Apart from watching movies and listening to podcasts, sports fans can also read the best sports books of all time to gain more insights and knowledge about the game.
After all, these books were written by some of the most prestigious analysts, coaches, and players themselves who had fantastic careers during their time.
Best sports books of all time
From biographies to fictional pieces, there are endless must-read sports books that have stood the test of time and been labeled bestsellers. These books are adventurous and engaging, which sports fans surely love.
Moreover, books are some of the best gift ideas for sports fans. If you’re looking for books to gift to your loved ones, then look no further.
Here are the 20 best sports books to read during your downtime.
Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream
Friday Night Lights tells the story of the Permian Panthers high school football squad in Odessa, Texas. In the book, Bissinger captures everything that happened to the Panthers during their quest for the Texas State championship.
This book has a movie adaptation starring Billy Bob Thornton and a television series that ran for five seasons. Both the movie and series adaptations were highly acclaimed and won numerous awards.
The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game
The Blind Side features the story of Michael Oher, who played for the Baltimore Ravens for eight seasons. In the book, Oher tells the story of how he was raised in poverty and later adopted by a wealthy white family. He then rose to fame and became one of the most skilled offensive tackles in the NFL.
Oher also highlighted the evolution of the left tackle position in the book. He discussed how the ability to blitz from the “blind side” became one of the most important requirements of an efficient blocker. As a result of this trend, left tackle has become one of the highest-paying positions in football.
Paper Lion: Confessions of a Last-String Quarterback
In the book, George Plimpton recounts his experiences with the Detroit Lions. He persuaded the Lions to let him participate in training camp and team scrimmages despite his lack of football skill or ability.
Paper Lion was published in 1966 and was one of the first books to delve into professional sports and shed light on what’s happening in the locker room. The book also has a film adaptation starring Alan Alda. This is one of the must-read sports books, especially if you like football.
Fever Pitch is an award-winning memoir by Nick Hornby. In the book, he details his experience as a diehard fan of football (soccer in America), particularly Arsenal Football Club. Each chapter highlights the football match he remembers watching, from his childhood to his early 30s, and how it impacted his life.
The book also has two movie adaptations, one starring Colin Firth and the other starring Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore.
My Losing Season
Pat Conroy recounts his last season as the starting point guard at The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina. The story of many sports books is successful and glorious, but this one’s different. It shows the tragic 8-17 season of the team, as well as the harsh reality of being in a male-dominated and military-focused institution.
In the book, Conroy also recalls his rough youth, growing up with a tough father and in a military household.
Ball Four: The Final Pitch
In the book, Jim Bouton exposed many dark secrets about the New York Yankees, such as bad management, gambling, and drug and alcohol addiction amongst players. The MLB denounced the book and labeled it “detrimental to baseball.” Even though it was controversial, the book became one of the bestselling non-fiction books of all time.
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game
Moneyball is one of the best sports books of all time. It tells the story of how Billy Beane turned the Oakland Athletics’ season around. Beane used unconventional tactics and relied on numbers and data analytics to determine the value of his players due to the A’s limited budget.
The book also has a movie adaptation, starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. Both the book and movie were highly acclaimed by critics.
The Boys of Summer
The Boys of Summer is an all-time classic. Roger Kahn recounted his life, from his childhood in the streets of Brooklyn up to his life as a young sportswriter who covered the Dodgers. In the book, he perfectly captures the story of the team in the 1950s, delving into the lives of notable players such as Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, and Carl Erskine.
This book is perfect for MLB fans looking to know more about Jackie Robinson‘s Dodgers. Apart from that, we also get to know more about Kahn’s life as well as the baseball fever in Brooklyn at the time.
Ken Dryden is one of the best goaltenders of all time and led the Montreal Canadiens to six Stanley Cup championships. He wrote The Game to recount his 1979 season with the team. The book also delves into the lives of hockey legends such as Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson, Guy Lapointe, and Scotty Bowman.
Dryden also gives us a perspective on the life of a hockey player, both on and off the ice. The Game is considered one of the best hockey books ever written.
When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi
There’s a reason why the Super Bowl trophy is named after Vince Lombardi. After all, Lombardi led the Green Bay Packers to five championships in nine seasons. He embodied leadership, perseverance, and success.
