Books·Gift Guide

12 Canadian books to give the sports fan this holiday season

Books are a great gift for everyone! Here are 12 Canadian titles covering soccer, basketball, hockey and more for the sports fan in your life.

Books are a great gift for everyone! Here are 12 Canadian titles covering soccer, basketball, hockey and more for the sports fan in your life.

Playing the Long Game by Christine Sinclair, with Stephen Brunt

Christine Sinclair is the author of Playing the Long Game. (Rachel Pick)

In collaboration with the Canadian sportswriter Stephen Brunt who has followed her career for years, Olympic soccer gold-medallist Christine Sinclair provides an in-depth look into what led her to become the top international goal scorer of all time and one of Canada's greatest athletes. She tells the stories behind some of her brightest successes and heartbreaking failures. In Playing the Long GameSinclair shares the wisdom gleaned from a career spent changing the game of women's sport.

Sinclair is the long-time forward and captain of Canada's national soccer team and the Portland Thorns FC of the National Women's Soccer League. Born and raised in Burnaby, B.C., she now lives in Portland, Oregon.

Brunt is a Canadian writer and broadcaster with Rogers Sportsnet and the author of multiple books including Facing AliSearching for Bobby Orr and Gretzky's Tears.

LISTEN | Christine Sinclair talks about life in soccer and the 2022 World Cup:

Featured VideoCanadian soccer star Christine Sinclair has played in five World Cups, won Olympic gold, and holds the record for the most goals scored in international play. But she doesn't get a cut of her Team Canada jersey sales. And she and her teammates are still fighting for pay equity with their male counterparts. As the men's World Cup kicks off in Doha, Piya Chattopadhyay sits down with the Canadian women's soccer team captain to talk about her long and storied career, and how she – and the country – are evolving when it comes to equality in sports and beyond. While she often shuns the spotlight, Sinclair says she penned her new memoir, Playing the Long Game, to shine a light on women in sport in the hopes of inspiring a new generation.

The Save of My Life by Corey Hirsch & Sean Patrick Conboy

The Save of My Life is a memoir by Corey Hirsch and Sean Patrick Conboy. (Avrinder Dhillon, HarperCollins Canada)

By age 22, Corey Hirsch had played in the NHL and won both an Olympic medal and a Stanley Cup. While he realized his dreams in the arena, off the ice Hirsch was plagued by mental health issues, often unable to get out of bed and stop the cycle of dark thoughts. The Save of My Life reflects on Hirsch's journey to a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder and his road to recovery as a professional athlete. 

In 1994, Hirsch won the Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers as well as a silver medal at the Olympics. Born in Medicine Hat, Alta. and raised in Calgary, he was drafted by the New York Rangers and played for many seasons with the Vancouver Canucks. After retiring from play, Hirsch became an NHL coach and later an analyst with Sportsnet. He also became the national youth ambassador for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and a co-host of The Players' Tribune podcast, Blindsided

Sean Conboy is the editor-in-chief of the Players' Tribune, and was previously a contributing writer for Wired magazine.

LISTEN | Why Corey Hirsch is sharing his story in a new book:

Red Zone by Laurent Duvernay-Tardif

The red book cover features a cut-out photo of a man with a beard wearing a medical jacket and stethoscope, holding a football.
Red Zone is a book by Laurent Dovernay-Tardif. (HarperCollins Canada, Martin Girard)

In July 2020, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif made headlines when he decided to opt out of the upcoming NFL season due to the global pandemic. A professional football player for the New York Jets and a graduate of medical school, Durvernay-Tardif made the unique decision to step out of the limelight in order to step onto the frontlines where he worked as an orderly in a long-term care facility in Montreal during the pandemic. He shares this story in Red Zone.

Duvernay-Tardif is a football player for the New York Jets. He won a Superbowl in 2020 with the Kansas City Chiefs. He graduated with a medical degree from McGill University in 2018 and then worked as an orderly in a long-term care facility in Montreal during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, he received the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award. His scrubs and lab coat are on display in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

LISTEN | Why Laurent Duvernay-Tardif joined the COVID-19 frontlines:

After the NFL, this Canadian plans to save lives

1 year ago
Duration 11:04
Featured VideoWeeks after winning the Super Bowl, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif shocked the football world when he walked away from his NFL career to work on the front line of the pandemic. He talks to The National's Ian Hanomansing about that tough decision and his future as a doctor.

