Dear Thursday: COME TO WIN by Venus Williams and Kelly E. Carter [Book 42 of 2010]

Wow, only 10 more books to go before I meet my goal. And today’s book is a whole lot of awesomeness. I finished it yesterday, and I’m still a little sad about it. Here are my thoughts on COME TO WIN by Venus Williams and Kelly E. Carter .

Why I Decided to Read It: Well, long story short, Carter (no relation) and Williams are my editor mates, under Dawn Davis. I met Carter at a signing for another editor mate, Dolen Perkins-Valdez, and the concept for her book sounded so awesome, that I downloaded it, even though I rarely read non-fiction that can’t be found on a marketing or self-help shelf.

What It’s About: Successful people from many different walks of life talk about how playing sports when they were younger shaped their future successes. Some famous names include Bill Clinton, Denzel Washington, Jack Welch, Meg Whitman, Condoleeza Rice, Richard Branson, Vera Wang and Hill Harper — and seriously that’s a really short list. So many titans gave interviews for this book.

What Makes It Different: These people really talk deeply about the lessons that sports brought to bear on their current lives. I don’t think I’ve ever talked about any other book in general conversation as much as I’ve talked about COME TO WIN.

What I Loved: In many ways this book is inspirational literature in disguise. The essayists impart important life lessons, but also, to my surprise, important parenting lessons, which I’ll go into further below. I suggest that everyone read it as I did: one chapter every other day or so. The reason I am so sad to finish reading a book I began in July is because I used it as a sort of Go Big Or Go Home Bible, reading it in no more than one chapter in one sitting. It seemed every time I got discouraged during my book tour and second novel journey, I would open this book and find some important lesson waiting for me. This is hands down my favorite non-fiction book of the year, and I will be giving it to every mom and dad on my Christmas list.

What I Didn’t Like: No writers featured!!! Come on, dudes…

Parenting and Life Lessons Learned:

Learn from your failures. Of course, in my book tour journey, there were ideas that worked (t-shirts and totes) and ones that didn’t (Then and Now, my Pittsburgh stop). But the successful people interviewed for this book constantly cited learning how to deal with failure as one of the most valuable benefits of playing a sport. I’m even more excited for my next round of book promotion, because I’ve learned so much more from both my failures and successes, thanks to this book.

Don’t let your kids quit a sport until the season is through. My daughter is only like a year-and-a-half old but I already worry about teaching her follow-through. This is a great lesson both as a parent and a writer. It’s a good idea to teach your kids to honor their commitments even if they don’t like the sport they’re playing. And it’s an even better idea for writers not to give up on a book until their done with the current draft. Honor your commitments.

Enroll your kids in sports if you want them to be successful. No, seriously. Parents think this is optional, but I do think that we’ve been putting our nation’s kids (and especially our girls) at a great disadvantage by not encouraging them to play sports more than we do. Sports teach kids discipline, commitment, organization, social skills — basically all the qualities we parents want our kids to have but aren’t necessarily in the position to fully teach them. Also, as Denzel Washington points out, sports keeps kids out of trouble. If you’re playing a sport, then you don’t have much time to get in trouble. Also, you sleep better, because sports tucker you out. By the time I finished reading this book, I decided that my kids could pick any sport they wanted, but they will have to be involved in at least one sport as long as their under my roof.

To Whom Would I Recommend This Book: Moms And Dads, People Who Didn’t Play Sports Growing Up, People Hoping To Be Successful One Day, Fiction Readers Who Hate Non-Fiction, Women Considering Joining A Roller Derby League, All Artists, and Every Middle-Schooler In America — seriously this book should be made a P.E. requirement.

Click on the pic to buy the book!