10 books like The Secret Game

By Scott Ellsworth,

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

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The Last Shot

By Darcy Frey,

Book cover of The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams

This book is similar to mine, following a team of high school basketball players through a season, but it’s set in an urban environment: Brooklyn’s Coney Island. The boys it focuses on are African-American, the off-court struggles they and their community face (crime, violence, drug use, the lure of the streets, and the corruption of college basketball recruiters) differ from those that challenge the kids in remote Alaska, but the joy and solace they find in the game itself are the same. The writing is terrific—lucidly and intimately bringing to life the four boys whose lives it focuses on.

The Last Shot

By Darcy Frey,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Last Shot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Darcy Frey chronicles the aspirations of four young men as they navigate the NCAA recruitment process, their only hope of escape from a life of crime, poverty, and despair.

It ought to be just a game, but basketball on the playgrounds of Coney Island is much more than that. In The Last Shot, the aspirations of a few of the neighborhood's most promising players reveal that what they have going for them (athletic talent, grace, and years of dedication) may not be enough to defeat what's working against them: woefully inadequate schooling, family circumstances that are often desperate, and the…


The City Game

By Matthew Goodman,

Book cover of The City Game: Triumph, Scandal, and a Legendary Basketball Team

A gripping, fascinating story by Matthew Goodman of the 1949-1950 City College of New York Men's basketball team, the only team in history to win both the NCAA and NIT tournaments in the same season (teams have long since been barred from competing in both). Led by the legendary coach Nat Holman, the 15-man squad of working-class kids comprised 11 Jews and four African Americans. Goodman weaves a tale of corrupt big-city politics, the extraordinary engine of upward mobility that CCNY was mid-century and the tragic downfall of the team, as several of its star players became implicated in a point-shaving scandal the following season, a stain that followed several of those involved for the rest of their lives. 

During their run to the 1950 NIT championship, CCNY played the University of Kentucky, then the two-time defending NCAA champs, barred from playing in the NCAA that year, and at a…

The City Game

By Matthew Goodman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The powerful story of a college basketball team who carried an era’s brightest hopes—racial harmony, social mobility, and the triumph of the underdog—but whose success was soon followed by a shocking downfall

“A masterpiece of American storytelling.”—Gilbert King, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Devil in the Grove

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST SPORTS BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

The unlikeliest of champions, the 1949–50 City College Beavers were extraordinary by every measure. New York’s City College was a tuition-free, merit-based college in Harlem known far more for its intellectual achievements and political radicalism than its…


I Came as a Shadow

By John Thompson, Jesse Washington,

Book cover of I Came as a Shadow: An Autobiography

John Thompson's inspiring and honest account of his life as told to Jesse Washington. The legendary coach grew up in poverty in segregated Washington, DC in the 1950s, and parlayed basketball first into a ticket out of DC to Providence College on a basketball scholarship and then back to DC, as a guidance counselor, then a fill-in high school basketball coach who became a city legend, and then as Georgetown's first Black head basketball coach, when he was hired in 1972. 

Thompson built the Hoyas into a formidable squad by the late 1970s and then, with the arrival of Patrick Ewing on campus in 1981, a dynasty. The Hoyas made the NCAA championship game three times in Ewing's four years, winning it all in 1984. Thompson also emerged as an outspoken and fierce defender of his players and black athletes more generally, fighting the NCAA's efforts to impose SAT minimums…

I Came as a Shadow

By John Thompson, Jesse Washington,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK

The long-awaited autobiography from Georgetown University’s legendary coach, whose life on and off the basketball court throws America’s unresolved struggle with racial justice into sharp relief

John Thompson was never just a basketball coach and I Came As a Shadow is categorically not just a basketball autobiography.

After three decades at the center of race and sports in America, the first Black head coach to win an NCAA championship is ready to make the private public. Chockful of stories and moving beyond mere stats (and what stats! three Final Fours, four times national coach…


The Breaks of the Game

By David Halberstam,

Book cover of The Breaks of the Game

David Halberstam's classic, a chronicle of the Portland Trailblazers during the 1979-80 season. Three years removed from a stunning run to the NBA title, and with their mercurial superstar, Bill Walton, injured and then traded, the Blazers scuffled through the long slog of the season, trying in vain to recapture old glory. The book isn't just a chronicle of a team of interesting characters, though. It's an unflinching look at the cold financial calculus of professional sports and what it means when athletes know that they are, in the end, high-priced and expendable commodities. The book also captures the NBA at a critical inflection point in its history. It became a predominantly black league in the 1970s and its popularity declined to the point that the finals were televised on tape delay. Halberstam, the players and management are acutely aware of the tightrope the sport was compelled to walk as…

The Breaks of the Game

By David Halberstam,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times bestseller, David Halberstam's The Breaks of the Game focuses on one grim season (1979-80) in the life of the Bill Walton-led Portland Trail Blazers, a team that only three years before had been NBA champions.
More than six years after his death David Halberstam remains one of this country's most respected journalists and revered authorities on American life and history in the years since WWII. A Pulitzer Prize-winner for his groundbreaking reporting on the Vietnam War, Halberstam wrote more than 20 books, almost all of them bestsellers. His work has stood the test of time and…


The Sphas

By Doug Stark,

Book cover of The Sphas: The Life and Times of Basketball's Greatest Jewish Team

The little-known story of promoter Eddie Gottlieb’s South Philadelphia Hebrew Association team begins in the 1920s when professional basketball in this country was often played in a cage-encircled court to protect the athletes from the rabid fans in Philly and other cities in the hard-scrabble Eastern League. The unathletic Gottlieb kept the SPHAs at the top of the pack, along with Harlem’s all-Black Renaissance team. The story ends in the 1940s when helped organize the whites-only Basketball Association of American, the forerunner to the NBA. Gottlieb, who coached the original Philadelphia Warriors, spent the last 30 years of his life preparing each NBA season’s schedule by hand with a pencil and a legal pad.

