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There's Always This Year

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Member Reviews

This is my third book by Hanif Abdurraquib and it did not disappointment. I always love how he has a way of fluidly intertwining things revolving around pop culture in to real life introspective way of thinking. While I do love basketball I never thought I would read anything that made it sound so poetic. I also admire Hanif's obvious love for the game and his hometown. It was interesting to hear about him growing up and living in ohio at the heigh of LeBron James and even his takeaways that he and others may apply to their own lives. He's a genius cultural critic.

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Lyrical, beautiful, unique flow to this read. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I got pulled in pretty quickly when the Fab Five was discussed. Not my usual genre but this was a truly unique and interesting non fiction read.

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There’s Always This Year: On Basketball and Ascension by Hanif Abdurraqib

🏀🏀🏀🏀🏀

This being my second attempt at an Abdurraqib (I wasn’t ready the first go-around) and me not being a sports fan, I wasn’t sure how this was going to go.

But I was open and ready this time. And, having recently deepened my appreciation for basketball’s sociocultural significance through reading Giannis’s biography, I felt prepared to be fully converted to the basketball sub-genre.

Of course There’s Always This Year is about so much more than basketball. This is about community, culture, hustle, and what it means to return home when home is who you are.

If you can, I’d recommend reading WHILE listening. Abdurraqib’s writing is perfect and the pacing is impeccable. The prose and tangents weave in and out, back and forth almost like a dribbling ball.

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- What’s there to say about Abdurraqib’s writing that hasn’t been said already? THERE’S ALWAYS THIS YEAR showcases him at his best, writing about basketball and about literally everything else at the same time.
- To be totally clear, I don’t even like basketball and I was entranced by this book. I adore the way Abdurraqib can seem like he’s meandered far off topic, and then suddenly, it all locks together.
- Reading this book feels like watching an underdog sports movie while also having a heart to heart with a lifelong friend.

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Do I care about basketball or Lebron James? Not particularly, no.
Does it really matter to get something out of this book? No it does not.

This book is an incredible exploration on the passage of time, what it means to belong or not belong in a place, what happens when you leave a place or return to it, grief, what it means to “make it” and yes, Lebron James. I love how the book is formatted like a basketball game, with 4 quarters, time outs, and a countdown clock. It was such a unique, interesting, and engaging way to tell the story. The writing is classic Hanif Abdurraqib: it's beautiful and lyrical and poetic, sincere, and just a joy to read.

Though I am not a huge fan of basketball specifically, as a fan of Detroit sports (specifically the Lions), I did relate a lot to his rumination on what it means to care about a city and a city’s sports team(s) that are constantly looked down upon. I do truly bet on losing dogs.

This is definitely a book I want to return to again and again in the future. I will continue to read whatever Hanif Abdurraqib writes.

Thank you to Random House and Netgalley for a copy of the arc.

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Hanif can do no wrong. This was a beautiful love letter to his life, his struggles, how he understands the world while weaving it against the ascension of a legendary basketball player. It's a testament to Hanif's writing because I am a life-long basketball fan and Lebron is not a player who's game I seek out, but Hanif had me glued to the page and nodding along. Also loved the structure of the writing against the game clock. Works beautifully.

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Wow - absolutely amazing book. I ended up writing this as a Staff Pick for our library's website. Great memoir about growing up in Columbus in the 90s and 00s. I loved it.

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Hanif Abdurraqib is probably the only person who could make me willingly read a book about basketball 😆 About basketball, but also so much more. Abdurraqib’s lyrical, poignant writing shines in this. I’ve shared one of my favorite quotes, but there were so many to choose from. If you haven’t read any of his books yet, I need you to change that.

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I had no idea what to expect before I picked up this book and I ended up loving it. It’s part memoir, part poetry, and part love letter to the game of basketball. Abdurraqib’s writing is beautiful. It’s not often that you come across a book that defies categorization as much as this one, and I would definitely recommend it.

