Books·Gift Guide

10 books to get the sports fan this holiday season

If you know someone who likes sports, there's a book for them on this list!

If you know someone who likes sports, there's a book for them on this list! Here are 10 books for sports fans this holiday season.

Spirit Run by Noé Álvarez

Spirit Run is a book by Noé Álvarez. (Catapult, Mia Concordia)

Noé Álvarez grew up in the state of Washington, the son of working-class Mexican immigrants. When Álvarez won a scholarship to attend university, he was fulfilling the American dream. But at school he struggled, and didn't fit in. When he learned about the Peace and Dignity Journeys, a 6,000 mile series of runs that take runners from Canada to Guatemala, he dropped out of school and signed up to run. Spirit Run is the story of Álvarez's epic adventure as he weaves together running with reconnecting to his cultural roots.

Álvarez lives in Boston, where he worked at security officer for the  Boston Athenæum. Spirit Run is his first book.

Burke's Law by Brian Burke, with Stephen Brunt

Burke's Law is a book by Brian Burke. (Chris Young/Canadian Press, Viking)

Brian Burke is one of hockey's biggest personalities and best known off-the-ice figures. He rose to the top of professional hockey, winning a Stanley Cup as the general manager for the Anaheim Ducks in 2007. But along the way, he faced personal challenges. His youngest son was killed in a car accident and Burke became one of sports biggest LGBTQ advocates when his son Brendan came out in 2009. He shares his story in the memoir Burke's Law.

Burke is currently a hockey analyst for Rogers, and was formerly an executive with several different NHL teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Calgary Flames and the Vancouver Canucks. Burke's Law is his first book.

'I don't care if people like me': Brian Burke talks hockey and his message for LGBTQ NHL players

3 years ago
Duration 8:48
Hockey legend Brian Burke talks to The National’s Ian Hanomansing about his long career as a player and executive, fighting in the NHL and how his son inspired him to become an advocate for LGBTQ athletes.

Reclaiming Tom Longboat by Janice Forsyth

Reclaiming Tom Longboat is a book by Janice Forsyth. (ZG Stories, University of Regina Press)

Reclaiming Tom Longboat looks at the history of Indigenous sport in Canada, using the Tom Longboat Awards as a guide. The Tom Longboat Awards annually recognize Indigenous athletes and their contributions to sport in Canada. Reclaiming Tom Longboat tells this story, alongside assessing how Canadian governmental practices and policy have shaped Indigenous relations, and Indigenous sports throughout history.

Janice Forsyth is an associate professor of sociology and the director of First Nations Studies at Western University. She is also the co-editor of Aboriginal Peoples and Sport in Canada

It's the 40th anniversary of Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope. His brother Darrell Fox is releasing a new book called Forever Terry: A Legacy in Letters.

Forever Terry, edited by Darrell Fox

Forever Terry: A Legacy in Letters is a book commemorating Terry Fox, edited by his younger brother, Darrell Fox. Darrell, far right, is pictured with his brother during Terry's Marathon of Hope. (Viking, Submitted by Darrell Fox)

Forever Terry: A Legacy in Letters celebrates the 40th anniversary of Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope. In 1980, Terry Fox captured Canada's imagination when he embarked on a run across the country to raise money for cancer. The 21-year-old from Port Coquitlam, B.C., had lost part of his right leg to cancer when he was 18. He ran a marathon every day and made it as far as Thunder Bay, Ont., before the cancer spread to his lungs and he had to stop.

The book features 40 letters by 40 prominent Canadians, reflecting on Terry Fox's life and legacy. The book was edited by Terry Fox's younger brother, Darrell Fox.

Contributors include hockey player Bobby Orr, actor Shawn Ashmore, Olympian Perdita Felicien, writer Margaret Atwood, basketball star Steve Nash, singer Jann Arden and athlete and activist Rick Hansen. A portion of the book's proceeds will go to the Terry Fox Foundation to support cancer research.

In her new memoir One Life, American soccer star Megan Rapinoe tells the story of how she went from playing on a boys' team as a kid to captaining the U.S. women's team and being named FIFA's best female player of the year. With that platform, she's also become an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights, equal pay and racial justice. Rapinoe speaks with Piya Chattopadhyay about the duty and responsibility she believes comes with a job in pro sports, how she became the athlete and advocate she is today, and the people who inspired her along the way.

