10 books like The Contender

By Robert Lipsyte,

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

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The Book Thief

By Markus Zusak,

Book cover of The Book Thief

The story unfolds somewhat mysteriously, in that WWII historians may be a bit confused. The annihilation of Dresden, Germany through intense fire-bombing by the allies leaves little hope that anyone could survive long, yet a young girl is moving through the neighborhoods unscathed. She steals books from the library of a rich, sophisticated lady who has all but surrendered to her fate. The premise provides a nice counter to the book burning by the Nazis in the years leading up to military action. Although the girl is hardly a military hero, her persistence and courage renders her a testament to the raw power of the human spirit. In her own way, she is defiant of the aggressors attacking her home and threatening her life.

The Book Thief

By Markus Zusak,

Why should I read it?

24 authors picked The Book Thief as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Life affirming, triumphant and tragic . . . masterfully told. . . but also a wonderful page-turner' Guardian
'Brilliant and hugely ambitious' New York Times
'Extraordinary' Telegraph
___

HERE IS A SMALL FACT - YOU ARE GOING TO DIE

1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier.
Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall.

SOME IMPORTANT…


The Fault in Our Stars

By John Green,

Book cover of The Fault in Our Stars

Who thinks they are going to meet the love of their life at a cancer support group? Probably not too many people, and yet one of the greatest love stories of all time began there, as unlikely as it was. It is where Hazel Grace and Augustus, both battling cancer at different stages, first meet. How many times have I thought, I wish I had thought of that first? And yet, I always remind myself that I’m glad I didn’t because there could be no better version than this one. The moment that always sticks with me is when Hazel’s mom, instead of telling her to wait until she’s older to express her love to Augustus, encourages her to now because it is possible there won’t be a later for her. 

The Fault in Our Stars

By John Green,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Fault in Our Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The beloved, #1 global bestseller by John Green, author of The Anthropocene Reviewed and Turtles All the Way Down

"John Green is one of the best writers alive." -E. Lockhart, #1 bestselling author of We Were Liars

"The greatest romance story of this decade." -Entertainment Weekly

#1 New York Times Bestseller * #1 Wall Street Journal Bestseller * #1 USA Today Bestseller * #1 International Bestseller

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters…


The Perks of Being a Wallflower

By Stephen Chbosky,

Book cover of The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Once I read about Charlie, the main character in Stephen Chbosky’s novel, I was intrigued how a shy, bookish kid like me could become so wild and crazy in his first year of high school. Charlie is the main character who at fifteen writes about his freshman experience not unlike a diary. The story is written through Charlie’s detailed, and very personal letters. School begins with him being bullied. He finds it difficult to make friends, but finally there’s a boy he can relate to who is gay and who introduces Charlie to his sister, Sam. Love takes hold of Charlie, leaves him, he goes to parties, takes drugs, wants to kill himself, feels guilty over the death of his aunt, but finally seeks help from a psychiatrist. 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

By Stephen Chbosky,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Perks of Being a Wallflower as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A modern cult classic, a major motion picture and a timeless bestseller, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story.

Charlie is not the biggest geek in high school, but he's by no means popular.

Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie is attempting to navigate through the uncharted territory of high school. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and music - when all one requires to feel infinite is that…


The Outsiders

By S.E. Hinton,

Book cover of The Outsiders

While the connection between Ponyboy Curtis and Cherry Valance never goes beyond a simple crush on Ponyboy’s part, I would argue that their connection is memorable, unlikely, and life-changing. The fact that they even find each other and are able to talk as honestly as they do is surprising and heartwarming. In the end, they show each other that their social groups aren’t as different as the others might think—they all have problems and redeeming qualities. Cherry tells Ponyboy that not all Socs are like the ones who beat up Johnny. S.E. Hinton takes the romantic notion one step further and adds to the impossibility and heartbreak of it all when Cherry confesses to Ponyboy that, if things were different, she could fall in love with Dally, one of Ponyboy’s friends who is a fellow greaser. In the end, this is a life-changing book for me because it, along with…

The Outsiders

By S.E. Hinton,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Outsiders as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

50 years of an iconic classic! This international bestseller and inspiration for a beloved movie is a heroic story of friendship and belonging.

Cover may vary.

No one ever said life was easy. But Ponyboy is pretty sure that he's got things figured out. He knows that he can count on his brothers, Darry and Sodapop. And he knows that he can count on his friends-true friends who would do anything for him, like Johnny and Two-Bit. But not on much else besides trouble with the Socs, a vicious gang of rich kids whose idea of a good time is…


The Midnights

By Sarah Nicole Smetana,

Book cover of The Midnights

One book that I really recommend reading is the novel The Midnights by Sarah Nicole Smetana. The main character, Susannah, is a seventeen-year-old girl who plays a mean guitar like her former rock star father whose attention she craves very much. She is driven with passion to pursue her dream even after her father suddenly dies unexpectedly, and must uproot to a new city where she eagerly takes on the challenge. The story is an emotionally charged coming-of-age novel involving loss, creativity, and feeling confident in your voice, while feeling confident in your choices to define who you are. 

The Midnights

By Sarah Nicole Smetana,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This voice-driven coming-of-age YA novel is perfect for fans of Katie Cotugno and Playlist for the Dead.

Susannah Hayes has never been in the spotlight, but she dreams of following her father, a former rock star, onto the stage. As senior year begins, she's more interested in composing impressive chord progressions than college essays, certain that if she writes the perfect song, her father might finally look up from the past long enough to see her. But when he dies unexpectedly, her dreams--and her reality--shatter.

