The best books about football players

3 authors have picked their favorite books about football players and why they recommend each book.

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Broken Knight

By L.J. Shen,

Book cover of Broken Knight

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. 

Broken Knight

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…

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. 


I wrote...

All My Nevers (Saint No More Book 1)

By Diana Nixon,

Book cover of All My Nevers (Saint No More Book 1)

What is my book about?

Three years ago, leaving San Fernando felt like the best way out of the mess I was neck-deep in. An addict to all things forbidden, I betrayed everyone I loved and watched my little sister pay for my sins with her life. An escape felt like a blessing, so I ran away and left the ashes of my past drift behind me. This is why returning to my hometown was never on the menu. Nor was falling in love with my childhood friend whose heart had been irreparably broken by yours truly. But my father’s death turned out to be a twist I wasn’t expecting, and I had no choice but to come back home, face my demons, and head the family and what was left of my father’s business.

Natural Born Charmer

By Susan Elizabeth Phillips,

Book cover of Natural Born Charmer

Susan Elizabeth Phillips is hands down my favorite author for her humor, her voice, and her willingness to put older heroines in her books.

Natural Born Charmer has a wonderful B Story about a charismatic but aging rock star and a beautiful fifty-two-year-old woman trying to make peace with her rock and roll past. I don't want to admit how many times I’ve read it.

Natural Born Charmer

By Susan Elizabeth Phillips,

Why should I read it?

1 author 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…


Who am I?

My real name is Susan Berger and I'm a certified bookaholic. I'm also an actor and I love my work. Being older has been very lucky for me. I wrote children’s books as Susan J Berger. COVID closed my publisher and I'm not actively submitting at the moment. I write romance as Susan B James because I didn’t want my children to have to acknowledge that their mother knew anything about sex. Falling in love and living happily ever after is an ageless state. But in romance novels heroines are mostly under thirty. I happen to be chronologically gifted myself. And many of my favorite romances feature older heroines. I think we need more.


I wrote...

Time and Forever

By Susan B. James,

Book cover of Time and Forever

What is my book about?

Two women in their sixties time travel to 1969—London and Los Angeles. One finds an old love. One finds a new. But time travel has rules. And that's a problem...

Being in their sixties has its perks. Sherry is a successful businesswoman. Lorena’s an actress on a popular sitcom. Sherry’s husband dumped her for a younger woman eighteen years ago. Lorena’s husband died of cancer. Sherry wants a second chance at love. Lorena doesn’t think second chances are possible. She can’t imagine loving anyone but Dave. But when a glitch in a Virtual Reality Adventure game sends them back to 1969 London, “possible” takes on a whole new dimension. Are they willing to pay the price to alter their future?

Jim Brown

By Dave Zirin,

Book cover of Jim Brown: Last Man Standing

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.  

Jim Brown

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.…

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.


I wrote...

Something like the Gods: A Cultural History of the Athlete from Achilles to LeBron

By Stephen Amidon,

Book cover of Something like the Gods: A Cultural History of the Athlete from Achilles to LeBron

What is my book about?

Why is the athlete so important to us? Few public figures can dominate the public imagination with such power and authority. Even in our cynical times, when celebrities can be debunked at the speed of light, many still look to athletes as models for our moral and emotional lives. An aging fastballer goes for a few last wins in his final season, and he becomes an exemplar for our daily struggles against time.

Drawing from art, literature, politics, and history, Something like the Gods explores the powerful grip the athlete has always held on the Western imagination. Amidon examines the archetype of the competitor as it evolved from antiquity to the present day, from athlete-warriors such as Achilles and Ulysses to global media icons like Ali, Jordan, and Tiger Woods.

Deal Breaker

By Harlan Coben,

Book cover of Deal Breaker

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. 

Deal Breaker

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…


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. 


I wrote...

The Broken Soul

By Janet Fix, Cheryl Bradshaw,

Book cover of The Broken Soul

What is my book about?

When the party of a lifetime becomes a party to the death, the lines become blurred. Friends become enemies. Drugs become weapons. And that's just the beginning ...

Sloane Monroe, private investigator, discovers her best friend Maddie LaFoe has gone missing during Mardi Gras festivities. Where did Maddie go, and why didn’t she call? This time the investigation is personal, and Sloane will stop at nothing to find her friend. The Broken Soul is the latest installment in the mystery series Sloane & Maddie: Peril Awaits. Dive in for some heart-stopping action, enthralling characters, and a party that gets crazier by the minute for your favorite dynamic duo.

Book cover of The Wall of Winnipeg and Me

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).

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me

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…

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. 


I wrote...

The Truth About Adira

By Anna Paulsen,

Book cover of The Truth About Adira

What is my book about?

The Truth About Adira is a story about second chances as well as a story of finding a type of love that shines a light into places that were once encompassed by utter darkness. This type of light is a guiding beacon that warms a heart that has learned to protect itself by isolating itself.

