The book 100 Things Lions Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die by Paula Pasche, a longtime sportswriter from Detroit, is in the vein of many a book (or TV show or series of internet articles) that you have probably seen. The title is basically an excuse for writing a list of things related to the Lions, for the most part. This is not necessarily a negative, of course. It’s commonly considered that lists tend to generate interest from readers. On the internet, this slowly morphed into slideshows about the top 10 celebrity beach bodies. This book is a bit more noble than that. Plus, 100 is a nice round number.
The book focuses much more on the “know” than the “do” and it is largely a history book about the Detroit Lions. It would have probably been better just to frame it as such. Pasche seems to indicate at the beginning of the book that the list has some sort of logic behind it, as if though things are listed in some sort of pertinent order, but it doesn’t really feel that way. In fact, the list feels really slapdash, like Pasche just wrote about 100 things and then it was all thrown together. At its worst, it feels like 100 random articles thrown together into a book. This partially stems from the fact that there is a lot of information repeated in the book. Did you know Tigers Stadium used to be called Briggs Stadium? After reading this book you will. It’s mentioned probably around a dozen times.
Pasche covers everything from the early days of the Lions up until the end of the 2011 season. This lends the book a tinge of unintended dramatic irony, as there is an aura of optimism apparent after Detroit made the playoffs last year. Now, in the midst of another lousy season, the feelings surrounding the Lions are certainly less enthusiastic. There’s some stuff not related to the Lions tossed into the book that is sort of related to Detroit that I guess falls into the “do” section. They mostly fall into the category or “Hey, Coney Dogs are a thing!” So, there’s that.
She writes in a very matter of fact style, basically just trying to get information across. This perhaps stems from the fact that she has spent her years writing for newspapers. The book is written like your typical game recap. She’s just relaying facts, with a bit of interviews thrown in there. This is fine for the occasional article or blog post, but I prefer a bit of literary flourish in the books I read. There is little to none of that here. Pasche doesn’t reach very deep into anything or try and take some sort of interesting take on any subject. She’s just reporting. The book could have also used another run by a copy editor. It’s not the few spelling errors that bothered me. It’s when she would write something, and then literally write the exact same thing approximately two sentences later.
That’s not to say the utilitarian nature of the book leaves it without merit. There’s plenty of information on the Lions in it. If you aren’t that familiar with the history of the team, there is definitely some stuff you can learn from this book. There is also plenty of talk of recent seasons, stuff like Matt Millen and Calvin Johnson and what have you. However, given the basic nature of the book, if you already know a lot about the Lions, there might not be that much new information for you.
I thought the book was pretty good, all my quibbles aside. I was able to find some interesting stuff in there, even within the parameters of Lions history I was already fairly informed about. I wish there was something, anything stylistically engaging about it, or that it was presented better, but it isn’t a huge issue, and it’s not what the intention of the book was. I was able to blow through the book in a few hours, so it clearly isn’t a slog. Well, when you are re-reading information you’ve read a few times already, I guess it can be.
I guess what I would say is that if you are fairly new to the Detroit Lions and are looking to learn about the team, this book could be worth your time. Or, conversely, if you are such a Lions diehard you want to have anything Lions related that is out there, then you can pick this up as well. For the fans in the middle, however, 100 Things Lions Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die can probably be eschewed.