Cover Image: There's Always This Year

There's Always This Year

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Member Reviews

I took this book slow because I didn't want it to end. I've read most of Hanif Abdurraqib's work and this was my favorite.

Of course this book is about much more than basketball. There are really beautiful and tender sections on family, growing up, hometowns, and dark time periods.

There is an odd cross section of people who are music nerds and basketball fanatics though and I'm in that audience. In the same way that he explored some of the smaller-scope musician stories in KCRW's Lost Notes, I was really taken aback by the many wonderful stories within this book of local basketball legends and the smaller local scenes they inhabited. Those pieces really felt lived in and the stories felt like they were written with a lot of love and care.

Sure, we get the bigger picture story tracing Lebron James' rise but even that story contains a lot of memorable paragraphs about what it was like to watch the Cavs after Lebron left.

Reading the book's basketball-themed parts gave me the same joy I get from watching League Pass halftime shows on a rainy afternoon. I hope the next book covers the Timberwolves!

Many thanks for the ARC provided by Random House/Net Galley.

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I loved this! He has such a talent for weaving together personal stories with cultural events, and this is definitely his most vulnerable work that I've read yet. I really appreciate the way he talks about place, home, identity, and how he kind of effortlessly ties issues affecting Black Americans in Ohio (and all over the country), with elements of basketball. He has a genius brain. This was excellent!

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Hanif Abdurraqib’s "There’s Always This Year: On Basketball and Ascension" is in a class of its own. Combining memoir, poetry, sports history and cultural criticism, Abdurraqib meditates on growing up in Columbus, Ohio in the 90s and the central position basketball has occupied for him, his city and his peers. You don’t need to have lived in Ohio to understand this book, and you don’t need to care about LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers or even basketball to become enthralled by it.

Abdurraqib draws lines of affinity between themes, floating in and out of distinct topics anchored by a profound sense of what it means to call a place home that others have called a war zone. Basketball is both subject and metaphor, the lens through which Abdurraqib explores the mythologies at the heart of the American city and the fears and dreams that structure our collective psyche.

Though it wasn’t clear at times where the narrative was going, I never felt abandoned. The reading experience is so fluid and full of discovery. When I inevitably reached 0:00 at the end of every chapter—the book is formatted like a basketball game, four quarters each counting down from 12:00—I was comforted by Abdurraqib’s control and astonished at how expertly he had mapped out the journey from the jump.

It is impossible to categorize "There’s Always This Year" and attempts to do so are beside the point. More than anything, this is a book about love: love of place, love of community, love of film, love of music, love of sport. It is also a book about loss and grief and heartbreak and hope. If you have ever felt any of those things, you should read it.

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the ARC.

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Wow, this book left me at the end shaking my head wondering what I just read...in a good way! I am a basketball fan, but to say this is a book about basketball wouldn't be incorrect, yet it undersells it to a point that doesn't feel accurate. Abdurraqib covers basketball, and so much more, in an often dizzying fashion that sometimes makes you wonder how we got to this point, and does it with poetic prose that effortlessly leads the reader through each direction and theme he wants to touch on. This is part memoir, part story of two cities, Columbus and Cleveland, and part narrative of the ascension of Lebron James. By chance, I happened to read this book while visiting the author's native Columbus, and his relationship with this city features heavily as one of the central themes in this book and provided images of the parts of the city that I, and likely many others, do not see. I'm not sure I've ever read a book quite like this one and I think it will be just as buzzed about, if not more so, as Abdurraqib's prior work.

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Another great book by one of my favorite authors!
Hanif Abdurraqib has a way of writing about fairly mundane events and describing them as if they were miracles. This is what I love about Abdurraqib's writing because he makes the reader appreciate the small moments of peace and joy in life since there are times when they don't come often enough. The juxtaposition of Lebron "King" James's ascension to basketball royalty with the hard times the writer was dealing with at the same time in the same state made me appreciate how people can form some sort of connection with sports stars. Though, I will admit I had a harder time getting through this book compared to Hanif's other works, due to my lack of basketball knowledge and indifference to the sport.
There's Always This Year finds beauty in not only the celebrated victories of legends but the cautionary tales of those who aspired to be kings but never made it to the throne. The hoods where both those legends and tales are born are brought to life and Hanif Abdurraqib sings their glory in There's Always This Year.

