92 books like The Best at It

By Maulik Pancholy,

Here are 92 books that The Best at It fans have personally recommended if you like The Best at It. 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 Boys in the Back Row

VP Anderson Author Of Blood City Rollers

From my list on team spirit for the girls, gays, and theys.

Why am I passionate about this?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve yearned to be part of a BFF-ship, like Anne Shirley-Cuthbert searching for her Diana Barry or Nancy Drew seeking her crewmates Bess and George. As I grew, I realized what I really wanted was to be part of something bigger than myself, working toward a common goal and solving problems bravely and creatively. In any given role, I’ve sought to find the best possible team for the job. Now that I’m a full-time creator, I’ve continued to prioritize people and collaborative practice over any given outcome. Sometimes, we win, sometimes we learn. But the important thing is that we try/learn together.

VP's book list on team spirit for the girls, gays, and theys

VP Anderson Why did VP love this book?

As a lifelong fan of youthful hijinks, this book filled me with mischievous glee.

Not only do Mike and I share a love of ukulele riffs to defuse awkward situations (or make them more awkward, in some cases) we also seem to share a specific brand of irreverent humor common in most queer and queer-inclusive friend groups.

These characters are the kind of friends you wish you could get into trouble with IRL. More crew than team in this case, but it counts! 10/10 shenanigans. 

By Mike Jung,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Boys in the Back Row 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?

Best friends Matt and Eric are hatching a plan for one big final adventure together before Eric moves away: during the marching band competition at a Giant Amusement Park, they will sneak away to a nearby comics convention and meet their idol-a famous comic creator. Without cell phones. Or transportation. Or permission. Of course, their final adventure together is more than just that-really, it's a way for the boys to celebrate their friendship, and their honest love and support for one another. That's exactly what we love so much about The Boys in the Back Row: it's an unabashed ode…

Book cover of Alan Cole Is Not a Coward

Chad Lucas Author Of Thanks a Lot, Universe

From my list on middle grade books to counter toxic masculinity.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was in school, I often struggled to figure out where I “fit”. Yeah, I know that’s a common struggle among angsty teens. But as a biracial, bisexual kid who loved basketball and books, I didn’t feel totally at home in any of the stereotypical Breakfast Club-style categories that showed up even in many of the books I read: jock, nerd, prep, etc. Now, as a dad, coach, and writer, I know those boxes aren’t real. I’m passionate about giving kids stories that challenge old ideas about what boys are “supposed” to be and help them explore the full range of who they can be.

Chad's book list on middle grade books to counter toxic masculinity

Chad Lucas Why did Chad love this book?

Between his cruel older brother and his rigid, overbearing father, Alan Cole doesn’t have it easy—especially when his brother discovers he has a crush on a boy. But with some help from his friends, Alan learns to stand up for himself and challenge his family’s expectations. This is the kind of book I wish I could send back in time to my younger self, and I know a lot of kids will relate to Alan’s struggles—and celebrate his triumphs.

By Eric Bell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Alan Cole Is Not a Coward as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Perfect for fans of Tim Federle and Gary Schmidt, this is a hilarious and poignant tale about the trials of middle school when you’re coming of age—and coming out.

Alan Cole can’t stand up to his cruel brother, Nathan. He can’t escape the wrath of his demanding father, who thinks he’s about as exceptional as a goldfish. And—scariest of all—he can’t let the cute boy across the cafeteria know he has a crush on him.

But when Nathan discovers Alan’s secret, his older brother announces a high-stakes round of Cole vs. Cole. Each brother must complete seven nearly impossible tasks;…

Book cover of As Brave as You

Kathryn Siebel Author Of The Trouble with Twins

From my list on bothersome brothers and sisters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in suburban Chicago as the middle of five children. My siblings were and are at the center of my world. Now I work with school-age children, and my fascination with the love/annoyance these relationships engender continues. I loved Little Women as a child, and stories of siblings, especially sisters, still tug at my heart. It’s no wonder my first middle-grade novel is just such a tale.

Kathryn's book list on bothersome brothers and sisters

Kathryn Siebel Why did Kathryn love this book?

Two African American brothers spend their summer in rural Virginia while their parents navigate a rough patch in their marriage. Genie, 11, and Ernie, 13, get to know their blind grandfather who has a special room filled with plants and songbirds. I identified with Genie, a worrier who likes to pose questions in his notebook. As the two brothers respond differently to their grandfather’s announcement that a brave man learns to shoot a gun at 14, Reynolds is also asking readers to consider what it means to be brave and how we should define family. I loved the themes and vivid setting of the book. As someone who visited a grandparent in a small, rural town each summer, I identified with the boys’ sense that they have travelled not just a state but a whole world away from home.

