Member Reviews

I have been meaning to read Hanif Abdurraqib for a while now and I am glad that this is my introduction to his works.

The only word I can find to describe this book is "lyrical". The book is profoundly moving and does not require a lot of knowledge of the sport to enjoy it fully.

Looking forward to more works from the author

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This was one of the best books I have read in a long while. Hanif Abdurraqib is a genius storyteller and writer, and as much as I adored They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill us, I was still surprised by how much I loved this new collection. The format is incredibly well done, the essays structured in a way that mirrors a basketball game- even down to the seconds. Every essay nearly brought me to tears and it's hard to explain why, as although there was a lot of emotion and difficult subjects explored, I found myself getting choked up by the writing itself more often. There is just something so brilliant about the way this author can get me to feel THERE, in the moment, in the game, in the held breath before someone makes a shot. I think the most incredible thing to me about this essay collection is I went in with minimal (if any) familiarity with how basketball works. I am not at all a sports fan, and although basketball is one of the sports I can wrap my head around the most, I came into this just trusting Hanif Abdurraqib to write me something amazing. And that he did! These essays are, of course, not just about basketball, but the beauty and community and tragedy that is that sport is the center of this book. I found that while reading, I was completely invested and enamored by the stakes of the game, of the sport, and of the players. This was so accessible to me even though I wasn't familiar with half of the players named (which was not an issue at all, Google exists after all) and the writing had me by both my heart and my throat. I will absolutely pick up anything this author writes, as the talent is simply unmatched. I would trust no other artist to make me care about a sport, and I'm so glad I didn't let my inexperience with basketball deter me from picking this up.

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I don’t know the first thing about basketball, but any book with Hanif Abdurraqib’s name on it is an instant read for me.

Hanif Abdurraqib manages to capture love, loss, grief, community, friendship and many other human emotions in a way that I have never read before. I simply cannot get over how incredibly moving his writing is.

There’s Always This Year was beautiful and vulnerable. You don’t have to love basketball to love this book.

*special thanks to NetGalley and and Random House Publishing Group for an eARC of this book in exchange for a review. There’s Always This Year is out March 26, 2024.

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"Praise be to the underdogs and those who worship in the church of slim chances."

No one is doing it like Hanif Abdurraqib. At this point, I truly think he could write the phone book and I'd still read it cover to cover (and probably cry). You don't have to love basketball to love this book. This is a story of community, loss, connection, hope. You feel everything Hanif is feeling in these pages. The writing is lyrical, moving, and there are moments that stopped me in my tracks. I'm struggling to eloquently write a review that does this book justice. Just go read it for yourself, ok?

Thank you to Hanif for sharing his talent, to Netgally for the ARC, and most of all to ME for already pre-ordering this book months ago as soon as it was announced, despite being drunk at a Dave and Busters when said pre-order link went live. I can't wait to have this on my shelf.

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There is no writer living, in my opinion, that can write about heartbreak, community, loss. grief, and hope like Hanif Abdurraqib. This may seem like a book about basketball; and it is, in a way. It's helpful to go in knowing about Lebron James' "decision" to leave Cleveland and his triumphant return, bringing a championship to a long-struggling city, but it's not essential. There's Always This Year is more about a place than anything--and you don't have to live in Cleveland or Columbus to recognize the emotions Abdurraqib so effusively expresses regarding his home.

If you've ever loved a place, or left a place, you'll understand. He so effortlessly puts to page what might otherwise seem impossible to articulate.

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"There’s Always This Year," takes readers on a lyrical and emotionally charged journey through the heart and soul of an Ohioan deeply intertwined with the world of basketball. Set against the backdrop of 1990s Columbus, Abdurraqib eloquently captures the golden era of basketball, a time when legends like LeBron James were forged on the hardwood, while countless others remained in the shadows. Abdurraqib's deep connection to the game becomes a lens through which he examines the complex dynamics of success, the concept of role models, and the expectations that surround those who strive for greatness.

His memoir expertly weaves together personal reflection, historical context, and the cultural significance of basketball, much like his previous works did for music and history. He delves into the myth of LeBron James, an Ohioan who became a global icon, and how the city of Cleveland grappled with the grief and transformation when he left the Cavaliers. Through his words, Abdurraqib prompts readers to reconsider the definitions of underdogs and champions, showing how these labels shape our life journeys in unexpected ways.

Basketball, for Abdurraqib, is more than just a sport; it's a source of solace, inspiration, and self-discovery. He skillfully draws parallels between the game and classic movies like "White Men Can't Jump" and "He Got Game" to drive home profound points about life's challenges and triumphs. One of the most impactful aspects of Abdurraqib's memoir is his account of his time spent in prison and the meaning he derived from adversity. His resilience and introspection in the face of hardship provide a testament to the power of self-discovery and personal growth.

The memoir reaches its poignant conclusion with Abdurraqib's reflection on the tragic murder of Tamir Rice, connecting this heartbreaking event to LeBron James' return to Cleveland and how it forever changed the city. This powerful juxtaposition highlights the intersection of sports, identity, and social justice, demonstrating Abdurraqib's ability to navigate complex issues with sensitivity and depth. This new release transcends the boundaries of memoir and sports literature. It serves as a clarion call, inviting readers to reimagine culture, country, and self. Thank you to the author and publisher for the e-arc copy!

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