100 books like I Came as a Shadow

By John Thompson, Jesse Washington,

Here are 100 books that I Came as a Shadow fans have personally recommended if you like I Came as a Shadow. 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 The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams

Michael D'Orso Author Of Eagle Blue: A Team, a Tribe, and a High School Basketball Season in Arctic Alaska

From my list on capturing the cultural aspects of basketball.

Who am I?

I’m a narrative nonfiction writer whose subjects range from politics to professional football, from racial conflict to environmental destruction, from inner-city public education to social justice to spinal cord injury. The settings for my books range from the Galapagos Islands to the swamps of rural Florida, to Arctic Alaska. I typically live with and among my subjects for months at a time, portraying their lives in an intimately personal way.

Michael's book list on capturing the cultural aspects of basketball

Michael D'Orso Why did Michael love this book?

This book is similar to mine, following a team of high school basketball players through a season, but it’s set in an urban environment: Brooklyn’s Coney Island. The boys it focuses on are African-American, the off-court struggles they and their community face (crime, violence, drug use, the lure of the streets, and the corruption of college basketball recruiters) differ from those that challenge the kids in remote Alaska, but the joy and solace they find in the game itself are the same. The writing is terrific—lucidly and intimately bringing to life the four boys whose lives it focuses on.

By Darcy Frey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Darcy Frey chronicles the aspirations of four young men as they navigate the NCAA recruitment process, their only hope of escape from a life of crime, poverty, and despair.

It ought to be just a game, but basketball on the playgrounds of Coney Island is much more than that. In The Last Shot, the aspirations of a few of the neighborhood's most promising players reveal that what they have going for them (athletic talent, grace, and years of dedication) may not be enough to defeat what's working against them: woefully inadequate schooling, family circumstances that are often desperate, and the…


Book cover of The City Game: Triumph, Scandal, and a Legendary Basketball Team

Jeffrey S. Gurock Author Of Marty Glickman: The Life of an American Jewish Sports Legend

From my list on American Jews and sports.

Who am I?

I am a professor of American Jewish history who has written extensively on how sports have impacted the lives of American Jews. I have been especially interested in how the acceptance or rejection of Jews in the sports arena has underscored that group’s place within this country’s society. I have been likewise intrigued by how the call of athleticism has challenged their ethnic and religious identity. The saga of Marty Glickman, a story of adversity and triumph, speaks boldly to critical issues that this minority group has faced.

Jeffrey's book list on American Jews and sports

Jeffrey S. Gurock Why did Jeffrey love this book?

Tragically, in 1951, players on the City College basketball team – Jews and African Americans – were caught up in a point-shaving scandal that rocked the city and the Jewish community.

Goodman tells this sad story comprehensively and unsparingly, and took me back into the neighborhoods where these athletes grew up and detailed how organized crime figures seduced them. He also notes importantly how this corruption of basketball which was then seen as a “Jewish sport” fed antisemitic attitudes against Jews.

By Matthew Goodman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The powerful story of a college basketball team who carried an era’s brightest hopes—racial harmony, social mobility, and the triumph of the underdog—but whose success was soon followed by a shocking downfall

“A masterpiece of American storytelling.”—Gilbert King, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Devil in the Grove

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST SPORTS BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

The unlikeliest of champions, the 1949–50 City College Beavers were extraordinary by every measure. New York’s City College was a tuition-free, merit-based college in Harlem known far more for its intellectual achievements and political radicalism than its…


Book cover of The Breaks of the Game

Jonathan Weiler Author Of Prius or Pickup?: How the Answers to Four Simple Questions Explain America's Great Divide

From my list on basketball books with larger societal issues.

Who am I?

I am a professor of Global Studies at UNC Chapel Hill and I have written about the intersection of sports, media, and politics for many years. I am also the co-host of a podcast, Agony of Defeat, with Matt Andrews, that explores the connections between sports, politics, and history. Basketball is an especially rich topic for mining these intersections. And I’m also a lifelong sports fan.

Jonathan's book list on basketball books with larger societal issues

Jonathan Weiler Why did Jonathan love this book?

