Book Recs: Sports

Hey sports lovers! We understand you’re probably missing the thrills of March Madness, the excitement of opening day for Major League Baseball, or maybe you’re even missing football! We’ve compiled a list of sports-related content for those of you with empty tournament brackets. Happy reading! 

The Great Gamble by David R Bluder 

Locally published March, 2020 by Ice Cube Press

The Great Gamble is a suspenseful novel about two FBI agents tasked with uncovering the corrupt world of sports gambling. 

“David Bluder is a gifted storyteller, and the story he tells in The Great Gamble is at once insightful and thrilling. What he discovers at the intersection of college basketball and criminality will make your head spin. We can’t go under hypnosis anymore? an FBI agent asks. They’re afraid we would reveal too many secrets. This is precisely what makes The Great Gamble such a satisfying read. Whether he is posting up or shooting from the perimeter, David Bluder never misses.” –Christopher Merrill, Director of International Writing Program University of Iowa. 


Live Like Line / Love Like Ellyn by Bill Hoeft

Locally published April, 2016 by Ice Cube Press

In August 2011 tragedy struck that rippled through the Iowa City community. Seventeen year old Caroline Found doesn’t survive a moped accident, devastating her family, volleyball team, and classmates. Twelve days later Caroline, or “Line’s” mother Ellyn died of cancer. Without their team captain or team mom, the West High volleyball team, who had previously been preparing for their second consecutive state title, can barely survive practice. This is the story of their journey to the State Championship during an unforgettable season.


The Miracle Season by Kathy Bresnahan

Published February 2018 by Kci Sports Publishing

Like “Live Like Line” this book is the story of West High’s unforgettable 2011 volleyball season that led them to the State Championships as told by the team’s coach, Kathy Bresnahan. This book inspired the movie “The Miracle Season” released April, 2018. Check out the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqMYe7tZjV0


Marshawn Lynch: A History directed by David Shields 

Released June, 2019

Directed by Writers’ Workshop graduate David Shields, this documentary uses over 700 video clips to document NFL star Marshawn Lynch’s silent protest against systemic racism in American society and the legacy he has left in American sports. Check out the trailer here: https://www.lynch-a-history.com/trailer-1


A Hero Perished: The Diary and Selected Letters of Nile Kinnick edited by Paul Baender

Published September 1992 by University of Iowa Press

This book is a conglomeration of the personal letters and writings of Nile Clarke Kinnick, bringing words and a voice to the legend himself. This is the story of his football career, but it’s also the story of having moral courage during a time of war and depression.


A Wrestling Life: The Inspiring Stories of Dan Gable by Dan Gable 

Published March, 2015 by University Of Iowa Press

In his autobiography, Dan Gable writes about the entirety of his life, from his childhood in Waterloo, Iowa, to tragedies he faced as a teenager, to his life-long sports career beginning as a swimmer as a young boy, all the way to wrestling in the 1972 Olympics. With each inspiring story Gable captures a lesson to reaching greatness and individual success. Gable also wrote a sequel, A Wrestling Life 2: More Inspiring Stories of Dan Gable (Published June, 2017 by University of Iowa Press).


Ball Hawks: The Arrival and Departure of the NBA in Iowa by Tim Harwood

Published October, 2018 by University of Iowa Press

Remember when Iowa had an NBA team? We didn’t either. In the 1949-1950 season during the NBA’s first season, the Waterloo Hawks hit the court along with other teams from Midwestern cities. Tim Harwood’s book is the story of the NBA’s first season, and how it took more than exceptional basketball players and loyal fans to get this professional league off the ground-and why many teams from smaller towns didn’t make the cut. Check out this book to reminisce on when Iowa had their own professional basketball team. 


Crossing the Line: Black Major Leaguers 1947-1959 by Larry Moffi and Jonathan Kronstadt

Published February, 1996 by University of Iowa Press

Crossing the Line profiles the more than one hundred African American baseball players who crossed the color line from 1947 when Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, through 1959, when the Boston Red Sox became the last major league team to integrate.


Hoop Tales: Iowa Hawkeye Men’s Basketball by Buck Turnbull

Published October, 2006 by Globe Pequot

Join veteran sportswriter Buck Turnbull as he takes you through the highs and lows of Hawkeye basketball in this book of stories, photos, and anecdotes that Iowa fans will treasure forever.


From Six-on-Six to Full Court Press by Janice Beran

Published February, 2008 by University Of Iowa Press

Don’t worry, we didn’t forget about women’s basketball! From Six-on-Six to Full Court Press is the first complete history of Iowa girls’ basketball. The product of exhaustive research, this work is based on many sources, including hundreds of interviews with players and their parents, coaches and officials, media personalities, and school administrators.


Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella

Published April, 1999 by Turtleback Books

“If you build it, he will come.”

These mysterious words inspire Ray Kinsella to create a cornfield baseball diamond in honor of his hero, Shoeless Joe Jackson. What follows is a rich, nostalgic look at one of our most cherished national pastimes and a remarkable story about fathers and sons, love and family, and the inimitable joy of finding your way home.

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