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Miss Watching Sports? Read About Them Instead!

Miss watching Sports? Read about hem instead. 21 book recommendations for people who need something to do while sports are gone

If you’re anything like me, you miss watching sports a whole heck of a lot. Whether you’re missing the routine of putting a baseball game on in the background every night in the summer, mourning the NBA and NHL playoffs that never happened, or feeling super disappointed that you have to wait another year to watch the Tokyo Olympics, tons of us are right there with you.

The other day I posted a photo of a stack of sports-related books on Instagram and asked for recommendations for myself. That sparked the idea for this post. In searching for books about sports, I found tons that looked interesting in several categories, and I wanted to share them with everyone. So here are 21 book recommendations split into five categories — middle-grade fiction, young adult fiction, adult fiction, non-fiction, and memoirs! (Click the category name to jump to its list!)

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links for Amazon and Indiebound. Purchasing products through these links do not raise the cost on your bill, however, using the links allows me to earn a small commission.

Middle-Grade Fiction

Cover of Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen! by Sarah Kapit

Get A Grip, Vivy Cohen by Sarah Kapit (Baseball ⚾)

Have I mentioned this book enough yet? I don’t think so, therefore I’m gonna mention it again. I want to start the list with Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen, because I absolutely fell in love with the story. It follows Vivy Cohen (of course) who wants nothing more than to pitch for an actual baseball team and show off her knuckleball skills. The problem is her over-protective mother fears she won’t be able to handle it because she’s autistic. Meanwhile, Vivy is assigned to send a letter, so she picks star pitcher, VJ Capello who taught her how to throw a knuckleball. To everyone’s surprise, he replies, which begins the chain of letters and emails this novel is written in. It’s a story of navigating relationships with family, friends, and yourself as well as showing the world who you really are and proving to everyone (even yourself) that you’re stronger than you thought.

Goodreads | IndieBound | | Amazon

Cover of Ghost of Jason Reynolds

Ghost by Jason Reynolds (Track 🏃‍♂️)

Ghost is the first book in a series, each centering a different character. The story follows Castle Crenshaw, whom everyone knows as Ghost. He’s been running all his life, though most of it has been for basketball, not track. Still, something unpredictable happens when Ghost challenges a sprinter to a race and wins—he gets asked to join the track team. But there’s so much more than sports going on in this story. Ghost lives with his mother in a not-the-best neighborhood and struggles with a lot of anger stemming from past trauma. So all he knows is running, but he’s more used to running from his life than running on a track.

Goodreads | IndieBound | | Amazon

Cover of Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (Roller Derby 🏅)

Want a graphic novel about a girl joining roller derby, learning to be tough, and discovering what she loves? Look no further! When Astrid signs up for roller derby camp, she expected her best friend, Nicole to join her there. But Nicole signs up for dance camp. Now Astrid is healing from a lost friendship and trying to make new friends at roller derby camp. But she learns that she has a lot of people by her side and that growing up and experiencing new things might not be that hard after all. I haven’t read this one yet, but I’ve seen samples of the art, and it looks AMAZING!

Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

Cover of Takedown by Laura Shovan

Takedown by Laura Shovan (Wrestling 🤼)

Takedown follows two main characters — Mickey and Lev. Mickey’s whole family loves wrestling, and she’s pretty darn good at it herself. It seems some people have a problem with a girl joining the wrestling team, but she won’t let the haters get in her way of doing what she loves. On the other hand, Lev is used to practicing with his two best friends and no one else. Then he and Mickey get paired up. The new duo has to find a way to make friends with each other and help each other win. At least until States where there is only one winner.

Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

Young Adult Fiction

Cover of Running With Lions by Julian Winters

Running With Lions by Julian Winters (Soccer ⚽)

Sebastian Hughes is the star goalie on the Bloomington High School Lions and he’s surrounded by teammates he’s great friends with and an accepting coach. So his senior year should be great, right? Well, there’s the problem of his childhood best friend Emir Shah showing up to training camp seemingly out of nowhere. Knowing they didn’t end on great terms, Sebastian takes the initiative to iron things out with Emir, but soon trying to be friends for the sake of the team turns into more than friendship. If you’re up for a queer teen romance revolving around soccer, Julian Winters’ debut is for you.

Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

Cover of Breath Like Water by Anna Jarzab

Breath Like Water by Anna Jarzab (Swimming 🏊‍♀️)

Susannah Ramos is a world champion swimmer who dreams of competing in the Olympics. Of course, this means her whole life is about training, even though life tries to get in her way. As she’s struggling to keep her dream alive, Susannah hires a new coach and meets Harry Matthews. Breath Like Water is a coming of age story that deals with so many different things from romance to achieving your goals and so much more. This book is good for readers looking for a YA sports book where romance doesn’t become the main focus — reviewers have said there’s a good balance between the swimming plot and the romance plot.

