10 books like A Fan's Notes

By Frederick Exley,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like A Fan's Notes. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Soccer in Sun and Shadow

By Eduardo Galeano,

Book cover of Soccer in Sun and Shadow

Galeano was no ordinary sportswriter. He was also a radical journalist, revisionist historian, and clear-eyed social critic whose work redefined modern Latin America in the minds of readers worldwide. In Soccer in Sun and Shadow, the Uruguayan author explores the meaning of soccer far beyond yellow cards and defensive strategies. In a series of short chapters, some no more than a page, Galeano illuminates the Beautiful Game’s legends, known and forgotten, from Maradona and Pele to the match that ended with 44 penalty kicks but whose results no one can quite remember. He is at his best when writing about how players of color from the favelas of Latin American added flare and rhythm to a hitherto stodgy old European game. Lyrical and learned, loving and elegiac, Soccer in Sun and Shadow stands as perhaps the greatest book on sports ever written.  

Soccer in Sun and Shadow

By Eduardo Galeano,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Soccer in Sun and Shadow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this witty and rebellious history of world soccer, award-winning writer Eduardo Galeano searches for the styles of play, players, and goals that express the unique personality of certain times and places. In Soccer in Sun and Shadow , Galeano takes us to ancient China, where engravings from the Ming period show a ball that could have been designed by Adidas to Victorian England, where gentlemen codified the rules that we still play by today and to Latin America, where the crazy English" spread the game only to find it creolized by the locals.All the greats,Pele, Di Stefano, Cruyff, Eusebio,…


Jim Brown

By Dave Zirin,

Book cover of Jim Brown: Last Man Standing

Zirin, the first sports columnist in the 150-year history of The Nation magazine, is arguably America’s best sportswriter, not just because of his fine prose style and encyclopedic knowledge of the contemporary sporting scene, but also due to his deep understanding of the connections between sports and politics. His biography of the legendary Brown, the most dominant player to ever carry a football, is no mere act of hagiography. While acknowledging Brown’s unrivaled achievements on the field as well as his role as a leader in the Black Power movement and his trailblazing work as a Hollywood icon, Zirin also presents a frank picture of the Cleveland Browns legend’s troubling behavior toward women and his recent opportunistic support of Trump. The result is a thought-provoking, no-holds-barred template that all sports biographies should strive to follow.  

Jim Brown

By Dave Zirin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A unique biography of Jim Brown--football legend, Hollywood star, and controversial activist--written by acclaimed sports journalist Dave Zirin.

Jim Brown is recognized as perhaps the greatest football player to ever live. But his phenomenal nine-year career with the Cleveland Browns is only part of his remarkable story, the opening salvo to a much more sprawling epic. Brown parlayed his athletic fame into stardom in Hollywood, where it was thought that he could become "the black John Wayne." He was an outspoken Black Power icon in the 1960s, and he formed Black Economic Unions to challenge racism in the business world.…


Ball Four

By Jim Bouton,

Book cover of Ball Four: The Final Pitch

My go-to baseball book, one that I’ve read twice and listened to twice, which I particularly enjoyed because Bouton reads the audio version. This is the baseball book that changed everything – well, it definitely changed baseball autobiographies and our expectations of them. There are parts that make me cringe, parts that would never pass the “politically correct” test today.

Regardless, what comes through most for me is Bouton’s wit and observations of the game and its players, and what it’s really like to play baseball at its highest level. Also, his love for the game and its grip on him is palpable. And it’s a book that changes over time for me – a romp and an inside look at life in the big leagues when I was young; and as an older man, it serves as a reminder that no matter how much you love doing something, some…

