The most recommended books about football players

Who picked these books? Meet our 16 experts.

16 authors created a book list connected to football players, and here are their favorite football player books.
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What type of football player book?


Mind and Matter

By John Urschel, Louisa Thomas,

Book cover of Mind and Matter: A Life in Math and Football

Richard Hoshino Author Of The Math Olympian

From the list on mathematics and life.

Who am I?

I have devoted my entire career to mathematics, and have a life filled with meaning and purpose through my roles as an educator, researcher, and consultant. I teach at the Vancouver campus of Northeastern University and am the owner and principal of Hoshino Math Services, a boutique math consulting firm. 

Richard's book list on mathematics and life

Why did Richard love this book?

John Urschel is an African-American mathematician specializing in graph theory, who recently completed his Ph.D. in mathematics at MIT. But he is better known for his football career, as a starting offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens. Six of Urschel’s papers were completed while he was still in the National Football League.

Mind and Matter is John Urschel’s memoir, co-authored with his wife Louisa Thomas. Each chapter alternates between football and mathematics, and how his success on the field translated to success in the classroom, and vice-versa. I loved how accessible the book is, for readers of all ages, and I fully agree with the author’s perspective that mathematics gives us a way of making sense of the world, and helping us see past the confusion of everyday life.

By John Urschel, Louisa Thomas,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times bestseller

John Urschel, mathematician and former offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens, tells the story of a life balanced between two passions

For John Urschel, what began as an insatiable appetite for puzzles as a child developed into mastery of the elegant systems and rules of mathematics. By the time he was thirteen, Urschel was auditing a college-level calculus course. But when he joined his high school football team, a new interest began to eclipse the thrill he felt in the classroom. Football challenged Urschel in an entirely different way, and he became addicted to the…

The Mosquito Bowl

By Buzz Bissinger,

Book cover of The Mosquito Bowl: A Game of Life and Death in World War II

David Head Author Of A Republic of Scoundrels: The Schemers, Intriguers, and Adventurers Who Created a New American Nation

From David's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Historian Husband Father Florida man

David's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, David's 6-year-old's favorite books.

Why did David love this book?

Twenty years ago, I read Buzz Bissinger's high school football classic Friday Night Lights, and I've read everything he's published ever since.

At first, it appeared The Mosquito Bowl, the name refers to a game played between two Marine units on Guadalcanal at the end of 1944, would be another sports rouser with WWII as the backdrop. 

I quickly realized I had it backward. It's the story of young men at war: the families and dreams they left behind and the suffering they endured before, for far too many, death came for them, suddenly, painfully, senselessly.

Ultimately, it's not a sports book or even a WWII book. It's a profound meditation on the short lives of young men who go to war at any time. The cruelty of so many lives cut short was unfathomable. It hurt to read.

By Buzz Bissinger,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Instant New York Times Bestseller * Winner of the General Wallace M. Greene Jr. Award from the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation

"Buzz Bissinger's Friday Night Lights is an American classic. With The Mosquito Bowl, he is back with a true story even more colorful and profound. This book too is destined to become a classic. I devoured it." - John Grisham

An extraordinary, untold story of the Second World War in the vein of Unbroken and The Boys in the Boat, from the author of Friday Night Lights and Three Nights in August.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, college…

This Heart of Mine

By Susan Elizabeth Phillips,

Book cover of This Heart of Mine

Amiee Smith Author Of Love Sounds

From the list on steamy romance to make you stay up all night.

Who am I?

I love the art of writing romance fiction. I’m a character-driven author. My stories are contemporary romance with steam, humor, and diversity. I run my business from my living room. When I'm not writing and telling people about my books, I run another online business. Read lots. Watch tons of series. Drink coffee and wine. Listen to music. Cook comforting vegetarian meals. Say prayers, meditate, and light candles. Text with my girlfriends. And try to squeeze in a walk and a shower. My sexy little stories are my attempt at keeping someone up all night. May you always feel loved, seen, and heard. The Smart Girl Mafia Series books 1-4 are currently available. 

Amiee's book list on steamy romance to make you stay up all night

Why did Amiee love this book?

A funny contemporary romance that I skipped worked because I stay up all night reading it. The heroine is a smart and quirky children’s book author and the hero is the hottest of a hot football star. They find themselves having to work at a summer camp after a potentially scandalous hookup. This is one of my favorite authors and a true master of happily-ever-after storytelling. 

