Tony Hawk, skateboarder
Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer (1997)
Gives you the firsthand excitement and drama (and tragedy) of the quest to summit Everest. It's the kind of book that can only be felt—no cinematic adaptation could ever do it justice.
Layne Beachley, surfer
Life of Pi, by Yann Martel (2001)
An incredibly inspirational novel about a young Indian boy stranded on a small lifeboat in the Pacific for months—with a tiger, a zebra, a hyena, and an orangutan. I could not put it down.