Thank you NetGalley and Random House Publishing for the advance reader copy!

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Easily one of the best books I've read of 2024. There's Always This Year is broken up like a basketball game (quarters, time outs, etc) with time stamps that pull you deeper into what Abdurraqib is discussing. This is the third book I've read by Hanif Abdurraqib and this one feels the most vulnerable. I'm not a big sports person, but I found the way he uses basketball in this book very easy to follow.

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i started it and started crying because it is beautiful and i love basketball and i love hanif’s writing, i was never going to not love this book. another one that i did get an ARC for but absolutely preordered despite the hardcover of it all.

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Hanif does it again. I will have to come back and review this in full. But just know that yesterday I reserved a physical copy so I can own this beautiful piece of work.

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This was a super interesting book. The way Hanif always pieces his books together is not only beautiful but entertaining in a way that will captivate you. This book is about so much more than basketball. It's perfection int he way the whole book feels like you are having a conversation with a close friend.

If you enjoy non-fiction, you must give this book a go!

This book is gifted and my views are my own

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A writer for the modern generation. This book hooked me right from the beginning and kept me engaged the whole way through. While a story that is centered around basketball, there is so much more to this book. Hanif delves deep into his life from his childhood, time spent in prison, experience of being homeless and all the while weaving through it the history of importance of basketball in his life and of the places he loved. This story will stick with me for years to come.

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Reviews posted to StoryGraph and Goodreads on 3/21/24. Review will be posted to amazon on release day.

Having read Hanif’s previous work I knew that this book wouldn’t just be about basketball in Ohio and I was so pleased to see how far and wide Hanif explored in this book. The structure of this novel was so unique and interesting with different sections being broken down as periods in a game and time ticking down on the page. There is a mix of prose and poetry that leaves rich layers that grab and hold the reader’s attention. I loved the tenderness and ferocious love that Hanif had for his neighborhood and it’s people. The basketball in the book felt pushing and at times punishing. Ultimately I love a book that can bring me to tears and this book had me crying and longing for my people and my neighborhood. Hanif has done it again and I look forward to reading anything he decides to release in the future

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Hanif Abdurraqib is one of the absolute best writers going. This book is so layered and rich. It's about basketball, it's about aviation, and it's about so much more. This book threads memoir with politics with pop culture, as Abdurraqib's books always do. The way he pulls threads together, like connecting the NBA draft with a grandmother's love of playing the lottery, is incredibly masterful. A truly powerful book.

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Abdurraqib's lyrical memoir is framed around how basketball has intersected with his life. The writing is beautiful but as I read it, I wanted to know more about both his life and some of the basketball moments that he mentions. For those who know Ohio high school basketball and have experienced the highs and lows of LeBron James (specifically as he relates to Ohio), this book will be a gift.

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Hear me out… a book about basketball that will make you cry? It’s structurally done in quarters, half time, etc. like a game, but just when you think he’s talking about basketball BAM he’s really talking about what you thought was an incredible singular feeling that he’s somehow able to articulate perfectly. It’s also a love letter to Ohio and a vulnerable account of feeling both pride and disgrace with the place you call home. No one is, or will ever do it like Hanif.

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"There's Always This Year: On Basketball and Ascension" by Hanif Abdurraqib is a deep and reflective novel. A life story and perspective, told with an original mixture of passion for basketball, as well as personal experiences and thinking. Definitely different in its rhythm and expression of describing powerful emotions. Thank you NetGalley, the author and publisher for the review copy. All opinions are my own.

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Fantastic book. Amazing author. Lucky to have been able to read this. Amazing take on the game of basketball and how personal it was to the author.

