87 books like North Dallas Forty

By Peter Gent,

Here are 87 books that North Dallas Forty fans have personally recommended if you like North Dallas Forty. 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 End Zone

Eli Cranor Author Of Don't Know Tough

From my list on football from a quarterback turned novelist.

Who am I?

I scored my first touchdown at nine and went on to play quarterback at both the collegiate and professional levels. By twenty-six, I was the head coach of a backwoods high school in Arkansas. My debut novel, Don’t Know Tough, is a football-centric thriller and was named one of the “Best Crime Novels” of 2022 by the New York Times. After that book's publication, I’ve had readers reach out and ask about my favorite football novels, so I was thrilled to get the chance to compile them all into one list. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have. 

Eli's book list on football from a quarterback turned novelist

Eli Cranor Why did Eli love this book?

A lesser-known DeLillo book, End Zone is way up there on my list. I read this book when I first started trying to write about football. DeLillo paints a vivid picture of the locker room, the dorm room, and the crazy characters often found inside both. There are also some wild bits about nuclear threats and metaphors about football as war. Perfect for readers looking for a gridiron book with more “literary” leanings.

By Don DeLillo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The second novel by Don DeLillo, author of White Noise (winner of the National Book Award) and The Silence

At Logos College in West Texas, huge young men, vacuum-packed into shoulder pads and shiny helmets, play football with intense passion. During an uncharacteristic winning season, the perplexed and distracted running back Gary Harkness has periodic fits of nuclear glee; he is fueled and shielded by his fear of and fascination with nuclear conflict. Among oddly afflicted and recognizable players, the terminologies of football and nuclear war--the language of end zones--become interchangeable, and their meaning deteriorates as the collegiate year runs…


Book cover of The Prophet

Eli Cranor Author Of Don't Know Tough

From my list on football from a quarterback turned novelist.

Who am I?

I scored my first touchdown at nine and went on to play quarterback at both the collegiate and professional levels. By twenty-six, I was the head coach of a backwoods high school in Arkansas. My debut novel, Don’t Know Tough, is a football-centric thriller and was named one of the “Best Crime Novels” of 2022 by the New York Times. After that book's publication, I’ve had readers reach out and ask about my favorite football novels, so I was thrilled to get the chance to compile them all into one list. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have. 

Eli's book list on football from a quarterback turned novelist

Eli Cranor Why did Eli love this book?

The Prophet was the first time I’d ever encountered a football thriller. I was still coaching high school football when I read this book, and it scared the bejesus out of me! Koryta spent a year following a high school football team around before writing this book. He absolutely nails the strain the game can have on the families of the men who devote their lives to coaching it.

By Michael Koryta,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Adam Austin hasn't spoken to his brother in years. When they were teenagers, their sister was abducted and murdered, and their devastated family never recovered. Now Adam keeps to himself, scraping by as a bail bondsman, working so close to the town's criminal fringes that he sometimes seems a part of them.

Kent Austin is the beloved coach of the local high school football team, a religious man and hero in the community. After years of near misses, Kent's team has a shot at the state championship, a welcome point of pride in a town that has had its share…


Book cover of The Innocents

Eli Cranor Author Of Don't Know Tough

From my list on football from a quarterback turned novelist.

Who am I?

I scored my first touchdown at nine and went on to play quarterback at both the collegiate and professional levels. By twenty-six, I was the head coach of a backwoods high school in Arkansas. My debut novel, Don’t Know Tough, is a football-centric thriller and was named one of the “Best Crime Novels” of 2022 by the New York Times. After that book's publication, I’ve had readers reach out and ask about my favorite football novels, so I was thrilled to get the chance to compile them all into one list. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have. 

Eli's book list on football from a quarterback turned novelist

Eli Cranor Why did Eli love this book?

Ace Atkins played defensive end for Auburn. His picture once graced the cover of Sports Illustrated. His dad coached for the 49ers. In other words, Ace knows football, and that fact is on full display in The Innocents. Although the plot doesn’t center around football, this novel features one of the best depictions of a Southern, sleazeball coach you’ll ever find in fiction. Oh, and it’s a part of Ace’s Quinn Colson series. So if you like it, there’s more where that came from!

By Ace Atkins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Quinn Colson returns to Jericho, Mississippi, and gets pulled back into a world of greed and violence in this gritty, darkly comic tale from New York Times bestselling Southern crime master Ace Atkins.
 
After being voted out of office and returning to the war zone he’d left behind, Quinn Colson is back in Jericho, trying to fix things with his still-married high school girlfriend and retired Hollywood stuntman father. Quinn knows he doesn't owe his hometown a damn thing, but he can't resist the pull of becoming a lawman again and accepts a badge from his former colleague, foul-mouthed acting…


Book cover of A Feast of Snakes

Eli Cranor Author Of Don't Know Tough

From my list on football from a quarterback turned novelist.

