10 books like The Sweet Science

By A.J. Liebling,

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

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Harold Larwood

By Duncan Hamilton,

Book cover of Harold Larwood

Best start with a cracker. Harold Larwood was the best fast bowler England ever produced. Three times winner of the William Hill Prize, Duncan Hamilton has claim to be the best sports writer. In the famous ‘Bodyline’ tests with Australia in 1933, standing 5’ 7” and 11 stone wet-through, Larwood the Nottinghamshire coalminer intimidated Bradman, ‘The Don’, the world’s greatest batsman. Chapter one is called ‘Kicking Bradman Up the Arse’ but the writing, like the bowling, rises to the occasion: “At full speed, Larwood flowed like a bolt of pure silk”.

Harold Larwood

By Duncan Hamilton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year, this is the first ever biography of Harold Larwood. Larwood, one of the most talented, accurate and intimidating fast bowlers of all time is mainly remembered for his role in the infamous Bodyline series of 1932-3 which brought Anglo-Australian diplomatic relations to the brink of collapse. Larwood was made the scapegoat - and despite the fact he was simply following his captain's instructions, he never played cricket for England again. Devastated by this betrayal, he eventually emigrated to Australia, where he was accepted by the country that had once despised…


Pierce Egan's Book of Sports, and Mirror of Life

By Pierce Egan,

Book cover of Pierce Egan's Book of Sports, and Mirror of Life

Sub-titled ‘embracing The Turf, The Chase, The Ring and The Stage’ and published in 1832, this book gives you a real taste of what old-time ‘sport’ was all about. Anything amusing! Even better, because it was written by the first great sporting journalist, this is the book that takes you there. You can smell the stables and taste the claret. In the year of Rachael Blackmore, for instance, check out “The Gallant Spirited Race, at Knavesmire, in Yorks, 4 miles for 500 or 1000 guineas, between The Late Col Thornton’s Lady and Mr. Flint…a lasting moment of FEMALE INTREPIDITY”. Irresistible.

Pierce Egan's Book of Sports, and Mirror of Life

By Pierce Egan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pierce Egan's Book of Sports, and Mirror of Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.

Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. To ensure a quality reading experience, this work has been…


Fever Pitch

By Nick Hornby,

Book cover of Fever Pitch

There has to be a football book in the list and it was a toss-up between this and the other This Sporting Life (1960), David Storey’s magnificent novel about northern rugby league. But Hornby edges it because he is writing about being a fan and god knows being a fan gets little enough attention in sport writing. Admittedly, it is about Arsenal but I’m just going to have to live with that because Highbury was a lovely ground and Hornby is smart enough to know that sport is about everything in life but money.

Fever Pitch

By Nick Hornby,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book, chronicled from the perspective of a fanatical ten-year-old soccer fan, through disillusioned adolescence, to an adult "who should know better", examines the absurdities, idiosyncrasies and traumas of everyday life and football. While Chelsea were undoubtedly the football team at the heart of fashionable London in the late 1960s, it proved to be the quiet backstreets around Highbury and Finsbury Park which led a sombre schoolboy from Maidenhead into a 20-year obsession with football, and Arsenal FC in particular. Nick Hornby became hooked after seeing Arsenal beat Stoke City (1-0 from a penalty rebound) in 1968. 24 years later…


Sport and the British

By Richard Holt,

Book cover of Sport and the British: A Modern History

Before Holt, the history of the British and their relationship with sport was just a muddy field with some green patches near the press box. Then Holt came along to drain the land, roll the turf, and set the boundaries. Most of all, he explained how modern sport was invented in the leafy streets of the suburban South and the wastes and alleyways of the industrial North. An absolute classic. First published in 1990, a new edition is on its way.

Sport and the British

By Richard Holt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This lively and deeply researched history - the first of its kind - goes beyond the great names and moments to explain how British sport has changed since 1800, and what it has meant to ordinary people. It shows how the way we play reflects not just our lives as citizens of a predominantly urban and industrial world, but what is especially distinctive about British sport. Innovators in abandoning traditional, often brutal sports, and in establishing a code of `fair
play', the British were also pioneers in popular sports and in the promotion of organized spectator events.

Modern media coverage…


Boxing's Greatest Fighters

By Bert Randolph Sugar,

Book cover of Boxing's Greatest Fighters

"Who was/is the best...?" Perhaps in no sport is the question more asked and argued over than in boxing. And in boxing perhaps none is more qualified to answer the question than Bert Randolph Sugar. And while some fans may express outrage that Rocky Marciano barely makes the top twenty, and Marvin Hagler staggers into the top seventy-five, others will nod eagerly when they read that Harry Greb and Benny Leonard were better than just about anybody. Every fight fan on the planet, and maybe other planets as well, is familiar with the work of this prolific pugilistic pundit whose publications not only inform but entertain as well. Yep, it was Bert who put the Sugar in the sweet science!