All Roads Home by Bryan Trottier, with Stephen Brunt

All Roads Home is a book by Bryan Trottier and Stephen Brunt. (McClelland & Stewart)

All Roads Home is a memoir by seven-time Stanley Cup champion Bryan Trottier. The Saskatchewan-raised Trottier is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. Trottier grew up the son of a Cree/Chippewa Métis father and an Irish Canadian mother and his memoir shares personal stories about his life, family and the lessons learned along the way.

Trottier is a former professional hockey player and assistant coach. 

Stephen Brunt is a Canadian writer and broadcaster with Rogers Sportsnet and the author of multiple books including Facing AliSearching for Bobby Orr and Gretzky's Tears.

LISTEN | Bryan Trottier reflects on his NHL career:

Featured VideoNHL Hall of Famer Bryan Trottier discusses his leap from small-town Saskatchewan to the big leagues — and how the lessons of his Indigenous community played into his journey.

Rebound by Perry King

Perry King explores the participation in sport within many of Toronto's communities, and finds home truths about diversity, fairness, and public space. (Author photo by Jalani Morgan)

Rebound examines the ties between sports, community, environment and the transformative power of urban communities whose residents are physically active and socially connected.

Perry King is a Toronto journalist, communications officer and author. His  writing focuses on themes of sports, community, culture and education. His work can be seen in Spacing Magazine, Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail. 

The Voyageurs by Joshua Kloke

The Voyageurs is a book by Joshua Kloke. (Dundurn Press)

The Canadian national men's soccer team nearly slipped into obscurity. The last time Canada qualified for a men's World Cup was in 1986. Now, soccer is once again a national passion with players like Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David known around the world. How did this happen? Through in-depth interviews with players and coaches, sports journalist Joshua Kloke charts the rise of men's soccer in Canada from near obscurity to super stardom in The Voyageurs

Kloke is a sports and music journalist. He previously wrote Come on You Reds and he is currently a staff writer at The Athletic. 

WATCH | Canada's bittersweet performance in the 2022 World Cup: 

Pain and pride after Canada eliminated from World Cup

1 year ago
Duration 2:55
Featured VideoCanada’s men's soccer team was eliminated from the World Cup Sunday, but not before scoring a history-making goal against Croatia.

The Running-Shaped Hole by Robert Earl Stewart

The Running Shaped Hole is a book by Robert Earl Stewart. (Dundurn Press)

At 38 years old, Robert Earl Stewart weighed 368 pounds and was slowly eating himself to death. After a terrifying doctor's appointment, he decided to go for a walk, which set him on a life-altering course. Within a year, he ran long distances and lost weight, but not without setbacks and some time in jail.

Stewart is a writer and poet. His first book of poetry, Something Burned Along the Southern Border, was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. Stewart lives in Windsor, Ont. 

LISTEN | How running changed Robert Earl Stewart's life:

Bibi's Got Game by Bianca Andreescu, with Mary Beth Leatherdale, illustrated by Chelsea O'Byrne

Picture collage of the children's book called Bibi's Got Game. Photo of Bianca Andreescu during a tennis match.
In her new children's book, Bibi's Got Game, Canadian tennis star Bianca Andreescu shares her own story of growing up as a child athlete, in hopes that her struggles and accomplishments can help other kids deal with setbacks, feeling like an outsider and wanting to quit. (Kristin Muller)

Canadian tennis star Bianca Andreescu's debut picture book Bibi's Got Game follows an energetic young girl named Bibi who discovers that she loves playing tennis. Co-authored by Mary Beth Leatherdale and illustrated by Chelsea O'Byrne, the story involves Bibi dealing with feelings of sadness and doubt after she gets hurt playing on the playground. With encouragement from her mom and dog Coco, Bibi learns how to meditate and focus on what she's grateful for — getting her mind ready as her body heals.

Andreescu is a Canadian professional tennis player and author who is the highest-ranked Canadian in the history of the Women's Tennis Association. 

Mary Beth Leatherdale is an author and storyteller based in Toronto. She, along with co-writer Lisa Charleyboy, won the Best Young Adult Book at the 2018 AILA Youth Literature Awards for their anthology #NotYourPrincess.

Chelsea O'Byrne is a Vancouver-based freelance illustrator and art instructor. She is also the illustrator of Hello, Crow! by Candace Savage and Marisa and the Mountains by George M. Johnson.