By Susan Elizabeth Phillips,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Susan Elizabeth Phillips is the gold standard for women's fiction - an award-winning, bestselling phenomenon whose talent for blending laughs and tears with heartfelt, passionate, ingeniously conceived romance has made her one of America's most loved authors. The Phillips magic is vibrantly alive and on display in her long-awaited e-book debut.

Molly Somerville knows she has a reputation for trouble. She did give away her fifteen-million-dollar inheritance, but, hey, nobody's perfect.

Still, if anyone has an almost perfect life, it's Molly. While her Daphne the Bunny children's books could be selling better, she loves her cramped loft, her French poodle,…


By Alexa Martin,

Book cover of Intercepted

Brooke Bentley Author Of Sideline Confidential

From the list on sports for women.

Who am I?

As a little girl I dreamed of becoming a sports reporter. I loved to write and spent most of my free time playing or watching sports. I earned an academic-athletic scholarship to Davidson College to play volleyball and went on to receive my master’s in journalism from the University of Southern California. After landing a job as media personality with the Houston Texans, I thought my career would skyrocket to national television. But I quickly learned that the world of sports journalism is anything but predictable. As I balanced motherhood and a career in sports reporting, I realized the most fascinating stories were the ones being created inside my own head.

Brooke's book list on sports for women

Why did Brooke love this book?

I was querying my manuscript to an agent, and she suggested Intercepted as a comp title.

I devoured it in two days. Marlee Harper is fresh off a breakup with a jerk NFL receiver. She’s sworn off players and the ruthless wives and girlfriends (WAGs) who surround them. Enter the team’s new star quarterback Gavin Pope, a fling from Marlee’s past who is ready to woo her.

Intercepted plays the genre of sports romance perfectly. The writing is witty. Marlee is relatable, possessing the flaws and sass that make you root for her. And the steaminess factor is high, proving that sports books can be sexy in all the right ways. 

By Alexa Martin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Marlee Harper is the perfect girlfriend. She's definitely had enough practice by dating her NFL-star boyfriend for the last ten years. But when she discovers he has been tackling other women on the sly, she vows to never date an athlete again. There's just one problem: Gavin Pope, the new hotshot quarterback, has Marlee in his sights.�Gavin fights to show Marlee he's nothing like her ex. But not everyone is ready to let her escape her past, and when the gossip makes Marlee public enemy number one, she worries about more than just her reputation.�It will take a Hail Mary…

Broken Knight

By L.J. Shen,

Book cover of Broken Knight

Diana Nixon Author Of All My Nevers

From the list on teen depression and adulting.

Who am I?

First of all, I’m an incurable addict to dark romance novels. Why stories for teens specifically? Well, I’m a mom of two girls and I never stop thinking about their future, including their high school years that are always filled with worries, problems, and self-judging issues. Teens are always vulnerable and it’s important to teach them how to overcome their problems and show them why it’s important to rely on their families and be there for their friends when they need them. As well as to help them realize that material things are not the only values in life to hold on to. 

Diana's book list on teen depression and adulting

Why did Diana love this book?

A fantastic story about love at a young age that reveals so many aspects of life teens are fighting for when away from home, the scars they hide from their parents, and the pain they try to heal with forbidden addictions. I highly recommend this book not just for teens but also for their parents who sometimes seem to fail to right key to their children's hearts and minds. Because despite everything the youth go against when growing up, they still need to know that the main strength of their life is their family. 

By L.J. Shen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Everyone needs to read this book. I’m certain you won’t feel a single regret. " - Harloe Rae, USA Today Bestselling author.From USA Today and Washington Post bestselling author L.J. Shen comes a new, standalone romance about first loves, betrayal and loss.Not all love stories are written the same way. Ours had torn chapters, missing paragraphs, and a bittersweet ending.Luna Rexroth is everyone’s favorite wallflower.Sweet.Caring.Charitable.Quiet.Fake.Underneath the meek, tomboy exterior everyone loves (yet pities) is a girl who knows exactly what, and who, she wants—namely, the boy from the treehouse who taught her how to curse in sign language.Who taught her…

Deal Breaker

By Harlan Coben,

Book cover of Deal Breaker

Janet Fix Author Of The Broken Soul

From the list on intriguing whodunits.

