100 books like The Happiest Girl in the World

By Alena Dillon,

Here are 100 books that The Happiest Girl in the World fans have personally recommended if you like The Happiest Girl in the World. 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 We Ride Upon Sticks

Marsheila Rockwell Author Of Sisters of Sorcery

From my list on contemporary fantasy about witches.

Who am I?

I learned to read when I was three and the first book I remember reading was Ozma of Oz, which featured some great witches (even though they weren’t called that). I’ve been fascinated by women using magic to change the world around them ever since, and books about witches have remained a staple of my reading diet. As an adult, I learned more about the theory and practice of witchcraft and even spent some time in a coven. These days, I guess you’d call me more of a hedgewitch; I maintain no formal practice, just try to live in “a good way” like my Ojibwe ancestors taught.

Marsheila's book list on contemporary fantasy about witches

Marsheila Rockwell Why did Marsheila love this book?

YA books about witches promise teen angst, magic, and mayhem, and Barry’s book does not disappoint.

One thing that really makes Barry’s book stand out is the unique POV she uses. The girls on the 1989 Danvers High School Women’s Varsity Field Hockey Team sign their names in a notebook, initiating a spell to make their team finally start winning.

After that, they become a new entity, which is both all of them and something else entirely – the winning team. Or is it?

Barry’s POV places us in the minds of all the girls at the same time, but instead of being confusing, it makes the magic come to life on the page. GenXers (like me) who were in sports/music programs will particularly enjoy this one.

By Quan Barry,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked We Ride Upon Sticks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the town of Danvers, Massachusetts, home of the original 1692 witch trials, the 1989 Danvers Falcons will do anything to make it to the state finals—even if it means tapping into some devilishly dark powers.

Against a background of irresistible 1980s iconography, Quan Barry expertly weaves together the individual and collective progress of this enchanted team as they storm their way through an unforgettable season.
 
Helmed by good-girl captain Abby Putnam (a descendant of the infamous Salem accuser Ann Putnam) and her co-captain Jen Fiorenza (whose bleached blond “Claw” sees and knows all), the Falcons prove to be wily,…


Book cover of A Team of Their Own: How an International Sisterhood Made Olympic History

Elise Hooper Author Of Fast Girls: A Novel of the 1936 Women's Olympic Team

From my list on inspirational women athletes.

Who am I?

My novels explore women whose contributions to culture have been relegated to the footnotes of mainstream history books, and in few areas have women been more overlooked than in sports. Because of the achievements of today’s female athletes, ranging from the many athletic opportunities available to our young daughters to the professional success of women like Serena Williams, it’s easy to think that progress for women’s sports has come a long way—and in many ways, it has, thanks to legislative protections like Title IX—but these achievements reflect over a century’s worth of sacrifice by many unheralded women athletes. Here are five books that highlight this journey.

Elise's book list on inspirational women athletes

Elise Hooper Why did Elise love this book?

A couple of weeks before the 2018 Olympics opened in Pyeongchang, an unlikely women’s South Korean hockey team hastily took shape. Why unlikely? Its roster, bolstered with women of Korean descent from the United States and Canada, suddenly added players from North Korea. Like most sports books, this isn’t really about sports; it’s about identity, belonging, sisterhood, and culture. Miracles on ice can take many forms.

By Seth Berkman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A December Stephen Curry Book Club Pick

One of ESPN’s 25 Can’t Miss Books of 2019

“A feel-good story.”—New York Times Book Review

“This isn’t simply a sports book. Rather, it’s a book about inspiring and courageous women who just happened to be hockey players.”—Korea Times

The inspiring, unlikely story of the American, Canadian, South Korean and even North Korean women who joined together to form Korea’s first Olympic ice hockey team.

Two weeks before the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics, South Korea’s women’s hockey team was forced into a predicament that no president, ambassador or general had…


Book cover of Young Woman and the Sea: How Trudy Ederle Conquered the English Channel and Inspired the World

Elise Hooper Author Of Fast Girls: A Novel of the 1936 Women's Olympic Team

From my list on inspirational women athletes.

