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The Month Ahead: Books

To honor the return of America’s pastime at the end of this month: three brand-new baseball books—and the fans most likely to deem them a hit

Baseball as a Road to God: Putting his popular college seminar into book form, NYU president John Sexton references everyone from Thomas Aquinas to Tug McGraw in exploring the game’s spiritual side (think: faith, miracles, conversions). Great for: Anyone who’s ever found religion at the bottom of the ninth. MARCH 7

Who’s on Worst?: The Lousiest Players, Biggest Cheaters, Saddest Goats and Other Antiheroes in Baseball History: Butterfingers and knuckleheads, beware: Filip Bondy lists the game’s all-time stinkers—lousiest pitcher, most despicable owner, etc.—and backs it up with his cred as a longtime New York Daily News columnist. Great for: Hard-core hecklers. MARCH 26

Inside the Baseball Hall of Fame: Both the esoteric (an 1887 umpire’s ball/strike counter) and the epic (Babe Ruth’s silver crown) are represented in this visual anthology of relics from the Cooperstown shrine. Great for: Those who’d happily watch all 181/2 hours of Ken Burns’ Baseball in one go. APRIL 2

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Primo cocktails don’t just grow on trees—they also come from roots, grasses and a host of other leafy and twiggy bits, as Amy Stewart reveals in The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World’s Great Drinks. Here, the pop horticulturist suggests a few regional specialties for globe-trotting tipplers. MARCH 19

China: Proposing a toast? Lift a glass of the blazingly strong sorghum spirit maotai. Sorghum’s a decidedly unglamorous grain, but thanks to its hardiness it’s widely fermented and distilled across Asia and Africa. And maotai‘s meant to be downed in one gulp— no sipping!

Quebec: Proving that folks will ferment whatever’s growing nearby, local bars in this Canadian sugar maple mecca serve up all kinds of libations made from the tree’s syrup: a rich maple syrup liqueur, maple rye whiskey and (surprisingly good) wines made from the first spring sap.

Poland: Don’t leave Warsaw without trying zubrowka, a vodka flavored with a sweet wild bison grass from the nearby Bialowieza Forest. A herd of endangered European bison feed on the grass, but don’t worry—strict protections ensure that there’s enough for both animals and distillers.

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“Some have many hands reaching from the bedside and others have none, and yet in that final moment, the air heavy and laden as molecules regroup and reshape in preparation for the exit, it is all the same. It is like the moment when a snake enters the yard and the birds fall silent.” —From Life After Life, a rare new novel from the influential Southern author Jill McCorkle. MARCH 26

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