon Williams the most overlooked Scottish novelist of the past half century? He wrote a number of excellent novels, including The Siege of Trencher's Farm, which was filmed as Straw Dogs, and From Scenes Like These, which stands comparison with William McIlvanney's Docherty, which it pre-dated by seven years. In They Used to Play on Grass, written in collaboration with Terry Venables and published in 1971, he looked forward to a time when synthetic pitches had become all the rage. Couldn't happen, could it?

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