10 books like Sports of Our Times

By Dave Anderson,

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

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

Everything They Had

By David Halberstam, Glenn Stout (editor),

Book cover of Everything They Had: Sports Writing from David Halberstam

David Halberstam, who died in an auto accident in 2007 while doing research for a book about the 1958 NFL championship game, wrote with clarity and perpetual curiosity about all sports. This posthumous anthology highlights his diverse mix of stories. For example, horse racing in Warsaw in the 1960s, American slugger Reggie Smith’s experience as a pro baseball player in Japan in the 1980s, a character study of NBA coaching great Pat Riley in the 1990s, fishing with pals in Argentina as a septuagenarian in the 21st century. And Halberstam’s probing search for the soul of sports is underlined in the “Anatomy of a Champion,” detailed reportage on American fencers and their quest for Olympic glory. This book's mesmerizing range of sporting topics and the author's incredible eye for details captured my attention from start to finish.

Everything They Had

By David Halberstam, Glenn Stout (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Sometimes sports mirrors society, sometimes it allows us to understand the larger society a little better. But mostly, it is a world of entertainment of talented and driven young men and women who do certain things with both skill and passion."--David Halberstam David Halberstam was a distinguished journalist and historian of American politics. He was also a sports writer. Everything They Had brings together for the first time his articles from newspapers and magazines, a wide-ranging collection edited by Glenn Stout, selected over the full scope of Halberstam's five decades as one of America's most honored journalists. These are dazzling…


Dr. Z

By Paul Zimmerman, Peter King (editor),

Book cover of Dr. Z: The Lost Memoirs of an Irreverent Football Writer

Paul Zimmerman, aka “Dr. Z,” was a walking encyclopedia of NFL (and American football) knowledge. In addition to comprehensive coverage of players and coaches, teams and seasons, and big games, his humor and sophistical analytical asides graced the pages of Sports Illustrated for decades. Before that, he was a great reporter for the New York Post. Dr. Z’s memoir pulls back the curtain on his life and his path to prominence as a journalist. Decades before his memoir, Dr. Z brought forthright language to simple and complex football themes in his timeless tome, The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pro Football. Dr. Z’s all-time rankings of NFL players, coaches, and teams and behind-the-scenes tales about Vince Lombardi, Johnny Unitas, and others grab your attention.

For me, and anyone else who loves football, Zimmerman's unparalleled knowledge of the subject and remarkable memory of plays, players and coaches and games spanning…

Dr. Z

By Paul Zimmerman, Peter King (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

During his nearly 50 years of sportswriting, including 28 at Sports Illustrated, readers of Dr. Z came to expect a certain alchemical, trademark blend: words which were caustic and wry, at times self-deprecating or even puzzling, but always devilishly smart with arresting honesty. A complex package, that's the Doctor. The one-time sparring partner of Ernest Hemingway, Paul Zimmerman is one of the modern era's groundbreaking football minds, a man who methodically charted every play while generating copious notes, a human precursor to the data analytics websites of today. In 2008, Zimmerman had nearly completed work on his personal memoirs when…


The Red Smith Reader

By Dave Anderson (editor),

Book cover of The Red Smith Reader

John Schulian, one of the premier American sports journalists from the 1970s to the present, has recommended The Red Smith Reader with unsparing enthusiasm: “Quite simply the most thorough collection ever of the master’s work... a joy to everyone who picks it up.” A compilation of 131 Smith columns published in 1982, the year of his death, the book showcases his literary prose, which elevated the profession. The biggest games (Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series, Reggie Jackson’s three home runs on three consecutive at-bats in the 1977 Fall Classic) and individuals (Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali, Secretariat) are the foundation of Smith’s invaluable contributions to the understanding and appreciation of sports culture. His profiles of boxing and horse racing trainers are also exceptionally astute portraits.

Red Smith was a deadline artist, crafting timeless columns. As a fan of good writing and an admirer of his literary…

The Red Smith Reader

By Dave Anderson (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1976, Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith is considered one of the greatest sportswriters ever to live. Put alongside Ring Lardner, Red Smith was beloved by those who read him because of his crisp writing and critical views.

Originally released in 1982, The Red Smith Reader is a wonderful collection of 131 columns with subjects ranging from baseball and fishing to golf, basketball, tennis, and boxing. As John Leonard of the New York Times appropriately stated, “Red Smith was to sports what Homer was to war.”