By Jason Reynolds,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked As Brave as You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Kirkus Award Finalist

Schneider Family Book Award Winner

Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book

In this “pitch-perfect contemporary novel” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), Coretta Scott King – John Steptoe Award-winning author Jason Reynolds explores multigenerational ideas about family love and bravery in the story of two brothers, their blind grandfather, and a dangerous rite of passage.

Genie’s summer is full of surprises. The first is that he and his big brother, Ernie, are leaving Brooklyn for the very first time to spend the summer with their grandparents all the way in Virginia—in the COUNTRY! The second surprise comes when Genie…

Book cover of Sal and Gabi Break the Universe

George Jreije Author Of Shad Hadid and the Alchemists of Alexandria

From my list on diverse heroes in children’s fantasy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an avid reader and writer of children’s literature, though I find it difficult to read anything that isn’t diverse these days. Being able to experience the world from the perspectives of other cultures is a true delight, and I learn something every time. After having read dozens of these diverse books, especially diverse fantasies, I find that nothing inspires my creative soul more. That’s why I’m able to speak on this topic for large conferences and schools, spreading this inspiration to others. And, as a published author of diverse children’s literature, I’ve done the same in my writing with praise from Kirkus, Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, and many others.

George's book list on diverse heroes in children’s fantasy

George Jreije Why did George love this book?

Sal Vidon just misses his mom.

It’s a timeless story of a kid healing, but with a twist where Sal can pull things out of alternate dimensions.

He navigates the weirdness of his abilities with a grace and humor that is as refreshing as it is endearing. It’s hard not to root for this troublemaker with a heart of gold.

Not to mention, the book has a seriously great main character counterpart to Sal in Gabi Real. 

By Carlos Hernandez,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Sal and Gabi Break the Universe 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?

Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents a brilliant sci-fi romp with Cuban influence by Carlos Hernandez, winner of the 2020 Pura Belpré Award.

"I love this book in every possible universe! With a surprise on every page and two of the most cosmically awesome, vividly unique heroes I've ever read, this sweet, hilarious book made me so happy."--Tui T. Sutherland, author of the New York Times best-selling Wings of Fire series

What would you do if you had the power to reach through time and space and retrieve anything you want, including your mother, who is no longer living (in this…

Book cover of Prep

F.J. Campbell Author Of The Islanders

From my list on nostalgic fiction set in UK and US boarding schools.

Why am I passionate about this?

I went to four different boarding schools when I was younger, which at the time didn’t seem weird but it definitely is. I think boarding schools are peculiar places, full of teenagers with raging hormones, secret homesickness, and a certain sort of reckless swagger that is a recipe for all sorts of drama i.e. the perfect setting for a novel. I was on quite hefty scholarships and know how lucky I was to be there, but whether you have or haven’t been to boarding school, there is an endless fascination with them. I had a lot of fun writing The Islanders, wallowing happily in my nostalgia and reminiscing with old friends about what we got up to.

F.J.'s book list on nostalgic fiction set in UK and US boarding schools

F.J. Campbell Why did F.J. love this book?

This book is a brilliantly written, honest story set at a prestigious prep school (Ault) in the US. Its sometimes infuriating main character, Lee, doesn’t have a great time there and mostly it’s her own fault. But Lee is a scholarship girl and the unwritten rules of the privileged society she has just chosen to enter bewilder her. This is definitely a coming-of-age book for people who are already well into adulthood. At the end of the book, when real life crashes in on Lee, Sittenfeld writes a chapter that I could read over and over again. It’s so hauntingly true and wise in the way that you can only get by looking back at a sad period in your life later, when you’re happier.

By Curtis Sittenfeld,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Prep as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An insightful, achingly funny coming-of-age story as well as a brilliant dissection of class, race, and gender in a hothouse of adolescent angst and ambition.

Lee Fiora is an intelligent, observant fourteen-year-old when her father drops her off in front of her dorm at the prestigious Ault School in Massachusetts. She leaves her animated, affectionate family in South Bend, Indiana, at least in part because of the boarding school’s glossy brochure, in which boys in sweaters chat in front of old brick buildings, girls in kilts hold lacrosse sticks on pristinely mown athletic fields, and everyone sings hymns in chapel.…

Book cover of A Lynching in the Heartland: Race and Memory in America

David B. Allison Author Of Controversial Monuments and Memorials: A Guide for Community Leaders

From my list on memory that make you question how you see the past.

