Take a Time-Out for These Great Books on Football

by on November 8th, 2013
Take a Time-Out for These Great Books on Football Cover Image

Fall football season is in full swing. What better way to pregame the night before the big matchup than to grab a hot toddy and a Hawkeye Snuggie and curl up with a great read? 

Go Hawks!

The Iowa City Public Library (ICPL) has no shortage of books on Hawkeye football. Study up on your history by checking out The Gazette’s Greatest Moments in Iowa Hawkeyes Football History (2006) or Michael Maxwell’s The 50 Greatest Plays in Iowa Hawkeyes Football History (2008). Then set the mood on Game Day by bringing the marching band to your living room. Go Hawkeyes (2001) is a CD compilation with songs and sound bites from the Hawkeyes’ memorable moments.

Go Hawkeyes: Iowa's Greatest Hits

Big Ten Moments

A fan of the Big Ten in general? Blood, Sweat, and Cheers (2007) by Todd Mishler chronicles the great rivalries in Big Ten football, and John Bacon’s Fourth and Long (2013) breaks into the back story of the positions money and power play in the game. Bacon’s investigative journalism took him beyond the locker rooms of Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, and Northwestern for unprecedented access into what drives this sport.

Demystifying the Madness

Rammer Jammer Yellow HammerFor the pigskin-curious, who scratch their heads wondering what all the awesome is about, check out Slow Getting Up (2013) by Nate Jackson. As a New York Times review says, Jackson is “that unicornlike rarity among former football players: He can write.” Jackson’s book will give you the player’s perspective on why risking early onset dementia from repeated head injuries is worth it. Also consider I Beat the Odds, (2011) by Michael Oher, the player whose life Michael Lewis’s book The Blind Side (2006) was based off of. Those needing the insanity of the college football chaos explained can read Warren St. John’s Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer (2004), which details the fervor surrounding the NCAA’s Southeastern Conference.

Gridiron Lit

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime WalkGridiron lit is another easy entry point into the meaning of football life. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain is a good place to start. The 2012 winner of National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction, Fountain uses a Thanksgiving Day football halftime show as the setting for war heroes being paraded around on a victory tour, pitting millions of television-watching, unquestioning American eyeballs against the PTSD-suffering insight of the young man who lived through it and is about to go back.

John Grisham fans will want to check out Bleachers (2003), which tells the story of a star player for a high school football team comes back 15 years later to bury his coach, and lay his anger at him to rest as well. John Grisham himself reads the audiobook.

Fall in Love with a Football Coach

Love In PlayAnd if the kind of passion for football you’re interested in exploring is of the Romance kind, ICPL can offer both a softer, comedic romance novel and a book whose cover features pecs and a six-pack. Inman Majors’s Love’s Winning Plays (2012) features a young coach trying win the affection of the athletic director’s daughter by joining a book club, conquering other comedy-driven challenges in the process. Zuri Day’s steamy Love in Play (2011) pits a confident and curvaceous business woman against her son’s commanding football coach—in bed. The tagline? “The only way to win is to get in the game.”

Get into the reading game this fall by stopping by ICPL on your next trip downtown. You’ll win big.

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About Melody Dworak

Melody Dworak
Melody buys books for the second half of the nonfiction Dewey numbers on the 2nd floor. She has recently been bitten by the fiction bug, but loves those historical reference questions regardless. Visit the digital collections she manages at icpl.org/magazines and history.icpl.org.