David Halberstam's classic, a chronicle of the Portland Trailblazers during the 1979-80 season. Three years removed from a stunning run to the NBA title, and with their mercurial superstar, Bill Walton, injured and then traded, the Blazers scuffled through the long slog of the season, trying in vain to recapture old glory. The book isn't just a chronicle of a team of interesting characters, though. It's an unflinching look at the cold financial calculus of professional sports and what it means when athletes know that they are, in the end, high-priced and expendable commodities. The book also captures the NBA at a critical inflection point in its history. It became a predominantly black league in the 1970s and its popularity declined to the point that the finals were televised on tape delay. Halberstam, the players and management are acutely aware of the tightrope the sport was compelled to walk as…

By David Halberstam,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times bestseller, David Halberstam's The Breaks of the Game focuses on one grim season (1979-80) in the life of the Bill Walton-led Portland Trail Blazers, a team that only three years before had been NBA champions.
More than six years after his death David Halberstam remains one of this country's most respected journalists and revered authorities on American life and history in the years since WWII. A Pulitzer Prize-winner for his groundbreaking reporting on the Vietnam War, Halberstam wrote more than 20 books, almost all of them bestsellers. His work has stood the test of time and…


Book cover of The Secret Game: A Wartime Story of Courage, Change, and Basketball's Lost Triumph

Jonathan Weiler Author Of Prius or Pickup?: How the Answers to Four Simple Questions Explain America's Great Divide

From my list on basketball books with larger societal issues.

Who am I?

I am a professor of Global Studies at UNC Chapel Hill and I have written about the intersection of sports, media, and politics for many years. I am also the co-host of a podcast, Agony of Defeat, with Matt Andrews, that explores the connections between sports, politics, and history. Basketball is an especially rich topic for mining these intersections. And I’m also a lifelong sports fan.

Jonathan's book list on basketball books with larger societal issues

Jonathan Weiler Why did Jonathan love this book?

Scott Ellsworth's account of a legendary game that took place between the Eagles of North Carolina College for Negroes (now North Carolina Central University) and Duke University on Duke's campus in Durham, in 1944 (the Duke team comprised medical students but included several former college stars). John McClendon, a protege of the game's founder, John Naismith and coach of the Eagles is widely credited with having transformed the sport, refashioning a slow, stolid affair into a fast-paced, exhilarating game. In the process, he turned the Eagles in mid-century into a juggernaut in the Carolina Intercollegiate Athletic Association, a conference of Black colleges and universities. Jim Crow made it illegal for the Eagles to compete publicly against their intracity rivals, but both programs relished the prospect of playing one another, and a secret game was organized, widely considered the first integrated collegiate game to be played in the south. Ellsworth paints…

By Scott Ellsworth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1943, at the North Carolina College for Negroes, Coach John McLendon was on the verge of changing basketball forever. His team was the highest-scoring team in America, and yet they faced danger whenever they traveled backcountry roads.

Across town, the best squad on Duke University's campus wasn't the Blue Devils, but an all-white team from the medical school. They were prepared to take on anyone -- until an audacious invitation arrived.

THE SECRET GAME is the story of a long-buried moment in the nation's sporting past. A riveting account of a barrier-shattering game, the evolution of modern basketball -…


Book cover of They Cleared the Lane: The NBA's Black Pioneers

Syl Sobel Author Of Boxed Out of the NBA: Remembering the Eastern Professional Basketball League

From my list on the history of African Americans and pro basketball.

Who am I?

When Jay Rosenstein and I started writing Boxed Out of the NBA, we thought we were writing a light collection of mostly humorous anecdotes from old ballplayers about playing in the minor league. But as we interviewed the old Eastern Leaguers and understood how the league gave a home to players who couldn’t make the NBA in large part because of race, we realized we had a much more important and socially significant story. It’s been our privilege to get to know these gentlemen, and feel like they have entrusted us to tell their story. We want to help them get the respect and recognition they deserve while they are still here to appreciate it. 

Syl's book list on the history of African Americans and pro basketball

Syl Sobel Why did Syl love this book?

In They Cleared the Lane, Ron Thomas, a journalist and HBCU professor, tells the stories of players and coaches who blazed a trail for African Americans back when only the ball was brown.

He introduces us to pioneers like Earl Lloyd, Chuck Cooper, and Sweetwater Clifton, the “First Three” Black players who broke the NBA’s color line in 1951; Hal “King” Lear, Dick Gaines, Wally Choice, and Cleo Hill, who couldn’t crack the NBA’s racial quotas and stereotypes and starred instead in the Eastern League; John McClendon, who literally learned the game from its inventor, Dr. James Naismith, and is the acknowledged king of Black college coaches; and the first generation of Black superstars like Maurice Stokes, Bill Russell, Elgin Baylor, and Wilt Chamberlain.

If you want to learn on whose shoulders the modern NBA rests, this is the book to read. 

By Ron Thomas,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Today, black players comprise more than eighty percent of the National Basketball Association's rosters, providing a strong and valued contribution to professional basketball. In the first half of the twentieth century, however, pro basketball was tainted by racism, as gifted African Americans were denied the opportunity to display their talents. A few managed to eke out a living playing for the New York Renaissance and Harlem Globetrotters, black professional teams that barnstormed widely, playing local teams or in short-lived leagues. Also, a sprinkling of black players were on integrated teams. Modern professional basketball began to take shape in the late…


Book cover of Moonfixer: The Basketball Journey of Earl Lloyd

Syl Sobel Author Of Boxed Out of the NBA: Remembering the Eastern Professional Basketball League

From my list on the history of African Americans and pro basketball.

