The best books about the game of hockey

Who am I?

I’ve been reading hockey books since I was a kid and could usually count on finding one under the Christmas tree. I still keep many of those books from my childhood on the shelves in my office. Eventually, I was old enough to buy my own books, some of which are about hockey (and, lucky for me, I continue to receive hockey books as gifts on occasion). When I started to write books, I knew that someday I would write one about the game I love to play, watch and read about.

I wrote...

Klondikers: Dawson City's Stanley Cup Challenge and How a Nation Fell in Love with Hockey

By Tim Falconer,

Book cover of Klondikers: Dawson City's Stanley Cup Challenge and How a Nation Fell in Love with Hockey

What is my book about?

Early in 1905, an unlikely team of dreamers arrived in Ottawa to play for the Stanley Cup. The Klondikers had travelled—by foot, bicycle, train, ship, and more trains—for three-and-a-half weeks from Dawson City, Yukon. This is the story of their audacious trek and their equally audacious desire to win the Cup. It’s also the story of how hockey grew from a niche, regional sport when Lord Stanley donated his trophy in 1893 to a national obsession within a dozen years.

Unforgettable characters include Weldy Young, the former Ottawa star who never lost his hunger for the Cup; Joe Boyle, the Klondike King who managed the team; and “One-Eyed” Frank McGee, the game’s original superstar. For lovers of hockey, Canadian history and entertaining tales.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Riding on the Roar of the Crowd: A Hockey Anthology

Why did I love this book?

I love this collection of writing about hockey. It includes memoirs, essays, magazine articles, book excerpts, fiction, poetry, and even a one-act play about the game. Some of my favourites are an elegantly written 1954 magazine article by Hugh MacLennan called "Fury on Ice"; Morley Callaghan’s “The Game that Makes a Nation,” an essay on Canada’s “national drama”; Hugh Hood's riveting close-up look at Jean Beliveau's artistry; and Mordecai Richler’s sad look at a retiring Gordie Howe, who sidelines as an Amway salesman. This book is so full of great reads.

By David Gowdey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Riding on the Roar of the Crowd as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A thirty-item collection of magazine articles, book excerpts, poetry, a one-act play and the transcript of a Foster Hewitt radio broadcast ... the best single book about hockey I've come across... a rare, worthwhile project in sports literature- Steven Wickens, Financial Post

Book cover of Wayne Gretzky's Ghost: And Other Tales from a Lifetime in Hockey

Why did I love this book?

As a teenager, I read Roy MacGregor’s profiles of players such as Bryan Trottier, Borje Salming, and Bobby Clarke in The Canadian magazine and it made me want to become a writer. Since then, he’s written many great hockey books, including The Home Team, A Loonie for Luck and the Screech Owl series for young readers. Wayne Gretzky’s Ghost—the title refers to when MacGregor ghostwrote Gretzky’s newspaper column—is a collection of some of his best pieces from 1976 to 2011. Read them and I’m sure you’ll agree MacGregor is the game’s best writer.

By Roy MacGregor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wayne Gretzky's Ghost as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Roy MacGregor has been called "the best hockey writer in the country," and we finally have a collection of his very best hockey writing, revised and updated.

For nearly 40 years Roy MacGregor has brought hockey, our national sport, alive on the page. From tales of the game's greats (Guy Lafleur, Jean Beliveau, Marcel Dionne) to today's stars (Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Daniel and Henrik Sedin), his magazine and newspaper coverage has revealed so much about these and so many other personalities, in moments of promise, victory and defeat. While many of these stories play out on the ice, some…

Book cover of Gross Misconduct: The Life of Spinner Spencer

Why did I love this book?

The night Brian Spencer first played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, his father was angry that the local TV station was airing another game. After driving to the station with a gun and forcing the staff to show the Leaf game, he died in a stand-off with the RCMP. “Spinner” played 553 NHL games, but life after hockey wasn’t easy. In 1988, a year after his acquittal on kidnapping and murder charges, he died from a gunshot during a drug-related robbery in Florida. O’Malley is an excellent journalist and this is a powerfully told story of a tragic life. 

By Martin O’Malley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gross Misconduct as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

310 pages of excellent text, with many great photos. The roller-coaster story of a life so gripping that it reads like fiction. From remote British Columbia to West Palm Beach, from $100,000 a year to drifter, from a tense murder trial to Spenser's own violent murder. First Edition.

The Game

By Ken Dryden,

Book cover of The Game

Why did I love this book?

Given that I’m a fan of the Boston Bruins and Ken Dryden, the great Montreal goalie, broke my heart many times in the 1970s, I didn’t want to like this book. But I did, which is good because no list of the best hockey books is complete without this one. It’s the story of Dryden’s last year in the NHL with flashbacks to previous years as well as his thoughts on the state of the sport. My favourite parts are when he shows us what life is like as a professional hockey player, especially in the dressing room.

By Ken Dryden,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Game as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Widely acknowledged as the best hockey book ever written and lauded by Sports Illustrated as one of the Top 10 Sports Books of All Time, The Game is a reflective and thought-provoking look at a life in hockey. Ken Dryden, the former Montreal Canadiens goalie and former president of the Toronto Maple Leafs, captures the essence of the sport and what it means to all hockey fans. He gives vivid and affectionate portraits of the characters—Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson, Guy Lapointe, Serge Savard, and coach Scotty Bowman among them—who made the Canadiens of the 1970s one of the greatest hockey…

Book cover of Hockey Dreams: Memories of a Man Who Couldn't Play

Why did I love this book?

This book by an award-winning Canadian novelist mixes memoir and essay. The memoir is set in New Brunswick’s Miramichi region in 1961. Richards has no use of his left arm; his best friend is going blind due to diabetes. They are in their last year of playing hockey. Woven into that story are other memories—including of distasteful meetings with people who don’t like the sport—as well as his thoughts on the game and its place in the Canadian psyche. Hockey Dreams is highly personal, so it may not be for readers, but I loved it. 

By David Adams Richards,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hockey Dreams as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With a voice as Canadian as winter, David Adams Richards reflects on the place of hockey in the Canadian soul.

The lyrical narrative of Hockey Dreams flows from Richards' boyhood games on the Miramichi to heated debates with university professors who dare to back the wrong team. It examines the globalization of hockey, and how Canadians react to the threat of foreigners beating us at "our" game.

Part memoir, part essay on national identity, part hockey history, Hockey Dreams is a meditation by one of Canada's finest writers on the essence of the game that helps define our nation.

5 book lists we think you will like!

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