Ball Four

By Jim Bouton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION
New York Public Library Book of the Century Selection
Time Magazine “100 Greatest Non-Fiction Books” Selection
New Foreword from Jim Bouton’s Wife, Paula Bouton
When Ball Four was first published in 1970, it hit the sports world like a lightning bolt. Commissioners, executives, and players were shocked. Sportswriters called author Jim Bouton a traitor and "social leper." Commissioner Bowie Kuhn tried to force him to declare the book untrue. Fans, however, loved the book. And serious critics called it an important social document. Following his death, Bouton’s landmark book has remained popular, and his legacy lives on…


Friday Night Lights

By H.G. Bissinger,

Book cover of Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream

A superb and gripping account of the hold that American Football has over a small town in the USA. In telling the story of a season, Bissinger captures the glory, tragedy, and futility of sport, and its connection to racial politics, ambition, local rivalries, and a passionate fan base. Led to a brilliant TV series. Elegiac and path-breaking.

Friday Night Lights

By H.G. Bissinger,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Friday Night Lights as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The 25th anniversary edition of the #1 New York Times bestseller and Sports Illustrated 's best football book of all time, with a new afterword by the authorReturn once again to 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, H. G. Bissinger unforgettably captures a season in the life of Odessa and shows how single-minded devotion to the…


The Gambler

By Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky,

Book cover of The Gambler

This novel is the best account of the gambling psychology I know. It is a first-person narrative, ruthless in its depiction of the lies that addicts know they’re telling themselves. The story of a resentful compulsive gambler, the poor but superior tutor to a Russian family at “Roulettenburg,” it was itself the subject of a bet. Dostoevsky signed away his next decade’s worth of publishing profits unless he could deliver a new novel within a year. With six weeks to go he hadn’t written a word. He delivered the completed novel several hours before the deadline was going to pass. 

The Gambler

By Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"The Gambler" is a gripping narrative of the dangers of an addiction to gambling. As was common with Dostoyevsky's writing he draws upon his own life in a semi-autobiographical way in "The Gambler". Dostoyevksy himself suffered from a compulsion to gambling and those first-hand experiences bring a depth of realism to "The Gambler" and to his portrayal of the main character, Alexis Ivanovitch, a young man addicted to gambling. "The Gambler" is an insightful look at the compulsive nature of the gambling addict and the tragic consequences of such an addiction.


Cassidy's Girl

By David Goodis,

Book cover of Cassidy's Girl

Nearly every Goodis novel features an antihero who has fallen from a higher station in life and is now living on the fringes. In this one, Jim Cassidy, once a highly respected airline pilot until a disastrous plane crash leaves him a broken man, now finds himself driving a bus on a dead-end route, consoling himself with a drink at the neighborhood watering hole where he met his cheating wife and trying to figure out how not to get dragged down even deeper. Of course, things do get even worse for him, and not even the surprising “happy ending” can change the inevitability of the ultimate crash we know is coming for him and for all of us.

Cassidy's Girl

By David Goodis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

They say that a man needs a woman to go to hell with. Cassidy had two. One was Mildred, the wife who kept him chained with ties of fear and jealousy and paralyzing sexual need. The other was Doris, a frail angel with a 100-proof halo and a bottle instead of a harp. With those two, Cassidy found that the ride to hell could be twice as fast.

Goodis holds his rightful place in the pantheon of noir writers, alongside Jim Thompson, Cornell Woolrich, and Charles Williams. His writing stays true and never wavers, is never prettified. His characters always…


Ask the Dust

By John Fante,

Book cover of Ask the Dust

This tale of Arturo Bandini, a young would-be writer living on the edge in 1930s Los Angeles, is the book that Charles Bukowski discovered in a local library and was purportedly his inspiration for becoming a writer himself. Like Henry Chinaski in Buk’s autobiographical works, Bandini is a stand-in for Fante, and his personal disasters are mined for their comic gold. He falls in love with a waitress named Camilla, only to watch her fall in love with another man and eventually suffer a nervous breakdown. In the end, Bandini realizes he can't help Camilla and must focus on his writing instead—a conclusion that I, as a young writer, totally identified with.

