We’re right in the middle of championship football season: College bowls have been going on since mid-December, and the Super Bowl is coming up on Feb. 3. Whether you can’t get enough of the pigskin or need to get yourself in the mood for the gridiron festivities, we have five football-themed reads that are sure to get you into the end zone.
The Silver Linings Playbook
Upon being released from a mental institution, Pat Peoples just wants to get his life back to normal. He’s going to stop hallucinating about Kenny G, try to reunite with his wife and — of course — root for his beloved Philadelphia Eagles. Not only is Pat an Eagles fan, but so are his father, brother and shrink. Pat’s brother even gives him season tickets, although whether he can use them becomes a question when the clinically depressed widow Tiffany offers to act as a liaison between Pat and his wife, if only he will give up football and perform in the upcoming Dance Away Depression competition.
Friday Night Lights
Most famous as the television adaptation that captured hearts for five seasons, Friday Night Lights is the true story of the 1998 season of the Permian Panthers. The Panthers are the winningest high school football team in Texas history. Bissinger is at his best when detailing the individuals involved — coaches, players and townspeople — and delving deep into their lives. This is the story not only of a football team but also of a town that often has very little going for it, except for the young men who, for three months every year, come together on Friday nights and make dreams come true.
Playing for Pizza
John Grisham is best known for his legal thrillers, but he has also written a number of sports-themed novels. Playing for Pizza is the story of washed-up, third-string quarterback Rick Dockery who gives what is widely regarded as the absolute worst performance in the history of the NFL. Shunned by the league, the only job Rick can find is that of starting quarterback for the Parma Panthers, who are desperate to have an NFL player on their roster. What follows is not only a gridiron tale but also the story of a man who falls back in love with life. Foodies will particularly enjoy Grisham’s luscious depictions of Italian cuisine.
Catherine Gilbert Murdock
D.J. Schwenk, a 15-year-old Midwestern tomboy, is having a lousy summer so far. Her dad injured himself , which means that D.J. is taking over a lot of his work on the family’s dairy farm. Now her mom’s working overtime, her little brother isn’t talking and her older brothers — the college football stars — never call home. The summer begins to turn around when Brian Nelson, the football star from D.J.’s rival school, comes to work at the farm for the summer. After spending the summer with Brian, D.J. makes an important decision: She is going to try out for her school’s football team — the team that, until now, has been all male.
It Had to Be You
Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Phoebe Somerville isn’t the kind of owner that the Chicago Stars football team had in mind. She’s an outgoing and curvaceous woman who clashes repeatedly with the head coach of the Stars, sexist former player Dan Calebow. Phoebe’s ownership is contingent, however. She inherited the team from her father with the condition that the Stars must win the AFC championship; otherwise, her cousin will inherit. This is the first book in Phillips’ Chicago Stars series and is chock full of conflict, romance and — of course — football.