Whether you love sports or hate them, there’s no denying that the grueling physicality that comes from playing sports can make a great story. While many readers avoid books about sports because of their dry nature, there are actually so many great books with character-driven stories at the forefront that highlight sports, but don’t necessarily focus entirely on the subject. Plus, while many authors choose to create male-centered sports fiction books, books with athletic women in sports are gaining popularity. Though, if you’re an adamant fan of sports fiction, regardless of the protagonist, you have to check out this article by YardBarker about the best sports fiction books.
Whether you’re looking for a book to identify with as a sports-loving female, or you just want to read something out of your comfort zone, here are a few book recommendations for sports fiction books about athletic women.
We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry
This novel about team sports features Field Hockey, a popular sport played with sticks (usually by women). The book takes place in Massuchessets, where the old Salem Witch trials took place in the 1600s. Infused with history, friendship, and competition, this book is a unique story with sportsmanship that readers will enjoy.
The Cheat Sheet by Sarah Adams
In this sporty romance, Sarah Adams brings to life Bree and Nathan. Bree is a dancer and Nathan is her best friend and a star quarterback. Except, when Bree accidentally spills her secrets to a reporter, the world seems to think her and Nathan are a perfect fit–so against their better judgement, they start fake dating for the cameras. But, when Nathan seems to be developing feelings, it’s up to Bree to decide what she really wants out of their friendship turned relationship.
The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon
If you love sporty romances but friends to lovers isn’t your jam, try The Dating Playbook, by Farrah Rochon. This adorable Rom-Com features Taylor, a personal trainer who’s bills are starting to pile up. Desperate for cash, she agrees to fake-date her client, famous football player Jamar Dixon. Dixon wants back into the NFL, but he doesn’t want anyone to know he’s back to training. When the two are accidentally outed, it seems like Jamar is going to go along with real-dating, but it’s up to Taylor to define the game plan.
Set on You by Amy Lea
In this steamy gym romance, a gym nemsis pushes a fitness influencer to the max. Crystal isn’t the typical influencer. She’s a body-positive role model and she takes her influencer status seriously. When firefighter and new gym patron, Scott Ritchie, keeps stealing her favorite squat rack right before she wants to use it, she decides the competition is on. But, when the two run into each other at Crystal’s grandparent’s engagement party, they bond over famiy, fitness, and cheezy pick-up lines. This 2022 romance has been gaining popularity quickly and has been a favorite on Booktok recently.
Always Only You by Chloe Liese
If you enjoy slow burn romances, check out this adorable romcom filled with laughter and longing. With an autistic main character, this book definitely won’t dissapoint. Ren is a hockey player and Frankie is staff, so dating is definitely off-limits. But, Ren knows that Frankie is headed for bigger and brighter things–she won’t work for the team forever and he’ll be waiting in the wings for when she’s ready. This romance combines opposites-attract, forbidden romance, and grumpy-sunshine to create a sports-themed story readers will devour.
Going in Circles by Pamela Ribon
If romance isn’t for you, check out Going in Circles. Althought this book has been out for a few years now, it continues to rank highly. When Charlotte’s husband of only five months walks out on her, her life seems to fall to pieces. Desperate to regain some control (and happiness) in her life, tries to start concocting a to-do list for each day. Running out of people to talk to and trying to find a way out of her new isolation, Charlotte turns to a friend who introduces her to the fast-paced, bump-and-bruise world of roller derby. While the sport is dangerous, Charlotte is determined to heal her soul and she knows that roller derby is the way to do it. This heartwarming tale is about self-discovery, and healing during a difficult time.
While these are just a few recent recommendations, books with athletic women in them are definitely growing in popularity. I love seeing more diverse novels with characters that are body-positive, or focused on team-building. If you love a good romance, like I do, I’d love to hear your thoughts on some of the sports rom-coms suggested in this piece–or suggest another one for me to try!
Like to try something new? Check out my book reviews page for all of my latest reads and discover what you should read next!