LISTEN | Why tennis star Biance Andreeescu wrote a children's book:

Featured VideoAfter rocketing up the Women's Tennis Association rankings in 2019, Canadian tennis phenom Bianca Andreescu has had a tough couple of years, between injuries, COVID-19 cancelling much of the 2020 season and personal struggles. Now, Andreescu is sharing some of her story about growing up as a child athlete. She tells Piya Chattopadhyay she hopes her new children's book, Bibi's Got Game, helps kids deal with setbacks, feeling like an outsider and wanting to quit. After taking some time off in 2022 to "re-set, recover and grow," Andreescu now feels her mental health is in the best shape possible to make her mark, once again, on the WTA tour.

The Series by Ken Dryden

The Series by Ken Dryden  (McClelland & Stewart, Sergey Smirnov)

Ken Dryden may have been on the ice to experience Paul Henderson's historic goal in game eight of the 1972 Summit Series, but, as the team's goalie, he didn't have the best view of the moment. Fifty years later, he still feels the impact of that series and that iconic goal. The Series: What I Remember, What it Felt Like, What it Feels Like Now, explores Dryden's memories from the iconic series. It also features postcards, letters and other mementos from Canadian and Soviet fans that give the series a more personal look.

Dryden was a goalie for the Montreal Canadiens in the 1970s, during which time the team won six Stanley Cups. He has been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. His books include The GameHome Game and Game Change

WATCH | Ken Dryden reflects on the 1972 Summitt Series:

The 1972 Summit Series changed hockey forever | Ken Dryden

1 year ago
Duration 11:07
Featured VideoTo mark the 50th anniversary of Game 8 of the Summit Series, NHL legend Ken Dryden shares his memories of playing in one of the biggest games in hockey history, and reflects on how it transformed the game.

Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas

A composite image featuring an illustrated book cover with a young Black girl pulling her swim goggles over her head next to a portrait of a Black man in a blue blazer looking off to the right of the frame.
Swim Team is a middle-grade graphic novel written and illustrated by Johnnie Christmas. (HarperCollins, Amanda Palmer)

Swim Team follows middle schooler Bree as she navigates swim class. Bree is excited for her first day at her new middle school until she's stuck with the only elective class that fits her schedule, Swim 101. Swimming makes Bree sick to her stomach, but she's forced to dive headfirst into her fear. With the help of Etta, her elderly neighbour and former swim team captain, Bree becomes good at swimming. Her swimming obsessed community is counting on her to guide her school's failing swim to a state championship, but first, they have to defy all odds and beat their rival, Holyoke Prep. 

Swim Team is for ages 8 to 12.

Johnnie Christmas lives in Vancouver and is a #1 New York Times bestselling graphic novelist. He's the author of the sci-fi series Tartarus and Crema, the book Firebug and is working on three middle-grade graphic novels. He's best known for creating the Angel Catbird series with Margaret Atwood and adapting the lost Alien 3 screenplay into a graphic novel of the same name. 

Chasing Rivers by Tamar Glouberman

The book cover is an aerial photo of a river flowing vertically with rock and green grass on either side.
Chasing Rivers is a book by Tamar Glouberman. (Mara Glouberman, Douglas & McIntyre)

Chasing Rivers takes readers headfirst into the life of female whitewater guide, Tamar Glouberman, who has traversed some of the most difficult rafting rivers in North America, including in the Grand Canyon. At home on the water, Glouberman's love for rafting and paddling brought her community, friendship, romance, increasing self-confidence to overcome challenges and unfortunately, tragedy in the form of a fatal accident for one of her passengers. Navigating her guilt and love for the water, Glouberman's memoir asks deep questions about how to make a meaningful life, the potential for self-sacrifice and self-forgiveness and what it means to chase adventure around every corner. 

Glouberman is an outdoor guide and a graduate of the Creative Writing MFA program at the University of British Columbia. When she's not off exploring the wilderness, she can often be found in Whistler, Montreal or on Vancouver Island. 

On Account of Darkness by Ian Kennedy

(Kelsey Vermeersch, Tidewater Press)

In On Account of Darkness, Ian Kennedy collected over 100 years of stories about athletes who triumphed despite systemic racism. Focusing on Ontario's Chatham-Kent region, the book explores how the history of sport in the region is a microcosm for the successes and challenges non-white athletes have faced for generations across Canada. Combining individual stories of athletes and social commentary, Kennedy examines systemic racism and Canadian multiculturalism against the backdrop of sports history. 

Based in Erie Beach, Ont., Kennedy is a sports journalist and secondary school teacher. In 2011, he founded the Chatham-Kent Sports Network, an online news outlet covering both amateur and professional athletes. 

LISTEN | Ian Kennedy on racism in sports:

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now