Who am I?

I scored my first touchdown at nine and went on to play quarterback at both the collegiate and professional levels. By twenty-six, I was the head coach of a backwoods high school in Arkansas. My debut novel, Don’t Know Tough, is a football-centric thriller and was named one of the “Best Crime Novels” of 2022 by the New York Times. After that book's publication, I’ve had readers reach out and ask about my favorite football novels, so I was thrilled to get the chance to compile them all into one list. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have. 

Eli's book list on football from a quarterback turned novelist

Eli Cranor Why did Eli love this book?

A Feast of Snakes is about a washed-up high school football star. It’s heart-wrenching and hilarious. So much so, I can remember reading lines out loud to my wife more than once when I first encountered this book. Set in Georgia, Crews’s home state, this novel also features the “Rattlesnake Roundup," which I can promise, you won’t want to miss.

By Harry Crews,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the acclaimed author of such novels as "Blood and Grits" and "Childhood" comes a wildly weird and breathtakingly original visit to the rural South that reveals the exotic subculture that erupts in all its glory at the Rattlesnake Roundup in Mystic, Georgia. "No number of adjectives in the thesaurus can do full justice to the dazzlingly bizarre nature of Crews' creations"-- "Washington Post Book World"


Book cover of Untouchable

Lindsey Iler Author Of Glass Heart Savage

From my list on romance with heroes you’ll love to hate.

Who am I?

I’m an author who always finds something redeemable in the most chaotic characters. I not only love to write broken characters, but I search them out while reading. There’s something beautiful in their redemption and their growth. It’s simple to fall in love with the easy heroes, the ones that can do no wrong. The ones that make you stop reading because you don’t think you can take it anymore and cause your heart to race in the middle of the night as you devour their story, those are the heroes that I love. They usually end up being the ones you love to hate.

Lindsey's book list on romance with heroes you’ll love to hate

Lindsey Iler Why did Lindsey love this book?

I often wonder what made Sam write a character like Carter Mahoney, but all I can say is I’m so happy she did. This is not the book to go into with sunshine and rainbows on the brain because you will get the exact opposite, but in the best way possible. If you love cruel heroes that make you question your own sanity while reading like I do, this is the perfect read for you.

By Sam Mariano,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

AN AMAZON TOP 100 BESTSELLER

The bully isn't supposed to win...

Senior year was off to a rough start: lube in my locker, panties on my front porch, unimaginative name-calling. See, I got a player suspended from the football team for harassing me, and in my small Texas town, you don't mess with the football players—even if they mess with you first.

I didn't care if it was an unpopular thing to do; I stood up for myself... and in doing so, opened Pandora's Box.

I never dreamed I would attract the attention of locally worshipped star quarterback, Carter Mahoney.…


Book cover of False Start

Ahren Sanders Author Of Pierced Hearts

From my list on romances with heat and heart leave you wanting more.

Who am I?

I have always loved getting lost in the literary world of romance and happily ever afters. Family, friends, large casts of characters, laugh-out-loud situations, and sexy thrills—the more the better. After years in the corporate world, I found my passion for writing romance. I have over 18 books published, several Best Seller banners, and am currently finishing the next book in the Men of Action series. 

Ahren's book list on romances with heat and heart leave you wanting more

Ahren Sanders Why did Ahren love this book?

I happened upon False Start late one afternoon and stayed up way into the night to finish. The prose has all my favorites—second chances, sports romance, and a narrative that took me back to the beginning of where the love story began. Bryant Hudson is 1000% swoon-worthy with a heart that belongs to only one woman. I fell hard and fast for his charm, and still get tingles thinking of his pursuit to win her back. Hudson + Zhanna = off the charts. 

By Sasha Marshall,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Football, a kitten, and 14 dates. Zhanna Hale THEN My father is a legend. Some call me football royalty, and in my hometown of Louisiana, I suppose I am. His legacy didn’t prepare me for Bryant Hudson. The quarterback. I swore I’d never date football players. Permanently. Yet Bryant had other plans.Three dates and a handful of conversations, I handed him my heart without realizing it. But, Bryant shatters my soul. I’m left picking up the pieces. If only erasing him from my heart was as easy. Bryant Hudson NOW I lost at the only game that matters. And it…


Book cover of Luckman at Quarterback: Football as a Sport and a Career

R.D. Rosen Author Of Tough Luck: Sid Luckman, Murder, Inc., and the Rise of the Modern NFL

From my list on Jews and sports.

Who am I?

I am an author whose works have spanned several genres, from mysteries (I won an Edgar for Strike Three You’re Dead), to psychology (I coined the word “psychobabble” and wrote a book about it), to humor (Bad Cat and Bad Dog were both bestsellers), and, more lately to nonfiction, including Such Good Girls, true story of three Jewish women who survived the Holocaust. I have worked in television as a comedian, writer, and producer, and as a senior editor in the publishing industry, but my first and enduring love is the magic of writing.

