Member Reviews

Hanif has done it again. I absolutely adore his writing and even though I am not a basketball fan, his essays about it were so great and wide-reaching outside of the sports world

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Hanif is a genius and I will read anything he writes. I didn't have reading a book about basketball on my 2024 bingo card but this will be a fav of the year for sure!

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There's Always This Year
By Hanif Abdurraqib

This book is a paean to basketball and black men. It speaks to the writer's love affair with the sport – and such stars as Michael Jordan and the Fab Five at Michigan in the 1990s.

While most of this book was outside my area of interest, the author did make one statement that resonated: "So much of the machinery of race-and/or culture-driven fear relies on who is willing to be convinced of what."

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For fans of basketball and fans of memoirs, especially memoirs about basketball, "There's Always This Year" is the book for you. Set mainly in Columbus, Ohio, Hanif Abdurraqib wrote about lyrical, poetic in style book about his reflections on life and basketball. Abdurraqib narrates the ups and downs of his life alongside the highs and lows of his city's basketball team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. I'm not a huge sports fan, but his fanaticism for basketball, from high school games to the big leagues, inspired me to pay closer attention to how sports underscores the culture of where I live. Sometimes it seems that Abdurraqib is rambling, but then he pulls the thread through the story he is telling to emphasize his life's meaning, especially one shaped so deeply by Columbus. I really liked the book and think you will too!

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I've never been disappointed by a Hanif Abdurraqib book and this one is no exception. As someone who would not consider themselves a basketball fan, I found a lot to relate to because although the main theme here is baseball there are also looks at life lessons, pop culture, and more. This would be a GREAT book to recommend to baseball fans but it would also make a good recommendation for anyone who is a fan of cultural critique or nostalgia.

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I LOVE IT WHEN POETS WRITE BOOKS
the prose of this almost reads like spoken word, which prompted me to want to try the audiobook. but then there was so much good stuff in every single line, which meant that the audiobook went too fast for me. so instead, I read it in my head as if I was reading it out loud to my dad on a road trip (my favorite thing to do with books I love). and that was the ideal reading experience. I could almost hear his reactions.
I thought the format of this book (laid out within the ticking down seconds of a basketball game) was brilliant. I think the third quarter was my favorite, but it was so fun to explore each section.
Hanif Abdurraqib has a way with wordssss and is the only author who can convince me to put down my phone and pick up google. Normally if an author describes an event or a song or a poem that I'm not familiar with, I power on. But Hanif's description of music had me swapping my Kindle for Spotify and doing late-night listening sessions instead of before-bed reading.
there were a few moments that dragged or confused me, but overall I just loved it. I love basketball, I loved Hanif's thoughtful reflections on fandom and cities and hope and love. It was informative (I learned so many brand new things) while also feeling so relatable. The wildest moment for me was when he was saying, like, "There's this internet video that makes me cry every single time." And I was like "me with the raccoon losing his cotton candy in a puddle." And then he went on to describe that exact video.
small world!! beautiful world! beautiful game!

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The second I saw this book I knew it was for me. I am in my basketball era and love to read about others who have the love for the game.

Adburraquib told his own story, set against Lebron's career as they both came up in Ohio. I liked this approach, and the balance between personal story and basketball. At times I questioned if it was really a clear ARC of his life, and who he is, but somehow it all worked. I was so excited to read this one I actually ended up buying the audio so I could listen more frequently.

It's so nice to anticipate loving a book, and have it live up to my expectations!


Thank you to Random House and NetGalley for an ARC of this book.

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“…to talk about our enemies is also to talk about our beloveds. To take a windowless room and paint a single window, through which the width and breadth of affection can be observed. To walk to that window, together, if you will allow it, and say to each other How could anyone cast any ill on this. And we will know then, collectively, that anyone who does is one of our enemies. And so I've already led us astray. You will surely forgive me if I promised we would talk about our enemies when what I meant was that I want to begin this brief time we have together by talking about love, and you will surely forgive me if an enemy stumbles their way into the architecture of affection from time to time. It is inevitable, after all.
“But we know our enemies by how foolishly they trample upon what we know as affection. How quickly they find another language for what they cannot translate as love.”

