The best NFL books

2 authors have picked their favorite books about the NFL and why they recommend each book.

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The Best Game Ever

By Mark Bowden,

Book cover of The Best Game Ever: Giants vs. Colts, 1958, and the Birth of the Modern NFL

I’m a big fan of bestselling author, journalist, and incredible researcher Mark Bowden, but this is easily his least well-known work. For those not up for the 1000+ pages of Guests of the Ayatollah or Killing Pablo (the basis for the Netflix series Narcos) or the staggering intensity of his true war tale Blackhawk Down, this is a more digestible choice. It simultaneously showcases three very different things about sports in America. First, how the NFL ascended to primacy using the new medium of television to surpass baseball and become the most popular sport. Secondly, how nationally televised sporting events became an integral part of our social fabric and the biggest broadcasts of any kind. Finally, for football fans, Bowden explains the seismic transition in the passing game, elevating the sport from an art to a science.


Who am I?

As a New York Times Bestselling author, award-winning journalist, and visiting professor at Dartmouth College, who has written for the biggest newspapers and magazines worldwide, I look for interesting untold stories for my books. As a result, I spent the past five years researching the topic of sports fandom, what makes people fans, and how it affects them and our society.


I wrote...

Fans: How Watching Sports Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Understanding

By Larry Olmsted,

Book cover of Fans: How Watching Sports Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Understanding

What is my book about?

200 million Americans and billions more worldwide are sports fans, more than belong to any organized religion or any other collective group. Sports fandom is simply the biggest social structure on earth. So, what does fandom do to us, to our brains, our health, our perceptions, our relationships, careers, and such? What does it do to society, affecting tolerance, racism, politics, the peace process and international relations? What vital roles has sports fandom played in history? How does it, again and again, provide post-traumatic healing for communities, cities, and entire countries after natural and manmade disasters? 

I have deeply researched all these angles, using very current scientific research, and found the effects of sports fandom in our lives to be overwhelmingly positive. In the spectator sports equation, more than 99.9% of participants are fans, yet thousands of books have been written on athletes, teams, and coaches, with virtually nothing else on fans.

Big Game

By Mark Leibovich,

Book cover of Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times

A political writer, Leibovich brings tremendous levity to the ever-serious NFL. The author had good access to Tom Brady and outs Jerry Jones and Bob Kraft for the needy buffoons they are. You will learn and laugh. Jones and Kraft, two of the most powerful owners in the might National Football League, engage in wild and hilarious competition for a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 


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.

Dare to Love

By Carly Phillips,

Book cover of Dare to Love

A perfect beach-read billionaire book with lots of sizzle! (Seriously, this book should come with fire warnings because you will need a cold shower after it!)

Riley is fiercely independent and Ian is incredibly protective. This makes for a difficult start to their relationship, but once they learn to trust one another, it’s all sparks and steam. The chemistry between these two characters is off the charts and the book holds nothing back. We get to see it all.

This is the first book in the series which makes it even better. I loved getting to meet the characters for the next books and get a feel for them while falling in love with Ian and Riley.


Who am I?

I love writing my steamy, happily ever after romance novels. Billionaires are my Prince Charmings and they have a lot to offer the heroines I write. However, none of my heroines are weak. They are strong and they love the billionaires for who they are, not what they offer. I want a world full of romance, steam, and happily ever afters, so that’s what I love to write. My books are perfect for a relaxing day on the beach that will leave you feeling good.


I wrote...

Saltwater Kisses

By Krista Lakes,

Book cover of Saltwater Kisses

What is my book about?

When small-town girl Emma LaRue won a vacation to an exclusive tropical island, she never meant to get pretend married to the handsome man she met there. She certainly never meant to fall in love.

But she did. And the man was none other than New York's most eligible billionaire bachelor Jack Saunders. When the press finds out about their pretend marriage, it suddenly becomes real and Emma must choose between her dreams and the man that she met on the beach.