With a fantastic foreword by his son, successful journalist Terence Smith,…


Sound and Fury

By Dave Kindred,

Book cover of Sound and Fury: Two Powerful Lives, One Fateful Friendship

In this dual biography about the nexus of Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell’s cultural significance and friendship, the backdrop of their seemingly omnipresent place on the American and global media landscape in the 1960s and ‘70s is explored with great detail in the paths they forged, individually and collectively. Kindred does his homework in finding rich anecdotes from the boxer and broadcaster’s upbringings in Louisville and New York City, respectively. What’s more, there are recurring details about their interactions before, during, and after many of Ali’s biggest fights. It’s a fascinating character study of larger-than-life personalities with massive egos, as well as Cosell’s support of Ali’s right to oppose the Vietnam War. The alternating focus on Ali and Cosell gives Kindred a flexible format to deliver a literary knockout.

It is a rare gift to have the ability to tell the life stories of two iconic figures in the same…

Sound and Fury

By Dave Kindred,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell were must-see TV long before that phrase became ubiquitous. Individually interesting, together they were mesmerizing. They were profoundly different -- young and old, black and white, a Muslim and a Jew, Ali barely literate and Cosell an editor of his university's law review. Yet they had in common forces that made them unforgettable: Both were, above all, performers who covered up their deep personal insecurities by demanding -- loudly and often -- public acclaim. Theirs was an extraordinary alliance that produced drama, comedy, controversy, and a mutual respect that helped shape both men's lives.

Dave…


Gods at Play

By Tom Callahan,

Book cover of Gods at Play: An Eyewitness Account of Great Moments in American Sports

The author looks back on 50 years of sportswriting. This is a personal book, rich with stories of the sports gods of the 1960s and 1970s. Callahan was an insider and has stuff on Larry Bird and Muhammad Ali that no one else has. Callahan presents a fascinating earlier time when newspaper beat reporters were valuable to the team's they covered. Cincinnati Royals coach Bob Cousy refused an airline's request to bounce Callahan off a commercial flight, telling the pilot "we fly as a team and he is with us." 

Gods at Play

By Tom Callahan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As a columnist for Time magazine, among many other publications, Tom Callahan witnessed an extraordinary number of defining moments in American sport across four decades. He takes us from Roberto Clemente clinching his 3,000th, and final, regular-season hit in Pittsburgh; to ringside for the Muhammad Ali-George Foreman fight in Zaire; and to Arthur Ashe announcing, at a news conference, that he'd tested positive for HIV. There are also little-known private moments: Joe Morgan whispering thank you to a virtually blind Jackie Robinson on the field at the 1972 World Series, or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar saying he was more interested in being…


Miss Mary Reporting

By Sue Macy, C. F. Payne (illustrator),

Book cover of Miss Mary Reporting: The True Story of Sportswriter Mary Garber

Mary Garber loved sport. She played sport. She read about sport. And she wanted to write about sport. So, what’s wrong with that? Nothing! Then why, as a woman, was she banned from the Press Box? During the 1940’s, sports reporting was a man’s job and Mary was discouraged from pursuing this type of work. But she did. After working decades in a job she loved, she became known as a reporter who didn’t care who you were or where you were from. If you did something, she was going to write about you. I love this book for showing the strength and determination of Mary and how she brought her own special talents and observations to the reporting world. The illustrations beautifully capture the action and the era of this story.

Miss Mary Reporting

By Sue Macy, C. F. Payne (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“A heartfelt, informative, and thoroughly engaging picture book biography.” —School Library Journal (starred review)

From beloved author Sue Macy comes an illustrated biography of Mary Garber, one of the first female sports journalists in American history!

Mary Garber was a pioneering sports journalist in a time where women were rarely a part of the newspaper business. Women weren’t even allowed to sit in the press boxes at sporting events, so Mary was forced to sit with the coaches’ wives. But that didn’t stop her.

In a time when African American sports were not routinely covered, Mary went to the games…


Sport

By Mike Cronin,

Book cover of Sport: A Very Short Introduction

In the late 1990s I asked Mike Cronin to join me in the International Centre for Sports History and Culture that I had set up at De Montfort University. Initially he was wary. He later told me that, although he saw me as a leader in the development of sports history, he also viewed me as a strange, perhaps outdated creature: the economic historian. I welcomed him to Jurassic Park. I admire this book because Mike covers world sporting development in just 40,000 words, a task that took me over 100,000 more (but mine is cheaper by the page!). More significantly it was the starting point for my own global venture and it stimulated me to take off my economic blinkers and consider social, cultural, and political issues.

