Member Reviews

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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I went into this book thinking that I’m clearly not the target audience since I’ve not played basketball since high school nor do I follow the NBA very closely but I honestly have come away with a new favourite read and possibly a new favourite author. This book is incredibly unique, subtly powerful and way more than I bargained for.

“Praise be to the underdogs and those who worship in the church if slim chances”.

It’s part memoir about grief, true hero’s and the magnificent game of basketball.

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This was my most anticipated release of the year, and it delivered and then some. Abdurraqib’s meditation on basketball, home, and childhood is full of beautiful and heart-wrenching prose that made me re-evaluate my own relationship with my hometown. Go read this book, even if you’re not a basketball fan. I’m continually in awe of Abdurrraqib’s work, and I can’t wait to see what he writes next!

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Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for access to this title. All opinions expressed are my own

Fellow reviewers, I find myself pacing back and forth about this review. I see review after review of heavy praise for this non-fiction book. I can concur that there are so many important topics( racism, classism, family, and basketball) here- real heavy topics, I would read each section and put the book down and sit with my thoughts for well. Something that I believe the author would wish. It's a book that demands that kind of consideration.


I suppose what I am wrestling with the most is that I want to pinpoint something significant that would explain why There's Always This Year... failed to keep hold of me. Yet all I can come up with is " Dear Readers, I just wanted to be done."

Does this make me a horrible person?

Probably.

I will most likely get some hate for not rating this higher. Let's at least chalk it up to " It's me, I am the problem. "





Expected Publication Date 26/03/24
Goodreads Review 24/03/24
#TheresAlwaysThisYear #NetGalley.

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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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