Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Horsing Around: The Best in Fiction and Nonfiction

We have great suggestions for equine stories, and we’re not just horsing around.

Dick Francis’ Bloodline by Felix Francis

Adult Fiction. Suspecting a fixed race when his successful jockey sister seems to pull her horse up short, race announcer and television presenter Mark Shillingford has an argument with her about it…and is shocked when she dies in an apparent suicide hours later. As Mark tries to sort on what went on in her hotel room in the hours before her death, he must also deal with romantic and professional troubles. Felix Francis’ clever plotting and horse-y details in Bloodline are just as satisfying as those in his father’s thrilling novels.

Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon

Adult Fiction. Set in 1970s West Virginia, this winner of the National Book Award examines the bottom rung of the sport of kings. Here, in the ruthless and often violent world of cheap horse racing, trainers and jockeys, grooms and hotwalkers, loan sharks and touts all struggle to take an edge, or prove their luck, or just survive. Following the denizens of the track (especially a couple of newcomers) over the course of a year and four races, the lyrically written Lords of Misrule is a “nearly word-perfect novel” (Booklist).

Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand

Adult Nonfiction. To look at Seabiscuit — or his first 50 races — one would never know that he had the potential to become the most popular racehorse of the 20th century. But, thanks to the efforts of his owner, his dedicated trainer, and his jockeys, Seabiscuit made racing history despite his stunted legs and knobby knees. The team’s road to unimaginable fame and success (even President Roosevelt halted work to listen to the race between Seabiscuit and his foe, War Admiral) is the subject of this wildly popular and hugely compelling bestseller, which inspired the 2003 film starring Tobey Maguire, Jeff Brides, and Chris Cooper.

The Man Who Listens to Horses by Monty Roberts

Adult Nonfiction. Instead of breaking a horse, Monty Roberts, a real-life “horse whisperer,” prefers to “listen” to them. In this “surprisingly complex and lively memoir” (Kirkus Reviews), he discusses his childhood, his unconventional and gentle equine training methods, the backlashes he’s faced, his unique ability to communicate with horses, and the value of this communication style to the wider world. Even if you aren’t a horse lover, this book brims with inspiration and insight.