In the book, David Maraniss captures the entire life of Lombardi. He tells the story of Lombardi based on his time as a high school coach, as an assistant coach at Fordham and the New York Giants, and as the head coach of the Packers. The book tells us the story of Lombardi like no other.
Babe: The Legend Comes To Life
It’s no secret that Babe Ruth is the greatest baseball player of all time. Robert Creamer wrote this biography to give life to the American legend, from his humble beginnings up to his glory days in the big leagues. In the book, Creamer also recounted some of Ruth’s best games throughout his career.
This book is one of the best sports books of all time. Baseball fans who want to learn more about Ruth’s life should look no further.
The Breaks of the Game
Pulitzer Prize winner David Halberstam wrote The Breaks of the Game, telling the story about the rise and fall of the Portland Trail Blazers in the late 1970s. As we know, the Blazers were one of the hottest teams at the time, and some had predicted the start of a dynasty.
Portland quickly rose to the top and won the championship in 1977 but never lived up to the expectations of being a dynasty in the following seasons, primarily due to Bill Walton‘s injuries. In the book, Halberstram delves deeper into the drama behind the scenes after their memorable championship run.
The Miracle of St. Anthony
In the book, Adrian Wojnarowski tells the story of Bob Hurley and his quest to transform teenagers from the streets into basketball champions. At St. Anthony High School, Hurley coached “the most dysfunctional group of players,” but he didn’t give up. He wanted these kids to win, not just in basketball but in real life.
Hurley is one of the best high school basketball coaches, amassing 1,000 wins, 26 state championships, and two mythical national championships. More than a basketball coach, his vision is to see no more children wandering in the streets.
The Jordan Rules
The quest for the first championship wasn’t easy. There were a lot of things that happened in the locker room. In the book, we dive deeper into the mind of Jordan and his obsession with winning. We also get to hear the side of the story from Jordan’s teammates in Chicago.
The Natural tells the story of Roy Hobbs, a baseball prodigy who was shot by a woman. As a result, his baseball career was put on hold due to the injuries he suffered.
After sixteen years, he returned and signed with the New York Knights as a hitter. As a rookie, he then took this struggling team from the bottom to the top, despite his long absence from baseball. The novel is one of the most motivational and inspiring sports books.
Loose Balls is all about the history of the short-lived American Basketball Association. The ABA influenced a lot of things in the current NBA, such as slam dunk contests and the three-point line. Some of the all-time greats, such as Julius Erving, Moses Malone, and Rick Barry, all started their careers in the ABA.
The ABA deserved its praise for shaping the NBA into what it is today, all thanks to Terry Pluto’s writing.
Heaven Is a Playground
Rick Telander is a former high school basketball player who spent his summers playing basketball at Brooklyn’s Foster Park. He played mostly with a ragtag group of local teenagers who clung to the hope of attaining a better life through basketball.
In the book, Telander tells everything that he experienced playing with these teenagers, who have big dreams but are also troubled by the ghetto lifestyle they are currently living.
The Only Rule Is It Has To Work
The Only Rule Is That It Has To Work follows two statisticians with no baseball experience as they run a professional baseball team. In the book, Sam Miller and Ben Lindbergh recount their story when they managed the Sonoma Stompers, a minor-league team based in California.
They resorted to using advanced statistics to run their own team, just like in fantasy baseball. The book provides a different perspective on those who have deep knowledge of baseball and data, even without playing experience.
Basketball (and Other Things)
With incredible art from Arturo Torres, Basketball (and Other Things) is a must-have for anyone who wants to know anything about basketball. From the rules of the game up to the most disrespectful dunks of all time, this book has it all.
This is one of the best sports books for middle schoolers, or for anyone who simply loves basketball.
Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success
Phil Jackson is the winningest coach in NBA history. He won a whopping 11 NBA championships as a head coach, which until now was a record that no one came close to beating. He was successful in leading two of the greatest players of all time, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
In the book, Jackson tells us his secret to winning. He applied to basketball everything that he learned from his Native American philosophy. He tells us the importance of trust, selflessness, and maturity and how these traits can bring you everlasting success.