It seems fitting to post my reflections on this beautiful book as we are well into this year’s NBA post-season. Because There’s Always This Year is about basketball. But it also isn’t; it’s about so much more because, as the saying goes, ball is life.

In There’s Always This Year, Hanif Abdurraqib takes the idea of sports as metaphor to a deeply thoughtful place as he retraces the early lives of two young men who grew up in Ohio: basketball legend LeBron James…and himself.

Abdurraqib takes that idea and extends and stretches and bends it as far as he can, then folds in commentary on racism, poverty, community, urban life, music, faith, and more, and from all that molds a wholly unique book. It’s essay and memoir structured, not into formal chapters or essays, but into the framework of a basketball game. The minutes count down, there are intermissions and through all of it wind big ideas and personal stories. It’s a truly unique reading experience.

In the hands of a lesser author, this metaphor could well bend past the point of breaking but in the hands of Abdurraqib, it is luminous and revelatory. We feel his grief, his rage but also his hope, his resilience, his inspiration. This book is a cry, a shout, and at times, a joyous incantation.

Abdurraqib muses on the challenges of growing up in America and the many hurdles along the way. From poverty to racism to incarceration, from fathers to sons, he speaks plainly asking readers to understand, to empathize, to make change.

And yet, he doesn’t speak plainly at all. Abdurraqib’s prose is expansive and poetic and just downright gorgeous. Not just poetic…there are actual poems in the book. I read this book, but I wish I’d listened to the audiobook because these words beg to be read aloud, to be listened to. Abdurraqib brings us close, whispering intimately, and then he turns around to speak to a large audience.

I truly loved this book. To start with, I love basketball, but that’s not the reason. The writing is glorious, the ideas are insistent and important. I’m eager to go back and read more of Adburraqib’s work.

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Hanif Abdurraqib brilliantly weaves in and out of recalling his memories of basketball (both youthful games and the Cavaliers) and talking about life. As a non-basketball fan, I appreciate the way he speaks about the topic in such a way that pulls any reader in. Do I think that was his goal? Not necessarily. I think it’s more a testament to how good of a story teller he is. Learning about bits of Hanif Abdurraqib’s life was touching and beautiful. I’m sucked in! Excited to read more by this writer.

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I won't be sharing a review publicly for this one because I put it down after two chapters. I had seen some raves for it, specifically ones that mentioned that even though they don't follow basketball they still enjoy its beauty. I wish I could have said the same thing but it was just too much basketball for me personally. I am interested in this author's other work though because his writing was beautiful.

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Wow. Hanif Abdurraqib’s writing is beautiful. There’s Always This Year offered some really incredible reflections on success, basketball, culture, and role models. I am eager to read more of his work!

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“There's Always This Year" by Hanif Abdurraqib is a literary triumph that transcends the boundaries of sports writing, offering a poignant and deeply resonant exploration of human resilience, community, and the enduring spirit of hope.

Abdurraqib's prose is nothing short of sublime, effortlessly weaving together personal anecdotes, cultural observations, and historical context to craft a narrative that is as immersive as it is thought-provoking. From the very first page, his lyrical style draws readers into the world of sports fandom, inviting them to experience the highs and lows of the game alongside him.

At its core, "There's Always This Year" is a love letter to the transformative power of sport. Through the lens of basketball, Abdurraqib examines the ways in which the game serves as a mirror for society, reflecting our collective struggles, triumphs, and aspirations. Whether recounting the euphoria of a buzzer-beating victory or the heartbreak of a season-ending defeat, he captures the emotional intensity of fandom with remarkable depth and nuance.

