100 books like Ball Four

By Jim Bouton,

Here are 100 books that Ball Four fans have personally recommended if you like Ball Four. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of When Breath Becomes Air

Elias Aboujaoude Author Of A Leader's Destiny: Why Psychology, Personality, and Character Make All the Difference

From my list on the psychological quest for meaning.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a psychiatry professor, researcher, and author at Stanford University. Besides OCD, my research has focused on the interface between technology and psychology, both in its negative manifestations (e.g., video game addiction, online narcissism, cyberbullying) and positive applications (e.g., telemedicine, virtual reality therapy, AI digital therapeutics). My reading tastes and non-scientific writing topics reflect the same interests—deep and highly personal psychological explorations of individuals on a quest for meaning or facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles, symptoms, or character tests.  

Elias' book list on the psychological quest for meaning

Elias Aboujaoude Why did Elias love this book?

It is unfortunately routine for a thirty-five-year-old neurosurgeon to encounter the death of a patient from an aggressive brain tumor, but it is utterly unexpected for him to have to confront it in the mirror after being diagnosed with disseminated lung cancer himself at an impossibly young age.

Written on borrowed time and in the shadow of his impending demise, this memoir is a profound reflection on life, loss, the meaning of things, and what really matters in the end.

By Paul Kalanithi,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked When Breath Becomes Air as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**THE MILLION COPY BESTSELLER**

'Rattling. Heartbreaking. Beautiful.' Atul Gawande, bestselling author of Being Mortal

What makes life worth living in the face of death?

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade's training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live.

When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi's transformation from a medical student asking what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity - the brain - and…


Book cover of Soccer in Sun and Shadow

Stephen Amidon Author Of Something like the Gods: A Cultural History of the Athlete from Achilles to LeBron

From my list on sports that are about more than wins & losses.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a novelist (Human Capital, The New City, and Security) with a lifelong passion for sports, from my boyhood days as a Yankees fan during their woebegone late Sixties years, to my career as the father of an All-ACC wide receiver.  In my youth, I was a workmanlike catcher, mediocre quarterback, and hard-working 800-meter runner who came this close to breaking two minutes.  These days, I mainly enjoy watching great moments in sports history on YouTube.  Through it all, I have always believed that sports are about much more than wins, losses, records, and titles.

Stephen's book list on sports that are about more than wins & losses

Stephen Amidon Why did Stephen love this book?

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.  

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,…


Book cover of Jim Brown: Last Man Standing

Stephen Amidon Author Of Something like the Gods: A Cultural History of the Athlete from Achilles to LeBron

From my list on sports that are about more than wins & losses.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a novelist (Human Capital, The New City, and Security) with a lifelong passion for sports, from my boyhood days as a Yankees fan during their woebegone late Sixties years, to my career as the father of an All-ACC wide receiver.  In my youth, I was a workmanlike catcher, mediocre quarterback, and hard-working 800-meter runner who came this close to breaking two minutes.  These days, I mainly enjoy watching great moments in sports history on YouTube.  Through it all, I have always believed that sports are about much more than wins, losses, records, and titles.

Stephen's book list on sports that are about more than wins & losses

Stephen Amidon Why did Stephen love this book?

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.  

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.…


Book cover of A Fan's Notes

Trish MacEnulty Author Of The Hummingbird Kiss: My Life as an Addict in the 1970s

From my list on memoirs about or by addicts, drunks, and f#@k ups.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a recovered (not “recovering”) addict and writer. These days I write historical fiction because I enjoy an escape from present-day reality, and research is fun. But I started writing as a way to make sense of my chaotic world and in hopes of healing myself. Something was broken inside me, and I didn’t know how to fix it. So I wrote about the shadowy realms of my life and kept on writing until somehow I was able to let go of the past and create a different life, one which would not land me upside down in a ditch with my neck broken and my tires spinning. 

Trish's book list on memoirs about or by addicts, drunks, and f#@k ups

Trish MacEnulty Why did Trish love this book?

I cannot overstate how amazing this book (an autobiographical novel) is.

I was just trying to figure out how to write my own story when a professor recommended this book. I was blown away. At the time I read it, I wasn’t a big sports fan, but this is so not a book about sports. It’s about the rage, the wild beast inside us, and how we learn to live with it, and that it’s okay to be a mess as you do it.

By the time I finished the book, I felt like I had my own Virgil to lead me through the circles of hell. The writing in this book is like a drug in itself. It truly got me high.  

By Frederick Exley,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A Fan's Notes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The narrator of this tale is the ultimate unreconstructed male. his primary concerns are booze, sex and the New York Giants. But things go very wrong for him - he drinks too much, he's impotent, and the Giants start to lose. So we follow his trail, through failed marriages, to mental hospital.


