Top 10 Books for Beach Volleyball Players to Read During COVID-19 Quarantine
By: Travis Mewhirter
For so long, prior to our Covid-19-induced quarantine, we've trotted out the rote answer when someone asks us how we are doing.
"Busy," we say.
It's not a lie. Most of us are wildly, insanely, out-of-control busy. Busy with work. Busy with family. Busy with fighting for our next promotion. Busy cramming in a workout. We don't even think about it when we answer with that four-letter word, and, in reply, most will nod their heads, understanding.
They're busy, too.
Now, however, many of us are not so busy. We have more time than we've had on our plates since we were kids. Because we have more time on our hands than we are used to, we really have no idea what to do with it all.
How can we fill the hours that are normally runneth over with tasks and Things To Do?
May I make a humble suggestion, just a subtle point in direction?
Read everything you can. Read fiction. Read non-fiction. Read religious material. Read anything you'd like.
But if you're looking for a head start, below is a list of the 10 books I'd recommend you read during the Covid-19 quarantine.
- Ego is the Enemy, Ryan Holiday
- Professional beach volleyball player and fellow writer Billy Allen was the one to turn me onto Holiday's writing, and you can probably tell by Allen's demeanor and self-deprecating social media that he probably knows the book by heart. This one is excellent, though, because every one of us falls victim to our own ego. We win one match and think we're ready to take down Phil Dalhausser. Wrong. This book is a deep dive into the value of staying humble, and checking our ever-swelling egos.
- Obstacle is the Way, Ryan Holiday
- I read this book amidst a brutal stretch of AVP qualifier losses, and it was key to me not losing my mind and spiraling into a mental volleyball crisis. It preaches exactly what you'd expect it to: Nothing great will be accomplished by avoiding obstacles and difficult roads. The easy way is rarely the best way. The obstacle, per the name, is the way. So embrace the losses, the setbacks and failures. It usually means you're on the right track.
- Wild, Cheryl Strayed
- Strayed's writing made me want to cry because I don't think I'll ever be able to write as exquisitely as her. Aside from the unbelievable writing, this is an excellent choice for basically anyone, for it covers so much ground. Going through some turmoil, as many of us are? This is the book for you. Want to adventure? Check this one out; we have time for adventuring, anyway. Scared of taking a leap of faith? No better choice than Wild, and no better time to at the moment. If you're a writer, just understand this book will also make you very sad, because you'll never write like Strayed.
- Tools of Titans, Tim Ferris
- This isn't the best book I've ever read, but it is by far the most useful. Ferris takes 200-some guests from his podcast -- which is phenomenal, by the way -- and transcribes and distills the best bytes of his interviews in written form. It's literally the best advice from the top influencers and performers in the world.
- The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
- This is my "desert island" item. I've read this book at least once a year since moving to California in 2015. It's short, full of little golden nuggets of literary wisdom, and written in a language that is readable for a third grader and fascinating to an adult.
- Extreme Ownership, Jocko Willink
- Nothing in the history of beach volleyball has ever been somebody's fault. It's always, always, always their partner. They couldn't set, or pass, or block, or serve. That loss in the first round of the qualifier? Couldn't have been my fault. No way! And then you read Extreme Ownership, and you realize...yes, you could have done essentially everything better in that match you just lost. This book should be required reading for every beach volleyball player.
- The Dip, Seth Godin
- Didn't think a book about quitting would make it onto this list, did ya? Well, it did, and it's excellent. Godin breaks down one of the most difficult questions in life: When to persist, and when to save your energy and quit. It's short, 60-some pages, so you can read it with a few beers and enjoy a quick existential crisis. I took a lot of valuable lessons from it, and if you're a beach volleyball player, or anyone considering a life change, you will too.
- Open, Andre Agassi
- This is, in my mind, the best memoir I've read, maybe the best book I read this year. It's such a good look behind the scenes of an athlete's -- a prodigy's, in this case -- life beyond their sport, which in this case is tennis. The openness, honesty, and vulnerability Agassi writes with -- well, J.R. Moehringer ghost-writes -- is exceptional and enlightening.
- The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch
- Written by a professor who is -- you guessed it -- giving his last lecture, with death knocking at the door, this is an emotional read, but to get the perspective of someone who knows they're about to go is oftentimes a much-needed one. This is both light and heavy, funny and tear-jerking, a quick read you should read more than once.
- We Were Kings, Travis Mewhirter
- Shameless plug alert! I couldn't help it. Had to drop my book in here. But if you're reading this list, you're more than likely a beach volleyball fan, and if you're a beach volleyball fan, I do have to admit that you'll probably enjoy my book, or at last glean some valuable information from it. In We Were Kings, I take readers through the lives of current beach volleyball players, from Olympians like Jake Gibb and Phil Dalhausser down to the qualifier types like JD Hamilton and yours truly. It's fun, insightful, and packed with more than 100 interviews.
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