This Town

By Mark Leibovich,

Book cover of This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral--Plus Plenty of Valet Parking!--In America's Gilded Capital

I’ve always had a fascination with America’s political capital, Washington, D.C.—the way it brings together some of the most brilliant and bombastic people in the universe, the way it serves as a petri dish of high-minded principles and low-brow appetites, the juxtaposition of glittering surface and seamy underside that made the early seasons of House of Cards so binge-able. In This Town, Mark Leibovich brings D.C. to life in a story that is at once stomach-churning, rage-inducing, and laugh-out-loud funny. If you’ve ever wondered what Washington is really like behind all the flag-waving and politicking, the talking points, and stage lights, this is the book for you.


Who am I?

By training, I’m a lawyer; by trade, I’m a storyteller. For the first decade of my literary career, I wrote novels. I wove together narrative tapestries that, while fictional, were adapted from the real world. Now, in my first work of nonfiction, Wastelands, I’ve flipped the script, taking a true story and telling it with all the page-turning plotting and rich characterization of the best fiction. I’ve seen the literary world from both sides of the divide, both as a writer and as a reader, and I’m happiest in the borderlands. So, it seems, are authors like Jonathan Harr, Michael Lewis, and Erik Larson.


I wrote...

Wastelands: The True Story of Farm Country on Trial

By Corban Addison,

Book cover of Wastelands: The True Story of Farm Country on Trial

What is my book about?

The once idyllic coastal plain of North Carolina is home to a close-knit, rural community that for more than a generation has battled the polluting practices of large-scale farming taking place in its own backyard. After years of frustration and futility, an impassioned cadre of local residents, led by a team of intrepid and dedicated lawyers, filed a lawsuit against one of the world’s most powerful companies—and, miraculously, they won.

As vivid and fast-paced as a thriller, Wastelands takes us into the heart of a legal battle over the future of America’s farmland and into the lives of the people who found the courage to fight.

Someone You Love

By Kristen Granata,

Book cover of Someone You Love

Bryce suffered a spinal cord injury that caused him to completely reconstruct his life and rebuild his dreams. Can you imagine what that must be like? Reading this book enabled me to do just that. There are three reasons this book stuck out for me. One, it made me cry. Two, as an author of books depicting mental illness, representation is hugely important to me. Last, this couple! They are imperfect, but perfect for each other—even when it’s difficult, even when life doesn’t live up to their expectations, and even when they can’t come through for each other or themselves the way they wish they could. This story lives in my heart.


Who am I?

At age five, I was reading under the blankets with a flashlight far past my bedtime. It’s an often told story of how I believed I was getting away with something while my makeshift tent, held up by my head, was lit up like a snowglobe. By age eleven, when I picked up my aunt’s book, I discovered romance novels. I was hooked. I’ve read thousands of romance novels in the almost four decades that have since passed, and I’ve learned that each person who reads a book takes something different from it, and I hope these five books that gave so much to me, might do the same for you.


I wrote...

Live Again: A Bridgewater Novel

By Devin Sloane,

Book cover of Live Again: A Bridgewater Novel

What is my book about?

Bex: Coming back to the land of the living still sounds like a hard sell, but I can’t hang out in this limbo any longer. It’s been seven years. I miss him. I’ll always miss him. But I miss getting excited about things, having plans, getting dressed up, going out on the town. I miss sex. Is it okay to miss sex?

Rhys: I didn’t usually make time for these small jobs. It was a favor to a friend, that and deep-seated compassion for a fellow member of the Dead Spouse Society. Until I saw her. I haven’t wanted something this bad for so long, I’m ready to fight for it. Is she?

Negotiating the Impossible

By Deepak Malhotra,

Book cover of Negotiating the Impossible: How to Break Deadlocks and Resolve Ugly Conflicts (Without Money or Muscle)

I am recommending this book because Malhotra et al take on a series of very difficult negotiations that look like they are impossible to solve and they show you how it was done. The book is very practical and demonstrates to the reader that many negotiations can be solved with the right frame of mind, creativity, and persistence. 


Who am I?

I am a native Bostonian and I have been working in the field of negotiation for over 25 years. I have been very fortunate to have been a member of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School for all that time. As a result, I have had the privilege to work with some amazing colleagues and have been given the opportunity to engage in many fascinating negotiations in the international, governmental, corporate, and nonprofit worlds. I truly love the field because it has the potential to do so much good in the world and because it is exceedingly challenging. For me, the more I learn the more I want to know. That quest continues to this day…


I wrote...

