The most recommended tennis books

Who picked these books? Meet our 43 experts.

43 authors created a book list connected to tennis, and here are their favorite tennis books.
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Book cover of A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog Named Trixie

Lisa Redfern Author Of Phases of Gage: After the Accident Years

From Lisa's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author DNA genealogy researcher California history storyteller & media maker Cartophile Close-call kefir exploder A philomath with too many books

Lisa's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Lisa Redfern Why did Lisa love this book?

Koontz hooked me as a reader devotee with Watchers. Along with hundreds of thousands of fans, I grew to love his (believable) talking dog character.

This non-fictional memoir of the retired service dog who shared her life with the Koontz family and their staff is incredibly special. Throughout the book are story vignettes with memory-sticking power, such as Koontz’s writing process and filtering publishing industry personalities through Trixie’s senses.

If you are a dog person or writer, this heartwarming tale will make you laugh, sigh, and cry.

By Dean Koontz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Big Little Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In a profound, funny, and beautifully rendered portrait of a beloved companion, bestselling novelist Dean Koontz remembers the golden retriever who changed his life.

A retired service dog, Trixie was three when Dean and his wife, Gerda, welcomed her into their home. She was superbly trained, but her greatest gifts couldn’t be taught: her keen intelligence, her innate joy, and an uncanny knack for living in the moment. Whether chasing a tennis ball or protecting those she loved, Trixie gave all she had to everything she did, inspiring Dean and Gerda to trust their instincts…


Book cover of Court on Canvas: Tennis in Art

Elizabeth Wilson Author Of Love Game: A History of Tennis, from Victorian Pastime to Global Phenomenon

From my list on the most beautiful and fascinating game of tennis.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an art, performance, and music junkie. I love spectacle. My writing career began with articles in the political underground press of the 1970s and I've always seen art and entertainment as ‘political’ in their messages and in the emotions they incite. Tennis for me is part of a cultural spectrum embracing fashion, city and recreational life, film and artistic counter cultures, all creating a world of excitement and passion, so my writing on tennis is part of a wider project: to try to answer the questions of why these performances are so much more than ‘just’ entertainment, why they give passion and meaning to life, and why they are inspirational.

Elizabeth's book list on the most beautiful and fascinating game of tennis

Elizabeth Wilson Why did Elizabeth love this book?

This beautiful book is the catalogue of an art exhibition devoted to paintings and photographs that capture the world of tennis, demonstrating the close link between art and the sport. Indeed, many enthusiasts see tennis as an art in its own right and this book should convince any waverers. The gorgeous coloured and black and white illustrations range from late Victorian genre scenes of tennis as a social event including champagne, strawberries, and flirtation, on through the androgynous twenties and thirties and its development into the modern power game. Accompanying essays trace the game’s wider cultural influence. Here you will find above all the languor and elegance of social tennis and especially the centrality of women to it, from ladies playing in bustles and high heels to the Williams sisters in skin-tight miniskirts.

By Ann Sumner (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Court on Canvas: Tennis in Art" celebrates the origins of the game in Birmingham and explores the ways in which tennis has inspired artists from the mid-nineteenth century onwards. The book guides us from the origins of the game as a genteel pastime for the upper classes, through its codification as a sport, to the international high-earning power game of today. It illustrates the changes in fashion associated with the sport and the important role tennis played in the emancipation of women in the early part of the twentieth century. The book contains a survey of images of tennis in…


Book cover of The Tennis Partner

Mahala Yates Stripling Author Of Bioethics and Medical Issues in Literature

From my list on medical/scientific stories that show what it means to be human.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an independent scholar who read Mortal Lessons, Richard Selzer’s book of essays about our common human condition - mortality. I began writing the biography of this Yale surgeon who influenced the literature-and-medicine movement, ushering in patient-centered care. I read everything by and about him, gaining a background in the medical humanities. In the middle of this project, I was asked to write Bioethics and Medical Issues in Literature. The first edition came out in 2005; subsequently I updated and published a second paperback edition in 2013, accessible by the general public and used as a complete curriculum. Clearly, reading literature helps us explore what makes us human.

Mahala's book list on medical/scientific stories that show what it means to be human

Mahala Yates Stripling Why did Mahala love this book?

Dr. Verghese, an African-born Indian internal medicine doctor, is famous for The Covenant of Water, selected by Oprah’s Book Club, but I am pulled back to his harrowing second book, The Tennis Partner. I enjoyed his gripping patient case histories while practicing in a Texas border town, but his focus is on his tennis games with his intern, David Smith, a former Australian tennis pro.