While Susannah struggles with grief, her mother uproots them to a new city. There, Susannah…


When the Legends Die

By Hal Borland,

Book cover of When the Legends Die

When Ute Native American, Thomas Black Bull, is orphaned, he’s forced into a white boarding school aiming to “civilize” him by erasing every trace of his heritage, language, customs and culture. The novel is a graphic picture of what happened historically to so many Native American youths, something recently revealed with previously unknown details—a horrifying scenario. My feelings of sympathy, empathy ,and fear for young Tom grew with each page. I felt hopeless, alienated ,and angry right along with him in his struggle to break free and return to his own beliefs. The novel evoked my fury at the attempt to erase a beautiful culture because it is “different.” I love how relevant this book is, though it was written decades ago. It is a perfect way to blend the past with the present for young students.

When the Legends Die

By Hal Borland,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A young Native American raised in the forest is suddenly thrust into the modern world, in this novel by the author of The Dog Who Came to Stay.
  Thomas Black Bull’s parents forsook the life of a modern reservation and took to ancient paths in the woods, teaching their young son the stories and customs of his ancestors. But Tom’s life changes forever when he loses his father in a tragic accident and his mother dies shortly afterward. When Tom is discovered alone in the forest with only a bear cub as a companion, life becomes difficult. Soon, well-meaning teachers…


Fat Angie

By E.E. Charlton-Trujillo,

Book cover of Fat Angie

Angie’s life is a mess. Her mother constantly taunts her as “Fat Angie.” High school classmates torment her as a “crazy, mad cow,” when she tries to slit her wrists in a high school assembly. Her heroic sister goes MIA during the Iraq War; her older brother treats her badly. Angie just wants to make it through each day until a beautiful new student arrives and befriends her, seeing the hidden beauty in Angie. I was revolted by Angie’s abusive family life and angry at the peer bullying. Where were school authorities? I was relieved when a warm friendship allowed Angie to become happy on her own. Though it seems extreme, I’ve occasionally observed similar situations among my students; the novel is horrifyingly realistic, but it moves in a positive fashion to its end.

Fat Angie

By E.E. Charlton-Trujillo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of a 2014 Stonewall Book Award

Her sister was captured in Iraq, she’s the resident laughingstock at school, and her therapist tells her to count instead of eat. Can a daring new girl in her life really change anything?

Angie is broken — by her can’t-be-bothered mother, by her high-school tormenters, and by being the only one who thinks her varsity-athlete-turned-war-hero sister is still alive. Hiding under a mountain of junk food hasn’t kept the pain (or the shouts of “crazy mad cow!”) away. Having failed to kill herself — in front of a gym full of kids —…


Fat City

By Leonard Gardner,

Book cover of Fat City

I first picked up this novel the year I started boxing. It follows the rough lives of Billy Tully and Ernie Munger, two boxers living in separate but parallel worlds—Tully an aging boxer fooled into thinking he can relive a few more glory days and Munger figuring out the hard lessons of what it means to lose. I love how this novel amplifies people eking out difficult lives who spend most of their time in dive bars, cheap motels, and seedy parts of town engaging with dubious, colorful characters. The writing is sparse, direct, sad, and unsentimental. Here Gardner is always pursuing a tough reality.

Fat City

By Leonard Gardner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Tremendous' Geoff Dyer

'A pitch-perfect account of boxing, blue-collar bewilderment and the battle of the sexes' San Francisco Chronicle

A major cult film directed by John Huston

Stockton, California: a town of dark bars and lunchrooms, cheap hotels and farm labourers scratching a living. When two men meet in the Lido Gym - the ex-boxer Billy Tully and the novice Ernie Munger - their brief sparring session sets a fateful story in motion, initiating young Munger into the "company of men" and luring Tully back into training.

Fat City is a vivid novel of defiance and struggle, of the potent…


Sold Out

By Melody Carlson,

Book cover of Sold Out

The novel Sold Out is a favorite book of mine because Carlson’s main female character, Chloe Miller, forms her own band while struggling early on until they become a hit in their community. Success, however, brings them problems of finding out who their real friends are. Even when the band is discovered by a talent scout from Nashville, conflicts erupt amongst the band members and attitudes start clashing, and Chloe’s dream is falling apart. However, she refuses to give up, and she finds the strength through God and prayer to make the decisions necessary to be proud of her accomplishments. 

Sold Out

By Melody Carlson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Chloe Miller and her fellow band members must sort out their lives as they become a hit in the local community. Accustomed only to being scorned and marginalized, Chloe suddenly has to decide who her real friends are, and who's just along for the ride. Now her generosity gets her in more trouble than ever. And all too soon after a talent scout from Nashville discovers the trio, their explosive musical ministry begins to encounter conflicts with family and school. Exhilarated yet frustrated, Chloe puts her dream in God's hand and prays for Him to work out the details.


Rope Burns

By F.X. Toole,

Book cover of Rope Burns

This is the most beautiful, touching, and emotional book about boxing, penned by a cut man who didn’t stumble into writing until he was in his sixties. Toole’s prose is sharp, lean, commanding, and coming from the mouth of truth. His gritty characters tell it and show it like it is, and it’s Toole’s ability to demonstrate the love trainers have for their boxers and passion for the pursuit of boxing, along with all the big hearts and often unseen vulnerability in the sport, that makes this story collection so open and heavy and heartfelt and breathing and alive.

Rope Burns

By F.X. Toole,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Ring magic is different from the magic of the theatre, because the curtain never comes down - because the blood in the ring is real blood, and the broken noses and the broken hearts are real, and sometimes they are broken forever. Boxing is the magic of men in combat, the magic of will, and skill, and pain, and the risking of everything so you can respect yourself for the rest of your life.'The hermetic world of boxing is notoriously difficult for outsiders to understand, though it has provided a source of fascination to numerous writers, including Norman Mailer, A.J.…


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