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Book(s) Review: The Sports for the Soul series by Darrin Donnelly

Book(s) Review: The Sports for the Soul series by Darrin Donnelly

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Last year I started an initiative to start reading non-fiction daily. And while I’m continuously reading books to help me become better at marketing books and such, I do also pull in quite a few about discipline, faith, mindset… And yes—technically the book series I’m reviewing today is fiction. But it still counts! They’re fables, or parables, life lessons set into sports stories to demonstrate a positive outcome. And I’m not a sports fan, so read on while I tell you that you don’t need to be either to get enjoyment from this series.

I don’t recall what I was actually looking for when the Amazon algorithms first tossed Think Like a Warrior by Darrin Donnelly onto my screen. It was the first book in his series, “Sports for the Soul.” The beauty is that unlike most fiction series, these can be read in any order. Each is a unique set of characters and plot, usually revolving around a younger to middle-aged sports figure who has had their dreams or expectations dropped out from under them.

I don’t dislike sports. I just don’t value dedicating hours of my days and weeks to them. I find watching a good game enjoyable, but I don’t know the key players names, their jersey numbers, their stats… I don’t know who played in this year’s Super Bowl or who is in the running for the World Series. None of that matters. Darrin does a great job writing likable and relatable characters, usually in the college or young professional age range. Out of seven books, I’ve now read five. I’m not in a rush to read the last two, though I plan on reading them on an upcoming visit to family across the country.

The themes across all are very similar: an athlete or coach either has a downfall, or is expected to step-up beyond their own expectations when someone else does. In each book, they’re gifted a mentor or set of mentors who helps guide them through their life crisis. In some of the stories, this takes a supernatural, almost “Field of Dreams” approach. In others, it is more grounded in real life. And Faith in God plays a part of it. But if that isn’t your thing, it doesn’t get too preachy. These parables still apply, and there’s no guilt-tripping or cramming of God down throats.

I’ll list them all, in the order I read them with hyperlinks. The two I have not will be below those. At times, the important lessons seem to cross the books. It can feel a bit like you’re re-learning the same things from book-to-book. But there are unique elements in each, and I feel like I’ve seen worse “crossover” in the author business world when authors re-write the same business books under different titles each time. These are not as grossly obvious as that. And like I said, Darrin does a great job of building characters and story. As a fiction author, I like these stories. I try to read 10-pages a day, but I wound up flying through each of these books in just a few days because I got so attached to the characters. And yes—you should go into these knowing that they always end positively. The hero applies the lessons and overcomes the obstacle each time.

Think Like a Warrior. Probably my second favorite. A coach in stress receives nighttime mentoring from five of history’s greatest coaches, each time being teleported in space and time to visit them, almost as if rounding a corner and finding the 1960s or 70s.

The TurnAround. A third string freshman quarterback suddenly finds that the entire season relies on him to step up. Over the course of four years at college, he learns what it truly means to have confidence.

Life to the Fullest. I’d say I probably enjoyed this book the most because it has the neatest paranormal element. Very much like “It’s a Wonderful Life”, the character is a coach visited by the spirit of his dead father, whose reputation he’s been trying to live up to his entire life. It is an eve of despair as they’re about to lose—once again—the most important game of the season, and the school is slated to be closed on top of that. His father gives him a chance to go live the “life of the other choice”, as if he’d picked the other career path years earlier. He soon learns the grass is not always greener, and that we must learn to appreciate the things in our lives we take for granted.          

Victory Favors the Fearless. This follows a has-been/never-will boxer on a journey of discovery, realizing that he’s been living in the 7 types of fear that encompass our lives. You don’t have to like boxing to enjoy this!

The Mental Game. A pro-golfer has one of the most embarrassing melt-downs in sports on national TV. After spending most of his 20s qualifying for the Pro Tour, only to lose it each time he does, he finally reaches out to one of golf’s great legends. (Based on the great Ben Crenshaw, from my hometown of Austin, Texas!) This story proves that it is the mentee who picks the mentor, as he learns about concentrating only on what he can control: his attitude and his actions. Like boxing, you don’t have to enjoy golf to enjoy this journey!

Relentless Optimism. Billed as “This book will show you just how powerful a positive attitude can be and it will teach you how to use positive thinking to make your biggest dreams come true”.

Old School Grit. Billed as “The 15 unbreakable rules for building grit and achieving your dreams”.

I’ve not read these last two, but I have faith that they’re worth the read. They say it takes readers four to five books to truly become a super fan of an author. I’m there. These “not quite fiction, and not quite nonfiction” fables are uplifting and do a great job of giving you a booster-shot-in-the-arm when you read them!

Thanks for checking out this book review! Speaking of books, if you’ve never been to my website, you can grab a free e-copy of Cascadia Fallen: Tahoma’s Hammer just by signing up for my reader’s group up top!

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