The Sphas

By Doug Stark,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The history of the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association's basketball team and the legends it spawned


Indian Paths of Pennsylvania

By Paul A. W. Wallace,

Book cover of Indian Paths of Pennsylvania

This book is unique because it shows the reader how you can walk in the footsteps and travel like those trekking across Pennsylvania in the early 18th Century where there were no interstates or turnpikes, but instead, indigenous paths that influenced the roadways we know today. It also gave me a visual where I could experience firsthand what a traveler saw when he or she walked this route.

Indian Paths of Pennsylvania

By Paul A. W. Wallace,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Since its original publication in 1965, Indian Paths of Pennsylvania has remained the standard volume for charting the foot trails forged and followed in Pennsylvania by Native Americans, documenting an era of interaction between Indians and European settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries. With the advent of European settlement, the Indian trails that laced the wilderness were so well-situated that there was little reason to forsake them until the age of the automobile. The trails that traverse the mountains “kept the level” so well that they remain an engineering curiosity. Equally as remarkable are the complexity of the system…


Braddock's Defeat

By David L. Preston,

Book cover of Braddock's Defeat: The Battle of the Monongahela and the Road to Revolution

Every author, when writing nonfiction about a particular time period, always hopes that one day readers will read their book and will declare it the best book written on the subject. For me, Dr. Preston’s book was the “mic drop” about a certain disaster in the backwoods of western Pennsylvania in the summer of 1755 that changed the life of a young George Washington and history altogether. His vast research on the battle inspired me to uncover every detail as I began my own journey in writing my first nonfiction book.

Braddock's Defeat

By David L. Preston,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On July 9, 1755, British regulars and American colonial troops under the command of General Edward Braddock, commander in chief of the British Army in North America, were attacked by French and Native American forces shortly after crossing the Monongahela River and while making their way to besiege Fort Duquesne in the Ohio Valley, a few miles from what is now Pittsburgh. The long line of red-coated troops struggled to maintain cohesion and discipline as Indian
warriors quickly outflanked them and used the dense cover of the woods to masterful and lethal effect. Within hours, a powerful British army was…


Crackpots

By Sara Pritchard,

Book cover of Crackpots

I laughed out loud reading Sara Pritchard’s Crackpots, the story of spunky Ruby Reese and her complicated coming-of-age. This book was a huge influence on the structure of my own novel. Pritchard plays with chronology and point of view in a way that made me think, wow, I didn’t know you could do that. And then, ooh, I want to do that. Lyrical, detailed, and hilarious, this ranks as one of my all-time faves.

Crackpots

By Sara Pritchard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When we first meet Ruby Reese she’s a spunky kid in a cowgirl hat, tap dancing her way through a slightly off-kilter 1950s childhood. With an insomniac mother and a demolitions-expert father, her entire family is what the residents of her small town would call "a bunch of crackpots." Despite the dramas of her upbringing, Ruby matures into a creative, introspective, and wholly beguiling woman. But her adulthood is marked by complex relationships and romantic missteps -- three unsuitable marriages, dramatic crushes, the complicated love between siblings. As Sara Pritchard deftly guides us through Ruby's story, from the present to…


Fragile Beasts

By Tawni O'Dell,

Book cover of Fragile Beasts

I liked this book so much, I read it twice. What made it so good? O’Dell’s mastery of creating “real” people. I cared about them. I wanted to be in the story with them such was the power of her writing—a captivating story with an unusual set of characters, their lives intersecting in unexpected ways. Spain, the US, bulls and bullfighters, an old lady, a couple of teen brothers, a dysfunctional family, love and hate, baseball…

Fragile Beasts

By Tawni O'Dell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When their hard-drinking, but loving, father dies in a car accident, teenage brothers Kyle and Klint Hayes face a bleak prospect: leaving their Pennsylvania hometown for an uncertain life in Arizona with the mother who ran out on them years ago. But in a strange twist of fate, their town’s matriarch, an eccentric, wealthy old woman whose family once owned the county coal mines, hears the boys’ story. Candace Jack doesn’t have an ounce of maternal instinct, yet for reasons she does not even understand herself, she is compelled to offer them a home.

Suddenly, the two boys go from…


Woods Runner

By Gary Paulsen,

Book cover of Woods Runner

What an exciting tale! I've done lots of research about life on the American frontier during the Revolutionary War, but Gary Paulsen provided information that was new to me about British attacks on small frontier villages and prison ships anchored in New York Harbor. I couldn't stop reading. The author alternated the fiction story with nonfiction segments providing further explanation. Rather than interrupt the reading, they enhanced it, elevating the excitement I felt as Samuel searched for his missing parents.

Woods Runner

By Gary Paulsen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Samuel, 13, spends his days in the forest, hunting for food for his family. He has grown up on the frontier of a British colony, America. Far from any town, or news of the war against the King that American patriots have begun near Boston.

But the war comes to them. British soldiers and Iroquois attack. Samuel’s parents are taken away, prisoners. Samuel follows, hiding, moving silently, determined to find a way to rescue them. Each day he confronts the enemy, and the tragedy and horror of this war. But he also discovers allies, men and women working secretly for…


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