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Thank you to Net Galley and Random House for an ARC in exchange for my honest review. I always look forward to this author's books as he always has something to say in the most poignant and beautiful storytelling. This one didn't disappoint as he wove basketball and memoir together in various essays covering, role models, expectations, hometown, family, LeBron and much more. On the surface one might think this is a book about basketball but it is more about life and the events and music that are interwoven with our memories. It's about high school basketball stars and NBA stars and finding belonging and meaning at being there when something noteworthy happens. He also tells of a time when he was short on money, lost his job and apartment and what he did to survive. All of these stories come together to tell a story of a proud Ohioan and the beautifully told stories of the everyday and special that make up a life. Loved it and his stories stay with me.

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A genre-bending slam dunk: <i>There's Always This Year</i> by Hanif Abdurraqib defies categorization. Part love letter to basketball, part introspective exploration of life's victories and defeats. Abdurraqib weaves personal anecdotes, social commentary, and basketball history, to create a sports book unlike any I could've imagined.

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Hanif Abdurraqib always makes me hopelessly hyperbolic. This is the best thing I’ve ever read! No, this one is the best thing I’ve ever read! No this one…you get the idea.

What I can say without a shred of hyperbole about this book is that in addition to being a gorgeous piece of writing in general, it’s absolutely the most beautiful and moving thing ever written about basketball.

It’s not *just* about basketball of course. In the multilayered, richly complex world of Abdurraqib’s writing, nothing is ever that simple. And I mean that in the best possible way.

I think that the way the author feels about basketball and how important it is to his life and being is similar to the way I feel about baseball. It made this feel really relatable and moving despite the fact that my interest in basketball is one of enthusiasm, but of a most casual sort. Or maybe Abdurraqib could write about absolutely anything and make it relatable and moving. He truly is that good of a writer.

As a Cleveland native the specifics of the basketball (and general sports) stuff here was particularly of interest to me. Abdurraqib describes so gorgeously what it was like when the Cleveland Curse was broken by the Cavaliers, and (at the other end of the spectrum) what it was like when LeBron James left town. Perhaps it’s this ability to so opulently and evocatively render both the best and the worst of any experience that makes Abdurraqib so unusual and appealing as a writer.

Wonderful stuff, as what Abdurraqib gives us always is.

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Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, cultural observer, music lover, and die hard Ohioan. He grew up in Columbus when Lebron James was playing high school basketball in 100 miles away in Akron. He drove this distance to watch James play. He also drove 143 miles from Columbus and Cleveland to watch the Cleveland Cavaliers, with and without James. With a few exceptions, all of There’s Always This Year takes place within these miles, and Hanif Abdurraqib has not only written an ode to Ohio and Cleveland sports but a treatise on being an underdog and living a life of loss, frustration, and being underestimated.

Cleveland is his sports town, but Columbus is his hometown. Hanif grows up in Columbus, one year older than Lebron, going to parks and basketball courts throughout the city, not only to play but watch those players who are local legends, and even better than those playing in the NBA, destinies unfulfilled. His personal life is also on this same trajectory. He does not graduate high school and live a life that leads to fame and recognition, but in the end, it is the mentality of being the underdog, the grit from growing up rooting for sports teams that are not meant to do much of anything, that keeps his focus and striving for better.

Lebron James is the catalyst to the timeline of the book. He is the example of the King who has come to Cleveland to make the team better, to win championships. The hopes of him being their basketball savior is dashed when he announces in 2010 in an ESPN special called “The Decision”, his intentions to leave Ohio and win championships in Miami, which he does. Abdurraqib dedicates one of the four quarters of this book to Lebron leaving Cleveland, how the city reacted, and how much he enjoys the fallout for the Cavs the next year. The return of Lebron to Cleveland in 2014 is met with the landscape of a city and of a country that has changed. Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson by police in August. Tamir Rice was killed by police in November. These events and the protests and unrest that results, is something that deeply affects Abduraqib, makes him contemplate the way basketball can be an escape, but this is just a way that we hustle ourselves into living with the unthinkable happening around us.

There’s Always This Year is a deep meditation that made me think long after finishing a chapter or even a paragraph. I have walked around the house late at night thinking about how we hustle ourselves. What it means to be a person who lives and dies for a sports franchise that does not live up the hopes of the beginning of the year. How we always love the underdog until the underdog starts to win. How we are put into a system where everyone is essentially an underdog, and unless we come together in the face of adversity, like in the Nike promo that Lebron James did when returning to Cleveland, then we do not stand a chance. This is a book that I will return to at a future date. It is one of those books that impact you in a way that you cannot forget. I am positive that each time I read it, I will find new ways to look at the meanings and feelings behind every single word of There’s Always This Year.

