Robert Birnbaum's web-journal is OurManinBoston. He is also roving editor at Identitytheory and contributing editor at The Morning News. He begins countless books and manages to complete close to 200 every year. He lives in suburban Boston with Beny his black dog.

LITERARY TOUCHDOWNS

The sport has inspired some of our best writers, who’ve tackled everything from fandom to concussions. This reading list should hold you all the way to the Super Bowl.

Big and Beautiful

Books by artists and about artists, books that are works of art—it was a great year for the coffee table book, from Goya to Dalí, from tattoos to World War I in color.

Keepers

From Pele on the beautiful game to Bill Buford on the sport’s dark side, check out a complete team of terrific books that give you all the prep you need for the World Cup.

‘You Never Know’

Wrigley Field, Ted Williams, Nolan Ryan, Sabermetrics, the Pete Rose controversy—a fine new crop of baseball books looks at the old, the new and the very weird.

Past Imperfect

Justin Cartwright’s ‘Lion Heart’ toggles back and forth between the present and the Crusades, probing the ties both filial and romantic that bind us all.

So Pretty

From a massive atlas of the world to Helen Frankenthaler’s paintings, here are the 26 most beautiful, expensive, and fascinating art and photography books published this year.