Who am I?

Writer, reader, editor, reviewer, publisher… those are all parts of me. With a lifetime of experience in the “words” industry, I have a pretty good handle on what makes a book not just good, but hot. I say this with the understanding that each reader brings their own histories to the reading experience, and what one person may like, another may not. Nonetheless, I offer you my professional and personal favorites in the mystery/thriller/suspense categories. It is my sincere hope that you find these books as addictive as I’d found them. Superb and clever writing, engaging characters, unpredictable plots—yes, please! Though I occasionally step outside my comfort zone, I'm consistently drawn back to these categories. 

Janet's book list on intriguing whodunits

Why did Janet love this book?

With this book began my true passion for mystery/thriller novels. I willingly tumbled through all the books Coben has written in this series with Myron Bolitar and his lofty sidekick, Win (Windsor Horne Lockwood III). Coben’s clever writing style and sports references captured my interest… and my reading heart for all the years that followed this. I simply couldn’t get enough of it. Still can’t! Coben is a master of words. 

By Harlan Coben,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The truth can get you killed... A stunning thriller from the SUNDAY TIMES bestselling author of SIX YEARS.

Investigator and sports agent Myron Bolitar is poised on the edge of the big-time. So is Christian Steele, a rookie quarterback and Myron's prized client. But when Christian gets a phone call from a former girlfriend, a woman who everyone, including the police, believes is dead, the deal starts to go sour.

Suddenly Myron is plunged into a baffling mystery of sex and blackmail. Trying to unravel the truth about a family's tragedy, a woman's secret and a man's lies, Myron is…

Natural Born Charmer

By Susan Elizabeth Phillips,

Book cover of Natural Born Charmer

Jeri Black Author Of The Dangers of Loving a Rogue

From the list on lively characters and witty banter.

Who am I?

I love to laugh. I don’t think there’s anything better than the sound of laughter. I’m originally from the Midwest and we tend to have a self-deprecating sense of humor—we like to laugh at ourselves. I’ve been in love with romance novels since I read my first Kathleen Woodiwiss book in my twenties. Although there are many sub-genres within romance, I prefer historical and contemporary (which I also write). My favorite stories have entertaining characters, witty banter, and lots of humor. For me, reading is like taking a vacation to the world within the pages of a book, and I want my vacation to be fun!

Jeri's book list on lively characters and witty banter

Why did Jeri love this book?

This contemporary romance opens with a headless beaver marching down the road. I mean, come on. How can you not be hooked? The hero of the piece, Dean Robillard, can’t resist pulling over to offer “the beav,” aka Blue Bailey, a ride. Given he’s a hot, rich, famous jock, and she tells him to beat it, you know it’s going to be a fun ride. Hands down, this is the best opening scene I’ve ever read. The banter is hysterical and the way Blue and Dean manipulate one another is priceless. But it’s not all fun and games. These characters have baggage and serious trust issues that drive the plot. The fabulous secondary characters add to the drama and humor. My all-time favorite S.E.P. book!

By Susan Elizabeth Phillips,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Natural Born Charmer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When millionaire Dean Robillard meets Blue Bailey, she couldn't be more down on her luck; her ex has stolen all her money and she's got no place to go. A football hero, Dean is taking a holiday while recovering from a career-threatening injury. He'd planned a solo road trip to get his head together. The last thing he needs is a damsel in distress tagging along for the ride.

However, despite Dean's misgivings the two find themselves thrown together and soon Blue has moved into his home and is merrily turning his world upside down. Their attraction is mutual but…

Book cover of The Wall of Winnipeg and Me

Anna Paulsen Author Of The Truth About Adira

From the list on romance that stay with you long after you finish.

Who am I?

Seeing couples that are still in love after being with one another for 50+ years has always warmed my heart. Seeing my grandparents hold one another’s hands and look at each other with love always made me hopeful to find such a love. I have not been blessed to have that kind of love in my life (yet) but that does not stop me from looking for it and finding it in books. The characters in my favorite books are ones I identify with on some level. They are loyal, do not give up and they love wholeheartedly, even if they make some missteps along the way, the end destination always ends up being deeply in love. And I love cheering on characters when they deal with everyday issues and roadblocks on this journey of love. 