Who am I?

When Jay Rosenstein and I started writing Boxed Out of the NBA, we thought we were writing a light collection of mostly humorous anecdotes from old ballplayers about playing in the minor league. But as we interviewed the old Eastern Leaguers and understood how the league gave a home to players who couldn’t make the NBA in large part because of race, we realized we had a much more important and socially significant story. It’s been our privilege to get to know these gentlemen, and feel like they have entrusted us to tell their story. We want to help them get the respect and recognition they deserve while they are still here to appreciate it. 

Syl's book list on the history of African Americans and pro basketball

Syl Sobel Why did Syl love this book?

I was on lunch break one day in 2010 walking through Union Station in DC when I saw a very tall, elderly Black man seated at a table in the B. Dalton bookstore with a stack of books in front of him.

I smiled at him and he back and me, and then the man with him said, “Do you know who this is?” I said no. The man said “It’s Earl Lloyd, the first African American to play in the NBA.” It occurred to me then, as it has many times since, that most Americans know about Jackie Robinson breaking the color line in professional baseball, but until that moment I didn’t know who did the same in basketball.

And it wasn’t until 10 years later, when I finally read the book that Mr. Lloyd graciously signed for me, that I wished I’d talked with him about his remarkable…

By Earl Lloyd, Sean Kirst,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1950, future Hall of Famer Earl Lloyd became the first African American to play in a National Basketball Association game. Nicknamed ""Moonfixer"" in college, Lloyd led West Virginia State to two CIAA Conference and Tournament Championships and was named All-American twice. One of three African Americans to enter the NBA at that time, Lloyd played for the Washington Capitals, Syracuse Nationals, and Detroit Pistons before he retired in 1961.

Throughout his career, he quietly endured the overwhelming slights and exclusions that went with being black in America. Yet he has also lived to see basketball - a demonstration of…


Book cover of The NBA In Black And White: The Memoir of a Trailblazing NBA Player and Coach

Syl Sobel Author Of Boxed Out of the NBA: Remembering the Eastern Professional Basketball League

From my list on the history of African Americans and pro basketball.

Who am I?

When Jay Rosenstein and I started writing Boxed Out of the NBA, we thought we were writing a light collection of mostly humorous anecdotes from old ballplayers about playing in the minor league. But as we interviewed the old Eastern Leaguers and understood how the league gave a home to players who couldn’t make the NBA in large part because of race, we realized we had a much more important and socially significant story. It’s been our privilege to get to know these gentlemen, and feel like they have entrusted us to tell their story. We want to help them get the respect and recognition they deserve while they are still here to appreciate it. 

Syl's book list on the history of African Americans and pro basketball

Syl Sobel Why did Syl love this book?

Ray Scott is a living bridge from the first generation of Black players in the NBA to the modern NBA that emerged in the 1970s.

Through high school in Philadelphia where he played against Wilt Chamberlain, to college in Portland where he first competed against Elgin Baylor, to his formative professional years in the Eastern League where his contemporaries were the league’s all-time stars like Sherman White, Wally Choice, and Hal “King” Lear, to his early years in the NBA where his mentor was Earl Lloyd, to succeeding Lloyd as an NBA coach and becoming the first African American named NBA Coach of the Year, Scott has soldiered through numerous affronts yet always emerged with grace, dignity, and hope.

“Coach,” as he is called, in this memoir written with prolific basketball writer and former Eastern League player Charley Rosen, demonstrates why he is respected and beloved as both a leader…

By Ray Scott, Charley Rosen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The NBA In Black And White as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A memoir of hard lessons learned in the racially segregated and sometimes outright racist NBA of the early ‘60s by celebrated NBA player and the first Black Coach of the Year, Ray Scott. Introduced by Earl "the Pearl" Monroe.

“There’s a basic insecurity with Black guys my size,” Scott writes. “We can’t hide and everybody turns to stare when we walk down the street. … Whites believe that their culture is superior to African-American culture. ... We don’t accept many of [their] answers, but we have to live with them.”

Ray Scott was part of the early wave of Black…


Book cover of Breaking Barriers: A History of Integration in Professional Basketball

Syl Sobel Author Of Boxed Out of the NBA: Remembering the Eastern Professional Basketball League

From my list on the history of African Americans and pro basketball.

Who am I?