Boxing's Greatest Fighters

By Bert Randolph Sugar,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Easily the most enduring of all sports questions is "Who was/is the best . . . ?" Perhaps in no sport is the question more asked and argued over than in boxing. And in boxing perhaps none is more qualified to answer the question than Bert Randolph Sugar.In Boxing's Greatest Fighters, not only does the former publisher of Ring Magazine tell us who the best fighters were, he lists them in order.Could Sugar Ray Robinson have beaten Muhammad Ali? Could Sugar Ray Leonard have beaten Sonny Liston? The answer, most experts agree, would be "no." But what if, as Bert…


On Boxing

By Joyce Carol Oates,

Book cover of On Boxing

This gifted author I have yet to meet but do hope our paths will cross before the final bell. Oates published her first book in 1963, and has since published over 50 novels, several plays and novellas, and many volumes of short stories, poetry, and non-fiction. Her novels Black Water (1992), What I Lived For (1994), and Blonde (2000), and her short story collections The Wheel of Love (1970) and Lovely, Dark, Deep: Stories (2014) were each a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Her personal, yet insightful, view of the sport will resonate with every fan of the sweet science.

On Boxing

By Joyce Carol Oates,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Joyce Carol Oates explores the world of professional boxing, examining the subject from many angles: boxing as metaphor, spectacle and history, boxing as seen in literature and film and by women. The author chronicles many famous figures such as Jack Dempsey, Barry McGuigan, Joe Louis and others. She also looks beyond the ring at the links between violence and racism and at how boxing vindicates disenfranchised youth. Joyce Carol Oates is also author of the novel "Marya: A Life".


Sam Langford

By Clay Moyle,

Book cover of Sam Langford: Boxing's Greatest Uncrowned Champion

Standing no more than five feet, seven inches; tall, Sam Langford was one of the 20th century's greatest fighters. In this biography, his life story is told in great and entertaining detail. Sam was a great black prizefighter in an era when the color line was easily cited by white opponents wanting to avoid meeting him in the ring. The Ring magazine editor Nat Fleischer ranked Langford among his favorites, stating, "Sam possessed strength, agility, cleverness, hitting power, a good thinking cap, and an abundance of courage. He feared no one." This comprehensive biography brings to light Sam Langford's remarkable talents and life thanks to author Clay Moyle. Having known Moyle for years, I can speak to his passion for the sport and his commitment to quality.


Sam Langford

By Clay Moyle,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A compelling and thorough biography of the great Sam Langford.
Standing no more than 5’ 7” tall, Sam Langford was one of the 20th century’s greatest fighters. In 1951, the great featherweight champion Abe Attell was asked if Sugar Ray Robinson was the best of all time, either as a welterweight or middleweight. He named Stanley Ketchel as the greatest welterweight he’d ever seen and said that, as for the middleweights, he’d take Sam Langford, “the greatest of them all at that poundage.”
Remarkably, the man Attell felt was the greatest middleweight fighter in history fought and defeated many of…


The First Black Boxing Champions

By Colleen Aycock (editor), Mark Scott (editor),

Book cover of The First Black Boxing Champions: Essays on Fighters of the 1800s to the 1920s

This volume presents fifteen chapters of biography of African American and black champions and challengers of the early prize ring. They range from Tom Molineaux, a slave who won freedom and fame in the ring in the early 1800s; to Joe Gans, the first African American world champion; to the flamboyant Jack Johnson, deemed such a threat to white society that the film of his defeat of former champion and "Great White Hope" Jim Jeffries was banned across much of the country. Aycock and Scott construct a vivid and unambiguous view of the sport which is often forgotten. A gifted and prolific author, Aycock has also produced masterful works on Max Baer, Joe Gans, and Tex Rickard.

The First Black Boxing Champions

By Colleen Aycock (editor), Mark Scott (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This volume presents fifteen chapters of biography of African American and black champions and challengers of the early prize ring. They range from Tom Molineaux, a slave who won freedom and fame in the ring in the early 1800s; to Joe Gans, the first African American world champion; to the flamboyant Jack Johnson, deemed such a threat to white society that film of his defeat of former champion and "Great White Hope" Jim Jeffries was banned across much of the country. Photographs, period drawings, cartoons, and fight posters enhance the biographies. Round-by-round coverage of select historic fights is included, as…


The Fight

By Norman Mailer,

Book cover of The Fight

One of the best sports books ever written? Judge for yourself, but I think it is certainly among the best. Even if you don’t like boxing or martial arts, you’ll enjoy this eminently readable book about “the rumble in the jungle” in Zaire between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, two heroic athletes in conflict. Although there are moments of self-deprecating humor and Mailer’s usual philosophical concerns, Mailer focuses squarely on the two athletes, their training camps and trainers, the people around them, and the experience of being in Africa. And then of course there is the fight itself, described in vivid and inventive detail that I found is as riveting to other readers as it is to me. The philosophical/metaphysical concerns here are part and parcel of those Mailer developed through his sixty years as a writer, but they are introduced in an easily digestible style and seem to me…

The Fight

By Norman Mailer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From one of the major innovators of New Journalism, Norman Mailer's The Fight is the real-life story of a clash between two of the world's greatest boxers, both in and out of the ring, published in Penguin Modern Classics.

Norman Mailer's The Fight focuses on the 1974 World Heavyweight Boxing Championship in Kinshasa, Zaire. Muhammad Ali met George Foreman in the ring. Foreman's genius employed silence, serenity and cunning. He had never been defeated. His hands were his instrument, and 'he kept them in his pockets the way a hunter lays his rifle back into its velvet case'. Together the…


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.…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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