Goodreads | IndieBound | | Amazon

Cover of Throw Like A Girl by Sarah Henning

Throw Like a Girl by Sarah Henning (Football/Softball 🏈🥎)

This one is kind of about two sports! Although it focuses more on football than softball. After Liv punches someone on the other team during a super important softball game, she has to transfer to the local public school and figure out how to fit in with the story of her mistake following her. Enter Grey, who promises that if she takes his spot as quarterback of the football team while he’s injured, he’ll make sure she makes it onto the softball team in the spring. Liv isn’t sure she can trust Grey, but the offer is tempting, so she takes it. And so begins a wild ride.

Goodreads | IndieBound | | Amazon

Cover of The Avant-Guards by Carly Usdin and Noah Hayes

The Avant-Guards by Carly Usdin and Noah Hayes (Basketball 🏀)

This one is a graphic novel series, of which I’ve only read the first volume. It follows the story of Charlie who has just transferred to the Georgia O’Keeffe College of Arts and Subtle Dramatics and is trying to adjust to her new classes and environment. At the club fair, she gets wrapped into joining a group trying to form an official school basketball team, and it quickly becomes a story of friendship and self-discovery, with a side of sapphic romance, of course. Not to mention there is anxiety representation and an ensemble cast of color. The third volume is expected to be published on October 6th, 2020.

Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

Cover of We Are The Wildcats by Siobhan Vivian

We Are The Wildcats by Siobhan Vivian (Field Hockey 🏑)

I remember playing sports in high school, and every year had a different feel to it because each year, the team was different. Based on the synopsis, We Are The Wildcats feels a lot like my first year playing volleyball for my school. We didn’t do anything nearly as scandalous as stealing another team’s mascot or break into the school at night, but the team was super close and had some great times together. If you’re looking for a read about leaving your comfort zone, the bond between teammates, and some wild times during teenagehood, you should pick this one up.

Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

Adult Fiction

Cover of Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Beartown by Fredrik Backman (Ice Hockey 🏒)

Beartown is the first in a series about a small town in Sweden that is dedicated to its junior hockey team. So dedicated that they believe a national championship will help save the struggling town. But when the star player rapes a young girl, the whole town spirals. People try to cover it up, blame each other, and chaos ensues. It’s a tough read that contains a lot of sensitive material, but the story talks about so much — including sports culture, masculinity, rape, homophobia, class, family, and more. The second book is already out and the third is predicted to release in 2021.

Goodreads | IndieBound | | Amazon

Cover of We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry (Field Hockey 🏑)*

We Ride Upon Sticks is a historical fiction story set in 1989, but some of the characters are connected to events even further back. Team captain Abby Putnam is a descendant of Ann Putnam. Yes, the one from the Salem Witch Trials. At the beginning of a season when the team isn’t predicted to perform too well, the team decides to pledge themselves to dark forces, which leads them to a winning streak. But this dark magic may be too much for them to handle. This comedic story deals with family, femininity, and finding yourself.

Goodreads | IndieBound | | Amazon

Cover of The Cactus League by Emily Nemens

The Cactus League by Emily Nemens (Baseball ⚾)*

This year at spring training, it’s obvious that the Los Angeles Lions’ star outfielder Jason Goodyear isn’t having a good year. Naturally everyone from the coaches to his teammates, from the fans to the media all want to know what’s up. Told through the narration of an unemployed sportswriter trying to get back into the industry, The Cactus League is a story about not just baseball but also the human condition. If you’re looking for a character-driven story, this may be a good choice for you.

Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

Cover of The Singles Game

The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger (Tennis 🎾)*

From the author of Devil Wears Prada, is a book about a well-known tennis star Charlotte “Charlie” Silver who decides to change up her good-girl image after an injury. To achieve this, she hires a new coach who portrays a very opposite image — hard and ruthless — but has coached several champions in the past. Between her personal transformation on and off the court plus her new affair with Spanish tennis player Marco Vallejo, the media has lots of reasons to talk about Charlie. But with a new life comes the challenge of trying to balance all the new parts of it. In this story about trying to have it all, Charlie learns that appearing to have a perfect life might not lead to actually having one, leading her to question “Is it all worth it?” If you’re looking for a summery read, you might want to pick up The Singles Game.

Goodreads | IndieBound | | Amazon


Cover of Cold-Cocked: On Hockey by Lorna Jackson

Cold-Cocked: On Hockey by Lorna Jackson (Ice Hockey 🏒)*

From Goodreads: “Cold-cocked is the first book to explore a woman’s way of watching the game poet Al Purdy called a “combination of ballet and murder.” Written by author and born-again hockey aficionado Lorna Jackson, Cold-cocked looks at hockey through a woman’s eyes and heart but is written with a sportswriter’s energy and rigor and a hip cultural critic’s cynicism and wit.” If you’re looking for a fresh perspective on hockey and it’s culture, think about getting a copy of Cold-Cocked: On Hockey.

Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

Cover of Where Nobody Knows Your Name by John Feinstein

Where Nobody Knows Your Name by John Feinstein (Baseball ⚾)

Professional baseball is such a popular and widely-played sport that its entry draft is 40 rounds long — a heck of a lot longer than the NFL and NHL’s seven-round drafts and the NBA’s two-round draft. This leads to more prospects than MLB teams know what to do with, which is why the 30 teams, on average, have 8 affiliate teams. Through extensive interviews and lots of storytelling, Feinstein illustrates baseball players’, managers’, and umpires’ lives working their way up through the minor leagues hoping for their shot in the majors and never quite sticking. If you’re interested in the stark contrast between the minors and majors, this a great read.

Goodreads | IndieBound | | Amazon

Cover of Under the Lights and in the Dark by Gwendolyn Oxenham

Under the Lights and in the Dark: Untold Stories of Women’s Soccer by Gwendolyn Oxenham (Soccer ⚽)

After experiencing herself the less-than-glamorous lifestyle that is playing women’s soccer in Brazil,  Gwendolyn Oxenham set out to see what it was like to play the same sport in other countries. What she found wasn’t all that different from her own experiences. From hiding homelessness from teammates in England to fleeing the Taliban to play professionally in Denmark, Oxenham brings to light the struggles these women face to play the sport they love. Following the stories of several players internationally, this is a good book for everyone interested in the gender, racial, and other politics of sports, whether you’re new to the soccer world or have been following the sport all your life.

Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

Cover of Women in Sports by Rachel Ignotofsky

Women in Sports: 50 Fearless Women Who Played to Win by Rachel Ignotofsky (Way more sports than I have emojis for)

I wanted to make sure to add a non-fiction for book younger audiences, or that was at least not as heavy as the rest of them. So here’s one I read not too long ago. If you’re looking for a broad introduction to sports history, particularly women in sports history, this is a great place to start. With beautiful illustrations and tons of fast facts, Ignotofsky’s Women in Sports is a perfect way to learn about some amazing women in history that they never talk about in school.

Goodreads | IndieBound | | Amazon


Cover of Spinning by Tillie Walden

Spinning by Tillie Walden (Figure Skating ⛸)

Tillie Walden is one of my all-time favorite graphic novel writer-illustrators.  Spinning is a wonderful graphic memoir that recounts how so much of her life and her identity early in life revolved around figure skating. It follows her waking up early every day to get ice time, traveling alone for competitions, making friends, and her first love. But it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. In fact, most of it isn’t. She also has to deal with bullying, not fitting in at school because so much time is spent figure skating, and making the decision to stop doing the sport she grew up with to pursue a different path in life. It’s a beautiful, layered, and honest story with amazing art accompanying it.

Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

Cover of I Never Had It Made by Jackie Robinson

I Never Had It Made by Jackie Robinson (Baseball ⚾)*

Everyone who knows anything about baseball knows who Jackie Robinson is. Heck, even people who don’t know anything about baseball know who he is. But there was so much more to his life than just baseball. Did you know he was the first four-letter varsity athlete at UCLA? Or that he served in World War II? In his own words, Robinson tells his story before, during, and after this time playing in Major League Baseball.

Goodreads | IndieBound | | Amazon

Forward: A Memoir by Abby Wambach (Soccer ⚽)*

Abby Wambach’s is one of those memoirs that turns out not to be what you expect because she talks about SO much more than the very thing she’s known for. She tells stories of growing out and coming out, her struggles with addiction, and struggling relationships (romantic and otherwise.) And of course, she talks about her time playing soccer professionally and what it was like to compete in and win the World Cup in 2015. Also!! There’s a Young Readers’ Edition for the kids and teens in your life that love soccer and want to hear Wambach’s story.

Goodreads | IndieBound | | Amazon

Cover of Beautiful On The Outside by Adam Rippon

Beautiful On The Outside by Adam Rippon (Figure Skating ⛸)

In his memoir published in October 2019, Adam Rippon talks about his first time ice skating in Scranton at five years old, working his way to the Olympics, a glimpse of life after retiring, and literally everything in between. When I read this, I liked how Rippon didn’t hold anything back in the details he shared or the opinions he added to the narration. There’s never a dull moment in the book because he really brings the sassy comedy that made America fall in love with him during the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. So if you’re looking for an in-depth personal story of the ups and downs on the way to ultimate world stage of figure skating, you’ll enjoy this memoir.

Goodreads | IndieBound | | Amazon

What other books about sports have you read or have on your TBR?

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