Who am I?

My novels explore women whose contributions to culture have been relegated to the footnotes of mainstream history books, and in few areas have women been more overlooked than in sports. Because of the achievements of today’s female athletes, ranging from the many athletic opportunities available to our young daughters to the professional success of women like Serena Williams, it’s easy to think that progress for women’s sports has come a long way—and in many ways, it has, thanks to legislative protections like Title IX—but these achievements reflect over a century’s worth of sacrifice by many unheralded women athletes. Here are five books that highlight this journey.

Elise's book list on inspirational women athletes

Elise Hooper Why did Elise love this book?

These days Gertrude Ederle is unfamiliar to many of us, but a century ago she was an athletic champion whose celebrity rivaled Babe Ruth’s. In 1926, two years after winning three medals at the Paris Olympics, she became the first woman to swim the English Channel, an amazing feat of endurance and perseverance that took 14 hours and 37 minutes, a time almost two hours faster than the speediest of the five men who had gone before her. Along with recreating Ederle’s harrowing Channel journey in vivid detail, renowned sportswriter Glenn Stout infuses life back into Ederle and shows us why President Coolidge called her “America’s Best Girl.”

By Glenn Stout,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The exhilarating true story of Trudy Ederle, the first woman to swim the English Channel, and inspire a "wave of confidence and emancipation" for women in sports (Parade).

By age twenty, at the height of the Jazz Age, Trudy Ederle was the most accomplished swimmer in the world. She'd won Olympic gold and set a host of world records. But the greatest challenge remained: the English Channel. Only a few swimmers, none of them women, had ever made the treacherous twenty-one mile crossing. Trudy's failed first attempt seemed to confirm what many naysayers believed: No woman could possibly accomplish such…


Book cover of Tigerbelle: The Wyomia Tyus Story

Elise Hooper Author Of Fast Girls: A Novel of the 1936 Women's Olympic Team

From my list on inspirational women athletes.

Who am I?

My novels explore women whose contributions to culture have been relegated to the footnotes of mainstream history books, and in few areas have women been more overlooked than in sports. Because of the achievements of today’s female athletes, ranging from the many athletic opportunities available to our young daughters to the professional success of women like Serena Williams, it’s easy to think that progress for women’s sports has come a long way—and in many ways, it has, thanks to legislative protections like Title IX—but these achievements reflect over a century’s worth of sacrifice by many unheralded women athletes. Here are five books that highlight this journey.

Elise's book list on inspirational women athletes

Elise Hooper Why did Elise love this book?

In this memoir, Wyomia Tyus tells of her journey from Georgia as a sharecropper’s daughter to how she landed a coveted spot on the Tennessee State women’s track and field team, the Tigerbelles, and her domination in Olympic sprinting during the 1960s, a reign that included three gold medals and one silver. The story of Tyus and the Tigerbelles has been likened to a sports version of Hidden Figures and the comparison is apt. Though Tyus and her teammates never graced the cover of a Wheaties box or Sports Illustrated, these African-American women became an unparalleled force in track and field, breaking barriers and setting records, and challenging the racism and sexism of their era.

By Wyomia Tyus, Elizabeth Terzakis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Finalist for the Track and Field Writers of America’s 2018 Armory Foundation Book Award

"Tyus proves as winning a storyteller as she was a runner...The 'a' in Wyomia is silent, but thankfully, the woman who owns that name is not."
--New York Times Book Review

"Tigerbelle offers a fresh perspective on the history of women's sports in the United States. From her one-of-a-kind accomplishments on the track to her contributions to equal pay and publicity for women through the Women's Sports Foundation, Wyomia Tyus has earned her place in the pantheon of American sports sheroes and heroes."
--Billie Jean King…


Book cover of Sidelined: Sports, Culture, and Being a Woman in America

Ed Southern Author Of Fight Songs: A Story of Love and Sports in a Complicated South

From my list on root, root, root for the home team.

Who am I?