When Jay Rosenstein and I started writing Boxed Out of the NBA, we thought we were writing a light collection of mostly humorous anecdotes from old ballplayers about playing in the minor league. But as we interviewed the old Eastern Leaguers and understood how the league gave a home to players who couldn’t make the NBA in large part because of race, we realized we had a much more important and socially significant story. It’s been our privilege to get to know these gentlemen, and feel like they have entrusted us to tell their story. We want to help them get the respect and recognition they deserve while they are still here to appreciate it. 

Syl's book list on the history of African Americans and pro basketball

Syl Sobel Why did Syl love this book?

This book describes the history of African Americans in professional basketball from the early years of racially segregated barnstorming teams, to the partial integration in the early pro leagues, to the slow acceptance of Blacks in the NBA in the 1950s, to the modern day.

But while Ron Thomas relates the personal stories of the main actors, Douglas Stark, who has spent his career in positions with sports museums including the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, offers an historian’s perspective and examines the social and historical context behind each step in the evolution. Bit by bit, we see the game and our society change as we learn how we got to where we are today. 

By Douglas Stark,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Today, it is nearly impossible to talk about the best basketball players in America without acknowledging the accomplishments of incredibly talented black athletes like Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant. A little more than a century ago, however, the game was completely dominated by white players playing on segregated courts and teams.

In Breaking Barriers: A History of Integration in Professional Basketball, Douglas Stark details the major moments that led to the sport opening its doors to black players. He charts the progress of integration from Bucky Lew-the first black professional basketball player in 1902-to the modern game played…


Book cover of So Done

Cathleen Barnhart Author Of That's What Friends Do

From my list on #MeToo for middle grade readers.

Who am I?

In That’s What Friends Do, the #MeToo experience that Sammie’s mom shares with Sammie is my story. I was thirteen. I never told anyone. Even as I started writing my novel, it didn’t occur to me to share with my husband, or my teenage children, my experience. But one evening, as the #MeToo movement was exploding in the media, I was sitting around a dinner table with several other couples. All of the women had had a #MeToo experience. Most of us were young teens when it happened. Shame and guilt had kept us silent for far too long. My novel – and the others on my list – are working to break through that silence.

Cathleen's book list on #MeToo for middle grade readers

Cathleen Barnhart Why did Cathleen love this book?

When Tai’s useless, always-high dad touches her best friend, Mila, where he shouldn’t, the girls’ friendship is challenged and changed. Tai, already ashamed of her father, wants to pretend the moment never happened. But, Mila can’t pretend because she lives every day with the fear and shame of that moment. After a summer apart, the two friends struggle to reconnect while also competing for acceptance into the same gifted-and-talented arts program. As both work to be seen for who they want to be, they must also learn to look back together at what really happened. I loved the portrayal of the girls’ friendship and the honesty of a story in which the “happy ending” doesn’t mean a return to the way things were.

By Paula Chase,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked So Done as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

When best friends Tai and Mila are reunited after a summer apart, their friendship threatens to combust from the pressure of secrets, middle school, and the looming dance auditions for a new talented-and-gifted program.

Fans of Renee Watson's Piecing Me Together will love this memorable story about a complex friendship between two very different African American girls-and the importance of speaking up.

Jamila Phillips and Tai Johnson have been inseparable since they were toddlers, having grown up across the street from each other in Pirates Cove, a low-income housing project. As summer comes to an end, Tai can't wait for…


Book cover of Here in Harlem: Poems in Many Voices

Kip Wilson Author Of The Most Dazzling Girl in Berlin

From my list on YA books in verse that bring history alive.

Who am I?

I write historical YA in verse—pretty much the niche of the niche. Before I was published, I spent many years writing and querying various YA projects in prose, but it wasn’t until I decided to try a project in verse that I really found my groove. Nowadays, everything I write falls under that same (small) umbrella, so I really looked to novels like the ones here to learn from the best. These days, I still love reading YA historicals and anything in verse, but YA historicals in verse remain forever my favorite.

Kip's book list on YA books in verse that bring history alive

Kip Wilson Why did Kip love this book?

Here in Harlem pays homage to the people of Harlem in the first half of the 20th century. I loved how the rhythmic, musical verse brings the setting to life. It’s modeled on Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, but in a completely unique way that will really speak to YA readers.

The voices depicted in this poetry collection—especially Clara Brown’s recurring testimonies—make the book feel like a fully alive story rather than simple moments captured in time.

By Walter Dean Myers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Here in Harlem as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Acclaimed writer Walter Dean Myers celebrates the people of Harlem with these powerful and soulful first-person poems in the voices of the residents who make up the legendary neighborhood: basketball players, teachers, mail carriers, jazz artists, maids, veterans, nannies, students, and more. Exhilarating and electric, these poems capture the energy and resilience of a neighborhood and a people.


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