Ask the Dust

By John Fante,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ask the Dust as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ask the Dust is a virtuoso performance by an influential master of the twentieth-century American novel. It is the story of Arturo Bandini, a young writer in 1930s Los Angeles who falls hard for the elusive, mocking, unstable Camilla Lopez, a Mexican waitress. Struggling to survive, he perseveres until, at last, his first novel is published. But the bright light of success is extinguished when Camilla has a nervous breakdown and disappears . . . and Bandini forever rejects the writer’s life he fought so hard to attain.


Fat City

By Leonard Gardner,

Book cover of Fat City

I first picked up this novel the year I started boxing. It follows the rough lives of Billy Tully and Ernie Munger, two boxers living in separate but parallel worlds—Tully an aging boxer fooled into thinking he can relive a few more glory days and Munger figuring out the hard lessons of what it means to lose. I love how this novel amplifies people eking out difficult lives who spend most of their time in dive bars, cheap motels, and seedy parts of town engaging with dubious, colorful characters. The writing is sparse, direct, sad, and unsentimental. Here Gardner is always pursuing a tough reality.

Fat City

By Leonard Gardner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Tremendous' Geoff Dyer

'A pitch-perfect account of boxing, blue-collar bewilderment and the battle of the sexes' San Francisco Chronicle

A major cult film directed by John Huston

Stockton, California: a town of dark bars and lunchrooms, cheap hotels and farm labourers scratching a living. When two men meet in the Lido Gym - the ex-boxer Billy Tully and the novice Ernie Munger - their brief sparring session sets a fateful story in motion, initiating young Munger into the "company of men" and luring Tully back into training.

Fat City is a vivid novel of defiance and struggle, of the potent…


The System

By Jeff Benedict, Armen Keteyian,

Book cover of The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football

I originally read this as research for my own novel and I’m so glad I did. Not all of it is about scandal, in fact my favorite parts highlighted how sports can be used to bring out the best in us. In fact, that’s what sports did for me. I loved that it also sheds light on the machinations we don’t see that are used to drive the sport. And, yes, I was horrified by some of the stories: horrified by the sexual assaults and furthermore by the rationalizations and the coverups. The feeling I had reading The System: we all want to dress ourselves in virtue, but all we really want is to win and for some, there is no price that’s too high.

The System

By Jeff Benedict, Armen Keteyian,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Shelf Awareness Best Book of the Year 

NCAA football is big business. Every Saturday millions of people file into massive stadiums or tune in on television as "athlete-students" give everything they've got to make their team a success. Billions of dollars now flow into the game. But what is the true cost? The players have no share in the oceans of money. And once the lights go down, the glitter doesn't shine so brightly. Filled with mind-blowing details of major NCAA football scandals, with stops at Ohio State, Tennessee, Texas Tech, Missouri, BYU, LSU, Texas A&M and many more,…


Champions Way

By Mike McIntire,

Book cover of Champions Way: Football, Florida, and the Lost Soul of College Sports

I’m conflicted, two of my three kids went to Florida State and this book holds nothing back about the crimes and sins that have taken place at FSU. I felt like I was witness to a crime scene; the crimes were academic, cultural, and truly criminal. I completely believe that our higher education system is critical to our country, yet what takes place at these schools is an outrage. This is a book written by a talented journalist who took me on an objective tour of the hypocrisy we are willing to allow for our tribe to dominate.

Champions Way

By Mike McIntire,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

With little public debate or introspection, our institutions of higher learning have become hostages to the rapacious, smash-mouth entertainment conglomerate known, quaintly, as intercollegiate athletics. In Champions Way, New York Times investigative reporter Mike McIntire chronicles the rise of this growing scandal through the experience of the Florida State Seminoles, one of the most successful teams in NCAA history.

A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his Times investigation of college sports, McIntire breaks new ground here, uncovering the workings of a system that enables athletes to violate academic standards and avoid criminal prosecution for actions ranging from shoplifting to…


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