As I write in Fight Songs, my name has nothing to do with it: It refers to a geography an ocean away, and predates any notion of the American South (or of America, for that matter). I have spent most of my life in the South, though, loving football, basketball, and other sports that didn’t always love me back. I became curious about why they’ve come to play such an outsized role in our culture. Why did my home state come to a standstill for a basketball tournament? Why does my wife’s home state shut down for a football game? Writing Fight Songs was one way of exploring those questions. Reading these books was another.

Ed's book list on root, root, root for the home team

Ed Southern Why did Ed love this book?

I just don’t get why some males are so threatened by women who love sports. I mean, I get it, but I don’t get it. I thought meeting and marrying a fellow football fan was hitting the jackpot: What could be better than a spouse who wants to spend our anniversaries road-tripping to away games?

This book is a harrowing and infuriating journey through the insecurities of the American male, which you should never underestimate. Far too many of my fellow sports fans need to get their hearts right.

By Julie DiCaro,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Sidelined is the feminist sports book we've all been waiting for.”
—Jessica Valenti

Shrill meets Brotopia in this personal and researched look at women's rights and issues through the lens of sports, from an award-winning sports journalist and women's advocate

In a society that is digging deep into the misogyny underlying our traditions and media, the world of sports is especially fertile ground. From casual sexism, like condescending coverage of women’s pro sports, to more serious issues, like athletes who abuse their partners and face only minimal consequences, this area of our culture is home to a vast swath of…


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

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 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." 

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…


Book cover of Women's Sports: What Everyone Needs to Know

Wray Vamplew Author Of Games People Played: A Global History of Sports

From my list on history books to find out why sport matters.

Who am I?

I love sport. I played my last game of cricket when I was 69 and, as I approach my eightieth year, I continue to play golf, confusing my partners by switching from right to left hand when chipping and putting. I like watching sport but prefer to spectate via television rather than being there. I confess I do not fully understand American sports: I cannot fathom why a hit over the fence in baseball can score 1, 2, 3, or 4 rather than the undisputed 6 of cricket; and, while I admire the strategies of American football, I wonder why a ‘touchdown’ does not actually involve touching down.

Wray's book list on history books to find out why sport matters

Wray Vamplew Why did Wray love this book?

Another dark side of sport is the position it accords women. In this accessible (but not dumbed down) work, American academic Jaime Schultz provides an overview of how women have fared over the years. Her approach is to pose a set of questions that are answered within chapters covering, for example, occupational opportunities, sex segregation (not, I would emphasise, in my bowls team), sexualities, female health, and the media. I admire Jaime for her determination to give women’s sport its rightful place not only in sports history but in contemporary society. She also deserves kudos when, though a young scholar, she challenged my views on methodology in sports history.

By Jaime Schultz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Although girls and women account for approximately 40 percent of all athletes in the United States, they receive only 4 percent of the total sport media coverage. SportsCenter, ESPN's flagship program, dedicates less than 2 percent of its airtime to women. Local news networks devote less than 5 percent of their programming to women's sports. Excluding Sports Illustrated's annual "Swimsuit Issue," women appear on just 4.9 percent of the magazine's
covers.

Media is a powerful indication of the culture surrounding sport in the United States. Why are women underrepresented in sports media? Sports Illustrated journalist Andy Benoit infamously remarked that…


Book cover of Break the Fall

Emma Kress Author Of Dangerous Play

From my list on YA featuring badass sporty girls.

Who am I?

I adore books about sporty badass girls. Yet, when I first began to write Dangerous Play, there were few young-adult novels featuring fierce sporty girls. Of those, there were fewer which portrayed the powerful friendships that can emerge on girls’ sports teams. I want to read and write about girls who are defined by more than their love interests, who are dogged in the pursuit of their goals. In a world that so often judges girls by how their bodies look, sports offers an arena in which girls can view and value their bodies in an alternative way. And who doesn’t love to cheer for someone who beats the odds? 

Emma's book list on YA featuring badass sporty girls

Emma Kress Why did Emma love this book?