With each spirited rally, Verghese rebounds from life in the hospital and marital fatigue. While there is little talk of his unraveling marriage, I am intrigued by how their friendship deepens when they confide intimate details of their respective romances. I see Verghese’s strength of character as he moves on with his life, but things end badly for Smith, an alcohol and cocaine addict.

By Abraham Verghese,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Tennis Partner as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In January 1994, Abraham Verghese, an indian doctor in a Texan teaching hospital, was called to the morgue to identify the body of his close friend, student and tennis partner David Smith. David had killed himself because he could not deal with his addiction to intravenously injected cocaine. This book is Verghese's tribute to his dead friend; it is also an attempt to understand and explain drug addiction. Being both doctor and friend, Verghese offers us a unique insight into addiction, describing with clinical detachment the horrific physical symptoms of abuse, revealing how the stress of the medical profession leads…


The Pact

By Lisa Darcy,

Book cover of The Pact

Lisa Darcy Author Of The Pact

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Cat lover Traveler Reader Amateur tennis player Foodie

Lisa's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

The Pact is a contemporary fiction novel about Australian sisters, Samantha and Annie, who are doubles tennis champions. This story amplifies the usual sibling issues and explores their professional partnership and personal relationships – similarities, differences, motivation, competition, abandonment, and grief – and how they each respond to the stress of constantly being under the media spotlight.

What happens when, at the pinnacle of fame, it all falls apart?

With dreams shattered and egos destroyed, how do they cope?

I have an older sister and although our rapport isn’t as dramatic, or as close, for that matter, I was able…

Book cover of Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams

Jennifer Merz Author Of Steadfast: Frances Perkins, Champion of Workers' Rights

From my list on strong inspiring women.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a picture-book writer and illustrator as well as a mother and teacher, the most important goal I can think of is fueling a child’s imagination with possibilities by providing true stories of trailblazing women. My reviews highlight remarkable women in the arts, government, sports, social work, and history. I hope you enjoy these books!

Jennifer's book list on strong inspiring women

Jennifer Merz Why did Jennifer love this book?

Many people know of the Williams sisters, titans in the world of professional tennis. But do you know of their struggles to gain their top-rated spots in the sport? This book highlights Venus’ and Serena’s challenges to overcome racism, poverty, and neighborhood violence to take their places as women admired for their determination, courage, and sisterly love besides their excellence in worldwide championships. Masterful collage illustrations draw readers into this story like a riveting tennis match. Sports fan or not, you will love this book!

By Lesa Cline-Ransome, James E. Ransome (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Game Changers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

An ALA Notable Book

"Every page is splashed with vibrant color and eye-catching patterns, and the figures of the women themselves are full of energy, speed, and tension." -Shelf Awareness (starred review)

Venus and Serena Williams are two of the greatest tennis players of all time. Some say they're two of the greatest athletes of all time. Before they were world famous, they were little girls with big dreams.

Venus and Serena Williams. Two peas in a pod. Best friends. Sisters.

Six days a week they awoke before the sun came up to practice their serves and returns, to learn…


Book cover of Strokes of Genius: Federer, Nadal, and the Greatest Match Ever Played

Sung J. Woo Author Of Love Love

From my list on tennis that may or may not feature pornography.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became a tennis fan in the mid-2000’s, when Roger Federer reigned supreme. But here’s the thing – I wasn’t a huge fan of his. In fact, I found him boring, because he’d win just about every match. But then came this young Spaniard Rafael Nadal, who wore sleeveless shirts and capri pants and resembled a pirate – and I’ve been hooked ever since. I play the game to the best of my ability, which isn’t much; I’ve been told by my opponents that I’m quite annoying, in that I often manage to turn surefire winners into yet another rally. Porn-wise, no expertise whatsoever, outside of researching it for my second novel!

Sung's book list on tennis that may or may not feature pornography

Sung J. Woo Why did Sung love this book?

There is definitely porn in this book, except it’s tennis porn. How could it not, when we are talking about two of the greatest players to ever play the game? Although lately Novak Djokovic has entered the conversation for a good part of the last two decades, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were men’s tennis, and the pinnacle of their rivalry was Wimbledon in 2008, the specific tournament and the specific final that Jon writes about in this book. A classic match deserves a classic retelling, and this work of nonfiction does so much more by threading the many changes that have taken place in modern tennis: advances in racquet and string technology, performance-enhancing drugs, and the impacts of online betting.