Sport

By Mike Cronin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sport is big business; international in nature and the focus of much media and cultural attention. In this Very Short Introduction, Mike Cronin charts the history of sport, from its traditional origins in folk football and cock fighting to its position as a global phenomenon today. Looking at a variety of sports from team games such as rugby, cricket, and football to games for individuals such as golf, tennis, and skiing, he considers how these first emerged
and captivated the interest of ordinary people, and how sport has been transformed within our daily lives.

Exploring the relationship between sport and…


Match Fixing and Sport

By Mike Huggins (editor), Rob Hess (editor),

Book cover of Match Fixing and Sport: Historical Perspectives

The uncertainty of the result is a bedrock of sport. Yet, although it should not be pre-determined, it does happen. Gambling interests, the very people who developed rules for many early sports, can persuade competitors (by threats or bribes) not to perform to the best of their abilities. The book shows that cheating to lose has a long history dating back to Antiquity, when fines on cheating competitors paid for statues to commemorate the gods. I have never believed in the purity of sport and its participants. Sport may well breed character, a mantra of the sports lobby, but, I suggest, not necessarily good character. The book appeals to me as it shows how historians can dig out evidence on activities which, to be successful, must be covert.

Match Fixing and Sport

By Mike Huggins (editor), Rob Hess (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Match-Fixing and Sport studies match-fixing in historical perspective, revealing how match-fixing has always been a major sporting continuity, alongside another longstanding continuity, a widely-held belief in a mythical recent past of pristine purity.

The volume begins with a brief overview of match-fixing's global contemporary contexts, the broad range of sports where it now surfaces, increased recognition of its moral, social, and economic threat, and the varied responses of leading sports organizations, legal gambling operators, police forces, governmental departments, and regulators. The following chapters explore the challenges of finding any reliable evidence of match-fixing in the past. An overview shows that…


One Last Shot

By John David Anderson,

Book cover of One Last Shot

I love how Malcolm, a kid who doesn’t like sports despite his athletic dad’s enthusiastic encouragement, finally finds a place to call his own in mini-golf. Malcolm has always felt like a loser but once he signs up for lessons and meets some friends, he slowly improves, in his game and in his opinion of himself. Unfortunately, Malcolm also carries the weight of feeling it’s up to him to keep his parents’ troubled marriage together. With tournaments and family problems mounting high, this is an exciting read. The eighteen chapters, set up like holes on a golf course, are a fun addition.

One Last Shot

By John David Anderson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The beloved author of Ms. Bixby’s Last Day and Posted returns with a humorous and heartwarming story of family, friendship, and miniature golf.

For as long as he can remember, Malcolm has never felt like he was good enough. Not for his parents, who have always seemed at odds with each other, with Malcolm caught in between. And especially not for his dad, whose competitive drive and love for sports Malcolm has never shared.

That is, until Malcolm discovers miniature golf, the one sport he actually enjoys. Maybe it’s the way in which every hole is a puzzle to be…


Thinking Body, Dancing Mind

By Chungliang Al Huang,

Book cover of Thinking Body, Dancing Mind: Taosports for Extraordinary Performance in Athletics, Business, and Life

This book takes the wisdom of Tao into the world of sports, combining Chung-liang Al Huang’s calligraphy and insights as a T’ai Ji master with sports psychologist Jerry Lynch’s use of Tao principles to coach professional, Olympic, and recreational athletes. Offering lessons from the enduring wisdom of Tao, along with exercises, affirmations, and encouragement, this book helps readers transcend the limits of Western dualism to discover a new path of joy and meaning in their athletic endeavors, careers, and personal lives.

Thinking Body, Dancing Mind

By Chungliang Al Huang,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Thinking Body, Dancing Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Written by a sports psychologist and a renowned T'ai Chi master, here is a guide to enriching all of life's pursuits through the practice of its simple mental tools and wisdom. Using stories of success from athletes and businesspeople, the authors present techniques and exercises to promote relaxation and enhance performance.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in sports, sports journalism, and Babe Ruth?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about sports, sports journalism, and Babe Ruth.

Sports Explore 29 books about sports
Sports Journalism Explore 10 books about sports journalism
Babe Ruth Explore 13 books about Babe Ruth