Why am I passionate about this?

Memory is capricious and impacts our view of the past. That’s why I do what I do! I am a twenty-year museum professional who began my career at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, worked at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science for almost ten years, and am now part of the Arts & History department at the City and County of Broomfield. I have designed and developed programs and events, as well as managed teams in each of these stops. I seek to illuminate stories, elevate critical voices, and advocate for equity through the unique pathways of the arts, history, and museum magic.

David's book list on memory that make you question how you see the past

David B. Allison Why did David love this book?

I attended a university just down the road from Marion, Indiana, the site of an infamous lynching of two Black men (and the attempted lynching of a third) in 1930.

The prison from which these men were forcibly taken still stands on the main square in Marion. Many textbooks use the grisly photograph that Lawrence Beitler took of this event to illustrate the horrors of violence against African-Americans in postbellum United States.

Madison deftly weaves the lives, stories, and memories of resilient Black residents of Marion today with the story of the hate-filled mob that lynched Abram Smith and Thomas Shipp and the aftermath of the event in the community to illustrate that individual choices matter, and that how we view the past is shaped profoundly by historical trauma. 

By James H Madison,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Lynching in the Heartland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On a hot summer night in 1930, three black teenagers accused of murdering a young white man and raping his girlfriend waited for justice in an Indiana jail. A mob dragged them from the jail and lynched two of them. No one in Marion, Indiana was ever punished for the murders. In this gripping account, James H. Madison refutes the popular perception that lynching was confined to the South, and clarifies 20th century America's painful encounters with race, justice, and memory.

Book cover of A Season on the Brink: A Year with Bob Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers

Alex Squadron Author Of Life in the G: Minor League Basketball and the Relentless Pursuit of the NBA

From my list on engrossing sports books that take you behind the scenes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was introduced to sports, specifically basketball, at a very young age and have been obsessed ever since. My first dream was to make it to the NBA, but I realized fairly early on that 1) I’m of average height, which means I’m very small for basketball, and, more importantly, 2) I’m not good enough to play in the NBA. So, I pivoted to writing and have been extremely fortunate to carve out a career that combines my two greatest passions. I’ve worked for SLAM Magazine, Sports Illustrated, the New York Post, and the NBA. I don’t know much, but I know sports books. Really hope you enjoy these!

Alex's book list on engrossing sports books that take you behind the scenes

Alex Squadron Why did Alex love this book?

This book is what happens when you give an incredible writer incredible access to an incredible subject.

The late Bob Knight allowed John Feinstein to essentially join his team, the Indiana Hoosiers, for the 1985-86 season, and the result is a deeply compelling and extremely engaging profile of the legendary coach, whose style was… unorthodox, to say the least.

I could not recommend it more. 

By John Feinstein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Season on the Brink as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Decades after it spent weeks at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, A Season on the Brink remains the most celebrated basketball book ever written—an unforgettable chronicle of his year spent following the Indiana Hoosiers and their fiery coach Bob Knight.

Granted unprecedented access to legendary coach Bob Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers during the 1985–86 season, John Feinstein saw and heard it all—practices, team meetings, strategy sessions, and midgame huddles—as the team worked to return to championship form. The result is an unforgettable chronicle that not only captures the drama and pressure of big-time college basketball but…

Book cover of One Small Town, One Crazy Coach: The Ireland Spuds and the 1963 Indiana High School Basketball Season

Matthew A. Werner Author Of Season of Upsets: Farm boys, city kids, Hoosier basketball and the dawn of the 1950s

From my list on more than just sports books.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a storyteller and jack of all trades who grew up on a family farm in Indiana. I can operate a combine, analyze data, or edit a book. Writing about sports can create great stories, but the true beauty lies in the people and circumstances, not the stats and game highlights. Most of my works are nonfiction—personal interest, sports, history, and sports history. I enjoy unearthing untold stories, especially when they involve equal rights, underdogs, hidden history, and non-famous people. Everyone has a story to tell.

Matthew's book list on more than just sports books

Matthew A. Werner Why did Matthew love this book?

Mike Roos did a great job telling this true story of Indiana high school basketball. Roos’s father was the high school principal that hired that crazy coach referenced in the title. He used extensive interviews and years of rewrites to recreate meetings, locker room pep talks, and dialogue. Not only is this a good story, but Roos showed readers what is wonderful about creative nonfiction. It reads like a novel, but it’s genuine nonfiction.