I received this as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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this book was a beautiful mix of poetry and prose. covering topics about grief, black history, a love letter to Ohio while also recognizing it's flaws. I am not a basketball fan but the larger topics grasped my interest even while using basketball and LeBron as a bigger metaphor. I love Hanif Abdurraqib's writing and will continue to pick up his work in the future.

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There's Always This Year is the most beautiful book I will ever read about basketball. The fact that I know this is both a testament to Abdurraqib's prose, which is as perceptive and illuminating as his poetry, and to my own reading habits, which skew decidedly away from sports writing. Someone who cares more about the Cleveland Cavaliers, and about LeBron James in particular, would likely find treasures of insight that I missed. Still, there is a lot that is beautiful and important here, even for the sports-averse. Abdurraqib weaves together stories from his youth and young adulthood with analysis of the cultural artifacts that shaped his growing up--basketball, mostly, but also music and movies. I particularly loved moments when his talent as a writer and observer was brought to bear on his own memories: of sneaking into LeBron's high school games to watch a phenom-in-progress play, of throwing a pair of socks at a jail ceiling to will himself to sleep, of returning home both to watch the Cavaliers play with other fans and to march against police brutality. Other sections, less connected to the concrete, felt slower, in the way that reading poetry often feels like more of an intellectual exercise than reading prose. I left this book with a sense of profound appreciation for Abdurraqib's dedication to the place he's from, as complex and layered as that place might be. A world where we all felt similarly loyal to the geography of our childhood would be a better one, I think.

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thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the ARC of this title.

It took me a second to get what this book was doing structurally, but once I realized that instead of chapter breaks, we had a countdown for each quarter of a basketball game, plus the occasional time-out, this immediately clicked into gear. The structure allows for even more of Hanif's poetic voice to slip into the essays, and I love how this circles back and forth between memoir and sports writing. I think [book:A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance|49247757] remains a more accessible entry point to Abdurraqib's work, but this is him firing on all cylinders. As I said with that book, I'm on board with wherever he goes next.

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Lyrical, searing, poetic, meditative. A wonderful treatise on the power of home, belonging, sacred rituals. A national treasure.

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Hanif is such a talented writer and so earnest and heartfelt. He it thoughtful and sees the world in a way that I never could/have. I love reading his words and this book is no exception. This is a more challenging read than previous ones for me, it is slower, and more fluid and like poetry than straight prose. There is a lot going on and mostly it works but sometimes you have to trust Hanif and go with it. And while I do love basketball you do not have to watch/know/like basketball to like this book.

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There's Always This Year: On Basketball and Ascension by Hanif Abdurraqib is a heartfelt dive into basketball's golden era in the 1990s Columbus, Ohio, seen through the eyes of someone who lived and breathed the game. Abdurraqib blends personal stories with the highs and lows of basketball legends like LeBron James, offering a rich look at success, ambition, and the heroes we look up to. His account is both a historical journey and an intimate glimpse into his life, marked by the poignant memory of his father playing basketball.

Hanif Abdurraqib's writing in There's Always This Year earns a full five stars for its beauty and creativity. The book brilliantly mixes Abdurraqib's personal experiences with the broader world of basketball, using a unique structure that mimics the quarters of a basketball game. This setup, along with Abdurraqib's lyrical writing, makes the book a standout. It's not just about basketball; it's a deeper reflection on life, challenges, and what it means to chase dreams. Abdurraqib's storytelling is captivating, making this book a memorable read that's filled with emotion, insight, and a powerful message of hope and resilience. He just never misses with his writing, and this book is another example of that. SO beautifully written - worth the read, as all his works are.

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This is a memoir that weaves basketball with an allegiance to Columbus, Ohio. It's about a thing that someone loves very much in a place that someone loves very much. How are they related and how do they touch a life? When that life belongs to Hanif Abdurraqib, the answer is lyrical and taut and miraculous. As a basketball-loving writer, he takes outrageous shots from outside the line that land every time. There are many instances in this book where I realized I was breathless, tears in my eyes.

[Thanks to Random House Publishing Group and NetGalley for an opportunity to read an advanced reader copy and share my opinion of this book.]

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