By L. Jon Wertheim,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the 2008 Wimbledon men’s final, Centre Court was a stage set worthy of Shakespearean drama. Five-time champion Roger Federer was on track to take his rightful place as the most dominant player in the history of the game. He just needed to cling to his trajectory. So in the last few moments of daylight, Centre Court witnessed a coronation. Only it wasn’t a crowning for the Swiss heir apparent but for a swashbuckling Spaniard. Twenty-two-year-old Rafael Nadal prevailed, in five sets, in what was, according to the author, "essentially a four-hour, forty-eight-minute infomercial for everything that is right about…


Book cover of String Theory: David Foster Wallace on Tennis: A Library of America Special Publication

Sung J. Woo Author Of Love Love

From my list on tennis that may or may not feature pornography.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became a tennis fan in the mid-2000’s, when Roger Federer reigned supreme. But here’s the thing – I wasn’t a huge fan of his. In fact, I found him boring, because he’d win just about every match. But then came this young Spaniard Rafael Nadal, who wore sleeveless shirts and capri pants and resembled a pirate – and I’ve been hooked ever since. I play the game to the best of my ability, which isn’t much; I’ve been told by my opponents that I’m quite annoying, in that I often manage to turn surefire winners into yet another rally. Porn-wise, no expertise whatsoever, outside of researching it for my second novel!

Sung's book list on tennis that may or may not feature pornography

Sung J. Woo Why did Sung love this book?

If there’s a writer who could have written about tennis and pornography and made it work way better than yours truly, it is David Foster Wallace. But David did not waste his time on this planet (suicide in his 46th year) on idle silliness – no, he wrote essays like “Federer as a Religious Experience” for The New York Times, which is the fifth and final essay in his collection of his tennis nonfiction. Ranked nationally as a junior, David possessed intimate knowledge of the sport, and the first essay, “Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley,” indeed features a tornado that rips through team practice, but believe it or not, that natural disaster is not as frightening as the drudgery of tennis drills that he must master.

By David Foster Wallace,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An instant classic of American sportswriting—the tennis essays of David Foster Wallace, “the best mind of his generation” (A. O. Scott) and “the best tennis-writer of all time” (New York Times)
 
Gathered for the first time in a deluxe collector's edition, here are David Foster Wallace's legendary writings on tennis, five tour-de-force pieces written with a competitor's insight and a fan's obsessive enthusiasm. Wallace brings his dazzling literary magic to the game he loved as he celebrates the other-worldly genius of Roger Federer; offers a wickedly witty disection of Tracy Austin's memoir; considers the artistry of Michael Joyce, a supremely…


Book cover of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Chris West Author Of The Karpman Drama Triangle Explained: A Guide for Coaches, Managers, Trainers, Therapists – and Everybody Else

From my list on really helpful psychology.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been fascinated by human behaviour since going to a school where we were told there was a right and a wrong way to do everything. That never felt right to me – human beings are much bigger than that! I studied Counselling and Therapy at Norwich City College in the 1990s and later specific courses on Transactional Analysis. Many years on, I am still learning…

Chris' book list on really helpful psychology

Chris West Why did Chris love this book?

Another classic from the Positive Psychology stable. "Flow" is that feeling of deep involvement in a task, especially one where our creativity and skill are challenged.

More generally, it is about clearing the mind of clutter and appreciating the moment. Another book I dip back into regularly. 

By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Csikszentmihalyi arrives at an insight that many of us can intuitively grasp, despite our insistent (and culturally supported) denial of this truth. That is, it is not what happens to us that determines our happiness, but the manner in which we make sense of that reality. . . . The manner in which Csikszentmihalyi integrates research on consciousness, personal psychology and spirituality is illuminating.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review

The bestselling classic that holds the key to unlocking meaning, creativity, peak performance, and true happiness.

Legendary psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's famous investigations of "optimal experience" have revealed that what makes an…


Book cover of Extraordinary Golf: The Art of the Possible

Jayne Storey Author Of Connected Golf: Bridging the Gap between Practice and Performance

From my list on mind-body golf.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by the link between golf and the Eastern arts since I heard the great Jack Nicklaus say that golf is played with the feet. This immediately struck a chord with me as my background spans over thirty years of Tai Chi training and I have understood from this art that all movement comes from the ground upwards. The early training of Nicklaus in fact echoes that of the ancient warriors who understood the link between intention and action, which is a very different approach to the modern way of over-thinking technique. The simplicity of flow cancels out the need to separate the golf swing into individual positions. 

Jayne's book list on mind-body golf

Jayne Storey Why did Jayne love this book?