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This is a hauntingly beautiful book that’s about basketball, but so much more than that. I had tears running down my face during the last chapters as I didn’t want the book to end. I don’t know if I ever read a book as mesmerizing as this one in how it captures the essence of basketball and childhood and what it means to be a fan and a resident of a city with all of its dreams and heartache and hopes. This is the type of book to slowly just be absorbed into and let it take your emotions where they go.

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This is the most beautiful written non fiction I’ve ever read. It’s part cultural commentary, part memoir, and completely profound, rich, and moving. I’ve not read anything like it.

Abdurraqib explores success, who “makes it” and why, and the role models society builds for us through an examination of basketball alongside his own life. The better a book, the harder time I have talking about it. I do not have the words to even remotely do justice to what he has accomplished here.

The book is broken up like a basketball game, with a pregame, quarters, halftime, and timeouts. And because he is a genius, every time I thought we were talking about a specific aspect of the sport, we were actually talking about something much more abstract and universal. I couldn’t care less about basketball, and yet what he does here moved me to tears.

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Much thanks to Netgalley and Random House Publishers for allowing me to preview the excellent book There’s Always This Year by Hanif Abdurraqib. Hanif Abdurraqib is one of the best essayists and memoirists writing currently, and he may end up being the voice of my generation. There’s Always This Year is the 3rd book I’ve read by Abdurraqib, and this was by far the most personal and intimate one I’ve read. After reading both Go Ahead in the Rain and They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, I’ve come to appreciate his style as a welcoming and personal style that I feel like I’m in a conversation with him… like we’re sitting down to catch up after some time away, and I’m all ears to hear about what he has to share. I wouldn’t say that his style is conversational, but there’s something about his writing that just welcomes me in and makes me feel like I’m sitting next to him. Maybe it’s some of the shared experiences with music, liking a lot of the same bands and music, but it’s much deeper than that, and I think that with There’s Always This Year, Abdurraqib takes his subjects much deeper than the surface level. It’s like his some kind of word archeologist, delving into the history of basketball to plumb the social and cultural connections and developments they have birthed into his world and ours. I’d like to say this book is about basketball… the title and the cover lead us to believe that. Even his first section discussing the Fab 5 at Michigan makes us think that this is going to be a book about basketball, but it is so much more. I am amazed at Abdurraqib’s ability to use a subject like basketball as a launching point or touchstone to go beyond and explore issues and problems in society as well as his own personal experiences, whether they are with family, friends, school, or the justice system. For example, the section about Chris Webber and Jalen Rose, as well as other members of the Fab 5, starts out discussing their uniforms, then seems to go into the baggy shorts era, exploring this trend. He then ends up talking about hair, and how baldies were popular at this time, and then moves into his own experience with hair, his father’s hair, and time, and then into Lebron James. Much of the book examines the Cavs and Lebron James, but I found it fascinating to see how Abdurraqib uses these points to move from one subject to another in such a seamless manner. For many of my students, I would imagine asking for some kind of transition or indication that there was a connection or movement from one idea to another, but Abdurraqib is such a deft (and def) writer that he is able to make these kinds of connections in a subtle and personal way. He also does his research, citing facts and statistics that may seem inconsequential or obscure, but he manages to imbue with meaning and significance. It was also great to learn a lot about basketball, particularly his interest in players who did may not stand out in the history and records of the NBA; yet Abdurraqib is able to give them their dues and through his own personal connections with these players, he elevates their contributions and playing to importance, even if it is through his memory. I absolutely loved this book, and it reminds me that I need to read some of Hanif Abdurraqib’s other books, especially Little Devil in America, which has been on my to read list for some time. This is a wonderful book, tied together by basketball but about so much more, and so important to read today as Abdurraqib explores issues of inequality, injustice, as well as the challenges of defining yourself and exploring your identity today.

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This book is beautiful, poetic commentary on basketball- and so much more. It is commentary on home- making a home wherever you are, never leaving home, leaving home but always missing it- loneliness, mourning, endings, and survival.

Another indisputable win for me from Abdurraqib. A book you want to take your time with and soak up every word.

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