There’s a reason there are so many great sports movies: sports are ready-made for dramatic story arcs. Every sport has its heroes and villains, tension rising to a climactic battle, and winners lapping up the sweet taste of victory while losers nurse the sting of defeat.
That winning formula makes for a great book, too.
You don’t need to be a golf geek, a basketball fiend or a baseball fanatic to appreciate the stories of a good rivalry on the links, the pioneering efforts of early Black ballers, or a father and son bonding over the St. Louis Cardinals (though it certainly doesn’t hurt). All you need is the love of a good story.
Here are 11 sports books we can’t wait to read this summer, preferably with a cold one and a game on in the background.
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'Tiger & Phil: Golf's Most Fascinating Rivalry,' by Bob Harig
Harig chronicles the decadeslong rivalry between living golf legends Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, whose careers have been intertwined for decades as they teased, battled, bickered and bonded, each pushing the other to up his game. Harig’s book promises to change the way we see these men and the game they play.
'Magic Season: A Son’s Story,' by Wade Rouse
Growing up a queer kid in the conservative Ozarks, Rouse struggled to earn his father’s approval and encouragement. The one thing they did have common? A love of the St. Louis Cardinals. In this tender memoir, Rouse writes of making peace with his dying father through a shared passion for baseball.
'So Help Me Golf: Why We Love the Game,' by Rick Reilly
American sportswriter and golf aficionado Reilly writes the ultimate love letter to his favorite sport, expounding on its star players (Phil Mickelson, Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus) and quirkiest characters (the PGA Tour player who robbed banks to pay his motel bills). He also gets personal, sharing the story of his tumultuous relationship with his father and how the two reconciled through golf.
'Hometown Victory: A Coach's Story of Football, Fate, and Coming Home,' by Keanon Lowe with Justin Spizman
When his childhood friend and former high school teammate died from an opioid overdose, Keanon Lowe dropped everything, including his job as an offensive analyst for the San Francisco 49ers, and ended up a football coach for a struggling hometown high school. The story only gets more incredible when in 2019 Lowe disarmed a teenage would-be school shooter with a hug.
'The Black Fives: The Epic Story of Basketball’s Forgotten Era,' by Claude Johnson
Release date: May 24.
This basketball history focuses on an oft-overlooked era of the sport, between its introduction to Back communities in the early 20th century to the NBA’s racial integration in 1950, when dozens of Black teams flourished, battling discrimination to help pioneer the game.
'Swing and a Hit: Nine Innings of What Baseball Taught Me,' by Paul O'Neill and Jack Curry
Release date: May 24.
The former Cincinnati Reds and New York Yankees right fielder and five-time World Series champion shares his memories, lessons learned and hitting principles gathered over his career, with clubhouse stories about some of the biggest major-league figures, including Derek Jeter, Joe Torre, Don Mattingly, Pete Rose and Bernie Williams.
'Game,' by Grant Hill
Release date: June 7.
With remarkable candor, the basketball hall-of-famer shares all in his autobiography. He touches on the good (his NCAA championships with Duke University, $45 million rookie contract with the Detroit Pistons and lucrative branding deals) and the bad (the isolation of fame, a sidelining injury and his wife’s health struggles).
'My Greatest Save: The Brave, Barrier-Breaking Journey of a World Champion Goalkeeper,' by Briana Scurry with Wayne Coffey
Release date: June 21.
The World Cup-winning, Olympic gold medalist and US Women's soccer goalkeeper was a pioneer of women's sports and had a storybook career until a knee to the head ended it in 2010, sending her into a spiral of depression and debt. With candor, she shares her story of triumph over tragedy.
'Women Making Waves: Trailblazing Surfers In and Out of the Water,' by Lara Einzig
Release date: June 28.
This visually stunning journey with photographs from across the world’s oceans captures the lives of inspiring female surfers who find community and healing on the water. Among those spotlighted are Maya Gabeira, a Brazilian who surfed a 73-foot-high wave, the biggest ever by a woman; Risa Mara Machuca, who runs a free surfing camp in Mexico for children; and Zara Noruzi, an exiled Iranian activist who found peace on Australian waters.
'The Church of Baseball: The Making of Bull Durham: Home Runs, Bad Calls, Crazy Fights, Big Swings, and a Hit,' by Ron Shelton
Release date: July 5.
From the Oscar-nominated screenwriter and director of the 1988 Kevin Costner film “Bull Durham” comes an entertaining behind-the-scenes look at the making of the baseball classic that’s arguably one of the all-time best sports movies from a writer who spent six years in the minor leagues.
'Swerve or Die: Life at My Speed in the First Family of NASCAR Racing,' by Kyle Petty, Ellis Henican
Release date: Aug. 9.
Stock-car star Petty, son of Richard Petty and grandson of Lee Petty, was born into racing royalty. The third-generation professional NASCAR racer unpacks his familial legacy, offering an insider’s perspective of NASCAR’s rise in American culture and sharing his story of the loss of his 19-year-old son, Adam Petty, to a racing accident.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Sports books: What fans should read this summer