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

John Foot Author Of Calcio: A History of Italian Football

From my list on how sport and history cannot be separated.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian and journalist. I lived in Italy for over twenty years, immersing myself in the culture of that country—in every form. I decided to write Calcio after becoming aware of the centrality of football to Italian culture and politics, and around the time of the rise of a football entrepreneur to political power—Silvio Berlusconi. The book took me three years, led me to visit numerous cities, stadiums, and regions, and interview dozens of journalists, experts, and players. It was a love letter and a warning—dedicated to ‘my father who loves football, and my son, who hates it.'

John's book list on how sport and history cannot be separated

John Foot Why did John love this book?

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.

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…


Book cover of The Glory of Their Times: The Story of the Early Days of Baseball Told by the Men Who Played It

Jerry Grillo Author Of The Music and Mythocracy of Col. Bruce Hampton

From my list on stories for baseball omnivores.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a baseball history fanatic who writes on a wide range of topics for work and pleasure, which I’m glad to say often are the same thing. I’ve been a journalist for many years, even covered a few World Series, and I’ve written stories for books published by the Society for American Baseball Research. I’ve also written a lot about music, science, business, and politics, for newspapers and magazines. I’ve been a playwright, fortunate to have seen my work staged in different venues. And I also wrote a book called, The Music and Mythocracy of Col. Bruce Hampton: A Basically True Biography, which I’m really excited to tell you about in the next section!

Jerry's book list on stories for baseball omnivores

Jerry Grillo Why did Jerry love this book?

In the 1960s, Ritter interviewed a bunch of guys who played major league ball in the early days, from the 1890s through the 1930s (or so), with lots of stuff from the Deadball Era. The result is this marvelous book filled with priceless tales told by the men who knew, played with (and occasionally fought with) Ty Cobb, Cy Young, Nap Lajoie, and the immortals from that era. Anyone who wants to understand what baseball was like in 1903, or there-and-then-about, must read this book. Reading this book is like sitting on a porch in a rocking chair next to grandpa while he tells stories that you actually want to hear.

By Lawrence S. Ritter,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Glory of Their Times as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Easily the best baseball book ever produced by anyone.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer

“This was the best baseball book published in 1966, it is the best baseball book of its kind now, and, if it is reissued in 10 years, it will be the best baseball book.” — People

From Lawrence Ritter (The Image of Their Greatness, The 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time), comes one of the bestselling, most acclaimed sports books of all time, The Glory of Their Times—now a Harper Perennial Modern Classic.

Baseball was different in earlier days—tougher, more raw, more intimate—when giants like Babe Ruth…


Book cover of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

Mark Rennella Author Of The One-Idea Rule: An Efficient Way to Improve Your Writing at School and Work

From my list on helping you find and assert your voice in writing.

Why am I passionate about this?

Mark Rennella has given students and professionals helpful advice about writing throughout his career, most recently as a writing coach for MBA candidates at Harvard Business School. Mark earned a PhD in American history from Brandeis University and has taught literature and American history at Harvard University, the University of Miami, and the University of Tours (France). Mark's books, articles, business case studies, and collaborative writing endeavors have garnered him critical praise from historians, academicians, and business leaders alike. His concept of the “one-idea rule” was included among HBR.org’s ten favorite management tips for 2022 and was featured more recently in Forbes. He currently works as an editor for Harvard Business Publishing.

Mark's book list on helping you find and assert your voice in writing

Mark Rennella Why did Mark love this book?

While writing a paper about Douglass in graduate school in the 1990s, I learned that he had to overcome two obstacles to establishing an authentic voice in his own book.

First, abolitionists argued against slavery by claiming it dehumanized the slave. While that could be true, this theory could not account for charismatic Black writers like Douglass who were anything but dehumanized. Second, slave narratives in the antebellum era often followed a certain formula that limited the narrator’s originality.

In one striking passage in the Narrative, Douglass overcomes both restrictions by evoking an image of his body that offers visual testimony to creatively push back on these limiting conventions: “My feet have been so cracked with the frost [felt during cold nights during enslavement], that the pen with which I am writing might be laid in the gashes.”

By Frederick Douglass,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Packaged in handsome and affordable trade editions, Clydesdale Classics is a new series of essential literary works. From the musings of literary geniuses like Mark Twain in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to the striking personal narrative of Harriet Jacobs in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, this new series is a comprehensive collection of our literary history through the words of the exceptional few.

The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is perhaps the most widely read and well-known slave narrative. Originally published in 1845, the work was an instant success, selling more than 11,000 copies…


Book cover of Long Gone

Jerry Grillo Author Of The Music and Mythocracy of Col. Bruce Hampton

From my list on stories for baseball omnivores.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a baseball history fanatic who writes on a wide range of topics for work and pleasure, which I’m glad to say often are the same thing. I’ve been a journalist for many years, even covered a few World Series, and I’ve written stories for books published by the Society for American Baseball Research. I’ve also written a lot about music, science, business, and politics, for newspapers and magazines. I’ve been a playwright, fortunate to have seen my work staged in different venues. And I also wrote a book called, The Music and Mythocracy of Col. Bruce Hampton: A Basically True Biography, which I’m really excited to tell you about in the next section!