What sets this book apart, however, is its ability to transcend the confines of sports writing, touching on universal themes of identity, belonging, and the pursuit of meaning. Abdurraqib seamlessly integrates discussions of race, class, and gender into his narrative, shedding light on the complex intersections of sports and society. Through his insightful commentary, he challenges readers to confront their own biases and assumptions, urging them to reconsider the ways in which they engage with both sports and the world at large.

But perhaps the most compelling aspect of "There's Always This Year" is its unwavering optimism in the face of adversity. Despite the countless disappointments and setbacks that accompany life as a sports fan, Abdurraqib reminds us that there is always hope — hope for redemption, hope for renewal, and hope for a better tomorrow. In an age marked by uncertainty and division, his message serves as a beacon of light, inspiring readers to find solace and solidarity in the communal experience of sports fandom.

In conclusion, "There's Always This Year" is a tour de force that deftly navigates the intersection of sports, culture, and identity. With its evocative prose, insightful commentary, and unwavering optimism, it stands as a testament to the enduring power of storytelling and the profound impact of the games we love. A must-read for sports enthusiasts and non-fans alike, this book will leave you cheering for more long after the final buzzer sounds.

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I love how this book weaves between the sport that means so much to the author and the stories and wisdom of a life. I am not a Midwest kid, nor do I care about basketball, so those parts weren't for me (literally, not all things are for me and so I won't knock it down a star because of that). I found myself skimming the basketball parts after a while and could tell when the story was leading to something more profound. Those moments are the point BTW, and this is absolutely a worthwhile read for anyone who suffers from the human condition.

Abdurraqib is a poet and it shows. I mean that in the best kind of way. More poets writing prose, please.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

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Thank you net gallery for the advanced copy of this book. This book was rich with nostalgia and gave homage to both basketball and Ohio. Many times, I had to pause and think of where I was during those moments. The author has the book sectioned off like a basketball game. The countdown jumps back and forth through time with both what was going on with the sport and the author's life. I'm old enough to remember midnight basketball at Cudel but those days are long gone.

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Best book I’ve read this year. I am not particularly interested in basketball or Ohio and it did not matter, that’s how good the writing is. It’s short, but don’t speed through it!

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Abdurraqib wrote another amazing book! This is part memoir, part nonfiction, and fully enjoyable! I loved every second of it! I am not even a huge basketball fan, but absorbed every morsel that Hanif put in here. I cannot recommend this one enough!

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Thank you to netgalley and publisher for an arc! I love Hanif's works! I highly recommend his new release to everyone. There was so much lyrical writing about the hanif's upbringing and how it related to how influential basketball was during his developmental years. He always writes a beautiful body of work and would recommend the audiobook.

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It's really hard to describe this collection of essays, poems, recollections, memories so unlike anything I've ever read before. I really enjoyed it though especially the basketball references. Highly recommended.

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There’s Always This Year is phenomenal. It’s “a triumph, brimming with joy, pain, solidarity, comfort, outrage, and hope. No matter the subject of his keen focus—whether it’s basketball, or music, or performance—Hanif Abdurraqib’s exquisite writing is always poetry, always profound, and always a clarion call to radically reimagine how we think about our culture, our country, and ourselves.”⁣

I do not have the words to describe how much I loved this book — The connection to basketball and in particular, the Lebron James era Cavs, is what of course drew me in, and while it did not disappoint from a basketball standpoint, it’s also about so much more — Columbus, culture, family, and grief are among its many topics.

I listened to part of this on audio and Abdurraqib is a great narrator, though I found myself constantly drawn back to the physical book, wanting to read his brilliant words in print even as I listened. There’s Always This Year is a book I know I’ll revisit and continue to be in awe of.

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This is a masterpiece. I loved the tie in to basketball - and I read this during the NCAA tournament, so that detail just made it a little more fun. There were so many parts of this book where I had to stop and think. I will definitely be rereading this one in the future!

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