I inhaled Break the Fall, set in the world of elite gymnastics. After an injury, Audrey is not only ready to return to gymnastics but does the impossible thing of qualifying for the Olympics. Finally, she’s on the cusp of achieving all that she’s dreamed of and trained for all these years. Everything unravels, however, when their coach is accused of sexual assault. Iacopelli does a gorgeous job capturing all of the highs and lows of this story, as well as the intensity of elite athletics. While we don’t typically think of gymnastics as a team sport, I was especially appreciative of the way Iacopelli showed the girls standing up for each other as a team, which is rare in YA girls’ sports books. 

By Jennifer Iacopelli,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A fiercely told survivorship novel about one girl's determination to push her body to win gold at the Olympics, and the power of uniting as women to speak out.

The only thing seventeen-year-old Audrey Lee dreams about is swinging her way to Olympic glory. Nothing is going to stop her, not even the agony in her back. Every spasm and ache will be worth it once she has that gold medal around her neck.

But none of her training prepares her for her coach being led away in handcuffs, accused by a fellow gymnast of the unthinkable. No one knows…


Book cover of Gold

F.J. Campbell Author Of No Number Nine

From my list on fiction with sporty characters.

Who am I?

I was born in England but have also lived in Germany and Switzerland. I’m not – and never have been – an elite sportsperson, but I'm fascinated by the sporting world and in particular, how young people who are into sports cope with the pressures of growing up and dealing with the successes and failures of sports. I love playing sports and watching it, in particular the Olympics and Paralympics, because of the drama, the tension, the soaring highs of winning, and the miserable lows of losing. The books that I've chosen hooked me in and kept me turning their pages because they’re gripping stories with irresistible (sporty) characters in inspiring settings.

F.J.'s book list on fiction with sporty characters

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

This is a book I found out about when I was researching and writing my own book. It follows the story of three British cyclists, Zoe, Kate, and Jack, as they train for Olympic glory. Cleave writes about the glorious excitement of the sport, the brutal pain of training, and the hard choices these athletes have to make and his characters are unforgettable. 

Gold helped me realise that you can write a book that weaves sport into a story about love, friendship, loyalty, and grief. Gold was a great inspiration to me!

By Chris Cleave,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The extraordinary third novel from Chris Cleave, author of the internationally bestselling, Costa-shortlisted THE OTHER HAND.

Kate and Zoe are friends but also ardent rivals - athletes at the top of their game, fighting to compete in the world's greatest sporting contest. Each scarred by tragedy, and each with a great deal to lose, they must choose between family and glory and ask themselves: what will I sacrifice?

GOLD captures the extraordinary effort and dedication that go into the pursuit of victory. But this life-affirming novel is about more than sport. It is about human endurance, motherhood and love, and…


Book cover of Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX: The Law That Changed the Future of Girls in America

Barbara Carroll Roberts Author Of Nikki on the Line

From my list on girls who love sports.

Who am I?

I was a very active kid – the kind of kid who was constantly told to sit still and be quiet. Growing up in the 1960s, I had few opportunities to engage in athletics, other than neighborhood games of tag and kick-the-can. But when I got to high school, our school district had just begun offering competitive sports for girls. Finally, my energy and athletic ability were appreciated (at least by my coaches and teammates). So I guess it was inevitable that when I began writing books for young readers, I would start with a book about a girl who loves sports.

Barbara's book list on girls who love sports

Barbara Carroll Roberts Why did Barbara love this book?

Today’s young readers can’t believe that when I was in high school, our basketball team was only allowed in the gym when the boys weren’t using it. They can’t believe there was a time when people thought girls shouldn’t play competitive sports. But really, who could believe it? Who could believe it would take an act of Congress – the 1972 law known as Title IX – to guarantee girls and women the right to equal opportunities in every academic field and in athletics? I love this book because it tells the story of Title IX, a law that mandated academic equity for girls and women, and changed the world for girls who love sports. 

By Karen Blumenthal,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Let Me Play 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?

Can girls play softball? Can girls be school crossing guards? Can girls become lawyers or doctors or engineers? Of course they can... today. But just a few decades ago, opportunities for girls were far more limited, not because they weren't capable or didn't want to, but because they weren't allowed to. Ages 8-12.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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