10 books like I Came as a Shadow

By John Thompson, Jesse Washington,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like I Came as a Shadow. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Last Shot

By Darcy Frey,

Book cover of The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams

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.

The Last Shot

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…


The City Game

By Matthew Goodman,

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

A gripping, fascinating story by Matthew Goodman of the 1949-1950 City College of New York Men's basketball team, the only team in history to win both the NCAA and NIT tournaments in the same season (teams have long since been barred from competing in both). Led by the legendary coach Nat Holman, the 15-man squad of working-class kids comprised 11 Jews and four African Americans. Goodman weaves a tale of corrupt big-city politics, the extraordinary engine of upward mobility that CCNY was mid-century and the tragic downfall of the team, as several of its star players became implicated in a point-shaving scandal the following season, a stain that followed several of those involved for the rest of their lives. 

During their run to the 1950 NIT championship, CCNY played the University of Kentucky, then the two-time defending NCAA champs, barred from playing in the NCAA that year, and at a…

The City Game

By Matthew Goodman,

Why should I read it?

1 author 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…


The Breaks of the Game

By David Halberstam,

Book cover of The Breaks of the Game

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…

The Breaks of the Game

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…


The Secret Game

By Scott Ellsworth,

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

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…

The Secret Game

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 -…


In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle

By Madeleine Blais,

Book cover of In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle

While this book mirrors the template of Darcy Frey’s book and my own, following a high school basketball team through an entire season, the setting—an upper-class, genteel community of white suburbanites in Amherst, Massachusetts—is a world away from that of those stories, and, most importantly, the athletes are female. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author, through her elegant writing, brings a piercing understanding of the obstacles these girls face in the wake of Title IX as they prove their toughness, perseverance, and abilities in a sport traditionally dominated by men. 

In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle

By Madeleine Blais,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Originally published in 1995 to huge critical acclaim and a finalist for the NBCC Award for Nonfiction, Madeleine Blais's In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle is a modern sports writing classic. Now expanded and updated with a new epilogue, Blais's book tells the story of a season in the life of the Amherst Lady Hurricanes, a powerhouse girls' high school basketball team from a small western Massachusetts college town. The Hurricanes were a talented team with a near-perfect record, but for five straight years, when it came to the crunch of the playoffs, they somehow lacked the scrappy, hard-driving…


Power Forward

By Hena Khan,

Book cover of Power Forward

Zayd is a couple of years younger (4th grade) than the main characters of my other book picks, but again, he is a boy seeking fame and glory through sports. In particular, I enjoy his voice and learning about the Pakastani (Muslim) culture of his interesting family. The frustrating pull between basketball and playing the violin sets up several intriguing situations. This is a fun story that turns out to be the first book in a series of four.

Power Forward

By Hena Khan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the critically acclaimed author of Amina's Voice comes the first book in an exciting new middle grade series about a fourth-grader with big dreams of basketball stardom.

Fourth grader Zayd Saleem has some serious hoop dreams. He's not just going to be a professional basketball player. He's going to be a star. A legend. The first Pakistani-American kid to make it to the NBA. He knows this deep in his soul. It's his destiny. There are only a few small things in his way.

For starters, Zayd's only on the D-team. (D stands for developmental, but to Zayd it's…


Full Court

By Dennis Trudell (editor),

Book cover of Full Court: A literary anthology of basketball

In the 1990s, I didn’t know of any collection of basketball stories and few great basketball books had been written. Dennis Trudell saw the same thing and fixed it with this literary anthology. I appreciated the broad array of stories in the collection. It includes John Updike’s poem, “The Ex-basketball Player.” In “Posting Up,” Stephanie Grant captured the beauty of basketball in a story about a teenage girl learning to play the post. Most stories tackle hard topics beyond the basketball court. If you love basketball and literature, you must find this hard-to-find book. 

Full Court

By Dennis Trudell (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Introduction

Dennis Trudell

I wanted this book to exist because I love to read and I love basketball.

And there was no gathering of strictly "creative" writing about what is surely one of our most spontaneous, creative sports. While many literary baseball anthologies were available, fans of basketball and writing had only collections of journalism, or journalism mixed with an occasional story and novel fragment. Yet basketball is now our nation's most popular sport (fifty-four percent to forty-six percent over baseball, I read in the newspaper-though we're talking about passion, and how does one measure?). Further, it is a sport…


Getting Undressed

By David Cooks, Eric Wolffersdorff,

Book cover of Getting Undressed: From Paralysis to Purpose

David had a spinal aneurysm at the age of 15, and his dreams of sports, college, and his future seemed to be halted. Yet, through faith and determination, his life took on a whole new journey full of awesome experiences, people, and lessons. Similar to Goggin’s book, this story opens up your mind as to what’s possible, what matters, and why we live.

Getting Undressed

By David Cooks, Eric Wolffersdorff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

2018 Winner of the Midwest Book Awards in the category Inspiration

David's journey from the playgrounds of Milwaukee to Cameron indoor stadium and beyond, is captivating and provides a framework to find a new perspective and to build a life filled with passion and purpose. Getting Undressed is inspiring and proof that you can win in life, regardless of the circumstances.

-Mike Krzyzewski, Head Coach, Men s Basketball, Duke University

At the age of 15, high school sophomore and basketball player David Cooks experienced a spinal aneurism, leaving him a T-6 paraplegic. Refusing to let the wheelchair determine the man,…


So Done

By Paula Chase,

Book cover of So Done

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.

So Done

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.

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…


Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table

By Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Eric-Shabazz Larkin (illustrator),

Book cover of Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table

When former basketball star Will Allen notices a problem in his community—too many abandoned lots and not enough fresh food—he sees opportunity. This biography tells the story of Will Allen’s inspirational journey to create urban farms that heal both the land and the people harvesting and eating the bounty. Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table is the perfect book to talk to kids about how there is often more than one way to solve a problem and get them excited about growing their own fresh food. Plus, any picture book that includes worms is a picture book I want to read with my kids—and worms play a starring role in Will Allen’s vision.

Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table

By Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Eric-Shabazz Larkin (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Will Allen is no ordinary farmer. A former basketball star, he's as tall as his truck, and he can hold a cabbage--or a basketball--in one hand. But what is most special about Farmer Will is that he can see what others can't see. When he looked at an abandoned city lot in Milwaukee he saw a huge table, big enough to feed the whole world.

No space, no problem. Poor soil, there's a solution. Need help, found it. Farmer Will is a genius in solving problems. In 2008, the MacArthur Foundation named him one for his innovative urban farming methods,…


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