Jerry's book list on stories for baseball omnivores

Jerry Grillo Why did Jerry love this book?

This novel by one of my favorite writers, the late, great Paul Hemphill – an icon of journalism and storytelling in the American South – is a hilarious, vaguely autobiographical story of life in the low minor leagues. Hemphill perfectly captures the language, grit, rhythm, and flow of minor league baseball in the mid-1950s, touching on issues of worker’s rights, segregation, sex, love, teamwork, and courage, without preaching or being sentimental.

My favorite moment in the book (and the terrific HBO movie version, starring William Peterson and Virginia Madsen) is when a Klan roadblock stops the Stogies’ team bus because they want to lynch the team’s star catcher, Joe Louis Brown, the only black player in the league – one the Stogies suggests, “let ‘em hang Whisenant, he’s only batting .179.”

By Paul Hemphill,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A story with a heart of gold about love and the loss of innocence at the bottom of the most minor league in baseball-the class D Alabama-Florida League in the 1950s, with a sour old maverick manager, a yearning teenage second baseman, and a black catcher masquerading as a Venezuelan. "A first-rate novel."-Newsweek. "A sharp, unsentimental portrait of the minor league life...and Hemphill makes it all come to life, believably and memorably."-Sports Illustrated. "So good, so true, so funny..."-New York Times Book Review.


Book cover of If I Never Get Back

Jerry Grillo Author Of The Music and Mythocracy of Col. Bruce Hampton

From my list on stories for baseball omnivores.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a baseball history fanatic who writes on a wide range of topics for work and pleasure, which I’m glad to say often are the same thing. I’ve been a journalist for many years, even covered a few World Series, and I’ve written stories for books published by the Society for American Baseball Research. I’ve also written a lot about music, science, business, and politics, for newspapers and magazines. I’ve been a playwright, fortunate to have seen my work staged in different venues. And I also wrote a book called, The Music and Mythocracy of Col. Bruce Hampton: A Basically True Biography, which I’m really excited to tell you about in the next section!

Jerry's book list on stories for baseball omnivores

Jerry Grillo Why did Jerry love this book?

This has some of my favorite stuff in it: old-time baseball and time travel. A really clever, adventurous, and fun novel, with a great cast of characters, including some fictional and some from history, like the Cincinnati Red Stockings of 1869 (when the story takes place) and Mark Twain, and why not – this is, in some ways, a baseball version of Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court. The book’s protagonist, a 20th-century journalist, Sam Fowler, lands in 1869 Cincinnati and winds up helping the city’s legendary professional ball club. Brock wrote a sequel some years later and it was good, too, but this one about the 1869 season is one I intend to read again.

By Darryl Brock,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked If I Never Get Back as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Time travel meets baseball in this “grand adventure” about a modern-day reporter who witnesses the birth of America’s favorite pastime (The Washington Times)
 
Contemporary reporter Sam Fowler is stuck in a dull job and a failing marriage when he is suddenly transported back to the summer of 1869. After a wrenching period of adjustment, he feels rejuvenated by his involvement with the nation’s first pro baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings. But American sports isn't the only thing to undergo a major transformation—Sam himself starts to change as he faces life-threatening 19th-century challenges on and off the baseball diamond. With…


Book cover of The Boys of Summer

John Rosengren Author Of The Greatest Summer in Baseball History: How the '73 Season Changed Us Forever

From my list on stories about a single baseball season.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father used to take me to watch the Twins play at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, a twenty-minute drive from our house in suburban Minneapolis. As soon as the Twins announced their schedule each year, he would buy tickets for the doubleheaders. Our favorites were the twilight doubleheaders, when we watched one game by daylight, and the other under the night sky. Baseball was pure to me then: played outdoors on real grass. Seated beside my dad during those twin bills, I felt his love for the game seep into me and take root. All these years later, almost two decades after his death, that love remains strong.

John's book list on stories about a single baseball season

John Rosengren Why did John love this book?

This is one of those non-fiction books that reads like a novel. I wanted to keep turning the pages to follow the action and learn what it revealed about the characters. Technically the book covers more than a single season, but its nexus in the Brooklyn Dodgers’s 1955 season justified it as a selection for this category.

Roger Kahn gave us a classic that reads with the same urgency today as it did decades ago.

By Roger Kahn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Described by Richard William of The Guardian as 'the best sports book of 2013, and the best sports book of all time', The Boys of Summer is the story of the young men who learned to play baseball during the 1930s and 1940s, and went on to play for one of the most exciting major-league ball clubs ever fielded, the Brooklyn Dodgers team that broke the colour barrier with Jackie Robinson.

It is a book by and about a sportswriter who grew up near Ebbets Field, and who had the good fortune in the 1950s to cover the Dodgers for…


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