The Book of Real-World Negotiations: Successful Strategies from Business, Government, and Daily Life

By Joshua N. Weiss,

Book cover of The Book of Real-World Negotiations: Successful Strategies from Business, Government, and Daily Life

What is my book about?

This unique book can help you change your approach to negotiation by learning key strategies and techniques from actual cases. The book shines a light on real- world negotiation examples and cases, rather than simply discussing frameworks and hypothetical scenarios. It reveals what is possible through preparation, persistence, creativity, and taking a strategic approach to your negotiations. Many of us enter negotiations with skepticism and without understanding how to truly negotiate well. Because we lack knowledge and confidence, we may abandon the negotiating process prematurely or agree to deals that leave value on the table.

Whether you're a student, instructor, or anyone who wants to negotiate successfully, you'll be able to carefully examine real-world negotiation situations that will show you how to achieve your objectives in the most challenging of circumstances.

A Dog Named Christmas

By Greg Kincaid,

Book cover of A Dog Named Christmas

According to Nielson ratings, 18.7 million households viewed the 2009 Hallmark Hall of Fame movie debut of A Dog Named Christmas. It outperformed the NFL game and 60 Minutes broadcasts that Sunday evening. I was one of the movie’s ‘captives.’

The short novel equally touched my heart. I admire how the author eased in the backstories of the dog, father, mother, and son—all so crucial in the story path. Todd, an animal lover and developmentally challenged young man wants his family to participate in a program to foster a shelter dog over the holidays. Can you guess the inherent conflict? The mother’s quiet strength and influence reminded me of Mrs. Brown in the movie, National Velvet.


Who am I?

I am someone who loves Christmas. My family’s Christmas Eve gatherings and a 5th-grade assignment inspired me to learn more about my heritage. This quest has outlived my eclectic career in libraries, teaching, and project management. In my fifties, I suddenly realized that who we are as people is forgotten within 100 years of our death. So, I started writing to preserve the ‘essence’ of those who came before me. A character from Until the Robin Walks on Snow tapped my shoulder to tell this survival story—one which embodies the love, traditions, and miracles of the holiday season. The recommended books lift hearts, too.


I wrote...

Until the Robin Walks on Snow

By Bernice L. Rocque,

Book cover of Until the Robin Walks on Snow

What is my book about?

Imagine…a child is born far too early. He weighs 1.5 pounds, a micro-preemie so small he can rest on his father’s hand. Amazingly, the tiny newborn is breathing. Now imagine… this birth is occurring 100 years ago, on the edge of winter and the Christmas season, in a New England farmhouse without electricity or running water. 

My grandparents and their midwife lived this event in 1922. As recent immigrants to America, much was uncertain for them, yet they were determined to save this child. My uncle and I like to say Until the Robin Walks on Snow recreates the story that might have happened. Facts, family history, and research form this novella’s base. Family, friendship, and faith are themes.

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.'' 


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.

I Promise You

By Ilsa Madden-Mills,

Book cover of I Promise You: Stand-Alone College Sports Romance

No one writes college football romance like Ilsa! I fall in love with every football book she writes and this one was no different. From the banter, to the push and pull between the characters, to the legend of the bonfire kiss, this book has it all! You're going to love it!


Who am I?

I was raised on the Los Angeles Dodgers and baseball is in my blood. I love reading sports romances. An athlete's mindset is something I'm intimately familiar with (my son is a professional baseball player), so I get a lot of enjoyment reading about the guys who chase their dreams and ultimately get to make them come true. I enjoy reading stories that are familiar to me and that I can relate to.  


I wrote...

The Perfect Game: A New Adult Romance

By J. Sterling,

Book cover of The Perfect Game: A New Adult Romance

What is my book about?

He's a game she never intended to play. And she's the game changer he never knew he needed.

When Cassie Andrews meets rising baseball hopeful, Jack Carter, she is determined to steer clear of him and his typical cocky attitude. But Jack has other things on his mind... like getting Cassie to give him the time of day. Strap yourselves in for one hell of a realistic ride into the world of baseball – and true love. 

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