Anna's book list on romance that stay with you long after you finish

Why did Anna love this book?

Aiden and Vanessa’s story is another slow burn, but it does not feel slow at all. Zapata has a way of building a sensual story that makes you want more without feeling as if you are missing something. I did not think I would like slow-burn romances until I came across Zapata. I fell in love with these characters as they were becoming friends and ultimately as they fell in love with one another. I found myself smiling a lot watching the interactions between these two. It’s magic. I still think of Aiden often and wish he were my boyfriend! (That is how much I liked him).

By Mariana Zapata,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Vanessa Mazur knows she's doing the right thing. She shouldn't feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary. But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she's beyond shocked. For two years, the man known as The Wall of Winnipeg couldn't even find it in him to tell her good morning or congratulate her on her birthday. Now? He's asking for the unthinkable. What…

Like Other Girls

By Britta Lundin,

Book cover of Like Other Girls

Dahlia Adler Author Of Home Field Advantage

From the list on queer teen athletes.

Who am I?

My newest YA novel, Home Field Advantage, is your typical cliché sports romance between a high school quarterback and aspiring cheer captain…except that they’re both girls. Sports is such a fascinating setting for queer YA to me, because it adds a whole extra social dynamic of being teammates and how that can work for or against you, depending on the culture and who you are. It’s also a great venue for subversion of gender norms, which is always welcome to me! And in general, I really just love protagonists who are really passionate about what they do. If they happen to be queer as well, that’s just a nice bonus!

Dahlia's book list on queer teen athletes

Why did Dahlia love this book?

Lundin writes one of the best explorations of internalized and externalized misogyny I’ve ever read in this contemporary YA about Mara, a lesbian who needs a new sport when she’s bounced off of basketball for a fight and finds herself fighting to join football. She’s soon joined by four other girls (including both her crush and her enemy) aiming to join with her, which pisses her off—why do they have to turn it into some girl power thing when she just genuinely loves the sport? But the way things play out teaches Mara a lot about who’s really on her team. 

By Britta Lundin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“What if I played football?” I ask. As soon as it’s out of my mouth, I feel stupid. Even suggesting it feels like I’ve overstepped some kind of invisible line we’ve all agreed not to discuss. We don’t talk about how Mara is different from other girls. We don’t talk about how Mara is gay but no one says so. But when I do stuff like this, I worry it gets harder for us all to ignore what’s right in front of us. I direct my gaze to Quinn. “What do you think?”
“I think it’s frickin’ genius,” he says.…

Jim Brown

By Dave Zirin,

Book cover of Jim Brown: Last Man Standing

Stephen Amidon Author Of Something like the Gods: A Cultural History of the Athlete from Achilles to LeBron

From the list on sports that are about more than wins & losses.

Who am I?

I’m a novelist (Human Capital, The New City, and Security) with a lifelong passion for sports, from my boyhood days as a Yankees fan during their woebegone late Sixties years, to my career as the father of an All-ACC wide receiver.  In my youth, I was a workmanlike catcher, mediocre quarterback, and hard-working 800-meter runner who came this close to breaking two minutes.  These days, I mainly enjoy watching great moments in sports history on YouTube.  Through it all, I have always believed that sports are about much more than wins, losses, records, and titles.

Stephen's book list on sports that are about more than wins & losses

Why did Stephen love this book?

Zirin, the first sports columnist in the 150-year history of The Nation magazine, is arguably America’s best sportswriter, not just because of his fine prose style and encyclopedic knowledge of the contemporary sporting scene, but also due to his deep understanding of the connections between sports and politics. His biography of the legendary Brown, the most dominant player to ever carry a football, is no mere act of hagiography. While acknowledging Brown’s unrivaled achievements on the field as well as his role as a leader in the Black Power movement and his trailblazing work as a Hollywood icon, Zirin also presents a frank picture of the Cleveland Browns legend’s troubling behavior toward women and his recent opportunistic support of Trump. The result is a thought-provoking, no-holds-barred template that all sports biographies should strive to follow.  

By Dave Zirin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A unique biography of Jim Brown--football legend, Hollywood star, and controversial activist--written by acclaimed sports journalist Dave Zirin.

