It’s Super Bowl Sunday, and if the hype surrounding the big game has you inspired to check out some sports stories, we have you covered! This list of sports novels covers a wide range of sports and genres, so even if you aren’t a huge sports fan, you should definitely check out these books where sports fans and non-fans of all ages can find a story they’ll love.
‘Friday Night Lights’ – H.G. Bissinger
The book that inspired the extremely popular TV series of the same name, Friday Night Lights is THE take on the south’s football obsession.
Description: “The timeless account of the Permian Panthers of Odessa — the winningest high-school football team in Texas history. Socially and racially divided, Odessa isn’t known to be a place big on dreams, but every Friday night from September to December, when the Panthers play football, dreams can come true.
With frankness and compassion, Pulitzer Prize winner H. G. Bissinger unforgettably captures a season in the life of Odessa and shows how single-minded devotion to the team shapes the community and inspires — and sometimes shatters — the teenagers who wear the Panthers’ uniforms.”
‘Seabiscuit’ – Laura Hillenbrand
Sports novels and movies are notorious for their underdog storylines, but that’s because who doesn’t love a good underdog story. Seabiscuit is one of those great underdog stories that will inspire readers.
Description: “Seabiscuit was one of the most electrifying and popular attractions in sports history and the single biggest newsmaker in the world in 1938, receiving more coverage than FDR, Hitler, or Mussolini. But his success was a surprise to the racing establishment, which had written off the crooked-legged racehorse with the sad tail. Three men changed Seabiscuit’s fortunes:
Charles Howard was a onetime bicycle repairman who introduced the automobile to the western United States and became an overnight millionaire. When he needed a trainer for his new racehorses, he hired Tom Smith, a mysterious mustang breaker from the Colorado plains. Smith urged Howard to buy Seabiscuit for a bargain-basement price, then hired as his jockey Red Pollard, a failed boxer who was blind in one eye, half-crippled, and prone to quoting passages from Ralph Waldo Emerson. Over four years, these unlikely partners survived a phenomenal run of bad fortune, conspiracy, and severe injury to transform Seabiscuit from a neurotic, pathologically indolent also-ran into an American sports icon.”
‘Last Days of Summer’ – Steve Kluger
They say never meet your heroes, and it may seem like Last Days of Summer just might live up to this line. But the heartwarming friendship that builds between the main characters makes this novel a must-read.
Description: “Last Days of Summer is the story of Joey Margolis, neighborhood punching bag, growing up goofy and mostly fatherless in Brooklyn in the early 1940s. A boy looking for a hero, Joey decides to latch on to Charlie Banks, the all-star third baseman for the New York Giants. But Joey’s chosen champion doesn’t exactly welcome the extreme attention of a persistent young fan with an overactive imagination. Then again, this strange, needy kid might be exactly what Banks needs.”
‘Moneyball’ – Michael Lewis
Yes, there is a movie about this story that stars Brad Pitt, so why should you read the book? Well, Moneyball an interesting look at how a little creative thinking and looking at the world differently can help make a big impact.
Description: “Moneyball is a quest for the secret of success in baseball. In a narrative full of fabulous characters and brilliant excursions into the unexpected, Michael Lewis follows the low-budget Oakland A’s, visionary general manager Billy Beane, and the strange brotherhood of amateur baseball theorists. They are all in search of new baseball knowledge―insights that will give the little guy who is willing to discard old wisdom the edge over big money.”
‘The Crossover’ – Kwame Alexander
The Crossover is a coming of age story following two twin brothers and their love of basketball. Full of drama and heart, this YA tale should definitely be on your reading list.
Description: “With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . . The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. ’Cuz tonight I’m delivering,” raps twelve-year-old Josh Bell. Thanks to their dad, he and his twin brother, Jordan, are kings on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood—he’s got mad beats, too, which help him find his rhythm when it’s all on the line.
As their winning season unfolds, things begin to change. When Jordan meets a girl, the twins’ bond unravels. Told in dynamic verse, this fast and furious middle grade novel that started it all absolutely bounces with rhythm and bursts with heart.
‘The Blind Side’ – Michael Lewis
You’ve probably heard about and seen the movie version of The Blind Side, starring Sandra Bullock, but as we all know, reading the book will give you a more complete look at this football story.