By Mike Roos,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked One Small Town, One Crazy Coach as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the summer of 1962, the peripatetic and irrepressible Pete Gill was hired on a whim to coach basketball at tiny Ireland High School. There he would accomplish, against enormous odds, one of the great small-town feats in Indiana basketball history. With no starters taller than 5'10", few wins were predicted for the Spuds. Yet, after inflicting brutal preseason conditioning, employing a variety of unconventional motivational tactics, and overcoming fierce opposition, Gill molded the Spuds into a winning team that brought home the town's first and only sectional and regional titles. Relying on narrative strategies of creative nonfiction rather than…

Book cover of The Season of Styx Malone

Amy Makechnie Author Of Ten Thousand Tries

From my list on with three best friends.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a grown mother now. Also an author. But once upon a time, I was in middle school. I remember the braces, bad hair, being scared to return my lunch tray because boys might look at me while I passed their lunch table. Such angst, and yet I adore middle schoolers - they’re my jam. Fun, funny, exasperating, creative, boisterous, and annoying are all words I’d use to describe the middle school kids I teach and coach. I write down their quotes, shake my head at their antics, and adore their intense friendships. I hope you’ll enjoy these true-to-life middle-grade reads as much as I have!

Amy's book list on with three best friends

Amy Makechnie Why did Amy love this book?

Have you ever dreamed of being someone and somewhere else? I remember being a kid in the summertime when the hot summer in Omaha, Nebraska felt sooooo long and there was nothing to do. Styx Malone (foster child & the cool kid) and brothers Caleb and Bobby Gene are feeling that angst too. To make life more exciting, they concoct a plan to exchange one small thing for something better until they achieve their “wildest dreams” (motorbike). Sometimes it’s the baby sister that’s exchanged for fireworks (I mean, that’s pretty funny, but don’t worry, the baby sister is given back and they get to keep the fireworks). Of course, everything goes awry and gets dangerous and…well, read this book and you’ll be turning the pages at a mad pace, too!

By Kekla Magoon,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Season of Styx Malone 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?


"Extraordinary friendships . . . extraordinary storytelling." --Rita Williams-Garcia, Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Award-Winning author of One Crazy Summer

Meet Caleb and Bobby Gene, two brothers embarking on a madcap, heartwarming, one-thing-leads-to-another adventure in which friendships are forged, loyalties are tested . . . and miracles just might happen.

Caleb Franklin and his big brother Bobby Gene are excited to have adventures in the woods behind their house. But Caleb dreams of venturing beyond their ordinary small town.

Then Caleb…

Book cover of Women of the Klan: Racism and Gender in the 1920s

Jeff Stookey Author Of Dangerous Medicine

From my list on the 1920s Ku Klux Klan in Oregon and the USA.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I first moved to Portland, Oregon, I heard about the 1988 murder of an Ethiopian student by skinheads of the White Aryan Resistance. A famous trial subsequently bankrupted that white supremacist organization. When I began writing my trilogy, set in 1923, I learned about the strength of the Oregon KKK during the 1920s. I could see a direct line between the bigotry of that era and contemporary Portland. The more I studied the Klan of the 20s, the more I knew this information had to be part of my novels. Besides these book recommendations, I read numerous articles about Klan history. Everyone should learn this history.

Jeff's book list on the 1920s Ku Klux Klan in Oregon and the USA

Jeff Stookey Why did Jeff love this book?

I couldn’t have written my trilogy without reading this book. It taught me so much about the women in the KKK, their attitudes and beliefs, their social status and background, their activities and support for the Klan, and so much more. The book is so deeply researched that it provides keen insights into the gender politics of the 1920s, the differing ways of thinking between the men in the Klan versus the women in the Klan, and their dissimilar approaches to carrying out “Klanishness.” The women that Blee describes held the typical mainstream views of white, Protestant, native-born Americans, who were the overwhelming majority in their communities. This book enhanced my understanding of Klan women so that I could create realistic Klan women characters in my novels.

By Kathleen M. Blee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ignorant. Brutal. Male. One of these stereotypes of the Ku Klux Klan offer a misleading picture. In "Women of the Klan", sociologist Kathleen Blee unveils an accurate portrait of a racist movement that appealed to ordinary people throughout the country. In so doing, she dismantles the popular notion that politically involved women are always inspired by pacifism, equality, and justice. "All the better people," a former Klanswoman assures us, were in the Klan.During the 1920s, perhaps half a million white native-born Protestant women joined the Women's Ku Klux Klan (WKKK). Like their male counterparts, Klanswomen held reactionary views on race,…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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