Rapture by Nick Nurse, with Michael Sokolove

Rapture is a book by Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press, Little, Brown and Company)

Nick Nurse is currently the head coach of the Toronto Raptors. But his journey to get there was long and winding. His career began playing in high school at Kuemper Catholic in Iowa, took him to Great Britain where he coached a team in their struggling pro league, to the NBA G-League, and finally to the bench for the Raptors. Rapture shares Nurse's journey, alongside him discussing his approach to coaching, leadership and life.

Nurse is the coach of the Toronto Raptors and Canada's men's national basketball team. Rapture is his first book.

Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi host on defying the odds

3 years ago
Duration 8:52
Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi host Harnarayan Singh talks to The National’s Ian Hanomansing about his unlikely path from small-town Alberta to becoming a national sports broadcasting star, and the obstacle he had to overcome along the way.

One Life by Megan Rapinoe, with Emma Brockes

One Life is a book by Megan Rapinoe. (Steve Luciano/Associated Press, Penguin Press)

Megan Rapinoe is one of America's best — and most out-spoken — soccer players. The winger rose to prominence in 2019, when the U.S. women's team won the World Cup, and along the way advocated for equal pay for themselves, compared to what the men's national team made. One Life is Rapinoe's memoir. In it, she tells the story of her childhood. It chronicles how she rose up the ranks from playing on a boys' team to landing college scholarships and, ultimately, a spot on the U.S. national team and building a career in professional sports. 

Rapinoe is an American soccer player. One Life is her first book.

Doug Smith has covered the Toronto Raptors for the Toronto Star since the team was founded in 1995. He speaks with Piya Chattopadhyay about his book reflecting on that journey, We the North, how the Canadian expansion team came to be crowned NBA champions and how the Raps have helped shape and reflect contemporary Canada.

Willie by Willie O'Ree, with Michael McKinley

Willie is a book by Willie O'Ree, pictured, with Michael McKinley. (Viking, Presley Ann/Getty Images)

In 1958, Willie O'Ree stepped on the ice for the Boston Bruins, becoming the first Black player to play in the NHL. For the next 20 years, he would continue to play, facing racist taunts from fans and fellow players. After he retired from playing, he would build an even bigger legacy as an advocate for diversity in sport, helping more than 40,000 kids discover the game he loved. Williea memoir written with journalist Michael McKinley, looks back on O'Ree's life, legacy and career.

O'Ree was the first Black player in the NHL. He is also the subject of the documentary WillieWillie is his first book.

McKinley is a journalist, documentary filmmaker and screenwriter from Vancouver. He is also the author of the nonfiction book Hockey: A People's History and the novel The Penalty Killing.

One Game at a Time by Harnarayan Singh, with Michael Hingston

One Game at a Time is a book by Harnarayan Singh. (CBC, McClelland & Stewart)

Harnarayan Singh is the longtime voice and personality behind Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi. Growing up in small-town Alberta, Singh aspired to a career in hockey, but also saw a lack of representation among the broadcasters who presented the sport. From a childhood calling imaginary hockey games with his plastic toy mic, Singh worked his way to becoming the first Sikh to broadcast an NHL game in English and one of the leading ambassadors of the game. 

In his memoir, One Game at a Time: My Journey from Small-Town Alberta to Hockey's Biggest Stagethe broadcaster charts his life story and highlights hockey's ability to unite people. 

Singh is a sports announcer and journalist, and continues to host the Punjabi-language broadcast of Hockey Night in Canada.

The Role I Played by Sami Jo Small

The Role I Played is a book by Sami Jo Small. (ECW Press, Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

In 1998, women's hockey was part of the Olympics for the first time ever. Canada was the top contender in the tournament and was expected to win the historic gold medal — only to lose to the United States in the gold medal match. Sami Jo Small was the goalie for the Canadian team, and that story is one of many Small has from her 10 years with the national team. Canada would rebound from the 1998 heartbreak to win gold in 2002, 2006 and 2010. Small shares her story in the memoir The Role I Played, bringing readers into the locker room of one of Canada's most successful sports teams of all time.

Small is the former goalie for the Canadian women's national hockey team. She competed in the 1998, 2002 and 2006 Olympic Games. The Role I Played is her first book.

We the North by Doug Smith

We the North is about the first 25 years of the Toronto Raptors by veteran reporter Doug Smith. (Viking, Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

NBA reporter Doug Smith has covered the Toronto Raptors for 25 years, and has written the team's definitive history. We the North will cover the team's lows and highs, including Vince Carter's iconic dunk contest performance, the departure of stars like Carter and DeMar DeRozan and the Raptors taking down the Warriors dynasty for their first championship.

Smith is a sports journalist with the Toronto Star.

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