The Truth About Adira takes you on a journey of exploring the past while building a solid foundation in the present for the future. 

Fraternize

By Rachel Van Dyken,

Book cover of Fraternize

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.

Fraternize

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.

Problem…

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. 


I wrote...

The Wrong Game

By Kandi Steiner,

Book cover of The Wrong Game

What is my book about?

Two season tickets. One genius idea. Zero interest in a relationship. The plan is simple: a brand new, hot, preferably funny, definitely single male will fill one of those seats for every Bears game at Soldier Field. And I’ll fill the other.

I can’t think of a better way to use the season passes I’d bought for my ex-husband. I am a woman of plans, and this one’s foolproof. Until Zach Bowen offers to be my practice round. He’s infuriating. Presumptuous and overbearing. And absolutely, undeniably gorgeous. Any woman with a heartbeat would be attracted to him, and mine picks up speed every time he speaks. But as I said, I’m a woman of plans — and I’m not backing down on this one. He can try to change the rules, but here’s the truth: he can’t win if he’s playing the wrong game.

Mind and Matter

By John Urschel, Louisa Thomas,

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

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.

Mind and Matter

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…

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. 


I wrote...

The Math Olympian

By Richard Hoshino,

Book cover of The Math Olympian

What is my book about?

My book is about a small-town Canadian teenager named Bethany, who has an impossible dream: to represent her country at the International Math Olympiad. Through persistence, perseverance, and the support of innovative mentors who inspire her with a love of learning, Bethany overcomes numerous challenges and develops the creativity and confidence to reach her potential.

In training to become a world-champion "mathlete", Bethany discovers the heart of mathematics - a subject that's not about memorizing formulas, but rather about problem-solving and detecting patterns to uncover truth, as well as learning how to apply the deep and unexpected connections of mathematics to every aspect of her life. Through this journey, Bethany discovers that through mathematics, she can and she will make an extraordinary contribution to society.

Like Other Girls

By Britta Lundin,

Book cover of Like Other Girls

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. 

Like Other Girls

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.…

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!


I wrote...

Home Field Advantage

By Dahlia Adler,

Book cover of Home Field Advantage

What is my book about?

Amber McCloud’s dream is to become cheer captain, but it’s an extra-tall order to be spirited when the quarterback of your team has been killed in a car accident. Watching Robbie get replaced by newcomer Jack Walsh is brutal. And when it turns out Jack is actually short for Jaclyn, all hell breaks loose.

The players refuse to be led by a girl, the cheerleaders are mad about changes to their traditions, and the fact that Robbie’s been replaced by a QB who wears a sports bra has more than a few Atherton Alligators in a rage. It quickly becomes clear that Amber only has a future on the squad if she helps them take Jack down. Just one problem: Amber and Jack are falling for each other.

This Heart of Mine

By Susan Elizabeth Phillips,

Book cover of This Heart of Mine

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. 

This Heart of Mine

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,…


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. 


I wrote...

Love Sounds

By Amiee Smith,

Book cover of Love Sounds

What is my book about?

Emma Liu: I’m an ambitious little lady. I promised myself I’d never let romance interfere with my professional life again. When I start messaging the dreamiest man ever on an exclusive kink dating app, I’m beyond delighted… and conflicted when he turns out to be my new boss for the summer. My little side wants to curl up in Will’s lap, but my ambitious side wants to win in career and business. Will Hayes: I’m a man who wants to run the world. While I’m a kinkster into age play, I don’t do risky romantic relationships. But Emma’s raspy voice and enticing giggles are irresistible. Too bad she forced her way into my internship program. Now I have to decide if this fast-talking, too-cute, smart girl is worth the risk.

Johnny U

By Tom Callahan,

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

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.'' 

Johnny U

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…

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.

I wrote...

Wish It Lasted Forever: Life with the Larry Bird Celtics

By Dan Shaughnessy,

Book cover of Wish It Lasted Forever: Life with the Larry Bird Celtics

What is my book about?

Today the NBA is a vast global franchise—a billion-dollar industry viewed by millions of fans in the United States and abroad. But it wasn’t always this successful. Before primetime ESPN coverage, lucrative branding deals like Air Jordans, and $40 million annual player salaries, there was the NBA of the 1970s and 1980s—when basketball was still an up-and-coming sport featuring old school beat reporters and players wore Converse All-Stars.

Shaughnessy takes us inside the legendary Larry Bird-led Celtics teams, capturing the camaraderie as they rose to dominate the NBA. Fans can witness the cockiness of Larry Bird; the ageless athleticism of Robert Parish; the shooting skills of Kevin McHale; the fierce, self-sacrificing play of Bill Walton; and the playful humor of players like Danny Ainge, Cedric “Cornbread” Maxwell, and M.L. Carr.

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