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8 Gold Medal–Worthy Sports Books for a World Without Sports

by  | April 8
Crowd at a bar cheering for sports

With so many sports canceled this spring and summer, some of us at Get Lit have been craving a new entertainment to provide that same adrenaline rush and reason to cheer. So, we’re filling our need for high-stakes action by doing what we do best: reading. And we’ve got our recommendations waiting in the dugout for you, ready to knock it out of the park. Just as the Olympics bring together the greatest athletes from various sports, we’ve gathered our Gold Medal sports books for everything from hockey to soccer to golf. If this list doesn’t quench your thirst for competition, always remember that reading is a sport in its own right.

The Dynasty

The Dynasty

by Jeff Benedict

Molly’s Pick for FOOTBALL

Does the potential delay of the 2020 NFL season mean I can pretend that Tom Brady is still a Patriot? You’re goddamn right it does. It’s officially the end of a dynasty (that honestly hurt to write), but how lucky have we been to witness a true dynasty in our lifetime? The last two decades have been nothing short of thrilling: 9 AFC Championships, 6 Super Bowl rings, and countless, ridiculous, once-in-a-lifetime moments (the snow bowl, Malcolm Butler’s interception, a comeback from 28–3, just to name a few). And it all started with Robert Kraft purchasing the team in 1994, Bill Belichick quitting as head coach of the Jets just ONE DAY after accepting the post to join the Patriots in 2000, and drafting Tom. Fricking. Brady in the sixth round of the draft a few months later. Coming out this September, Jeff Benedict’s The Dynasty, based on over a year of access to the Patriots organization and hundreds of hours of interviews with players and officials, is a comprehensive look at how this dynasty began and how it managed to last so long. Patriots fan or not, you cannot deny how impressive and unprecedented their run was. And how you can enjoy looking back on it because, ugh, it is in the past.

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The Second Life of Tiger Woods

The Second Life of Tiger Woods

by Michael Bamberger

Molly’s Pick for GOLF

Few athletes have had a career like Tiger Woods. When he burst onto the scene in the late 90s, he seemed unstoppable: he became the youngest player to win the Masters, at age 21; he’s one of only five players to have won all four major championships in his career; and he’s the only one to have won all four in a row. But after a major fall from grace, both personal and professional, many opined Tiger would never win a major tournament again. The Second Life of Tiger Woods, by Michael Bamberger, is an intimate and in-depth portrayal of Tiger and his long, hard-fought and, frankly, unlikely return to the top. You can’t help but root for the second half of his career to be as illustrious as his first.

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Beartown

Beartown

by Fredrik Backman

Heather’s Pick for HOCKEY

I’d be stretching the truth if I told you that, personally, I miss hockey; I’ve watched all of one game in my life, and even then, I was in line for the ladies’ room when the fight broke out. What I can say is that I feel terrible about the NHL season’s premature ending and that fans have been cheated out of a Stanley Cup showdown. (Did I get all that right?) Yet what I lack in knowledge about the real-life sport, I make up for in enthusiasm for hockey stories, like Fredrik Backman’s Beartown. This stirring novel welcomes readers into a small forest community where residents have pinned their hopes for a brighter future on their junior ice hockey team winning the national title. Of course, that’s a lot of pressure for a group of teenage boys, plus the town is additionally rocked by an act of violence that threatens to forever shatter their faith in each other. Beartown deals with difficult subjects, but in a way that will remind you of the power of forgiveness and resilience in the face of adversity. These characters will stick with you long after your favorite sport returns.

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Buzz Saw

Buzz Saw

by Jesse Dougherty

Justin’s Pick for BASEBALL

The twenty-first century has already given us some of the greatest World Series wins in the history of baseball: the Red Sox breaking the Curse of the Bambino in ’04, the Cubs taking home the title in extra innings in ’16, and now, as rivetingly told in Jesse Dougherty’s Buzz Saw, the Nationals taking home the Commissioner’s Trophy in their 2019 underdog season. In May 2019, the team was given a 1.5% chance of winning the World Series—nearly written off entirely—and Buzz Saw focuses on how everyone from the front office to the coaching staff to the players made what should have been a losing season into one of the most impressive sports stories of 2019. The book has an incredible dynamism, capturing the minutiae and logistical considerations of running a ball club, as well as the team chemistry and near-cosmic alignment that gave way to the Nationals unlikely season. Dougherty’s reverence for the game is apparent on every page, making it a must-read for all baseball fans—whether you’re a Nats loyalist or not.

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Elevated

Elevated

by Harvey Araton

Saimah’s Pick for BASKETBALL

I’ve always been a huge sports fan, and right now I’m really missing watching my favorite teams compete. Basketball has always been my favorite sport to watch and play. I feel like it is the most riveting because every single second can make a huge impact on the game. So how did the NBA become a worldwide phenomenon? This book, Elevated, by the staff of the New York Times, explores how players from around the world got recruited and drafted by teams in the U.S., how the fandom expanded beyond the hometowns of the teams to the hometowns of the players, and more. With the NBA’s season suspended in March, I’m curious how it will impact the draft and if they will resume the “current” season when it’s safe for players to play again or if they will just start fresh with a new season in the fall.

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The Year We Fell Down

The Year We Fell Down

by Sarina Bowen

Heather’s Pick #2 for HOCKEY

Now, when have you ever known me to limit myself to one recommendation when I can get away with two? I also have to give a shout-out to hockey romance, a subgenre that I enjoy way too much for someone who, again, barely knows the difference between a hat trick and a slap shot. In particular, I recommend Sarina Bowen’s The Year We Fell Down, a moving, unforgettable story of two injured hockey stars, Corey and Hartley, who meet when they’re assigned to dorm rooms across the hall from one another. At first, they connect over their shared experiences navigating a college campus not designed with those in wheelchairs or on crutches in mind, but the more time they spend together, the more they realize their bond runs deeper than friendship….Corey and Hartley’s love for their sport is as palpable as their love for each other, so this read could help soothe the sting of missing those rowdy, electrifying games.

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Doctor Socrates

Doctor Socrates

by Andrew Downie

Emily’s Pick for SOCCER

Soccer is one of the sports I’m always most excited to watch during the Summer Olympics. I played in various leagues throughout my childhood, and I remember countless days spent juggling the ball in the backyard. I haven’t played in years and miss it, and I’ll be missing it even more now with the Olympics postponed to 2021. Luckily, I can fill the void with Doctor Socrates, a biography of the Brazilian midfielder in the 1980s. Utilizing research from interviews and Socrates’s own unpublished memoir, this book reveals the life of a political, passionate athlete who was fascinating to watch on and off the field. I actually didn’t know much about Socrates previously, but now I want to learn everything I can about this soccer figure and moment in Brazilian history.

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The Good Girlfriend's Guide to Getting Even

The Good Girlfriend's Guide to Getting Even

by Anna Bell

Holly’s Pick for SPORTSBALL

If you're like me and playing, watching, or even reading about sports is far from your ideal pastime, then I have the book for you. The Good Girlfriend’s Guide to Getting Even humorously follows Lexi as she tries to take revenge on her sports-obsessed boyfriend, Will. After Will fakes food poisoning and ditches their friend's wedding to watch a football game, Lexi can stand for no more. I was rooting for Lexi the entire time as sports tickets mysteriously went missing and a television goes "accidentally" broken. To top it off, these clever acts of revenge proved to be quite the hit on Lexi's blog. Talk about win-win! But how long can Lexi and Will’s quality time together last before he finds out its been forced? For a cute rom-com to keep you laughing through the social distancing season, The Good Girlfriend’s Guide to Getting Even is the perfect read.

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