This is a breakthrough book that allows golfers the opportunity to step away from all the mental and technical thinking and into something simpler that can help release a golfer’s inner talents and abilities. The now-famous ‘club-throwing exercise’ is Shoemaker’s answer to Tim Gallwey’s ‘bounce-hit’ exercise in tennis which helps take the emphasis off trying to get technique right and instead allows the body to move in a way that is natural and therefore repeatable, even under pressure. So many of my students have benefited from the drills and exercises and the whole mindset of this book which details the possibilities inherent every time you set up to the ball. 

By Fred Shoemaker, Pete Shoemaker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Most golfers approach the tee with a complex mental package: worries and judgments about their swing, the other person's swing, the course, the weather, looking good, looking bad. They think about what's wrong instead of what's possible, and this is what Extraordinary Golf teaches: the art of the possible. Drawing on his experience teaching both amateurs and professionals for more than fifteen years, in his clinics around the country, in his Golf in the Kingdom seminars at the Esalen Institute, and at his own School for Extraordinary Golf in California, Shoemaker shows how extraordinary golf can be coached, learned, and…


Book cover of The Last September

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an Irish historian and biographer living in London and have always been fascinated by the confused attitudes that bedevil the relationship between Ireland and England. Educated in Ireland and the USA, I came to teach at the University of London in 1974, a period when IRA bombings had penetrated the British mainland. In 1991, I moved to Oxford and taught there for twenty-five years. As I constantly move between the two countries and watch my children growing up with English accents but Irish identities, I remain as fascinated as ever by the tensions, parallels, memories, and misunderstandings (often well-meaning) that prevail on both sides of the narrow Irish Sea.

Roy's book list on illuminating books about the turbulent relationship between Ireland and England

Roy Foster Why did Roy love this book?

Elizabeth Bowen once described the Ireland-England relationship as ‘a mixture of showing-off and suspicion, nearly as bad as sex’. Her 1928 novel demonstrates this beautifully, eviscerating the attitudes of  Anglo-Irish grandees in their Big House as the country around them crackles with guerilla war and showing the incomprehension between the Irish (at all social levels) and the British soldiers sent ostensibly to keep the peace.

Though it ends in tragedy, social comedy, as so often, shows the brutal realities beneath the surface. And the atmosphere of the Irish landscape, at once idyllic and brooding, comes alive in Bowen’s supercharged prose.

By Elizabeth Bowen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Read Elizabeth Bowen's accessible feminist take on the Irish aristocracy

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY VICTORIA GLENDINNING

The Irish troubles rage, but up at the 'Big House', tennis parties, dances and flirtations with the English officers continue, undisturbed by the ambushes, arrests and burning country beyond the gates. Faint vibrations of discord reach the young girl Lois, who is straining for her own freedom, and she will witness the troubles surge closer and reach their irrevocable, inevitable climax.


Book cover of Double Fault

Sung J. Woo Author Of Love Love

From my list on tennis that may or may not feature pornography.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became a tennis fan in the mid-2000’s, when Roger Federer reigned supreme. But here’s the thing – I wasn’t a huge fan of his. In fact, I found him boring, because he’d win just about every match. But then came this young Spaniard Rafael Nadal, who wore sleeveless shirts and capri pants and resembled a pirate – and I’ve been hooked ever since. I play the game to the best of my ability, which isn’t much; I’ve been told by my opponents that I’m quite annoying, in that I often manage to turn surefire winners into yet another rally. Porn-wise, no expertise whatsoever, outside of researching it for my second novel!

Sung's book list on tennis that may or may not feature pornography

Sung J. Woo Why did Sung love this book?

Lyricism porn? Wordsmith porn? I don’t know what you call this, but here’s how Lionel starts Double Fault: “'The serve was into the sun, which at its apex the tennis ball perfectly eclipsed. A corona blazed on the ball's circumference, etching a ring on Willy's retina that would blind-spot the rest of the point.” Sigh. If I could write 10% as well as her, I’d die a happy man. This is the only novel in this list of five, and that alone should be reason enough to read it. Tennis novels are few and far in between; savor them when you see them, especially ones that are as beautifully acerbic as this one.

By Lionel Shriver, Barrington Saddler LLC,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Shriver shows in a masterstroke why character is fate and how sport reveals it.” —New York Times Book Review

From the author of the New York Times bestseller The Post-Birthday World, and the international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin comes a brilliant and unflinching novel about the devastating cost of prizing achievement over love

Tennis has been Willy Novinsky's one love ever since she first picked up a racquet at the age of four. A middle-ranked pro at twenty-three, she's met her match in Eric Oberdorf, a low-ranked, untested Princeton grad who also intends to make his mark…