Jim Brown is recognized as perhaps the greatest football player to ever live. But his phenomenal nine-year career with the Cleveland Browns is only part of his remarkable story, the opening salvo to a much more sprawling epic. Brown parlayed his athletic fame into stardom in Hollywood, where it was thought that he could become "the black John Wayne." He was an outspoken Black Power icon in the 1960s, and he formed Black Economic Unions to challenge racism in the business world.…


By Rachel Van Dyken,

Book cover of Fraternize

Kandi Steiner Author Of The Wrong Game

From the list on sports romances for that fuzzy fall feeling.

Who am I?

I’m a self-published romance author with a hankering for angst and sports romance. As an international bestselling author myself, I’m addicted to finding the next book that will make my pulse race, my eyes red from reading all night, and my stomach ache with the desperation of wanting to dive into the fictional world an author has created. You can follow all my book reviews on Goodreads, and check out my bestselling sports romances on my website. 

Kandi's book list on sports romances for that fuzzy fall feeling

Why did Kandi love this book?

This was my first RVD book and I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to read her. Her style is so fun and addicting, I had the hardest time ever putting the book down. Full of angst (hello, love triangle!), humor, and heat – this is one that will get you all up in your feels.

By Rachel Van Dyken,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken kicks off a brand-new series in which romance is a game and love is a touchdown.

Emerson just made her dream come true as a professional cheerleader for her favorite pro football team. But even though the plus-size athlete is breaking down boundaries, she still has to contend with the massive rulebook. Carbs? Nope. Chocolate? Definitely not. Still, Emerson loves her curves, and she'll rock the hell out of this job even if it kills her. Except for one mandate that is easier read than done...

No fraternizing with the players.


The Cheat Sheet

By Sarah Adams,

Book cover of The Cheat Sheet

Rachel Bowen Author Of Thin Lines

From the list on romance with a chaotic family and friend groups.

Who am I?

I didn’t grow up with a close family, but I yearned for one. Which is why I gravitate towards books with a cast of characters who are family, or a found family. I also prefer romantic plots or subplots. Combining romance and amazing side characters that are close automatically hooks me. That’s why I always include these dynamics in the books I write. I write my books for my own entertainment and hope others who love romance with swoony leads and a fun cast of characters will find my book and enjoy it as much as I do. 

Rachel's book list on romance with a chaotic family and friend groups

Why did Rachel love this book?

Friends to lovers is one of the tropes I enjoy when done right, and this book does it right.

Add in the fake dating and the story is elevated to a thoroughly fun time. I loved the tension and secret pining between the two leads almost as much as the dynamic between Nathan (the male lead) and his teammates as well as the teammates with Bree (the female lead).

The scene where the football team helps Nathan make a playbook for getting out of the friend zone was one of my absolute favorites. Everyone’s personality shined and I love when friend groups are loud, fun, and chaotic. 

By Sarah Adams,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Is it ever too late to leave the friend zone? Discover the heartwarming friends to lovers romance that became a sensation on TikTok—now with a new chapter and a Q&A with the author!

The friend zone is not the end zone for Bree Camden, who is helplessly in love with her longtime best friend and extremely hot NFL legend, Nathan Donelson. The only problem is that she can’t admit her true feelings, because he clearly sees her as a best friend with no romantic potential, and the last thing Bree wants is to ruin their relationship. But those abs .…

Johnny U

By Tom Callahan,

Book cover of Johnny U: The Life and Times of John Unitas

Dan Shaughnessy Author Of Wish It Lasted Forever: Life with the Larry Bird Celtics

From the 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

Why did Dan love this book?

The veteran scribe grew up in Baltimore and knew Unitas well. This book is worth it just to read what Unitas said to former teammate Johnny Sample when Samply tried to taunt him at the end of Super Bowl III. It's "Diner" meets "North Dallas Forty.'' 

By Tom Callahan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a time “when men played football for something less than a living and something more than money,” John Unitas was the ultimate quarterback. Rejected by Notre Dame, discarded by the Pittsburgh Steelers, he started on a Pennsylvania sandlot making six dollars a game and ended as the most commanding presence in the National Football League, calling the critical plays and completing the crucial passes at the moment his sport came of age.

Johnny U is the first authoritative biography of Unitas, based on hundreds of hours of interviews with teammates and opponents, coaches, family and friends. The depth of…