Description: “When we first meet him, Michael Oher is one of thirteen children by a mother addicted to crack; he does not know his real name, his father, his birthday, or how to read or write. He takes up football, and school, after a rich, white, Evangelical family plucks him from the streets. Then two great forces alter Oher: the family’s love and the evolution of professional football itself into a game where the quarterback must be protected at any cost. Our protagonist becomes the priceless package of size, speed, and agility necessary to guard the quarterback’s greatest vulnerability, his blind side.”
‘We Are the Wildcats’ – Siobhan Vivian
An uplifting story of redemption, defiance, and friendship told over 24 hours from six different perspectives, We Are the Wildcats is an inspiring YA read.
Description: “Tomorrow, the Wildcat varsity field hockey squad will play the first game of their new season. But at tonight’s team sleepover, the girls are all about forging the bonds of trust, loyalty, and friendship necessary to win.
Everything hinges on the midnight initiation ceremony—a beloved tradition and the only facet of being a Wildcat that the girls control. Until now.
Coach—a handsome former college player revered and feared in equal measure—changes the plan and spins his team on a new adventure. One where they take a rival team’s mascot for a joyride, crash a party in their pajamas, break into the high school for the perfect picture.
But as the girls slip out of their comfort zone, so do some long-held secrets. And just how far they’re willing to go for their team takes them all—especially Coach—by surprise.
A testament to the strength and resilience of modern teenage girls, We Are the Wildcats will have readers cheering.”
‘Heaven is a Playground’ – Rick Telander
As the author admits, Heaven Is a Playground is dated, but the passion and dreams of becoming a sports star will still resonate with readers.
Description: “Heaven Is a Playground was the first book on the uniquely American phenomenon of urban basketball. Rick Telander, a photojournalist and former high school basketball player, spent part of the summer of 1973 and all of the summer of 1974 in Brooklyn living the playground life with his subjects at Foster Park in Flatbush. He slept on the floor of a park regular’s apartment, observing, questioning, traveling, playing with, and eventually coaching a ragtag group of local teenagers whose hopes of better lives were often fanatically attached to the transcendent game itself. Telander introduces us to Fly Williams, a playground legend with incredible leaping ability and self-destructive tendencies that threatened to keep him earthbound. Another standout was Albert King, a fifteen-year-old phenom whose shy, quiet demeanor masked an otherworldly talent that eventually took him to the NBA. This edition also includes Telander’s perspectives on the arrival of an NBA team in Brooklyn. Heaven Is a Playground is one of a kind—a funny, sad, ultimately inspiring book about Americans and the roots of the sport that they love.”
‘Open’ – Andre Agassi
Illustrating the darker side of sports fame and what it takes (and costs) to be the best, Agassi’s memoir Open is an eye-opening look at the world of sports that will capture even non-sports fans.
Description: “Far more than a superb memoir about the highest levels of professional tennis, Open is the engrossing story of a remarkable life.
Andre Agassi had his life mapped out for him before he left the crib. Groomed to be a tennis champion by his moody and demanding father, by the age of twenty-two Agassi had won the first of his eight grand slams and achieved wealth, celebrity, and the game’s highest honors. But as he reveals in this searching autobiography, off the court he was often unhappy and confused, unfulfilled by his great achievements in a sport he had come to resent. Agassi writes candidly about his early success and his uncomfortable relationship with fame, his marriage to Brooke Shields, his growing interest in philanthropy, and—described in haunting, point-by-point detail—the highs and lows of his celebrated career.”
‘Check, Please!’ – Ngozi Ukazu
Originally published as a webcomic, Check, Please! has now been put together and released as a duology of graphic novels full of humor and heart, which will delight readers.
Description: “Eric Bittle may be a former junior figure skating champion, vlogger extraordinaire, and very talented amateur pâtissier, but being a freshman on the Samwell University hockey team is a whole new challenge. It is nothing like co-ed club hockey back in Georgia! First of all? There’s checking (anything that hinders the player with possession of the puck, ranging from a stick check all the way to a physical sweep). And then, there is Jack―his very attractive but moody captain.
A collection of the first half, freshmen and sophomore year, of the megapopular webcomic series of the same name, Check, Please!: #Hockey is the first book of a hilarious and stirring two-volume coming-of-age story about hockey, bros, and trying to find yourself during the best four years of your life.”
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