Each year there is usually one book that changes how I see things and totally captivates me for the few days (or weeks) that it takes me to read it. 2011 has been particularly good in that I’ve found a book and a website that really are irreplaceable. The book, while not new, is Marc Parent’s Believing It All: Lessons I learned from My Children. The website is the brainchild of Bill Simmons (aka The Sports Guy) and is called Grantland.

Believing It All has to be one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. If you are looking for Legends of the Fall type family drama, this book probably isn’t for you, but it you want a completely honest look at fathers and sons keep on reading. Believing It All takes you through Marc Parent’s journey with his two young boys until the oldest goes off to nursery school. Parent can find beauty and mystery in the most pedestrian occurrences, from calming your boys during a thunder storm, to teaching them how to fish. He takes you back and reminds us how magical the world can be when seen through young eyes.

Grantland seeks to provide a fresh take as well, but on the world of sports. There’s been much discussion on how the web is leading to the death of long-form journalism, but at least Grantland is showing how that might just be wrong – at least if you have the backing of ESPN. Sports is so much more than about box scores and who won the game last night, though as a Red Sox fan I am pretty devastated at the moment. Grantland does a wonderful job in tying sports into the fabric of our lives and contemporary culture. For instance, I have no idea how many college football games I’ve watched, but it’s a lot. I just had no idea about how students chanted S-E-C at their conferences football games (rather than simply routing for their school) and how it was an example of modern Southern pride until I read S-E-C! S-E-C! S-E-C! by Bryan Curtis. Think of it as the new rebel yell.

I pretty much check out Grantland each day now to see what’s new. It has permanently raised the bar for what I think of as good sports journalism. Marc Parent has also permanently raised the bar for what I think of as a good father and how truly special fatherhood can be.


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