R.D.'s book list on Jews and sports

R.D. Rosen Why did R.D. love this book?

In 1949, while still playing for the Chicago Bears, Luckman (and a ghostwriter) penned this appealingly modest account of the quarterback’s early life. Since Luckman left no other writing behind, it’s an invaluable account of a “scrawny runt's" rise to national football celebrity by his 24th birthday. The most moving aspect of the book, for those in the know, is his silence about his father’s murder of Sid’s favorite uncle. Instead, he used a cover story for Dad’s disappearance and then kept his mouth shut for the rest of his life. 

Book cover of I Promise You

J. Sterling Author Of The Perfect Game

From my list on romance that will leave you breathless.

Who am I?

I was raised on the Los Angeles Dodgers and baseball is in my blood. I love reading sports romances. An athlete's mindset is something I'm intimately familiar with (my son is a professional baseball player), so I get a lot of enjoyment reading about the guys who chase their dreams and ultimately get to make them come true. I enjoy reading stories that are familiar to me and that I can relate to.  

J.'s book list on romance that will leave you breathless

J. Sterling Why did J. love this book?

No one writes college football romance like Ilsa! I fall in love with every football book she writes and this one was no different. From the banter, to the push and pull between the characters, to the legend of the bonfire kiss, this book has it all! You're going to love it!

By Ilsa Madden-Mills,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

#2 Book in the Amazon Store

From #1 Amazon Charts and WSJ Bestselling Author Ilsa Madden-Mills comes an all-new swoony romance between the football hottie and the mystery girl he kissed years before…

Dillon McQueen: Babe. I promise. You want me.
Serena Jensen: Um, who are you?

There’s a legend at Waylon University: the first girl you kiss freshman year at the bonfire party is the one you’ll never forget. She’ll crawl under your skin. She’ll spark a passion so fierce you’ll burn the world down to possess her.

You might even put a ring on it.

But...timing is everything.…


Book cover of Johnny U: The Life and Times of John Unitas

Dan Shaughnessy Author Of Wish It Lasted Forever: Life with the Larry Bird Celtics

From my list on sports from a sports broadcaster.

Who am I?

I have been privileged to cover sports for the Boston Globe for the last 40-plus years. It is the best place in the country to do what I do. New England has tradition, smart readers, historic teams, and a great deal of success, especially in this century. As an author of 14 books, it's nice to bring some sports to the conversation on this site.

Dan's book list on sports from a sports broadcaster

Dan Shaughnessy Why did Dan love this book?

The veteran scribe grew up in Baltimore and knew Unitas well. This book is worth it just to read what Unitas said to former teammate Johnny Sample when Samply tried to taunt him at the end of Super Bowl III. It's "Diner" meets "North Dallas Forty.'' 

By Tom Callahan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a time “when men played football for something less than a living and something more than money,” John Unitas was the ultimate quarterback. Rejected by Notre Dame, discarded by the Pittsburgh Steelers, he started on a Pennsylvania sandlot making six dollars a game and ended as the most commanding presence in the National Football League, calling the critical plays and completing the crucial passes at the moment his sport came of age.

Johnny U is the first authoritative biography of Unitas, based on hundreds of hours of interviews with teammates and opponents, coaches, family and friends. The depth of…


Book cover of The Bombshell Effect

Kandi Steiner Author Of The Wrong Game

From my list on sports romances for that fuzzy fall feeling.

Who am I?

I’m a self-published romance author with a hankering for angst and sports romance. As an international bestselling author myself, I’m addicted to finding the next book that will make my pulse race, my eyes red from reading all night, and my stomach ache with the desperation of wanting to dive into the fictional world an author has created. You can follow all my book reviews on Goodreads, and check out my bestselling sports romances on my website. 

Kandi's book list on sports romances for that fuzzy fall feeling

Kandi Steiner Why did Kandi love this book?

If you like sports romances, angst, humor, and heat, this is one book you cannot miss. The Bombshell Effect is proof that Karla Sorensen can write humor, heart, and angst in a harmony that should be illegal. I didn't just love this book, I inhaled it, making it a permanent piece of who I am -- and I'll never let it go.

By Karla Sorensen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Allie Sutton just got a new job.Not one she wants, and definitely not one she's prepared for. She hadn't seen her dad in years, so the last thing she expects upon his sudden death is to inherit the thing he loved more than anything (or anyone) ... the professional football team he owned for the last twenty years.Luke Pierson does not want a new boss.What he wants is to be a good father to his daughter, the best quarterback possible for his teammates. What he doesn't need is a blonde bombshell ruining the team's chances at another championship. Especially when…


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