Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Review of "The Metaphysics of Ping-Pong"

One of my goals when I started writing reviews and this blog was to read about as many different sports as I could. Ping pong was one of the off-beat games I hoped to learn about and when I was asked if I would review this book on the sport, I certainly was happy to do so.  Here is my review of "The Metaphysics of Ping-Pong."

“The Metaphysics of Ping-Pong” by Guido Mina di Sospiro

Table tennis, memoir, life

Publish date:
September 1, 2015

240 pages

5 of 5 stars (outstanding)

It has often been stated that sport is a reflection of life. While that seems to be a well-worn cliché, but this book by Guido Mina di Sospiro proves that sometimes clichés are correct.  In his case, the sport of ping-pong, or table tennis, was an accurate reflection of his life. 

His writing about the sport waxes poetic and philosophical, pop culture and religion.  Drawing inspiration and information from sources as varied as Plato, Taoism, Sheryl Crow and Carl Jung, Mina di Sospiro takes the reader on an adventure through the world of ping-pong as he competes against players all over the world – from his local club to facing some of the best players in China.

While the main attraction of the book is certainly his adventure, his writing about the sport itself was what I found very interesting. His discovery of the spin on the ball being the key to winning or losing makes for some of the best reading for me in the book. The spin is how metaphysics plays an important role in the sport.

How the player has to strike the ball to put this spin on the shot, what rubber and padding should be on the paddle to maximize this effect is explained in great detail as Mina di Sospiro is working his way through the competition. Even the glue is important as he explains that many players will rib the rubber padding off and re-glue it onto the paddle just before a match (allowing 20-30 minutes for drying) to expand the rubber which allows for greater speed and spin.

This book should be read at one sitting with minimal interruptions to get a true feel for the game and also for the spirituality of the writing.  By doing this, I was able to enjoy the stories and ended up becoming a fan of the author and the sport by the time I finished. This book is highly recommended for readers who want to either learn something about an off-beat sport, to be inspired or just enjoy a good book with a different spin.

I wish to thank Quest Books for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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  1. This is a great book which I think all the table tennis players should take a look on it and for sure they are going to reap some fruit full mental education.

  2. hi, i like to play table tennis. i will refer to buy a book!
    i want to advance my skill. thank you very much

  3. Although I have not read this particular book but it definitely looks interesting. Table tennis is a sophisticated sports and needs to a good analysis off the table to understand the intricacies.

    Thanks for the recommendationS Smith!